media matters
June 18, 2018

The Los Angeles Times is locally owned for the first time in nearly 20 years, after Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong took ownership of the newspaper Monday, reports CNN Money.

Soon-Shiong acquired the Times, The San Diego Union-Tribune, and the rest of the California News Group from Tronc for $500 million, telling employees in a memo that he hopes to make the Times competitive with The New York Times and The Washington Post. "I've not gone into this transaction from a financial basis at all," he wrote. "There's an opportunity to make a major impact on the nation."

In his optimistic note, Soon-Shiong told Times employees that he considered "fake news" to be "a cancer of our times," and forecasted positive growth for the paper because of his dedication to "the essential role of journalism."

The Times was previously owned by Tronc, the Chicago-based newspaper group, but the company announced its intention to sell the Los Angeles paper back in February. Soon-Shiong is a surgeon and part-owner of the Los Angeles Lakers, and he has also expressed interest in buying other regional papers around the country like the Chicago Tribune, The Baltimore Sun, and the New York Daily News, reports NPR. Read more at CNN Money. Summer Meza

May 25, 2018

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio isn't backing down from his open disdain for the media outlets that cover him.

City Hall released a trove of more than 4,000 pages of de Blasio's emails on Thursday, and several addressed his complicated relationship with the local press.

The mayor called local papers like the New York Daily News and the New York Post "sad" and "pitiful," the Daily News reported. He accused The New York Times of bias against him, calling one article about his plan to help boost underperforming schools "disgusting" for its lack of balance. He emailed aides about "the sad state of media" over stories that focused on his politics rather than "real problems" affecting New Yorkers, reports Politico.

In an interview with WNYC on Friday, de Blasio stood by his comment calling the Post a "right-wing rag." No, said de Blasio, "I will not shed a tear if that newspaper is no longer here." He called for a "better civil discourse," saying that the Post is "not like everyone else," in that the publication is "harmful" to the city.

The mayor would prefer the discourse seen on the other side of the pond, he said. "I'm a big fan of alternative media and subscription-based media, like The Guardian," he told WNYC, describing the U.K. publication as less dependent on clicks for revenue.

De Blasio added that he never would have badmouthed the press via email if he had known the emails would one day become public. Summer Meza

March 15, 2018

Former ESPN president John Skipper revealed Thursday that his sudden resignation from the network in December was the result of an attempted extortion plot by someone who sold him cocaine. In his announcement at the time, Skipper cited substance addiction as the reason for his resignation, but in an interview published Thursday by The Hollywood Reporter, he divulged the attempted extortion plot after being pressed by interviewer James Andrew Miller.

The incident made Skipper realize he needed to seek help for his drug use, he told THR. "They threatened me, and I understood immediately that threat put me and my family at risk, and this exposure would put my professional life at risk as well," he explained, adding that upon confiding in Bob Iger, the CEO of ESPN's parent company Disney, the two agreed that Skipper should resign.

Skipper described his past use of cocaine as "infrequent," and said that aside from "a missed plane and a few canceled morning appointments," it had never interfered with his professional life leading ESPN until December. Skipper ran ESPN for nearly six years, and took many by surprise when he stepped down, citing his plan to seek treatment.

Disney executive James Pitaro was named the new ESPN president last week. Read Skipper's full interview with The Hollywood Reporter here. Summer Meza

September 18, 2017

Conservative radio host and LifeZette founder Laura Ingraham is officially joining Fox News Channel after weeks of rumors, grabbing the 10 p.m. time slot with The Ingraham Angle, Fox announced Monday. Ingraham's primetime show will debut on Oct. 30.

The reshuffle will also see Hannity moved to 9 p.m. and The Five moved back to its titular hour, 5 p.m.

Progressive media watchdog Media Matters for America slammed the decision, citing Ingraham's record on topics like LGBTQ rights and immigration, while Matt Drudge praised it, tweeting: "After years in the trenches, much deserved."

"We are delighted to unveil this new primetime schedule for both our current and future generation of loyal FNC fans," said Fox News' president of programming, Suzanne Scott, in a statement. "We look forward to [Ingraham] providing the audience with her exceptional commentary, engaging insight, and spirited debate." Jeva Lange

June 29, 2017

Curt Schilling is at a crossroads. The legendary Red Sox pitcher, who was fired as an ESPN commentator in 2016 after posting a transphobic meme, is now debating whether to run a longshot campaign against Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) or make it big as a political commentator. "I want to be bigger than [Sean] Hannity and all the other guys," Schilling told Esquire. "Why would that not be a goal? I'm not afraid of stumbling. I don't like being wrong, but it doesn't mean I'm going to be."

If that is the goal, then Schilling, at least, is on the right track. After being fired from ESPN last year, he befriended Breitbart News' then-executive chair Stephen Bannon, earning himself a two-hour morning radio show with Breitbart called Whatever It Takes. What's more, some of the competition has been felled, leaving Schilling with a potential void to fill:

Schilling could be in a position to fill an opening for conservative media's new power pundit. Glenn Beck has become an independent, going so far as to compare Trump to Hitler. Tomi Lahren, the 24-year-old once seen as Beck's rising star, is without a network after he fired her for questioning opposition to abortion. Milo Yiannopoulos lost a $250,000 book deal with Simon & Schuster and resigned from Breitbart after he was caught on tape defending pedophilia. Fox News icon Bill O'Reilly was forced out of Fox News for allegedly sexually harassing colleagues. [Esquire]

Breitbart's editor in chief, Alex Marlow, said the company wants "to make sure Schilling is a big presence."

"We have someone in Curt Schilling who is a hero to a lot of people and is willing to fight for their values," Marlow said. "We're excited and we're going to amplify him however we can." Jeva Lange

June 19, 2017

Megyn Kelly's controversial sit-down with Infowars founder Alex Jones was generally well-received after NBC spent the lead-up to the program being blasted for legitimizing the conspiracy theorist with the interview.

Kelly began Sunday Night With Megyn Kelly by addressing the importance of the interview upfront. "Jones' influence clearly merits examination, especially given his periodic access to the Trump administration and their overlapping constituencies," CNN wrote in their review of the show. "The fringe element that Jones represents needs to be understood, which isn't the same as needing to be condoned. Kelly struck that point right up front on Sunday Night."

"Here's the thing: Alex Jones isn't going away," Kelly told her viewers.

Variety's TV critic, Sonia Saraiya, disagreed with the positive reviews, writing: "Kelly does not manage to make the segment into a story because she has no story."

Advertisers cautiously avoided the program and Jones, who spent the lead-up to the interview attempting to one-up NBC and Kelly with accusations that the interview was misleadingly edited, "seemed to declare victory," on Sunday, "even popping a bottle of champagne at one point" during a live-stream of his reaction to the show, Oliver Darcy told Reliable Sources.

"The question now is: Was the interview worth it?" Darcy writes. "It's hard to tell in the immediate aftermath, but it seems Jones still may have come out on top." Jeva Lange

June 16, 2017

InfoWars founder Alex Jones attacked NBC News and Megyn Kelly on Thursday evening for allegedly misrepresenting him, with Jones vowing to release an unedited version of his interview with Kelly prior to its official airing on the network Sunday night. "I've never done this in 22 years, I've never recorded another journalist," Jones teased in a video Thursday. "I've never done this, but I knew that it was a fraud, that it was a lie."

Jones also released audio of a conversation he had with Kelly before the interview, in which Kelly apparently promises Jones "this is not going to be a contentious, sort of 'gotcha' exchange. I'm not looking to portray you as some boogeyman or just any sort of gotcha moment. I just want to talk about you."

Kelly, though, has come under heavy criticism for interviewing Jones at all, as the controversial commentator peddles conspiracy theories, including that Sandy Hook was a hoax. Kelly issued a statement this week in response to the backlash, claiming she finds Jones' theories as "personally revolting as every other rational person does."

Page Six reports Kelly has since "completely overhauled her Sunday night show featuring [Jones] ... editing her interview ... to be tougher on him, following all the backlash this week." Jeva Lange

June 13, 2017

NBC News' Megyn Kelly defended her controversial decision to interview Infowars host and Sandy Hook denier Alex Jones on her new Sunday newsmagazine program, Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly. Kelly claimed that with the interview, she intended to "shine a light" on the "considerable falsehoods" Jones promotes.

"I find Alex Jones' suggestion that [the Sandy Hook massacre] was 'a hoax' as personally revolting as every other rational person does," Kelly said in a statement, adding she interviewed Jones in pursuit of an answer to how he holds the "respect of the president ... and a growing audience of millions."

The interview, which airs in full this Sunday, has sparked a sizable backlash on social media and already cost the network at least one advertiser, J.P. Morgan Chase. Jeva Lange

See More Speed Reads