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 — MEET THE DEPRESSED: The executive producer of Meet the Press, who NBC announced last week is ”shifting” over to the streaming side, was pushed out amid the Sunday politics show’s ratings woes, two people familiar with the matter told Confider. John Reiss, who had been EP for the last eight years, was officially punted over to the NBC News Now streaming service, and David P. Gelles, a long-time CNN producer who helped develop the now-defunct CNN+ streamer, was parachuted in to help fix the sinking show, which is down 21 percent in total viewership and 24 percent in the key advertising demographic compared to last year—more than any of the other Sunday politics shows. Gelles’ first order of business, multiple sources said, is deciding what to do about Chuck Todd, who despite recently signing a two-year extension, as Confider has learned, has baffled many at NBC with how long he’s remained atop the struggling show. NBC White House correspondent Kristen Welker is being groomed to replace Todd, multiple insiders with knowledge of the matter said, and is expected to take on more hosting duties as the midterm elections approach. Todd was already demoted once this year when his Meet the Press Daily broadcast on MSNBC was relegated to NBC’s streaming service. And earlier this year, with NBC Universal CEO Jeff Shell in attendance, Todd was brutally roasted by Trevor Noah at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. “How are you doing?” the Daily Show host asked Todd. “I’d ask a follow-up, but I know you don’t know what those are.” According to 30 Rock insiders, these incidents have all demonstrated how Todd remains unpopular with viewers and critics and that the Meet the Press franchise has been overexposed. “At what point does anyone have the balls to say ‘Maybe the problem is the face of it’?” one Meet the Press source wondered. The show has thus far been unable to replace its booking producer, who recently left for Meta, according to sources familiar with the situation. The lingering questions about Todd’s future atop the Sunday show have garnered comparisons to the long, drawn-out, messy saga of former Meet the Press host David Gregory, who was ultimately pushed out in 2014 and replaced with Todd. “After being the EP of the Sunday broadcast for eight years, at the end of his contract, John Reiss was looking for a different opportunity within the MTP franchise,” a NBC News spokesperson emailed Confider. “Kristen Welker is the co-host of Meet the Press NOW on NBC News NOW and has been since the show launched. And she and Chuck have been leading NBC News NOW’s election specials all year long.”
EXCLUSIVE — SEMAFOR SPLASH: Looks like Ben Smith and Justin Smith's (no relation) new media startup Semafor is finally close to announcing a number of big hires. At the top of these names, Confider has learned, is the poaching of Washington Post national political correspondent David Weigel, who has made it known to friends that he wants out of the D.C. paper after being suspended earlier this year for retweeting a sexist joke. He is expected to join Semafor after the midterms, sources told us. As Confider previously reported, investors had begun to grow concerned about the much-hyped startup’s lack of big-name D.C. hirings just weeks away from launch. The Smiths tried to recruit the likes of New York Times correspondent Maggie Haberman and Axios reporter Jonathan Swan, but came away empty as we previously noted. However, Weigel, a veteran political reporter and campaign trail fixture with more than 600,000 Twitter followers, would certainly constitute a big get. Weigel did not respond to multiple requests for comment and a Semafor spokesperson declined to comment.
EXCLUSIVE — NIGHT MAYOR: A week after The New York Times detailed how NYC Mayor Eric Adams’ nocturnal habits are dominated by shady pals and two venues, Midtown restaurant Osteria La Baia and downtown members-only club Zero Bond, Confider has learned that hizzoner will celebrate his 62nd birthday this week with an exclusive party at yet another private members-only Manhattan club. The Ned NoMad is the sister club to The Ned in London and is owned by billionaire and Democratic fundraiser Ron Burkle, who also owns the (s)wanky Soho House club. The club is also “curated” by NYC “nightlife king” Richie Akiva, who started 1OAK and Butter, and is now fierce rivals with his former business partner, Zero Bond founder Scott Sartiano. “They are fighting over Eric Adams like he’s a Victoria’s Secret model,” one New York nightlife source told Confider. Adams’ birthday bash is expected to be attended by the likes of David Blaine, French Montana, Travis Scott, Kid Cudi, and art dealer/former jailbird Hillel “Helly” Nahmad. “Adams is out every night with promoters and models,” said our source. “Can you imagine if Ed Koch was at the Tunnel or Limelight or David Dinkins was at Palladium? Or if Giuliani or Bloomberg were at Lot 61 or Bungalow 8?” A spokesperson for the mayor did not respond to a request for comment.
EXCLUSIVE — THE ALLURE IS FADING: During an all-hands meeting last Tuesday, Allure’s editor-in-chief Jessica Cruel touted the magazine’s year of crowning achievements just before its flagship “Best of Beauty” issue—all before announcing the beauty mag’s print edition will cease to exist after its December issue and Allure will move to a digital-only model, multiple sources told Confider. The final print edition is set to feature four-time cover star Jennifer Aniston, an Allure insider with knowledge told us. The move, which will see some print editors shifting to the digital side, comes just after the mag let go of two creative directors while bringing in Amber Venerable (who was once fellow Condé Nast pub Self’s creative director) from Apple to guide both Allure and Self starting this week. The end of Allure’s print edition follows the death of many other famed print editions and reflects how beauty publications must grapple with changes in how readers shop, more often getting their product recommendations from TikTok and Instagram rather than a print product. “It’s our mission to meet the audience where they are,” Cruel wrote in an email just after the meeting. To some, however, the changes feel like an ominous sign of more to come. Staffers who spoke with Confider expressed concerns about how management has yet to offer concrete details on how Allure would look after the seemingly siloed print and digital staffs are fully combined—and whether the merger would result in some redundancies and layoffs. A Condé Nast spokesperson told Confider that there are no further changes currently planned for the magazine’s staff. But as one Allure staffer worried to Confider: “It does feel like we’re waiting for the next shitty thing.” Between the print edition’s death and Condé’s quiet handling of the announcement, morale has dropped at the three decades-old fashion magazine, these insiders said.
CUOMO STORY TIME: As if a podcast and upcoming NewsNation show weren’t enough, Chris Cuomo has taken to Instagram Stories to promote his content and answer his viewers’ most burning questions. Seated presumably on the back deck of his Hamptons home, Cuomo on Monday puffed a stogie and answered deep queries, like “Why do you smoke cigars?” (“Because I like them”), and touted this week’s podcast episode. He also solicited DMs from his followers—which, rude, considering how he has ignored Confider’s messages. “I will do more of these videos if they are helpful,” he warned. “I will do them. The whole point is to help.” We’re not quite sure who he’s helping here, but thank you, Chris.
WE HEAR WHISPERS: Michael Wolff has been spending time in London trying to write a book on recently deposed British PM Boris Johnson… Washington Examiner editor-in-chief Hugo Gurdon and his deputies are “on cloud nine” over a 25 percent bump in traffic this past month, which comes as reporters at the right-leaning outlet have grumbled about bosses pressuring them to churn out more daily content.
IN PLAIN SIGHT: Saturday Night Live honcho Lorne Michaels lunching with Paul McCartney this past weekend at Doubles in Amagansett.
More from the Beast’s Media Desk
—Mega-popular right-wing YouTuber (and cringey butt-rocker) Tim Pool founded his own news site as an antidote to the mainstream media, which he hates because they “lie all the time.” But, uh… turns out his website has plagiarized outlets like CNN and The Washington Post. Read Daily Beast contributor Robert Silverman’s reporting here.
—Jared Kushner was all over Fox News last week to promote his new book, a revisionist memoir of his time in the White House. And of course, the two times he was asked about Donald Trump’s latest legal predicament, he either squirmed or unsubtly distanced himself from his father-in-law. Read about those moments here and here.
—After the DOJ unsealed the 38-page affidavit justifying the FBI‘s execution of a search warrant at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home, Fox News hosts immediately went into spin mode. But Fox News contributor and famed GOP spinmeister Karl Rove, of all people, wasn’t buying any of it. More here.
—Vice has the skinny on how right-wing media boy king Ben Shapiro’s Daily Wire and Dennis Prager’s not-at-all-educational PragerU—two of the worst purveyors of climate science misinfo—received significant seed funding from two ultra-religious fracking billionaires. More here.
—When it comes to big-budget blockbuster movies, critics and fans rarely agree. But according to Bloomberg, 2022 data shows that gap has become a gulf. One possible reason: Film critics are tired of all the Marvel flicks and vapid, crowd-pleasing reboots. More here.
—Wanna cut through The Discourse to find out whether that new show or movie is actually worth your time? The Daily Beast’s recently launched Obsessed team has got you covered with an extremely helpful weekly newsletter, titled See/Skip, sorting through the infinite content machine to give you the best and worst in film and TV. Sign up here.
**WHAT ARE WE OUTRAGED ABOUT NOW?**
Conservative media immediately reacted to President Joe Biden’s long-promised pledge to forgive up to $20,000 of student loans for most debt holders with predictable outrage, describing it as “suicidal,” a “reverse Robin Hood,” and a “handout to the rich.” It didn’t take long, however, for the internet to produce receipts and call out those right-wing media figures complaining about “unfair” debt cancellations who’d also received PPP loans that were ultimately forgiven. Even the White House got in on the dunking action. And then there was the case of former Trump economic adviser and frequent Fox News pundit Stephen Moore. “If you’re not paying your debts, you’re a deadbeat,” he fumed Thursday night. The conservative economist, though, failed to mention that he was once held in contempt of court in 2012 for failing to pay his ex-wife more than $300,000 in alimony and child support. After continuing to fail to pay, the judge ordered Moore’s house sold to satisfy the debt. The sale was halted when Moore paid his ex-wife about two-thirds of the debt, according to court filings.
Confider will be off next week for the Labor Day holiday, but check back in two weeks for more saucy scooplets. In the meantime, subscribe here and send us questions, complaints, or tips here.
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