Thursday's big stories; Bloomberg's plans; Gannett's opening; Weinstein's emails; inside the 'Friends' deal; Golden Globes guide

Exec summary: Ahead on Thursday: George H.W. Bush's interment in Texas, plus several big media stories, including a US v. AT&T hearing and Golden Globes nominations... Scroll down for details...

Following the $$$

$100 million: That's how much Netflix is reportedly paying for the continued streaming rights to "Friends."

$5 million: That's how much Bustle paid in a fire sale for Mic's assets. Mic, a digital media startup targeting millennials, had been valued at $100 million.

Do you see what I'm getting at? A series of recent headlines have reinforced a tough truth about media: There's still a lot, lot more money in traditional television (even delivered in digital ways) than in experimental forms of digital video. There's a lot more money in established brands than startups. There's a lot more money in entertainment than news. This is what I wish everyone would recognize as we have (very worthwhile!) conversations about the future of news, the future of distribution, etc...

Oral arguments in US v. AT&T appeal on Thursday

"The Justice Department will have another chance this week to stop AT&T's purchase of Time Warner, CNN's parent company that has since been renamed WarnerMedia," Hadas Gold writes. "A three-judge panel will hear oral arguments on Thursday from attorneys representing the DOJ and AT&T."

HOW IT WILL WORK: Each side will have 30 minutes. "The government's lawyers will try to convince the judges that a lower court's logic" was flawed... "There will be no witnesses to call or new evidence to introduce. The case will hinge solely on the evidence and hours of testimony presented during the six week trial that started in March..."

GET CAUGHT UP: Read Gold's full story on the case here...

COMING UP: We'll have full coverage on on Thursday...

Haberman interviews Swan

Oliver Darcy emails: Maggie Haberman interviewed Jonathan Swan on Wednesday as she filled in for Peter Kafka on this week's edition of the Recode Media podcast. The two discussed covering Trump. I'm told the podcast will post sometime Thursday...

Megyn Kelly is free?

"Megyn Kelly is free to take jobs at other news outlets upon leaving NBC News, according to a person familiar with the matter," Variety's Brian Steinberg reports.

But... where? "NBC News and MSNBC are no longer options, and people familiar with CNN, ABC News and CBS News say executives either don't have immediate interest or are not immediately able to find a spot that might be right for Kelly," Steinberg says. Fox News? Lachlan Murdoch "recently threw cold water on the notion."

Steinberg's story may signal that the endless exit talks between Kelly and NBC may really be close to an end...


 -- Big new story by Zachary Cohen and Phil Mattingly: "The slow-motion disaster of Trump's Khashoggi strategy..." (CNN)

 -- My podcast guest this week is Harry Enten... It'll drop on Thursday... Til then, read Enten's latest, "Why the case for election fraud in North Carolina is strong..." (CNN)

 -- Correction: Last night I misidentified the Fox reporter who covered the Flynn news on Tucker Carlson's show. It was Catherine Herridge. I apologize for the error.


Honoring a president and patriot

Susan Glasser wrote one of the unforgettable lines of Wednesday: "What does it tell you that the feel-good events in Washington these days are funerals?"

There's been so much said about Wednsday's memorial for George H.W. Bush... and so much said about President Trump's presence next to the Obamas, Clintons and others.

"This was how state funerals used to be — except for the big guy with the scowl and the blue tie sitting in the front row," Glasser wrote. Read her full column here...

Can't ignore the contrasts

Glasser's husband Peter Baker wrote in the NYT that "the implicit contrasts between the former and current presidents were hard to miss."

WaPo's Philip Rucker said the service "was carefully orchestrated" to be about Bush, but "inevitably it became about Trump, too."

As NY1's Pat Kiernan tweeted after one of Bush 43's lines about Bush 41 being loyal and loving: "Maybe it was a shot at Trump. Or maybe in 2018 the simplest statement about being generous or gentlemanly becomes a political statement without even trying."

How it was covered

Most of the major networks had anchored right outside the National Cathedral. Per an NBCer, some of the peacock network's camera shots and live shot locations were from "an apartment building across the street," secured by the network a few months ago, "with no idea when we'd actually use it." That's how TV news advance crews operate...

Saying what they're all thinking

CNN's David Chalian, talking about the rare gathering of the president's club, on his daily podcast: "These people must be envisioning, in their moments, their own funerals. It's one of the rare positions in life where you attend a funeral that is basically going to be mapped out quite similarly to yours..."

Thursday's services

Some anchors who were in DC on Wednesday, like CNN's Wolf Blitzer, will be in Texas on Thursday morning for the memorial service and interment there. Shep Smith will anchor Fox's coverage from Houston...


 -- After Jon Meacham delivered one of the incredible eulogies at Wednesday's service in DC, his Bush 41 biography jumped into the top 20 on Amazon's list of best selling books... (Amazon)

 -- "The Bay Area News Group and McClatchy's Sacramento Bee, two Northern California news organizations, are sharing stories, photos and video." How does it work? Read on... (

 -- Jennifer Steinhauer is "writing a new book, 'THE FIRSTS,' which will chronicle the early days of the historic class of House freshwomen..." (Twitter)

Gannett CEO stepping down

Robert Dickey, a 30-year veteran of Gannett who's been CEO since 2015, "has decided to retire from the company in 2019," Gannett's USA Today reports. "The Gannett board of directors has initiated a succession plan and engaged an outside search firm to assist in evaluating internal and external candidates." Dickey will be involved in the search. His exit date is May 7. Details here...

Key quote from Dickey: "I believe we can be less dependent on true advertising as we know it and broaden our revenue and client base, and be financially stable and continue to fund the journalism, which is the core of our work..."

If you're keeping track...

Condé Nast, Gannett and NPR are three of the media heavyweights that have openings at the top right now... There are more...

Would Bloomberg sell Bloomberg LP?

CNN Business senior politics and policy editor Allison Hoffman emails: "Bloombergers are quietly flipping out" about these comments. I was intrigued, so I transcribed it...

Mike Bloomberg says he has not started planning for this yet. But if he really runs for president... and wins... he knows he'd have to shift his sprawling media company into someone else's hands. "The company would either go into a blind trust or I would sell it," Bloomberg said in an interview with Radio Iowa's O. Kay Henderson. "But I think at my age, if selling it is possible, I would do that. At some point, you're going to die anyway, so you want to do it before then."

How would Bloomberg LP cover... Bloomberg?

Henderson then asked: If you run, "how would Bloomberg News cover you?" Bloomberg revealed that he has "started to talk about that with the head of news," John Micklethwait.

Here's what he said: "One possibility -- let me step back -- we've always had a policy that we don't cover ourselves. I happen to believe, in my heart of hearts, you can't be independent and nobody's going to BELIEVE that you're independent. And quite honestly, I don't want the reporters I'm paying to write a bad story about me!" He laughed. "I don't want them to be independent. So you're going to have to do something."

He described two options: A decision that "we're not going to cover politics at all," and leave it to other news outlets that are still accessible through the Bloomberg terminal. Or, he said, reporters could incorporate constant disclosures about his ownership. I'm not a candidate yet, so I've got plenty of time to think about it, but I have thought a lot about that, because the news part of our business is a very big part of our business."

Rutenberg: Can conservative media "abide journalism that questions the new orthodoxy?"

There are deepening concerns about the future of The Weekly Standard... And still no clarity about what's going to happen to the mag.

Oliver Darcy emails: "The Weekly Standard didn't go along, and now its future is in danger." That was the opening line of Jim Rutenberg's mid-week Mediator column on Wednesday. Rutenberg noted that EIC Steve Hayes "banned alt-right-style, partisan clickbait stories and encouraged investigative and feature reporting that often put the magazine on the wrong side of Mr. Trump and his allies." Rutenberg said that this all may have ultimately resulted in an outcome that "has called into question whether the conservative media world can abide journalism that questions the new orthodoxy." You'll want to read his column in full...
>> Bill Kristol also provided a comment saying, "We're absolutely committed to keeping the voice of The Weekly Standard alive in its current form with its current ownership, or under different auspices, or maybe in a somewhat different way."

What Harvey Weinstein is telling his friends 

"In an apparent effort to clear his name, Harvey Weinstein sent emails to several individuals about the criminal case against him in New York," Chloe Melas reports.

Someone hit the "forward" button. And TMZ published one of the emails. "I've had one hell of a year... the worst nightmare of my life," he wrote. Read more here...


By Daniella Emanuel:

 -- Ryan Broderick makes the case that a change in Facebook's local news algorithm had an impact on the intense riots in France, where more than 300 people were arrested in Paris and 37,000 law enforcement officers were deployed throughout the country... (BuzzFeed)

 -- The Center for Cooperative Media explores the challenges faced when researching "local news ecosystems," and begs the question, "can we do it better?" (NiemanLab)

 -- Lux Alptraum delves into the history of pornography's presence on Tumblr, and speculates on why the site announced this week that it would be forbidding adult content from its platform... (The Verge)

Why it's difficult for Netflix and 'Friends' to go on a break

Frank Pallotta emails: "Friends" will be there for you on Netflix through 2019, but the minor internet meltdown over a rumor that the show was leaving goes to the heart of the biggest question about Netflix's short-term future: What happens if and when its competitors pull their most popular content from Netflix?

On paper, it seems like a big problem for the service going forward, but Netflix has been planning for this for years. Besides, as Rich Greenfield told me, "pulling content is a lot harder than it sounds."

"Having lots of content is critical, but I don't think any one show is critical," the BTIG media analyst said. "I'd almost reverse the question and ask, 'Does Warner Bros. want to take a show like 'Friends' that's now reaching tens of millions of people and generating substantial profits and make very little and show it to very few?'" Read on...

"Clearly the data is telling Netflix execs 'Friends' is worth the high price tag..."

The key line from Joe Adalian's story about this: "Netflix execs regularly point out that they make programming decisions based on what their subscribers want. Clearly the data is telling Netflix execs Friends is worth the high price tag."

What's the next "Friends?"

Trick question, there will never be another "Friends" 😉

But there could be a "Friends" level streaming deal coming soon. "Comcast's NBCUniversal has to think about what it wants to do with 'The Office,' which it currently streams on Netflix but will most likely want to keep for its own, yet-to-be-announced streaming service that it will likely launch once it sells its stake in Hulu," Recode's Peter Kafka writes. "NBCU execs say Netflix has told them 'The Office' generates more viewing hours than anything else on the service. Which means Jim and Pam may end up getting more money than Ross and Rachel..."

Zuckerberg's message for the media: Don't be wrong

Donie O'Sullivan emails: The British parliament released a whole cache of internal Facebook emails on Wednesday, some even from Mark Zuckerberg himself.
Facebook fought to keep the emails private (there's a wild story behind how they came to light), but now that they are public, Zuckerberg himself took to FB to downplay the significance of the cache, and he also had this message for reporters:

"I understand there is a lot of scrutiny on how we run our systems. That's healthy given the vast number of people who use our services around the world, and it is right that we are constantly asked to explain what we do. But it's also important that the coverage of what we do -- including the explanation of these internal documents -- doesn't misrepresent our actions or motives."
A lot of headline-grabbing conclusions could be reached by looking only at the selection of emails that were released... And many of the company's critics on Twitter and in the press are quick to ascribe malice to anything they learn about Facebook. But there are plenty of legitimate issues, some highlighted by the emails, that Facebook should answer for...

BTW, this is not FB's first public message to the press...

Donie adds: Last month, after the NYT investigation into Facebook, the company put out a statement pointing out "inaccuracies" in the Times' story. (The Times stood by its reporting.) And the company apparently threatened the Guardian with legal action before it broke the Cambridge Analytica story earlier this year. Facebook's Campbell Brown later said the threat hadn't been Facebook's wisest move...

FB board backs Sandberg

Via the WSJ: "Facebook's board of directors threw its support behind Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg on Wednesday, saying that it was 'entirely appropriate' for her to ask if George Soros had shorted the company's stock after the billionaire investor called the social-media giant a 'menace...'"

Kevin Roose's take

NYT's Kevin Roose tweeted: "I went through the Facebook emails released today. The big takeaway is that Facebook is a mission-driven company, and that mission is making as much money and growing as fast as possible..."


 -- "The LEGO Foundation announced Wednesday it is awarding a $100 million grant to Sesame Workshop for a mass-media program to help educate millions of refugee children..." (CNN)

 -- Brian Lowry tweeted: "Per CBS, 'The Late Show' scored its biggest Friday audience ever (4.94 million viewers) with guest Michelle Obama and best overall since James Comey appeared on April 17..." (Twitter)

Guide to the Golden Globes noms

The Golden Globe nominations will be announced at 8:15 a.m. ET, 5:15 a.m. PT, on Thursday...

Lowry's forecast

Brian Lowry emails: The Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. historically harbors fondness for hit movies, big stars and European talent, and the group behind the Golden Globes has an array of all of them at its disposal as it prepares to announce its annual nominations.

Quoting from Lowry's preview: "The looming question remains whether this year's biggest moneymaker, 'Black Panther,' can surmount skepticism toward superhero movies and break into the awards race, after the well-regarded 'Wonder Woman' was overlooked last year. But voters have many popular films to consider, including 'A Star is Born' -- a heaven-sent hit, with Lady Gaga as an extra draw -- the upcoming 'Mary Poppins Returns,' and animated hits like 'Incredibles 2' and 'Ralph Breaks the Internet.'" Read the rest here...

 -- ICYMI: The American Film Institute notably included "Black Panther" and "Mary Poppins Returns" on its year-end best list... Plus a special award for Netflix's "Roma..." While bestowing four of its 10 TV awards on FX...

 -- Lowry adds: For those who want to know how the sausage gets made, EW has an explainer on the HFPA and how the Globes voting procedure works...

This year's hosts: Sandra Oh and Andy Samberg

The association announced Wednesday that it has "tapped 'Killing Eve' star Sandra Oh and 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine's' Andy Samberg to host the 2019 awards ceremony," Sandra Gonzalez writes. "It will mark Oh and Samberg's first time co-hosting together, but it will not be their first time appearing on a big stage side by side. Oh and Samberg presented an award together at the Emmy Awards in September, executing a well-timed banter that earned their short appearance praise. Apparently, it was enough to earn them an even bigger gig..."


By Lisa Respers France:

 -- Why does it feel like this beef should be playing out in the parking lot of Whole Foods? Jessica Simpson took exception to something Natalie Portman said about her...

 -- Before you tweet me asking, "Why is Cardi B's marital split news?" I will beat you to the punch and say it's not, really. Cardi shot to the top of Twitter trends Wednesday after she announced her split from husband and fellow rapper Offset on Instagram. And if anyone has earned the right to deal with a split privately, it's Cardi B...

 -- Demi Lovato has gotten back to basics on Instagram...

 -- Sofia Vergara's granddog had a way better birthday than you. And there are pictures to prove it...

That's a wrap on today's letter. Thank you for reading. Send me your feedback anytime. See you tomorrow!
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