New Yorker's new story; Kavanaugh says 'this is a smear;' flashbacks to 1991; TV's premiere week; Comcast's winning bid for Sky; Trump's 'Fox cabinet'

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Exec summary: The start of a new workweek! Scroll down for details about TV's premiere week... Comcast and Sky... President Trump and his "Fox cabinet..." and much more...
 
 

Supreme Turmoil


"This is a smear, plain and simple," Brett Kavanaugh says.

That's his response to the new allegation of sexual misconduct against him -- published by The New Yorker on Sunday night -- in a story co-bylined by Ronan Farrow and Jane Mayer.

"I look forward to testifying on Thursday about the truth, and defending my good name -- and the reputation for character and integrity I have spent a lifetime building -- against these last-minute allegations," Kavanaugh said.

The White House responded to the story by reiterating its support for Kavanaugh. But the headline everyone heard Sunday night/will hear Monday morning is: "A second woman." "New allegations."

The accuser, Deborah Ramirez, says she knew Kavanaugh at Yale. She alleges that he exposed himself at a party. If you haven't read it yet, here's the story...

 >> Reminder: There's a hearing scheduled for Thursday at 10 a.m. ET...
 

Farrow + Mayer

This time, the rumors were right. All afternoon long, the chattering classes in DC and NYC said that Farrow was about to break a big story about Kavanaugh. The White House apparently knew several hours ahead of time. Word of the story leaked out via The Drudge Report in the 6pm hour. The actual story came out one hour later. But it wasn't just Farrow's story: Mayer was the second byline. This was the second co-production by the pair: They also worked together on the investigation that ensnared NY A.G. Eric Schneiderman.

 >> FLASHBACK: Mayer and Jill Abramson co-authored "Strange Justice: The Selling of Clarence Thomas..."

 >> COMPETITION: Other news outlets were also chasing the Ramirez story... For example, NBC News says a reporter contacted Ramirez on Saturday...
 

Key graf from the New Yorker:


"The New Yorker contacted Ramirez after learning of her possible involvement in an incident involving Kavanaugh. The allegation was also conveyed to Democratic senators by a civil-rights lawyer. For Ramirez, the sudden attention has been unwelcome, and prompted difficult choices. She was at first hesitant to speak publicly, partly because her memories contained gaps because she had been drinking at the time of the alleged incident. In her initial conversations with The New Yorker, she was reluctant to characterize Kavanaugh's role in the alleged incident with certainty." The mag says that "after six days of carefully assessing her memories and consulting with her attorney," she felt confident enough to recount it all...


Here's the thing...


As I said on "CNN Newsroom" Sunday night, there's much more to be learned here. But the existence of this new allegation will spur a lot more scrutiny of Kavanaugh's hard-partying high school and college years. Already, there's been reporting about excessive drinking and ensuing behavior. One of the headlines on CNN.com on Sunday night, before this new allegation came out, said "100 kegs. A stripper. Kavanaugh's classmate reveals wild parties..."


"Boys will be boys?"


During the aforementioned CNN segment, I found myself saying this about Kavanaugh: "He is allowed to have been a frat boy. I'm sure other judges have been frat boys. I'm sure other judges have had similar experiences at college."

Afterward, I wanted to unwind those words. Yes, a fraternity member is allowed to become a Supreme Court justice -- many have. Long nights of partying shouldn't be counted against someone. But acts of sexual assault should be. Boys will only "be boys" if society enables and excuses certain behaviors...
 

Gergen's view


On CNN, David Gergen urged caution and patience: Lawmakers and the public need time to "absorb this and begin to make judgments." He said, "I can't tell you how important I think it is for the future of the press in this country, if he's going to be 'brought down' -- we don't know that, but if he's going to be 'brought down' -- that the press isn't seen as complicit in that effort."
 

Surge of calls to sexual assault hotline


President Trump's tweets casting doubt on Christine Blasey Ford's account helped the hashtag #WhyIDidntReport go viral. The conversations may have also spurred some people to seek support.

A spokesperson for RAINN told me on Sunday that "calls to the National Sexual Assault Hotline were up 42% on Friday and Saturday compared to an average Friday and Saturday." The # is 800-656-4673...
 


Flashbacks to 1991


It's a "he said, she said" case with the facts "still in dispute." Male lawmakers are being criticized for mishandling the allegations. "Why rush this?" And the situation is sending "an electric current of anger through women." All of those quotes could apply to today's news... but they're from a front-page NYT story by Maureen Dowd in 1991. Here's her story from back then... Plus her column from this Sunday's paper...

 
Abramson's view

As mentioned up above, Jane Mayer and Jill Abramson co-wrote the definitive book about Hill and Thomas. As for this moment in time, Abramson told me on "Reliable," "What I've been struck by is the anger of women that I've heard from. If they feel unheard at the end of these hearings, I think there are gonna be big political consequences..."

 >> Another key point: Think of "the courage it takes," she said, "in THIS media environment, for Dr. Ford to walk into that hearing room, sit down and tell her story..."

 >> Hear more from Abramson, Rachel Sklar and Charles Blow in this segment...
 

Just try...


Try to put yourself Christine Blasey Ford's shoes for a minute. You're living out of a suitcase. You're staring down death threats. You're thinking about testifying. Everybody on TV is talking about you. And many websites are smearing you to help Kavanaugh. Here's my essay from Sunday's show...
 

FOR THE RECORD, PART ONE

 -- BREAKING: WPP's new CEO "is preparing to consolidate some of the advertising giant's major properties, as traditional agencies struggle to keep pace with the industry's digital shift..." (WSJ)

 -- "With a $20 million gift from the Craigslist founder Craig Newmark," Julia Angwin and Jeff Larson are starting The Markup, "a news site dedicated to investigating technology and its effect on society." Sue Gardner will be exec director... (NYT)

 -- Rethinking #Resist: "Viewed from the broad sweep of history, Donald Trump is the resistance. We are not," Michelle Alexander writes in her first NYT column... (NYT)
 
 

Week ahead calendar


 -- Monday: UN General Assembly begins in NYC...

 -- Monday evening: AT&T's Relevance conference begins in Santa Barbara...

 -- Thursday: Texas Tribune Festival gets underway in Austin...

 -- Friday, via Brian Lowry: Three new releases: The animated "Smallfoot," the Kevin Hart-Tiffany Haddish comedy "Night School," and "The Old Man and the Gun," which may or may not be -- depending on what he says this week -- Robert Redford's last movie...
 


TV's premiere week


Brian Lowry emails: The major networks are kicking off the season with a flurry of new series starting Monday, amid a period of inordinate tumult. If only the shows, generally — including 10 premieres this week, among them CBS' "Murphy Brown" revival and "Magnum P.I." reboot — were as interesting as all the behind-the-scenes drama. NBC, meanwhile, likely received a pre-premiere promotional lift on Sunday, as Tiger Woods scored a PGA Tour victory, his first such win in five years, and almost surely a ratings magnet...


About all that behind-the-scenes drama...


Consider the state of the TV business. CBS CEO Les Moonves resigned under pressure two weeks ago. NBC Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt is ready to step down. Fox is a big question mark, given the Disney-Fox deal. At at Disney, TV chief Ben Sherwood is "preparing to leave," Variety's Cynthia Littleton scooped on Saturday night.

Sherwood "had been considering options for a new role during the past two months after it became clear that Fox's Peter Rice is poised to take on his duties as leader of Disney's TV operations, with the exception of ESPN," per Littleton. All the details here...
 

What's next for Sherwood?


THR notes that "he had a contract with Disney extending until 2021." He'll remain with Disney until the Fox deal closes, then he'll have a noncompete for a while... And then what?

Sherwood sounds eager to try some entrepreneurial endeavors, per a source familiar with his thinking. He has written several best-selling books. He is interested in taking stock of options in the media biz and beyond, the source said...
 

Fox announcements TBD


Deadline hears that "we are about a week or so away from Disney unveiling the names of top 21st Century Fox executives who would be joining the company following the acquisition of key Fox assets." October 1 is the potential date. Rice's deal is "said to be all but done" and Fox TV Group chairman Dana Walden is "negotiating hers."

"Also expected to be going over to Disney-Fox after the acquisition is completed are FX Networks CEO John Landgraf and Nat Geo CEO Courteney Monroe," Deadline says. "The situation is fluid with Fox TV Group chairman Gary Newman..."
 

FOR THE RECORD, PART TWO

 -- In Saturday's WSJ: What does Apple want from its lineup of original TV shows? The company wants "high-quality shows with stars and broad appeal, but it doesn't want gratuitous sex, profanity or violence," Tripp Mickle and Joe Flint report... (WSJ)

 -- Jason Miller said on Saturday night that he had "decided to step away" from his role as a CNN political commentator. CNN confirmed his departure... (TheWrap)
 
 

"Vox Media On Pace to Miss Revenue Target as Digital Advertising Disappoints"


That's the headline in Monday's WSJ... Ben Mullin and Amol Sharma report that Vox "is expected to miss its revenue goal for this year by more than 15%. The goal was roughly $200 million in revenue, up 25% from "last year's haul of roughly $160 million." But the company is "struggling to achieve double-digit percentage revenue growth," according to Mullin and Sharma's sources. More here...

"CONCERNED:" The expected miss "was discussed last week at a Vox Media board meeting, as some investors grow concerned about the situation..."

IS THIS... Just the first of many stories about another very difficult year at digital media leaders? I'm betting yes...
 
 

Comcast paying $38.8 billion for Sky


Hadas Gold emails from London: On Saturday the nearly two year saga of Sky came close to an end.

Comcast outbid 21st Century Fox (backed by Disney) in a rarely used auction procedure in the UK. On the table: a 61% stake in the European broadcaster, internet and mobile phone company. The winning bid was £17.28 ($22.57) per share -- around $40 billion. Fox offered £15.67 ($20.46) per share.

Analysts thought the winning bid would be for less -- closer to £16 a share. But Comcast's bid makes it clear that the cable giant wanted Sky no matter what...
 

What happens next:

 

More from Hadas Gold: Sky's Independent Committee unanimously recommended Comcast's offer shortly after the auction ended in Saturday. Sky shareholders have until October 11 to accept the offer.

The shareholders will almost certainly go for Comcast's offer. Assuming they do, the next question is what does Rupert Murdoch (and Disney) do with the 39% they still own? Do they sell to Comcast (for more money partly thanks to driving up the price through that auction) or do they remain minority stakeholders? Some reports suggested the two companies could even swap the Sky stake for Comcast's stake in Hulu... 
 

Brian Roberts is triumphant

 

His US-centric company is going global. "This is a great day for Comcast," Roberts said Saturday... This acquisition "will allow us to quickly, efficiently and meaningfully increase our customer base and expand internationally..."
 


What Trump's "Fox cabinet" is telling him


At first, when the NYT's bombshell reporting about Rod Rosenstein came out on Friday, Fox's Laura Ingraham told Trump to fire Rosenstein. But then everything changed. Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity urged Trump to be careful. They cautioned that the story could be a trap or a set-up. Ingraham later deleted her tweet. And on Saturday night, Jeanine Pirro wondered aloud about whether Rosenstein himself leaked the story to provoke Trump to fire him.

So many conspiracies, so little time! On "Reliable Sources," David Zurawik reacted by saying, "In the world we now live in, we have to listen to Judge Jeanine because she has access to this president. It's insane."

 >> Quote of the day, courtesy of Olivia Nuzzi, from the same segment of the show: "Everyone is a media critic these days, but the problem is that not everyone has a basic understanding of how the media works..."
 

The disappearance of the White House briefing


Toward the end of Sunday's show, I tried to point out how the White House has effectively ended the daily press briefing. Sarah Sanders has only appeared on-camera at the podium 14 times since June. Only once so far this month! Here's what Olivier Knox, president of the White House Correspondents Association, told me...
 

Catch up on Sunday's show


Watch the video clips on CNN.com... Hear the program as a pod through your favorite podcast app... Or watch the full program through CNNgo or VOD...

About this weekend's box office...


Brian Lowry emails: Frankly, it's hard to decide what exactly to make of the box-office flops over the weekend, including Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 11/9" and writer-director Dan Fogelman's "Life Itself."

Arguably, Moore's alarm-ringing about America's slide toward despotism with the election of Trump — and the factors leading up to it — can't keep up with the cable-news cycle, while the "This is Us" creator's feature foray simply didn't offer enough of a hook to get people to come out, never mind the overwhelmingly negative reviews that prompted him to lash out at white male critics.

The LAT's Amy Kaufman had a good breakdown of Fogelman's reaction, and why he might have been unprepared for the critical drubbing...
 


Lowry reviews a trio of new films


The indie-film world is exploring the LGBTQ experience through the filter of the late 19th century, via a trio of new films about historical figures: "Colette," starring Keira Knightley as the French author; "Lizzie," Chloe Savigny's passion project about Lizzie Borden; and "The Happy Prince," a look at Oscar Wilde at the end of his life, starring, written and directed by Rupert Everett.

Read his full story here...
 
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