From the Beast’s media desk
Welcome to this week’s edition of Confider, the media newsletter that pulls back the curtain to reveal what’s really going on inside the world’s most powerful navel-gazing industry. Subscribe here and send your questions, tips, and complaints here.
COMBUSTIBLE CUOMO: Disgraced anchor Chris Cuomo attempted to set CNN ablaze with his $125 million lawsuit earlier this year all while he had secret aspirations of putting out fires, Confider has learned. The former CNN primetime star applied for a volunteer position with the East Hampton Fire Department earlier this year but his application was withdrawn a short time after meeting with chiefs, two people familiar with the matter told Confider. Cuomo, who shares a home with his wife Christina Cuomo in extremely prestigious Southampton, seemed “eager” to become a member of the all-volunteer squad, according to our sources, but balked at the time commitment. “It’s a very time-consuming thing. There are monthly meetings and drills and you have to meet a percentage of your calls,” EHFD Chief Duane Forrester told Confider. “That’s why we don’t have many celebrities.” Since getting shitcanned by CNN, Cuomo has popped up in various bizarre ways: First he sued his former employer and threw some ex-colleagues, including ex-BFF Don Lemon, under the bus; then last month he visited war-torn Ukraine; and then last week he teased a comeback in an Instagram video featuring selfies of himself smoking a stogie; and now he’s released vague promos for “The Chris Cuomo Project” and unveiled a merch line with shirts and hoodies blaring “FREE AGENT” on the front and “Are You Free?” on the back. A rep for Cuomo declined to comment.
THE VIEW FROM THE RIGHT: Former Trump White House staffer Alyssa Farah Griffin has emerged as the favorite to take over as The View’s permanent conservative co-host, Confider has learned. But while the outspoken ex-Trumper-turned-anti-Trumper and CNN contributor has a far more thoughtful on-air presence than predecessor Meghan McCain—who left last summer and was best known for her self-centered punditry and on- and off-air dramatics—Farah Griffin’s involvement with the show has managed to ruffle some feathers. Wanda Sykes was scheduled to appear on The View this past Friday but when her publicist found out that Farah Griffin was co-hosting, the star comedian and frequent guest pulled out, two people with knowledge of the matter told Confider. “She didn’t want to be part of helping a Trumper launder her reputation,” according to a View insider. A rep for The View declined to comment while a rep for Sykes didn’t get back to us.
NEWSMAX GOON GETS GHOSTED: Newsmax meathead Grant Stinchfield has disappeared from its airwaves—and nobody knows what the channel’s plans are with the frequently unhinged host. Early last month, the ratings-challenged Fox News wannabe overhauled its lineup to make room for Greta Van Susteren. Stinchfield lost his primetime show and has since been completely absent from Newsmax airwaves. The network claimed Stinchfield would soon shift to weekends but there has been no word since his final weeknight broadcast more than a month ago. Last week, he took a jokey swipe at Newsmax on Instagram: “I have no idea why @newsmax would cancel me! Look at this talent! @dancingwiththestars hit me up. My buddy @seanmspicer can be used as a reference! #dancingwiththestars (forced to post this, lost a bet!).” When reached for comment by Confider, Stinchfield refused to discuss his purgatorial status, instead writing: “The Daily Beast!?!?! Put my name in your search bar and you tell me why I should talk to you! (I am grateful for all the publicity y’all provide me! My followers eat it up.) Other than that… Feel free to quote me on this. ‘I don’t talk to left wing fake news outlets that profit off phony news stories about good conservatives and/or their America First policies.’” Stinchfield was peeved about losing the primetime gig he’d held since August 2020, a Newsmax insider told us. “He was not happy,” this current staffer noted before taking a shot at their colleague: “Few of us were surprised. His show regularly had bad ratings despite having great producers on the team. His show just came off as radio on TV which is boring and not compelling.” Newsmax’s PR team seemed to be caught off-guard when Confider inquired about Stinchfield. “I haven't heard anything since I heard that Grant (and Newsmax) were considering/negotiating a weekend show,” a spokesperson said before sharing a sneering statement attributed to “management,” which read: “The Daily Beast is a far left organization which usually gets its information wrong and publishes even when denied.”
INFORMATION BRAIN DRAIN: The Information, the subscription-based tech news site known for its aggressive Silicon Valley coverage and a string of scoops over the years, is experiencing a brain drain of sorts: No less than 10 staffers have exited the outlet in recent months. Beloved editor Martin Peers has returned to Bloomberg, highly rated correspondent Jessica Toonkel bailed for the Wall Street Journal, as did reporters Sarah Krouse and Berber Jin. Meanwhile, antitrust reporter Josh Sisco was poached by Politico and Europe-based reporter Mark Di Stefano announced last week that he’s headed to the Australian Financial Review. The Information’s founder, former Wall Street Journal reporter Jessica Lessin, put a positive spin on the departures, emailing Confider: “We have hired at least ten people this summer alone, our fastest ever pace of hiring in our history. Over the same period, we have had some people transition out of the company, but we’re up as the team and business grows.”
IN PLAIN SIGHT: Former New York Times reporter Donald McNeil, who was ousted amid scandal over his conduct on a student trip, has resurfaced—this time writing about monkeypox for Bari Weiss’ Substack of all places... Ex-senator-cum-podcaster Al Franken, NBA Hall of Famer turned ESPN broadcaster Bill Walton, and Sopranos star Steve Schirripa, aka Bobby Bacala, at the Dead & Company summer tour finale Saturday night at Citi Field in Queens… Showbiz shutterbug Patrick McMullan at Three of Cups in SoHo on Wednesday night for the opening of The ‘T’ of Silent exhibition by late artist Delphina Olivieri.
WE HEAR WHISPERS: NBCUniversal News Group chairman Cesar Conde is aggressively campaigning for a seat on the board of Harvard University… The air conditioning went down in the Condé Nast offices at 1 World Trade last week, leaving overheated staffers running for the free canned water to cool down. No word yet on how Anna Wintour escaped the heat.
More from the Beast’s Media Desk
—“Grifter” is a word that gets tossed around a lot, but when it comes to self-styled “free speech warrior” and online crybaby Jordan Peterson—who just joined up with right-wing media boy king Ben Shapiro’s The Daily Wire—the insult is totally applicable, writes Daily Beast senior opinion editor Anthony L. Fisher. Read that column here.
—Fox News stars Jesse Watters and Tucker Carlson declared the tragic story of a 10-year-old rape victim traveling to Indiana for an abortion to be a liberal hoax just hours before the girl’s alleged assailant was arrested. Neither of them have apologized, of course, with Watters patting himself on the back and Carlson pivoting to blame immigrants. Read more on that here and here.
—Former Trump natsec adviser and cable news’ favorite neocon John Bolton casually bragged to CNN last week that he’s helped plot coups around the world. And when the internet rightly mocked and scorned him, Bolton ran to Newsmax to complain about “snowflakes” who don’t understand the nuances of killing people to protect America. Read more on that here.
—The Washington Post on Monday published a truly exhausting column from Perry Bacon Jr. effectively blaming all of Joe Biden’s woes on the media. The piece was, of course, boosted far and wide by White House flack Andrew Bates and chief of staff Ron Klain. Read that column here.
—Universal Pictures released the first trailer for She Said, the film dramatizing the saga of New York Times reporters Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey exposing serial sexual abuser Harvey Weinstein. The trailer gives the first glance at a slightly wooden Zoe Kazan starring as Kantor and Carey Mulligan as Twohey, with Andre Braugher performing as Dean Baquet. Read more about the trailer here.
—The Los Angeles Times managed to lure Kevin Merida away from the D.C. area last year to run the paper, but the location of his new LA digs have long been a local mystery. Enter Los Angeles mag, which revealed that Merida lives in a guest house of an estate belonging to LA Times owner Patrick Soon-Shiong, who lives directly across the street in a palatial home. Read more on that here.
**WHAT ARE WE OUTRAGED ABOUT NOW?**
Conservative media found a way to be angry at Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) for getting sexually harassed on the steps of the U.S. Capitol last week. According to several Fox News hosts, it was clearly a “double standard” for AOC to complain about a far-right troll catcalling her because the progressive lawmaker defended abortion rights protesters gathering outside a restaurant where Justice Brett Kavanaugh was eating. In the process, these pundits downplayed the sexually charged remarks made at AOC’s expense, snarkily shrugging them off as merely “free speech” and protesting “with humor.” For example, as Fox News anchor Harris Faulkner huffed, “Is it heckling? Absolutely. But they didn’t geolocate her, like what’s happening now to the conservative members of the U.S. Supreme Court.”
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