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.
EXCLUSIVE — NY POST ‘HACKER’ TELLS ALL: The “rogue employee” who “hacked” the New York Post’s website last week and published a series of racist and lewd phony headlines has broken his silence, explaining his actions to Confider and calling them “the utmost betrayal.” On Thursday morning, Post digital producer Miguel Gonzalez had what he described to Confider as “an emotional tantrum” and, with relative ease, used his credentials to access the paper’s content management system to post the vile fake headlines, which included a few calling for the slayings of Joe and Hunter Biden as well as Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. “I let my own stupidity get the best of me,” Gonzalez told Confider on Sunday afternoon from his home in New Jersey, where he had carried out the “hack.” The incident, he stressed, was not at all politically motivated but rather a reaction to troubles in his personal life. “I deserved to get fired for a very volatile, irresponsible, and disgusting action and an utmost betrayal of the New York Post,” he said. “I disrespected them at that moment. It’s my responsibility to now apologize.” The headline hijacking caused confusion and panic within the Post as editors worked to determine who was behind it, according to multiple people familiar with the situation. The paper initially described the incident as a hacking, but within an hour, our sources said, it became clear it was an inside job and Gonzalez was soon fired. The 25-year-old started working at the Post in 2019 as his first job in journalism right out of college. He described his grueling shifts for the website—during which he’d build stories and insert photos—as intense to the point where he was responding to Slack messages from editors while he was in the bathroom. Gonzalez wants to stay in journalism and said he has already started applying for jobs at places like Gothamist and New York Public Radio. However, he acknowledged the path back to the profession he longed to be a part of will be a hard one. “I’m probably going to be blacklisted everywhere as I seek employment. What I did was horrible. It was my mistake and I owe a lot of people apologies.” Meanwhile, Post staffers who spoke with Confider said that despite the public embarrassment, the paper has quickly returned to business as usual. “Everything is traffic, traffic, traffic across the website,” one such staffer said. “That’s demoralizing for some of the stronger beat reporters who have been here awhile.” As an example, several of these Post journos pointed to some of the headlines posted to the paper’s Twitter account just hours after Gonzalez’s fake ones. “My ‘extra large’ penis is a ‘gift from god’—I’ve slept with over 1,000 women,” reads one. “I sniff my husband’s dirty underwear to make sure he’s not cheating,” blares another. A New York Post flack declined to comment.
EXCLUSIVE — A FAILURE TO COMMUNICATE: CNN staffers are “pissed” that Jim Sciutto is being allowed to return to the air at a time when staffers are facing widespread layoffs, multiple people familiar with the situation told Confider. As we first reported earlier this month, Sciutto was the subject of an internal investigation after a bizarre incident in which he fell and injured himself while on a foreign reporting trip with his producer. Sciutto’s executive producer and staffers only learned the chief national security correspondent was returning to the air after they read about it in CNN’s Reliable Sources media newsletter—highlighting what CNN sources who spoke with Confider have labeled a crisis in communication within the network. Another example these insiders cited: CNN staffers learned from The New York Times on Friday (in what was clearly a PR handout) that the network was cutting back on original series and films, several minutes before they heard the news in a memo from their boss, Confider’s favorite schmoozer Chris Licht. “Morale is at an all-time low” under Licht, multiple sources added. “It’s worse than it has ever been.” A rep for CNN declined to comment while Sciutto did not respond to a request for comment.
EXCLUSIVE — MICKEY MOUSE SNUB: ABC News boss Kim Godwin, aka “The Banker,” made a return visit to her alma mater last week in the name of a good cause. Godwin, along with her family and a crew from Good Morning America, traveled to Tallahassee for homecoming week at Florida A&M University and announced a $1 million grant to FAMU’s School of Journalism for the establishment of the Disney Storytellers Fund. The generous move, however, left some staffers questioning whether the grant would have been made had it not been for Godwin’s status as a FAMU alumni—especially at a time when low-level staffers are begging for raises. “We can’t get people $5,000 raises right now. We are constantly being told there’s a lack of funds,” an ABC journalist told Confider about staffers’ frustration with the boss. Godwin also wanted Mickey Mouse to come present the seven-figure check, Confider has learned, but the request was rebuffed by Disney executives. “The investment goes across five years and is part of Disney Future Storytellers, an initiative that empowers the next generation of storytellers and innovators to dream about their future, build their talents and skills, and become who they imagine they can be,” a Disney spokesperson wrote to Confider.
WE HEAR WHISPERS: Media entrepreneur Jimmy Finkelstein, the former owner of The Hill who, as Friend of Confider™ Max Tani reported last week, has raised $40 million to launch what he dubs a WaPo-Daily Mail hybrid, is eyeing The Atlantic’s COO Aretae Ortiz Wyler. Additionally, we heard that more than a few Hill staffers are eager to jump ship to work for Finkelstein again.
IN PLAIN SIGHT: Craigslist founder Craig Newmark regaling Brian Stelter with a yarn about Stephen Colbert at a book party celebrating Margaret Sullivan’s Newsroom Confidential on Tuesday at The Century Association in NYC… Actor Dennis Quaid on an early Monday morning flight from Nashville to New York, reading People magazine, a Confider sister publication thanks to IAC’s acquisition of Meredith last year.
More from the Beast’s Media Desk
—The Elon Musk era of Twitter is going about as stupidly as you’d expect. The blowhard billionaire on Sunday tweeted a completely batshit right-wing conspiracy theory alleging Paul Pelosi’s hammer attacker was actually a male sex worker he’d hired. Within hours, his tweet was deleted without explanation. More on that here.
—Elsewhere in our big dumb “Chief Twit” era, CNBC anchor Deirdre Bosa apologized on Monday for getting duped by a pair of trolls posing as laid-off Twitter employees last week. Watch her address the error here.
—Speaking of the brutal attack on Pelosi, which left him with a cracked skull, Fox News twisted itself into a pretzel on Friday afternoon trying to blame anything but the toxic, oft-violent conspiracies and rantings the alleged assailant boosted (and which Fox itself has often dabbled in). More here.
—Lara Logan ran to fellow Newsmax reject Emerald Robinson to whine about being banned by the cable network for going full QAnon on-air. Robinson at one point cited an old local TV news segment about blood transfusions as proof for Logan’s claim that liberals “dine on the blood of children.” Just normal stuff from some truly normal people. Watch here—if you must.
—Ratings-deficient NewsNation, aka the Chris Cuomo Channel, fired correspondent Paul Gerke after he dared question top boss Michael Corn over the decision to air two uninterrupted hours of a Trump rally last month, the New York Post reported here.
—Much has been written about how an Elon Musk-owned Twitter may prove dangerous and hellish, but The Intercept soberly pointed out that the bizarro billionaire may ultimately just be creating a “hilarious nightmare” for one key user in particular: himself. Read about that here.
—Sydney Morning Herald gossip columnist Andrew Hornery’s alleged threat to “out” Rebel Wilson was “likely to cause substantial offense and distress” to the actress, the Australian Press Council ruled Saturday, condemning the paper for violating the general principles of the council, which is tasked with responding to complaints about Aussie media orgs. More here.
—Days after a seemingly bombshell report obtained by ProPublica and Vanity Fair said COVID-19 may have been the result of a lab-related accident, it appears the Mandarin translation cited in the piece may not have been as sound as previously thought. Read more from Semafor here.
**WHAT ARE WE OUTRAGED ABOUT NOW?**
After a brutal assault on Friday morning left the Speaker of the House’s husband Paul Pelosi with a fractured skull, several Fox News commentators and hosts found a way to be faux-outraged at President Joe Biden over the attack. “If we have a situation where this is politically motivated, you have to step back and say: ‘Why is our country so divided?’ President Biden, you got up to the podium and said you were gonna bring us together!” Fox Business Network host Jackie DeAngelis demanded. Former MTV VJ-turned-Fox pundit Kennedy echoed that sentiment later in the day, telling her colleagues that “the president promised to bring down the tenor of political discourse,” but instead “people are more divided.” Meanwhile their colleague Emily Compagno actually figured out a way to be outraged with Biden for condemning the hammer attack—because he hadn’t sufficiently condemned other hammer attacks. “I don’t remember them doing that when we watched an elderly Asian-American get stomped in the face multiple times,” she groused. “Or attacks with hammers here in the city that has affected thousands of Americans who are victims.”
Confider will be back next week with more saucy scooplets. In the meantime, subscribe here and send us questions, complaints, or tips here.
© 2022 The Daily Beast Company LLC I 555 W. 18th Street, New York NY, 10011
If you are on a mobile device or cannot view the images in this message, click here to view this email in your browser. To ensure delivery of these emails, please add email@example.com to your address book. Was this email forwarded to you? Sign up here. If you no longer wish to receive these emails, or think you have received this message in error, you can safely unsubscribe.