Brian Stelter here. It's 11:52pm ET on Monday, May 2. Scroll down for the latest on Vice, NBC, Don Lemon, World Press Freedom Day, Anna Wintour, "This Will Not Pass,", and so much more. But first...
"Just now on our site, we've published a story, along with an accompanying side bar and document, on a draft Supreme Court opinion that would overturn Roe v Wade."
That's how Politico editor in chief Matt Kaminski and executive editor Dafna Linzer broke the news about the outlet's explosive and unprecedented scoop to staffers on Monday evening.
"After an extensive review process," Politico was "confident of the authenticity of the draft," Kaminski and Linzer wrote, adding that the "unprecedented view into the justices' deliberations" was "plainly news of great public interest."
"We take our responsibilities to our readers and our publication with the greatest seriousness," Kaminski and Linzer wrote. "Our obligation, as protected by the First Amendment, is to report the news and inform our audience. Our journalism speaks for itself, and that's no different here."
In journalism parlance, this is one of the biggest scoops in American journalism history. But let's be very clear that the mysterious nature of the leak is nowhere near as important as the actual meaning of the draft opinion. If the court formally issues the opinion, it will be "the most consequential abortion decision in decades," CNN's team reports.
"Now what does this mean? This returns the abortion issue to the states, which pre-Roe is where it always was," Laura Ingraham said on Fox. "So in other words, some states will allow abortion liberally, some states might ban it, some will find what they believe is a middle ground."
Ingraham's comment that some states "might" ban it struck me as dishonest, since many GOP-controlled states already have, or will pass, laws banning abortion. I'm very interested in reading and viewing the coverage from Christian media outlets in the coming days, so I looked up the National Catholic Register, and its initial story notes that "if the decision holds, more than a dozen states will immediately outlaw abortion."
"What we're witnessing tonight is the loss of a right. The loss of a constitutional right," Lawrence O'Donnell said on MSNBC. Minutes earlier, O'Donnell's colleague Rachel Maddow said the opinion, if issued, "would fundamentally change us as a country. It would fundamentally change the relationship between women and the government. It would fundamentally change the future for... all our daughters and granddaughters, and women that come after us."
Major news outlets on Monday night focused less on the leak circumstances and more on the potential overturning of Roe, specifically on who would be affected, while noting that the document obtained by Politico was an early draft and that drafts often change.
In partisan media, very generally speaking, the left focused more on the impacts to women, and the right focused more on the leak itself. On Twitter, the amount of chatter about the leak was enormous. Puck's Julia Ioffe tweeted, "The focus on the fact of the leak — rather than the dismantling of women’s reproductive freedom and bodily autonomy — is so very Washington. Process over substance. Horse race over issues. It's one of the many ways we got to this exact moment..."
Inside Politico HQ
A Politico spokesperson told Oliver Darcy that "the group of people working on this story" was "an extremely small group." In other words, most staffers found out at the same time the rest of the world did. The story came out at 8:32pm ET and carried two bylines: Josh Gerstein and Alexander Ward. The reporters included all the necessary caveats up top, including that "it's unclear if there have been subsequent changes to the draft" since February. And they addressed the shocking nature of the leak head-on: "No draft decision in the modern history of the court has been disclosed publicly while a case was still pending. The unprecedented revelation is bound to intensify the debate over what was already the most controversial case on the docket this term."
>> Politico provided the draft opinion in PDF form, taking care to redact any metadata that might lead back to a source...
>> A source told Darcy that more than 100,000 concurrent people were reading the story at any given time all night, per internal Chartbeat analytics...
>> Veteran editor Bill Grueskin called it "the SCOTUS scoop of the century..."
A cascade of news coverage
As Erica Orden remarked, "One of the incredible things about this scoop is how utterly unmatchable it is." So other news outlets examined the Politico story and assessed what to do. Supreme Court beat reporters who read the 98-page document said it checked out. As WaPo's Robert Barnes put it, "there was no reason to believe that the detailed document Politico said it obtained was illegitimate." Fox's Shannon Bream said she was not "waved off" of it, adding, "I've been led to believe that this was legitimate as a February draft."
The result was a cascade of news coverage, becoming more intense every hour throughout the evening, blowing out planned TV segments and causing some newspapers to remake their front pages. "Illustrating how crazy this current news moment is, Anderson Cooper is breaking the news on CNN while reporting from Kyiv, Ukraine," WaPo's Jeremy Barr tweeted...
How did this happen?
"I can't emphasize enough, as someone who has covered this Court for 30 years, who's written two books on the Court, there has never been a leak anything like this," Jeffrey Toobin said on CNN Monday night.
That's certainly true, but as media law professor Jonathan Peters noted in this Twitter thread, "the Court does occasionally leak, and it has leaked before about Roe v. Wade."
And the leaks kept coming on Monday night. Sources told CNN's Joan Biskupic that "Chief Justice John Roberts does not want to completely overturn Roe v. Wade, meaning he apparently would be dissenting from Alito's draft opinion, likely with the court's three liberals." As Maggie Haberman tweeted, "This is a bonkers night. A leak of the draft opinion and then a leak about the likely dissent."
Conversations on Fox kept coming back to the grave harm caused by the document leak. One of the banners on Ingraham's show said "LEAK HAS POTENTIAL TO IRREPARABLY HARM COURT FOR DECADES TO COME." Ingraham said Roberts needed to immediately issue a statement. "There has to be consequences... for this individual, whoever it was," she said, adding that "names" were already being "floated out there." Fox regular and National Review contributor Andy McCarthy argued that "if this story is true, the Court should issue its opinion right away. Otherwise the disgraceful leak wins."
Cultural divide in two quotes
Shortly after breaking the story, Politico's Josh Gerstein said on MSNBC that the draft opinion is "a withering takedown of the Roe v. Wade precedent. It pulls no punches at all. It's pretty brutal." Ingraham played that clip an hour later and said "a lot of people thought the original Roe opinion was brutal as well, given what happened to 50 plus million babies."
Top reactions about the leak
>> Democratic strategist Brian Fallon asked: "Is a brave clerk taking this unprecedented step of leaking a draft opinion to warn the country what's coming in a last-ditch Hail Mary attempt to see if the public response might cause the Court to reconsider?"
>> SCOTUSBlog commented: "It’s impossible to overstate the earthquake this will cause inside the Court, in terms of the destruction of trust among the Justices and staff. This leak is the gravest, most unforgivable sin."
>> Ilyse Hogue, former president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, responded to SCOTUSBlog and said "I'm going to suggest that the leak is probably not even in the top five of the gravest, most unforgivable sins of the last few years in SCOTUS world..."
>> Rick Hasen said "some may say this SCOTUS leak benefits those who oppose overturning Roe. But it actually helps the majority that overturns by (1) deflecting commentary to breach of Court secrecy norms and (2) lessening the blow by setting expectations..."
>> National Review editor Rich Lowry: "The Supreme Court justices who are going to be in the majority should get 24/7 security right away..."
-- CNN's "Don Lemon Tonight" is showing live pictures of protesters outside the Supreme Court right now...
-- Politico health care reporter Alice Miranda Ollstein tweeted a reminder that "both sides of the abortion fight have been operating for months under the assumption that Roe is toast and making plans accordingly..." (Twitter)
-- NYMag writer Rebecca Traister made a similar point: "Intellectually I am unsurprised, mentally knew this was coming, have been writing about it for years, understand Roe has been insufficient for millions, etc etc. And yet: my teeth have been chattering uncontrollably for an hour..." (Twitter)
-- This WaPo story by Caroline Kitchener was published online Monday morning. It's titled "the next frontier for the antiabortion movement: A nationwide ban." It is running on Tuesday's front page right under the breaking news story about the leak... (WaPo)
-- "We are just getting started in our defense of human life," Live Action president Lila Rose wrote. "We must be in every statehouse, the halls of Congress, and we will even be back to the Supreme Court to advocate for our preborn brothers and sisters..." (Twitter)
-- Guardian US gender and politics columnist Moira Donegan: "It's important to remember the human tragedy of this, not just for those who will be forced into motherhood but for all of us who will not get to experience the fruits of female talent cultivated and female ambitions fulfilled. Forced birth is a needless waste of human potential..." (Twitter)
-- 🔌: Gerstein will be on CNN's "New Day" in the 7am hour on Tuesday...
FIRST IN RELIABLE
How State Dept. is marking World Press Freedom Day
The State Department is marking World Press Freedom Day on Tuesday by releasing a video showing spokesperson Ned Price, along with Jen Psaki and John Kirby, discussing the importance of a free media around the world. The video shows the three Biden admin spokespeople underscoring how important it is for governments to take hard — and sometimes uncomfortable — questions from reporters. You can see the video here...
>> The State Dept. also plans on Tuesday to reopen the Washington Foreign Press Center, which has been closed for two years because of the pandemic, a spokesperson for the agency told me. Antony Blinken will deliver remarks on promoting press freedom and he will take questions from journalists around the world, including in areas where such freedoms are under threat...
>> The State Dept. will be using its social media platforms on Tuesday to highlight the work of journalists, I'm told. Additionally, various embassies have also planned programs that celebrate the press...
Biden meets with Austin Tice's parents
A follow-up to last night's newsletter item: President Biden "met with the parents of detained American journalist Austin Tice" on Monday, two days after he expressed interest in doing so during the WHCA dinner. Jen Psaki said Biden "reiterated his commitment to continue to work through all available avenues to secure Austin's long overdue return to his family." Here is CNN's full story...
Matthew Chance back in Moscow
CNN senior international correspondent Matthew Chance has returned to Moscow for the first time since January. CNN ceased reporting from the country back in March while assessing the impact of a strict new law dictating how the conflict in Ukraine is described. Chance said Monday on "The Lead with Jake Tapper" that it was hard to get back to Moscow "since most airlines have stopped flying back in to Russia." He said "I think the biggest challenge is going to be reporting on this country with those strict laws that have been put in place."
>> Chance elaborated in this interview with Jack Holmes of Esquire: "We want to try and bring viewers a perspective from inside Russia... How are Russians responding to the international isolation over Ukraine? How are families coping with the loss of Russian soldiers since the Kremlin sent the troops in? And how do ordinary people feel about the direction the country is taking? It's quite a challenge given the reporting restrictions now in place, but we have a responsibility to try." Read on...
Will there be more leaks from SCOTUS?
The IAB NewFronts continue...
It's Primary Day in Ohio and Indiana...
Per Brian Lowry, look for the first reviews of "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness." Fandango reported Monday that advance ticket sales are running ahead of "The Batman," easily the top movie thus far of 2022...
"This Will Not Pass" day is here
"This Will Not Pass" is the real deal. The Guardian's review calls it a "blockbuster" and "473 pages of essential reading." Scoops from Jonathan Martin and Alex Burns' book have been garnering headlines for months – literally. On Tuesday it is actually available for sale, and here's a scooplet about the scoops: Due to high demand, Simon & Schuster has gone back for a second printing before the book's publication. It is the #2 best seller on Amazon right now...
More of Tuesday's top releases
"After Steve" by Tripp Mickle is a comprehensive look at Apple in the years Steve Jobs. Check out this excerpt via the NYT. "Anna" by Amy O'Dell, a biography of Anan Wintour, "reveals an unseen side of fashion's most influential figure," CNN Style says.
Speaking of Wintour...
The big business of the Met Gala
I would have written a lot about Monday night's Met Gala, but then the SCOTUS news broke. Check CNN.com for coverage.
"What began as a fundraiser for the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute has also become a major revenue opportunity for publisher Condé Nast," Business of Fashion's Lauren Sherman reports. She says Vogue charged "$1 million for two six-second spots over the course of two hours" on Monday's live stream, "as well as additional amplification through influencers and other channels such as Instagram..."
-- A preview of next week's big book release: Former Defense Secretary Mark Esper "says Trump wanted to shoot protesters..." (Axios)
-- Derek Thompson's latest is about DeSantis vs. Disney: "This is how America's culture war death spirals..." (The Atlantic)
Maddow's new normal
Starting this week, Rachel Maddow is only helming MSNBC's 9pm hour on Mondays. (She scrapped her planned show on Monday night to pivot to the breaking news from Politico.) On Tuesday the time slot will be renamed "MSNBC Prime;" the network hasn't said who will host. Mehdi Hasan filled in for Maddow last Friday...
NBC discovers plagiarism from reporter
NBC News on Monday disclosed to readers that it had found 11 articles which had contained plagiarism. "In all cases, the passages were not central to the stories, but instead contained supplemental or background material that did not represent original reporting," the outlet said in a note to readers posted online. Each of the articles, written by reporter Teaganne Finn, had an editor's note appended to them disclosing to readers that plagiarism had been discovered. Additionally, "the passages that were plagiarized have been removed," NBC said. An NBC spokesperson said that the plagiarism was discovered during a routine editing process that prompted a larger review. The spokesperson added that Finn is no longer with the network. Finn did not respond to requests for comment...
FOR THE RECORD, PART THREE
-- Elon Musk (who was also at the Met Gala, by the way) went "scorched-earth on NBC after Peacock host's attack, notes network's worst scandals." Musk was reacting to a commentary by the aforementioned Mehdi Hasan... (Fox)
-- Jeffrey Rosen, CEO of the National Constitution Center, says "Musk is right that Twitter should follow the First Amendment..." (The Atlantic)
-- "The Recount is planning to restructure its business," and "its chief content officer
Ryan Kadro has exited the company..." (Axios)
Licht's day-one message to CNN: 'We will be advocates for truth'
New CNN CEO Chris Licht "sent a day-one memo to staffers Monday, obtained by Axios' Sara Fischer, where he first acknowledges the job done by interim bosses Amy Entelis, Michael Bass and Ken Jautz," TVNewser's A.J. Katz wrote.
Licht described his leadership approach, then said, "Sadly too many people have lost trust in the news media. I think we can be a beacon in regaining that trust by being an organization that exemplifies the best characteristics in journalism: fearlessly speaking truth to power, challenging the status quo, questioning 'group-think' and educating viewers and readers with straightforward facts and insightful commentary, while always being respectful of differing viewpoints. First and foremost, we should, and we will be advocates for truth." Licht will hold a town hall for employees on Thursday...
Clearing Don Lemon's name
For nearly three years, multiple right-wing media outlets hyped a lawsuit against CNN anchor Don Lemon that made no sense. Now the accuser has dropped his case – but will any of the Lemon-hating outlets say so?
The civil lawsuit accusing Lemon of assault at a Sag Harbor, New York bar was filed by Dustin Hice in 2019. Fox News wrote a story about the suit right away. The Fox website published multiple followups in 2020 and 2021, even after CNN pointed out that the suit followed "unsuccessful threats and demands for an exorbitant amount of money from Don" and that Hice "previously displayed a pattern of contempt for CNN on his social media accounts."
As the case worked its way toward trial, former Fox host Megyn Kelly invited Hice on her SiriusXM show and Fox host Jesse Watters interviewed Hice on TV. The friendly interviews spawned even more digital coverage by the likes of Breitbart. But the interviews may have also undermined Hice's case. A witness heard about the case and alleged that Hice "previously did to him what Hice now claims Lemon did," according to The Advocate's Christopher Wiggins, who has meticulously documented how the case fell apart. Wiggins reported in March that Hice "destroyed evidence" and "purposefully withheld information." That same month, Hice was ordered to pay $77,000 in attorney's fees for destroying evidence. On Monday both sides agreed to a voluntary dismissal of the case.
So what happened? Hice's attorney shared this statement from Hice: "After a lot of inner reflection and a deep dive into my memory, I have come to realize that my recollection of the events that occurred on the night in question when I first met CNN anchor Don Lemon were not what I thought they were when I filed this lawsuit. As a result, I am dropping the case."
Lemon's attorney Caroline Polisi called the lawsuit "abusive" and said the case "was a crass money grab from its inception." Kelly, who used to be friendly with Lemon but turned cruel, tweeted on Monday that she was sure Hice was paid off, but Polisi couldn't have been more clear in her statement: "Lemon has never paid the plaintiff a dime over the course of this unfortunate spectacle, and he is looking forward to moving on with his life."
Polisi also called out the likes of Kelly, stating, "I hope that many in the media have learned their lesson on misreporting the facts and jumping to conclusions. The reporting on this story by many outlets has been a case-study in unethical and uninformed reporting." I would only add what my editors often point out: That anyone can file a lawsuit saying just about anything, so a suit (especially a bizarre one) is not necessarily newsworthy. Responsible journalism relies on evidence...
Lorenz walks back Drudge harassment claim
BY OLIVER DARCY:
WaPo's Taylor Lorenz walked back an allegation on Monday that an editor for the Drudge Report had repeatedly harassed her after she was contacted by Matt Drudge himself. Lorenz tweeted Monday that she had bene "relentlessly" harassed by a Drudge Report editor who had threatened to use the site to destroy her career. It was a serious allegation and so I checked in with Drudge who told me that he had "never contacted her, nor has anyone associated with the DRUDGE REPORT." Drudge, who made clear to me he was not pleased with the allegations against his site, forwarded me an email he had sent Lorenz asking for a correction.
When Lorenz received Drudge's request, she deleted her tweets and posted a clarification: "For anyone who saw my post abt this man claiming to be from Drudge calling me non stop, good news: I heard from Matt Drudge & this man has zero power over Drudge! He's claiming to be an editor all over the internet but he's not. Sorry to disappoint everyone saying Drudge is based." Lorenz told me that her initial tweets were a "joke" and that she found the idea someone could harm her career via the Drudge Report "hilarious." Lorenz said she was "laughing very hard about the idea" and was simply joking about it online. "I am happy to correct the record that I have no drama with Drudge Report," Lorenz told me.
>> A WaPo spox said: "Taylor was repeatedly contacted by someone who claimed to be a Drudge editor. As soon as she learned the person had no connection to the Drudge Report, she deleted the original tweet and wrote a tweet apologizing for her comment..."
"He will look you in the eye..."
New York Times reporter Nick Confessore spent the better part of a year on his multi-part series about Tucker Carlson's radicalization. Part two of the project ran atop Page One on Monday. Part three is an interactive feature that concludes with the following: "If it's a weeknight, Tucker Carlson will be on. Over the course of an hour, he will look you in the eye and tell you that they want to control and then destroy you."
Confessore spent the better part of Monday sharing his reporting with interviews, including SiriusXM's Michael Smerconish, MSNBC's Nicolle Wallace and PBS's Amna Nawaz. Confessore said to Smerconish that he doesn't buy Carlson's vow not to read the series...
BY BRIAN LOWRY:
The aforementioned Nicolle Wallace devoted more than 30 minutes of her MSNBC show to the New York Times' report on Tucker Carlson, but the gist of the analysis of Carlson's success boiled down to two words from analyst Steve Schmidt that have long applied to media and, in some ways, local news in particular: "Fear works."
FOR THE RECORD, PART FOUR
-- Day one of the IAB NewFronts featured Peacock ad plans, YouTube streaming deals "and a glitch..." (AdAge)
-- Matthew Belloni reports: "China asked that 'Spider-Man: No Way Home' remove or minimize the Statue of Liberty. Sony declined, and it's not alone in rejecting Chinese requests these days..." (Puck)
-- The repricing of Netflix continues: The stock closed up 4.8% on Monday. Disney rose 1.7% and Warner Bros. Discovery (CNN's parent) rose 6%...
-- "Elizabeth Banks' directorial outing 'Cocaine Bear' will stomp into theaters nationwide on Feb. 24, 2023, Universal announced Monday. Featuring a broad cast, the thriller is inspired by the 1985 true story of a drug runner’s plane crash, missing cocaine and the burly black bear that ate it..." (THR)
Vice to be sold off in pieces?
On Friday The Information's Jessica Toonkel reported that "Vice Media is exploring the possible sale of its studio business." On Monday CNBC's Alex Sherman went further. Vice "has hired bankers to seek a sale," either in whole or "in parts." Citing sources, Sherman said "several buyers have expressed preliminary interest in acquiring Vice outright," but it could also be sold in pieces. The company was once valued at nearly $6 billion, and more recently about $3 billion, but "it’s likely to garner a price significantly lower than that," according to some of Sherman's sources...
Kimmel lines up guest host after revealing he has Covid
BY CHERI MOSSBURG:
Jimmy Kimmel, host of "Jimmy Kimmel Live!," has Covid-19 and will hand the reins of his late-night show to guest host Mike Birbiglia starting Tuesday, the comedian announced on Twitter. Birbiglia, a stand-up comedian, will fill in for Kimmel, greeting guests Tom Cruise and fellow comic, Iliza Shlesinger, on Monday night...
LAST BUT NOT LEAST...
Pet of the day!
Reader Victoria Lare emails a photo of her rescue cats: "Here are Lucy and Linus, very dismayed upon my telling them that it is time for midterm elections..."
Thank you for reading! Email your feedback anytime. We'll be back tomorrow...
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