Trump's new threats; this weekend's big stories; Obama's book rollout; Fortune's buyer; Salem's shakeup; fire coverage; box office preview

Exec summary: Trump's threats, Tribune's cuts, Fortune's sale, Obama's book. Oh, and "The Grinch" is back. Scroll down for all the details plus some recommended weekend reads...

"Alex Jones is President"

Oliver Darcy emails: "Alex Jones is President." That's how MSNBC host Chris Hayes summed up a day full of Trump promoting conspiracy theories about voter fraud.

Hayes has a point. Trump's regular promotion of conspiracy theories can make it feel like Jones is president. But it's worth noting that Trump was not watching Jones or even InfoWars as he posted his series of tweets on Friday. No, he was actually, as Media Matters' Matthew Gertz pointed out, watching Fox News from Air Force One on the way to France.

The midterms are not over yet!

Votes are still being counted in Florida, Georgia, Arizona, California, and other states. CNN has the latest updates here.

The disputes in FL and AZ are likely to be a top story all weekend along. The banner on CNN just now read "TRUMP & OTHERS CLAIM ELECTION FRAUD IN FL WITHOUT PROOF." The "others" include many of Trump's media megaphones. Sean Hannity was on Fox just now talking about ballots "magically" appearing "out of thin air..."

So we need more of this

The baseless "fraud" claims require really careful coverage. Case in point, here's some blunt true talk from NPR on Friday: "Trump has a history of calling out fraud, without providing evidence to back up his claims. No widespread claim of voter fraud by the president has ever been proved true." EVER.

When citing his reckless tweets and claims, that's the kind of context we need...

Trump threatens to revoke more press passes

Trump held a long, wild Q&A with reporters before leaving for France. He was asked: "How long are you going to leave Jim Acosta in the penalty box?" Trump proceeded to insult Acosta, then said, "I haven't made that decision, but it could be others also." Here's my full story...

Who's next?

I don't know, but Trump brought up April Ryan unprompted during his rant. I think Trump's threat poses a serious challenge to the W.H. press corps and the association that represents them. How will the press corps react when another reporter's press pass is suspended?

Richard Tofel, the president of ProPublica, tweeted something similar on Friday morning. "What is the plan for when Trump concocts an excuse for vetoing a reporter from NYT or WashPost?" he asked. "Surely, we must realize that if it works with CNN, this will just be the first time, and not the last."

What is this really about?


Here's how Jake Tapper framed it on CNN: "Ever since the midterm elections, where Republicans lost the House and Democrats flipped seven governors' seats, the president has alleged voter fraud in Florida with no evidence; fired his attorney general; replaced him with a loyalist whom even some Trump defenders find unqualified; threatened to investigate house Democrats if they investigate his administration; and personally insulted at least four White House reporters, all of whom just happened to be African- American or Latino."

"A racial dimension to this"

During the Q&A, Trump talked about "respect" and said the White House is "sacred." But then he questioned Acosta's intelligence, called Ryan a "very nasty" "loser," and said CNN's Abby Phillip asks "a lot of stupid questions." 

Phillip and Ryan are two of a small number of African American women who cover the White House. And earlier this week Trump snapped at another African American woman, Yamiche Alcindor of PBS, and accused her of asking a "racist question." The pattern is undeniable. Democratic congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee tweeted that "dismissing them or their questions as dumb, racist or stupid says more about @realDonaldTrump and his #dogwhistle racism than it does about these fine women..."

 --> Jeffrey Toobin: "There is a racial dimension to this..."

 --> Brooke Baldwin: "There is something SO wrong with this..."

NABJ calls it "appalling"

"The most powerful man in the free world is verbally abusing journalists," NABJ president Sarah Glover said Friday. "The past two years have been filled with assaults on the media and Donald Trump's comments this week have reached an all-time low with attacks on three black female journalists. His dismissive comments toward journalists April Ryan, Abby Phillip and Yamiche Alcindor are appalling, irresponsible, and should be denounced."

The rollout of Michelle Obama's "Becoming"

The "Becoming" book-selling effort began Thursday night with a WaPo story with some of the newsiest quotes from Michelle Obama's memoir. ABC followed up on Friday morning by airing clips from Robin Roberts' interview with her. On Friday evening ABC shared clips from the audiobook edition, so listeners could hear Obama in her own words talking about Trump...
What's coming up next? Roberts' prime time special, "Becoming Michelle," airs Sunday at 9 p.m. ET...

 --> A personal note: I really appreciate that Obama is sharing the fact that Sasha and Malia were both conceived through IVF. Sunny is an IVF baby! IVF is so hard... And hard to talk about... I hope this news from the Obamas made it a bit easier for others on a similar path...

 --> The book was No. 10 on Amazon on Thursday night... Now it is No. 1... And it's likely to stay there for several days at least...

This Sunday on "Reliable Sources"

I'll be joined by Tucker Carlson's business partner and friend Neil Patel... Plus, the aforementioned April Ryan... along with David Zurawik, Frank Sesno, legendary First Amendment lawyer Floyd Abrams, and Houston Chronicle interim exec editor Steve Riley... See you Sunday at 11 a.m. ET on CNN...


 -- If you haven't already read it yet, here's the huge WSJ story about Trump's "central role" in hush money payments... (WSJ)

 -- This is a really smart must-read story by Brooks Barnes: "A Year After #MeToo, Hollywood's Got a Malaise Money Can't Cure..." (NYT)
 -- A last-last minute election surprise from Russia? Donie O'Sullivan has this story about how a group claiming to be the Russian Internet Research Agency reached out to him last weekend... (CNN)

Philippine government targeting Rappler again

This is very concerning: The Philippine government says it is going to charge one of the country's bravest journalists, Maria Ressa, and her website Rappler, with tax evasion. 

Per the NYT, "Rappler denied the charges, calling the case a 'clear form of continuing intimidation and harassment,' and accused the government of trying to silence critical coverage. The penalties for tax evasion include a fine as well as up to 10 years of imprisonment."

Rappler has been a target of the government for years. It's a shame to see this happening... Ressa is a pioneer, extremely well-regarded by her peers. In fact, she was in DC on Thursday night to accept an award...

Paying a fortune for Fortune

Hadas Gold emails: Another billionaire businessman has bought a media company. This time, it's Fortune, and there's a twist: It's a Thai billionaire, Chatchaval Jiaravanon, who bought the title for $150 million.
Meredith said Jiaravanon will own Fortune as a "personal private investment." And so far the mag's execs are all staying in place. Fortune president Alan Murray will now also become its CEO and Clifton Leaf will continue as EIC. Meredith is still seeking buyers for Sports Illustrated and Money...

Tribune offering buyouts

Staffers at Tribune-owned papers received an ominous email on Friday. Another round of voluntary buyouts are being offered, the email said. And if financial targets are not met, "we may need to explore further workforce reductions." It's, sadly, more of the same for beleaguered papers like the Baltimore Sun.

 -- Related? Earlier this week Tribune Publishing reported a $4.2 million loss in Q3. The company said, in a line sure to disturb some of its employees, that all of the loss was "attributable to newsprint tariff costs that have since been rescinded and costs following the June 28 fatal shooting of five members of the company's The Capital newsroom in Annapolis..." 


 -- The Boston Globe's editorial board is calling for a White House press walkout... (Globe)

 -- @FoxNews has stopped tweeting. "A source at Fox News told Mediaite the network's social media shut-down is a response" to the disturbance at Carlson's home... "They suggested Twitter was fostering a dangerous climate that resulted in threats against Fox News employees..." (Mediaite)

 -- "$132 million later, Ev Williams says he is raising even more money for Medium..." (BI)

 -- Jessica Toonkel's scoop: "AT&T's WarnerMedia has approached Comcast's NBCUniversal to discuss ways of working together, including about licensing films or TV shows for WarnerMedia's planned new streaming service..." (The Information)

Salem replaces Medved with Gorka 

Hadas Gold emails: Salem Radio Network is edging ever closer to becoming the Trump radio network. On Thursday Seb Gorka, former White House adviser, was announced as the network's newest host, confirming this Daily Beast story.

Gorka is replacing Michael Medved, a 21-year Salem host who, although a conservative, has long been a Trump critic. As Oliver Darcy and I previously reported, Salem Radio hosts who did not fall in line on Trump came under pressure, and some left the network. Medved appears to be the latest casualty. Gorka's show will be called "America First" and will debut on Jan. 1. Medved says his show will continue in a new format...

George Lakoff's message for the media

"Reporters are trained to adopt the language of the people they're reporting on." But right now, when covering Trump, "you have to not do that. You have to resist it," linguist George Lakoff says. "You have to ask what is the truth and tell the truth."

Lakoff was my guest on this week's "Reliable Sources" podcast. He urged the press not to fall for Trump's distorted framings of topics like the "caravan." Listen to the pod via Apple Podcasts, Stitcher or TuneIn... and/or read Daniella Emanuel's recap here...


 -- Remember when Rihanna said she wanted the Trump campaign to stop playing her songs at his events? BMI has now taken action on her behalf... (LAT)
 -- Digiday crack reporter Lucia Moses is moving to Business Insider, where she'll be a deputy editor, working on the media/ad team...

 -- Joseph Wulfsohn, a conservative columnist for Mediaite, is joining Fox News as a media reporter...

California firestorms 

The situation went from bad to worse on Friday. At least nine people have died in the Camp fire in northern California. And entire communities, including Malibu, have been evacuated due to fires in southern California. Local stations are in rolling live coverage -- and providing a valuable public service. Just now I noticed a banner on KCBS that read "use PCH for evacuations and avoid canyon roads."

Celeb enclaves evacuated

Brian Lowry emails: I always wince a bit when I see coverage that puts a celebrity spin on tragedies, but that's practically unavoidable now that the raging wildfires have reached the tony real estate of Malibu and Calabasas, prompting mandatory evacuations that include a number of stars, from Lady Gaga to Kim Kardashian...

Paramount Ranch has burned

This is such a special place... Paramount Pictures started using this ranch for movie shoots in 1927... It is now a National Park Service site, and when I visited it a few years ago, I recognized the Western Town from "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman." More recently HBO's "Westworld" has used the site. But on Friday it was torched by the Woolsey Fire. A "Westworld" fan site posted this image, superimposing a scene from the show onto photog John Schreiber's shot of the damage:
Evan Rachel Wood, pictured, tweeted in response: "This is eerie. So sad for the history lost. Amazed the church is still standing."

"Westworld" is not currently in production, so the fire did not impact shooting. "Our thoughts go out to all those affected by these horrible fires," HBO said in a statement...

Darcy in Europe

I'm sad that he's going to be away for a while, so I made him write a newsletter item about it.

Oliver Darcy emails: When you read this, I'll be on a Swiss Air flight heading toward Switzerland. For the next week or so I'll be in Zurich at a conference, and then I'm taking some time off to travel to London and Paris. (Please send any good dinner or sightseeing recommendations!) I'll try to keep up with the headlines while abroad and will see everyone back in the US around Thanksgiving!

Will 'The Grinch' steal the box office this weekend?

Frank Pallotta emails: It looks like Christmas is coming early for the box office with Universal's take on the Dr. Seuss classic, "The Grinch," opening in theaters. The film is expected to make about $60 million this weekend. It could make more since it has a lot working for it. 

 -- Frank adds: Its animation studio, Illumination Entertainment, has had a long track record of hits with "Minions" and "Secret Life of Pets." That could help it get by its lackluster 58% score on Rotten Tomatoes. Also in its favor: A strong box office year, up 10% over last year...

 -- Related: Chloe Melas spoke with Benedict Cumberbatch about voicing the Grinch... Fun read...

'Overlord' stirs up World War II horror cocktail

Brian Lowry emails: "Overlord" is an entertaining but slim mash-up of genres, as American soldiers face Nazi-produced horrors behind enemy lines on the eve of the D-Day invasion. It's produced by J.J. Abrams, whose involvement is what Paramount's promoting, in a project that lacks recognizable stars...

This weekend on "SNL"

Frank Pallotta emails: Your "SNL" host this week is Liev Schreiber. And the musical guest is Lil Wayne, which, let's be real, is an odd but interesting pairing.

What will the cold open be? If you asked me earlier in the week, I would've said it would be midterms-related, 100%, but that was like 35 years ago in this news cycle. Will Kate McKinnon's beloved Jeff Sessions be in the mix?

Deja view?

Brian Lowry emails: There's such a glut of premium TV right now that concepts occasionally sound eerily similar when reduced to log lines, such as Facebook's upcoming "Queen America," which, like Netflix's "Insatiable," is about the cutthroat world of beauty pageants. That also applies to a pair of British series premiering in the U.S. a few days apart, both about women coming to grips with their sexuality: "SALLY4EVER," an HBO comedy, is the lesser of the two, while Hulu's "The Bisexual" feels like a much more fully realized show. "SALLY4EVER" is produced, written and directed by co-star Julia Davis, and will be paired with "Camping," the American version of another British comedy that Davis created...


By Chloe Melas:

 -- The Backstreet Boys have announced new music and a new tour...

 -- And so has the Zac Brown Band!

 -- Did you know? Emma Stone's name was actually Emily, and it was her Spice Girls obsession that led her to change her name...

Thanks for reading. Email me feedback anytime! See you Sunday...
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