From the Beast’s media desk
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GREY’S ANATOMY WRITER SCRUBBED: Women’s lifestyle magazine Elle has quietly scrubbed all Elisabeth Finch columns from its website after the Grey’s Anatomy writer took personal leave from the hit Shonda Rhimes-produced medical drama over news that Disney was investigating claims that she fabricated her medical history and wrote alleged lies into the show. In March, The Ankler reported that Finch was being probed by Disney after network execs were alerted to her “alleged deceptions” by her now-estranged wife. Finch had written several columns for Elle revealing how she was diagnosed with a rare blood cancer, battled with doctors over an alleged misdiagnosis, underwent chemotherapy which resulted in having an abortion, and wrote these experiences—which may have been partly fabricated—into Grey’s Anatomy plot arcs. All five of her guest columns have been removed from the Elle website, Confider has learned, with no explanation besides “Oops! We don't have the page you're looking for.” The Hollywood Reporter, meanwhile, has yet to remove or add a note to Finch’s two guest columns, one of which claimed she was sexually harassed on the set of Vampire Diaries and another that explained how her cancer diagnosis became a TV plot line. Reps for both Elle and THR did not respond to requests for comment.
DILLER THE PRINT KILLER: Ever since Barry Diller’s IAC/Interactive Corp. (which owns The Daily Beast) purchased Iowa-based magazine publisher Meredith for $2.7 billion last year and merged it with Dotdash, the media giant has been on a downsizing mission. Just weeks after nixing the print editions of six glossy magazines—including well-known brands like Entertainment Weekly and InStyle—and canceling the syndicated tabloid show People TV, reportedly resulting in hundreds of layoffs, another iconic publication has met its end. Dotdash Meredith’s chief business officer Alysia Borsa informed employees on Thursday that Martha Stewart Living will run its last print edition in May and the company will now focus solely on the Stewart-branded website. Borsa’s email euphemistically said the magazine’s 20 New York-based staffers would be “impacted” by the end of the print edition, and a Dotdash Meredith spokesperson later added that the shuttering wouldn’t affect digital employees, but people familiar with the situation told Confider that the print staff was laid off on Thursday during a brief Zoom meeting—and that was that. “This magazine has been going to households all over the world and inspiring people to cook better, design better and create beautiful things every day,” former digital editor Kelly Vaughn told Confider. “It’s a huge loss.” One laid-off staffer with knowledge of the situation said that June’s print edition was almost entirely complete but won’t see the light of day. Prior to Martha Stewart Living becoming unlucky number seven, Dotdash Meredith CEO Neil Vogel said the print shutterings were just business. “Buying Meredith was about buying brands, not magazines or websites,” Vogel emailed staffers in February. “It is not news to anyone that there has been a pronounced shift in readership and advertising from print to digital, and as a result, for a few important brands, print is no longer serving the brand's core purpose.” Martha Stewart herself said in a statement: “It’s always been my philosophy that when you’re through changing, you’re through.” A Dotdash Meredith spokesperson confirmed the details of the layoffs in a statement to Confider, adding that the company is “proud of the many accomplishments of our teams and the legacy of their creative, inspiring and collaborative work with Martha. We thank everyone for their hard work and dedication and are committed to helping them make a smooth transition.”
PALMERI’S POLITICO PUCK-OFF: Star reporter Tara Palmeri ditched Politico to join subscription-based startup Puck, as we first reported last week, and now Confider has learned that her new newsletter will be a direct competitor to her old colleagues at Playbook. This is just the latest instance of the Politico premier product‘s authors leaving to create a new rival: Mike Allen, who launched the lucrative newsletter in 2007, left in 2016 to start Axios; and in late 2020 his successors Jake Sherman and Anna Palmer exited to start Punchbowl News. Palmeri comes to Puck just three months after Politico moved her off the Playbook team and into a national correspondent role that included starting a newsletter (which never launched). Interestingly, in her new job, Palmeri will work alongside three fellow ex-Politico staffers and, as founding partner and reporter Matthew Belloni explained on Sunday evening, her weekly newsletter will focus on “the inside story in D.C.: the players on Capitol Hill, on K Street, in the West Wing, and within the media that cover them.” Puck co-founder Jon Kelly told Confider: “I have been trying to work with Tara for the last six years. I was talking to her from the earliest days of the Puck journey and I am beyond thrilled to have the chance to work with her.” Prior to Politico, Palmeri was ABC’s White House correspondent, and during her tenure there, Confider has learned, she at one point shopped her talents to Fox News in 2020, but the cable giant ultimately passed. A Politico spokesperson declined to comment.
CHANGING OF THE GUARD: The top editor overseeing The Guardian’s North American outpost, Guardian US, is stepping down in the next few months—mere weeks after the president announced she was also leaving. In an email sent to Guardian US staffers late last week, obtained and reviewed by Confider, editor John Mulholland announced that after nearly five years at the shop he has decided to call it a day. He will remain in his post until September to allow for a “smooth and meaningful transition,” and Mulholland—who spent 10 years editing Sunday paper The Observer—wrote that he’d informed The Guardian’s EIC Katharine Viner of his exit last month. “My decision to step down comes after a lot of thought, and reflects a desire on my part to take some time out from journalism and pursue some different personal paths—ones that will take me away from New York,” the Irish-born journalist added. There was also a brief Zoom meeting held with U.S. staffers on Thursday afternoon to discuss the impending move. Mulholland’s announced departure came three weeks after Guardian US boss Regina Buckley exited to take an exec role with Hearst Magazines. Viner confirmed the news to Confider, adding in a statement that “Mulholland has made a tremendous contribution to the organisation in a career with us spanning more than thirty years… and he will be leaving Guardian US in fantastic shape — growing its impact and its audience, and with plans to continue to invest in more high quality journalism.”
IN PLAIN SIGHT: Media entrepreneur Wendi Deng Murdoch outside the IAC building on Thursday where she attended a Match Group board meeting… Bloomberg anchor and radio host Tim Stenovec at United Palace for indie-rock elder statesmen Wilco’s performance celebrating the 20th anniversary of their Yankee Hotel Foxtrot album… CNN sleuth Andrew Kaczynski running the 2022 Boston Marathon, in support of Dana-Farber’s Infant Brain Tumor Program, alongside his Team Beans, which includes CNN anchor John Berman, The Bulwark art director Hannah Yoest, and Wall Street Journal columnist Rachel Feintzeig, among other media folk. Go Team Beans!
WE HEAR WHISPERS: Ben and Justin Smith are hosting a soirée at the latter’s D.C. digs on the Friday before the White House Correspondents’ Dinner as the pair continue to aggressively recruit for their new media company Semafor (ask your doctor if Semafor is right for you)… WME didn’t fight to keep agent Mark McGrath after he had an offer to join rival CAA. McGrath reps Fox News stars Greg Gutfeld and Dana Perino and spearheaded a bizarre multimillion-dollar deal for talk-radio host Larry Elder to join the far-right Epoch Times.
More from the Beast’s Media Desk
—“Fox Corp LGBTQ Staff Group Condemns Fox News’ ‘Hateful’ Rhetoric.” The conservative cable giant’s overtly anti-LGBTQ rhetoric angered colleagues within the Rupert Murdoch empire, resulting in members of Fox Corp’s LGBTQ support group condemning the network’s ”hateful” words in a company-wide Slack channel.
—“COVID Conspiracy Theorists Are at War Over ‘Snake Venom’.” A pair of powerful, galaxy-brained far-right media personalities have turned on each other over their conspiracy theory that coronavirus vaccines were made with snake blood in order to inject us with Satan’s DNA. COVID truther and ex-chiropractor Dr. Bryan Ardis now claims that far-right radio host Stew Peters misrepresented his claims about the satanic snake blood or whatever the hell this latest incoherent theory involved.
—“CNN’s New Streaming Service Is Off to a Rocky Start.” Fewer than 10,000 people are currently using CNN+ on a daily basis, according to data obtained by CNBC. Normally such info is highly guarded, so the highly unusual leak may have laid the PR groundwork for the possibility of massive cuts to come. Confider noted last week that David Zaslav, the CEO of newly merged Warner Bros. Discovery is expected to cut loose some key CNN+ execs.
—A digital marketing firm associated with Benny Johnson, a Newsmax host who plagiarized his way out of multiple media jobs and found his latest grift in cringey far-right memelording, is imploding, Puck’s Tina Nguyen reported. Arsenal Media Group staffers are reportedly not getting paid and fleeing in droves while pissed-off clients consider suing. After Puck’s report went live, Johnson suspiciously deleted all mention of Arsenal from his bio and denied he was ever a co-founder, despite previously labeling himself as such.
—The trailer for Tucker Carlson’s latest Fox News documentary series, unsubtly titled “The End of Men,” raised eyebrows over the weekend for its truly bizarre mix of homophobia and homoerotica and its use of the increasingly unhinged Robert F. Kennedy Jr. as an expert. The Washington Post’s Philip Bump has an incisive analysis of Tucker’s latest attempt to stir up “apocalyptic,” fact-free grievances among his audience.
—Speaking of deranged: Alex Jones’ InfoWars filed for bankruptcy on Monday. Bloomberg reported that the far-right conspiracy theory godfather’s companies consulted with advisers about filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in order to avoid being held financially liable for Jones having repeatedly called the 2012 Sandy Hook school massacre a hoax. A Connecticut court recently found Jones liable in a defamation suit brought by the families of 10 victims of the elementary school shooting.
**WHAT ARE WE OUTRAGED ABOUT NOW?**
For nearly a month now, conservative media has driven itself into a frothing rage over Disney criticizing Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law and expressing support for the LGBTQ community, resulting in the usual suspects attempting to one-up each other’s rank homophobia and anti-trans hate while accusing the Mouse House of “grooming” and chemically castrating kids. And because everything that outrages this perpetually outraged crowd must now reflexively be labeled “woke,” we end up with the above hacky on-air graphic, courtesy of Newsmax rodeo clown Eric Bolling.
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