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PM says Speaker will have to address allegations that legislator was bribed

PM says Speaker will have to address allegations that legislator was bribed

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Dec 29, CMC – Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo says the Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr. Barton Scotland,  will have to address allegations that former government back bencher Charrandass Persaud had been bribed into voting in favour of a successful opposition inspired motion of no confidence against the government last weekend.

“If a vote in the National Assembly was procured by unlawful means to overthrow a constitutionally elected government that will have serious implications and the Speaker will have to address that issue,” Nagamootoo said.

“If you had a member of parliament who knew that he had lost confidence in his party or his slate, he should have indicated to the House that he no longer wanted to support his slate and he wanted to endorse another slate so that the House would know how to deal with that situation,” he added.

Persaud, who has since announced his resignation from the ruling coalition government, has said that he voted with the opposition in a bid to clear his conscience.

“My conscience was stifled for long…they (government) voted for things that should not have happened, period”, Persaud told reporters soon after the vote.

But there have been several reports posted on social media claiming that a bribe had been paid to the former legislator and on Friday, a senior official of the ruling People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR), Aubrey Norton, accused a senior official of the opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) of colluding “with forces in Trinidad and mobilised resources to bribe a sitting member of parliament in pursuance of his hunger for wealth and power”.

Nagamootoo said that the Speaker of the House will also have to consider whether a simple 33 or 34 votes were needed for the motion to be carried. He said there is an overwhelming view that the motion needed 34 votes to pass and that this was known to the opposition.

“They were privy to a legal opinion that says you needed 34. And so, they are in a quandary now how to deal with the situation because the Speaker had indicated at the last sitting that he will return on the 3rd of January to address the consequences of the votes, meaning, did it meet the threshold under the constitution for a majority?”

Prime Minister Nagamootoo said people are “coming to grips” with the reality that it is not a majority that is catered for in the Standing Orders, as the House regulates its own procedures. The majority, he said, is addressed in the Constitution.

“So, the constitutional majority will have weigh, more significance on how does one arrive at a majority… The formula has been one half plus one. So, if you have 64 members of the parliament, your one half would be 32 and a majority would be 33. How then can you have 33 as a majority for 65, unless you can prove that 64 is equal to 65.

“So, you can see already that it is producing an absurd conclusion, and the constitution would have never contemplated the creation of an absurdity,” he added.

Following the 2015 presidential and general elections, the coalition government received a slender one seat majority in the 65-member National Assembly and Prime Minister Nagamootoo defended the earlier decision of the government to accept the ruling last Friday that the motion had been successfully put to the vote.

“We accepted the ruling of the Speaker, because as an attorney-at-law when a judge makes a ruling, you accept the ruling until you’re able to have that ruling withdrawn, those are things a court would do if it found it had been in error,” he said.

 

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, CARICOM, Elections, International, Local, News, Politics, Regional0 Comments

US-based group writes Speaker of Guyana Parliament

US-based group writes Speaker of Guyana Parliament

By Nelson A. King

NEW YORK, Dec 26, CMC – The US-based Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy (CGID) has written to the Speaker of the Guyana Parliament, Dr. Bartland Scotland, requesting that he considers annulling last weekend’s vote of no confidence that brought down the in the David Grange coalition government.

In the letter, the CGID said it is relying on Article 153 (a) and (b) of the Guyana Constitution, that notes  “a member of the National Assembly elected on a list shall cease to be a member of the Assembly if: (a) “He or she declares in writing to the Speaker or to the Representative of the list from which his or her name was extracted that he or she will not support the list from which his or her name was extracted;” and (b) “He or she declares in writing to the Speaker or to the Representative of the list from which his or her name was extracted, his or her support for another list.”

Guyana Parliament Building (File Photo)

Last Friday, government backbencher Charandass Persaud voted with the opposition Peoples Progressive Party (PPP) to win the no-confidence motion in the 65-seat National Assembly after several hours of debate.

The Granger led A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) coalition had held a slender one-seat majority since the 2015 general elections.

In the December 24 letter, CGID said that “Persaud publicly withdrew his support for the APNU+AFC coalition List from which he was extracted and declared his support for the PPP/C List.

“Consequently, in accordance with Article 153 (a) and (b) of the Guyana Constitution, it is the position of CGID, having consulted with several attorneys in Guyana and internationally, that Mr. Charrandass Persaud’s vote for the no confidence motion against the government on December 21 is null, void and of no legal effect, and should be vitiated,” CGID wrote.

“The institute, therefore, respectfully solicits your review and sanction of this matter of urgent national importance,” it added.

The CGID said that, prior to the Constitution Amendment Act of 2007, Article 156.3, an original provision of the Constitution, stated that “A member of the national Assembly elected on a list shall be disqualified from being a member of the Assembly, if he or she in the prescribed manner, declares that he or she will not support the list from which his or her name was extracted or, declares that he or she abstain from supporting that list or, declares his or her support for another list.”

CGID said this original provision, Article 156.3, was repealed and replaced with the extant provisions of Article 153 by the Constitution Amendment Act of 2007.

“The amendment, notwithstanding the fundamental intent of the framers of the Constitution, remains applicable and paramount to the interpretation of the extant provisions of Article 153,” CGID wrote, adding that the Constitution “comprises binding rules which govern the organization, powers and administration of government and society.

“The intent of the framers, thereof, is the jurisprudential standard for constitutional interpretation,” it added.

CGID said the framers of the Guyana Constitution intended, in Article 153 (a) and (b), that “a member of the Assembly, elected by the people and extracted from his party’s List, cannot act against, refuse to support nor vote against the List from which he or she was extracted, and neither can a member vote for, with or in support of another List, without first declaring such intent to the Speaker in writing.”

Consequently, the US based group said that Article 153 (a) and (b) of the Guyana Constitution “mandates that any member who, accordingly, makes such declaration against the List from which he or she is extracted or in support of another List, shall cease to be a member of the National Assembly.

“The commission of an act against the List from which a member was extracted, as well as an act in support of another List, for which a written declaration was deliberately and deceitfully withheld from the Speaker, likewise violate the provisions of Article 153 (a) and (b), and similarly disqualifies such a member immediately from the Assembly, since the intention of the Constitution is for the member to fully honor the content of Article 153 to the letter,” it said.

CGID said Article 153 clearly mandates that “before a member acts against the List from which he or she was extracted, or in support of another List, a declaration of that intent must be first submitted to the Speaker, the consequence of which, or the failure to so declare, require nullification of the act by the Speaker and disqualification of the member from the Assembly.

“Article 153, therefore, safeguards against the government side of the Assembly bringing itself down,” CGID said. “It follows, therefore, that a public withdrawal of support for the List from which a member was extracted and the public declaration of support for another List, with or without a declaration to the Speaker, automatically triggers or invokes Article 153 (a) and (b), and such member shall cease to be a member of the Assembly.

“Honourable, Speaker, on Friday, December, 21, 2018, Mr. Charrandass Persaud, then a member of the Assembly, who was extracted from the APNU+AFC coalition List, voted in favour of the no confidence motion that was tabled in the National Assembly by the parliamentary opposition, against the APNU+AFC coalition government of Guyana, enabling its passage,” added CGID in its letter to Scotland.

As a result of Friday’s no confidence vote, Guyana is preparing for general elections early next year.

Persaud, a lawyer, told reporters after the vote that his conscience had been “stifled for long,” adding that he had not been offered any money or position by the opposition to vote against the government.

Persaud, who had long criticized the PPP as “corrupt” and “out-of-touch”, among other things, said he will be tendering his resignation to Parliament and the Alliance for Change (AFC), a partner in the coalition government, and that he would not be returning to the House as a Member of Parliament for the AFC.

In the interim, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo, a former president, said that he plans to meet with Granger on several issues. The meeting is scheduled for next month.

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, CARICOM, Elections, International, News, OECS, Politics, Regional0 Comments

Bharrat Jagdeo successfully piloting motion of no confidence in government

Guyana Government falls

by staff writer

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Dec 22, CMC – Guyana was preparing for a general election early next year after a government back bencher supported an opposition motion of no confidence against the David Granger government late on Friday night.

Opposition leader Bharrat Jagdeo, who had been heckled as he outlined his reasons for the motion in Parliament, has already signalled his intention to work with the coalition A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) government leading up to the polls that could be held as early as March.

Bharrat Jagdeo successfully piloting motion of no confidence in government

Government back-bencher Charandass Persaud voted with the opposition Peoples Progressive Party (PPP) legislators to win the no-confidence motion in the 65-seat National Assembly after several hours of debate.

The APNU had won the 2015 general election by a slender one-seat majority and despite repeated urges by fellow parliamentarians to change his vote, Persaud declined.

When the debate started, Jagdeo, a former president, described the coalition government as “incompetent and corrupt”.

agdeo said the Government has been a total failure and has not been keeping its promises to the Guyanese people who voted them into office.

“The people out there, they demand that we pursue this and I know there are 33 members who have been growing fat on the perks of office and wish that this motion disappears”, he said, adding that the coalition government had mismanaged the resources of Guyana and that is the main reason behind his decision to file the motion against the government.

Jagdeo said the government has failed on its manifesto promises and is harming democracy. He said the Granger led administration is totally untrustworthy and that it has failed to bring any major investor to Guyana and has only been talking “about oil oil oil”.

“We have made the case that this government is totally useless to the people of Guyana. The longer they stay there, the more damaging it will be to our future”.

Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, who led the government’s response to Jagdeo defended its record defending adding “when you speak of harming democracy, you have to look at what the PPP has done”

“We are confident that we have restored the symbols of nationhood in this society and this is what keeps us together,” the minister stated.

Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo described the motion as “self –serving” saying that the Opposition Leader is hoping for a “fluke” in the motion being carried.

He said the motion was moved with political viciousness and resulted in the image of the country being reflected as unstable.

Posted in CARICOM, International, News, Regional0 Comments

DSC_0467

MCC Graduates 20

In 2018 Graduation and Awards Ceremony

By Bennette Roach

The Montserrat Community College in its usual business-like style, conducted its 2018 Graduation and Awards Ceremony, its 13th on Wednesday, December 19 at the Cultural Centre in Little Bay.

Principal Geraldine Cabey hailed by a student for her sternness, “a woman whose presence is like no other, a woman with voice is enough to send chills running you’re your spine…” she had some serious caution for the graduating and other college attendees. In her remarks and report, she informed that the Graduating class has created a new beginning for themselves, whether as a step-up on the next wrung of the academic ladder or as new entrants into the workforce…providing the distinct opportunity especially for our graduants, as well as the institution, to consciously reflect on the academic journey that would have culminated in this event.


Principal Geraldine Cabey

She reported 56 full time students pursuing 26 subject areas, in pursuit of the Caribbean Advance Proficiency Examination qualification at the Certificate, Diploma or associate degree level. In addition, 25 part time students who pursued a combination of both advanced CAPE subjects and secondary level CSEC courses.

She reported an overall 92% subject pass rate for the June 2018 CAPE examinations, achieved by the graduating class together with the current second year students.

The most outstanding performer, the Valedictorian of the class of 2018, Miss JenAlyn Weekes, gained passes in twelve (12) CAPE Units over the two years she spent at the College. Miss Weekes, the principal said: “epitomizes the College’s Motto which is ‘Aspire, Apply, Achieve’”.

Miss JenAlyn Weekes

A notable feature of the ceremony was that every participant was connected with the College, either past or present staff or student, to include Mr. and Mrs. Alfonso Lee for their ‘outstanding’ generosity to the college, in one instance, for painting buildings on the school compound.

The master of ceremonies was Mr. Glenroy Foster who was a one of the first persons to graduate from the college before he moved on to pursue a master’s degree in civil engineering, and who now serves at the Ministry of Communication and Works.

Mr. Glenroy Foster

In his opening and welcoming remarks he said: “Graduation is a time where many reminisce on the years spent at the particular institution.

“I would want to believe that the graduating class could remember times of happiness and sadness, the joyful times and the stressful times and more importantly the friends that they spent all of these times with.

“This institution is a precursor to the traditional 3-year and 4-year university experience.  It gives persons a taste of what to expect in their transition from the secondary school way of education where they are taught to the university situation where they are lectured.”

“There is no spoon feeding,” he told the students.

He shared.  “I believe it is the hope of the MCC, that the two years persons spend at the college would provide them with the necessary tools to aid them in their next step along life’s journey.” Then to the students: “Whether that step be higher learning or that step is becoming a member of the work force,” he reminded… ”this graduation ceremony marks a milestone in your lives and a point where you can look back on what you have achieved as well as look forward to what the future may bring.”

Some entertainment was provided by one student, Miss Okessa Halley giving her rendition of the song ‘One Moment in Time’, accompanied at the piano by the accomplished (staff member) Miss Anne-Marie Dewar.

Miss Okessa Halley

The keynote address, delivered by a graduate of the college of very recent years, Miss Nadia Browne. She was smooth in her admonishments, advice and encouragement.

Straight off, she began with the observation: “I noticed that most of you have left the confines of school life and joined the workforce, while others have opted to further their studies.”

“Regardless of your choice,” she continued, “my message to you this evening centers around your personality. As we hear of the turmoil in other parts of the world and look at the state of our nation, it is evident that society needs its youth to exhibit such qualities as integrity, vision, selflessness, dedication, cooperation and a host of others to function properly.

Miss Nadia Browne

Having noted that it wasn’t long since she had to miss her graduating exercise, because of an exam, she being very much a youth, including herself in her next comment: “The task is ours to set a good example for those who are even younger than us and future generations.”

“Take a moment to think about the person you want to be,” Nadia offered. “Who is that person in society? What will it take for you to become that person? Eventually, you will all be a part of the workforce. In spite of the accolades or lack thereof you gained from your scholastics, you will have to prove yourself to be a competent worker, quick learner and cooperative team-member. What do you want your co-workers to say of you?

“Would you rather be known as the worker who does not shy away from a challenge or the person who is only at work because he or she needs to be paid?

She recommends her personal choices: “I strive to maintain a reputation in my workplace for being an individual who espouses such tenets as responsibility, trustworthiness, dependability, supportiveness, cleverness, fairness, honesty and friendliness, who my coworkers are comfortable interacting with. – and when required in my office – I also try to be loving, demonstrate good listening skills, provide sound advice and exhibit confidentiality.”

There was plenty beyond this. “Who do you think Montserrat needs you to be? An innovator? A peacemaker? An activist? A negotiator? How can the talents you have been blessed with be used to make your nation better?” leaving an audience and college students, impossible not taking something away. Nadia closed: “I hope that at least something that I said tonight will resonate with you… Congratulations once again. I look forward to working alongside you to improve our nation and world.” (See her address here online at www.themontserratreporter.com) with the story.

The prizes, certificates and awards for all students were delivered with the able assistance of Mrs. Oslyn Jemmotte a past Registrar and bursar at the college.

The valedictorian, Miss JenAlyn Weekes was humble as she acknowledged her title of achievement. “I see myself as a representative of a group of valedictorian…” At the end she added: “I wish to urge members of this class, to be grateful for the foundation that his been set and to go out there anad soar like an eagle and accomplish great things,” thanking all those including staff etc, parents and all those who contributed to the journey so far.

The vote of thanks delivered by student Doron Cassel should have ended the day’s events but for the surprise event of an award/gift to the principal Mrs. Cabey. This came with the words as she was acclaimed: “… a stern woman whose presence is like no other; whose voice is enough to send chills running down your spine; a woman when she walks, the sound of her heels echo throughout the school…” So it was a privilege, pleasure and honour, the young man said: “to give this award to none other than Miss Geraldine Cabey, whose looks will make you remember every piece of homework, you think you can trick your teacher…”

The recession of the now graduates, no longer graduants, followed.

Posted in Education, Entertainment, Featured, Local, News, Regional, Youth0 Comments

Genesys - DSC_0591

Nite of Pan – Festival 2018

Genesys Pan orchestra opens the side show for the 2018 Semi-Final calypso show

The annual ‘Nite of Pan’ stages tonight at Festival Village in Little Bay, Montserrat.

Herman “Cupid” Francis, through once again to another Calypso Final,  organises the Nite of Pan. He can take the credit of keeping pan alive in Montserrat for the many years.

Tonight as for the past several years there will be visiting stars from Antigua, fresh from the Mood of Pan competition just concluded and in which the newish pan group Genesys participated a few days ago.

The Antigua group, Panache, is reportedly led by Zahra Lee, Antigua’s first female steel pan arranger, tied with Hell’s Gate Steel Orchestra to win the 2018 edition of Panorama during the island’s summer festival this past August.

The lineup for the show tonight beginning at 8.00 p.m. will include the steel pan orchestras from the local primary schools, as well as Genesys and the Volpanics.

All are welcome! There is an entrance fee – adults and children.

Posted in Entertainment, Environment, Local, Regional0 Comments

ILO Dec 18

Labour Overview 2018: Unemployment in Latin America and the Caribbeandown slightly in 2018

18 December 2018

After three years on the rise, unemployment in Latin America and the Caribbean dipped slightly in 2018, according to the ILO’s Labour Overview 2018. But there is uncertainty about future trends, amid slow growth, high volatility and concerns about the high rate of youth unemployment.

LIMA (ILO News) – The unemployment rate in Latin America and the Caribbean fell slightly to a forecast 7.8 in 2018, from 8.1 per cent in 2017, reversing a three-year trend of rising unemployment, the ILO said in its Labour Overview 2018 regional report.

“In a context of slow economic growth, the improvement in the unemployment rate has been modest,” said ILO interim Regional Director Carlos Rodriguez, adding that there is a need “to increase the speed at which we generate more and better jobs “. He pointed out that the latest figures, based on data collected up to the third quarter 2018, mean that some 25 million women and men in the region are unemployed.

ILO regional economist Hugo Ñopo pointed out that youth unemployment in the region was at alarming levels. One in five people in the 14-25 age group were looking for work, but failing to find any in the third quarter 2018.

The report highlights the need to step up efforts to reduce gender inequality in the world of work. The labour force participation rate for women has remained constant, at 50.3 per cent in the third quarter, 20 percentage points below the rate for men. The unemployment rate for women reached 10 per cent in the third quarter of 2018, as compared with a 7.3 per cent rate for men.

While the average unemployment rate for the region dropped, it actually increased in 10 countries and fell in seven. The decrease in the regional rate was driven in large part by an improvement in Brazil – home to 40 per cent of the region’s economically active population – which saw the unemployment rate drop by 0.6 percentage points.

At the same time, real minimum wages increased regionally, and in 12 of the 16 countries that provided data for this indicator.

The report says one million jobs could be created if an IMF forecast for a 2.2 per cent growth in 2019 is realized. But it also warns that future trends in the region remain uncertain amid labour market vulnerability to political, trade and investment fluctuations.

Labour Overview marks its 25th anniversary this year, at a time when the ILO is gearing up to mark its centenary, starting in January 2019.

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, CARICOM, International, Labour, Local, News, OECS, Regional0 Comments

Schools were told to put sanitary bins in boys’ toilets for transgender students

Boys can have periods too, primary pupils are taught

Schools were told to put sanitary bins in boys’ toilets for transgender students MATT CARDY/GETTY IMAGES

Teachers are being encouraged to tell primary school children that boys can have periods to avoid upsetting transgender pupils.

Advice on sex education lessons issued by a local authority states that teachers should discuss menstruation in a way that is inclusive of all genders.

The guidance, published by Brighton and Hove city council, on which Labour is the largest party with minority control, was criticised as sacrificing clear information for girls in favour of political correctness.

It states: “Trans boys and men and non-binary people may have periods.”

The guidance advises teachers that language used to talk about menstruation should be inclusive of all genders and that bins for tampons and other period products should be provided in male and female school lavatories.

Posted in International, Kids, Local, News, Regional, Youth0 Comments

entment

Reliable Sources

Welcome to Friday’s editionof the Reliable Sources newsletter. This is Oliver Darcy, filling in for Brian Stelter, and ready to walk you through a busy day of medianews. I enjoy reading your feedback, so please do get in touch via emailor find me on Twitter.

Scroll down for news on The Weekly Standard, Facebook’s latest data breach, Mika Brzezinski’s on-air apology, and more. But first, somebreaking news…

BREAKING NEWS:

Federal judge rules ACA’s individual mandate unconstitutional

There is some blockbuster news out of Texas tonight. A federal judge declared the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate unconstitutional, adding, “The court declares the remaining provisions of the ACA … are inseverable and therefore invalid.” CNN’s story is here with all the details…

Expect this story to dominate a good portion of the news cycle as we head into the weekend. It’s generating a lot of chatter — among both journalists and politicians — and Trump has already started to tweet about it…

The “acting” chief of staff is…

OBM director Mick Mulvaney. Trump announced the news in a tweet, naturally. He added a couple hours later, “For the record, there were many people who wanted to be the White House Chief of Staff. Mick M will do a great job!” In an “acting” capacity, BTW.

So who actually wanted the job? That’s unclear. As Irin Carmon quipped on “New Day” Friday morning, the chief of staff job is like the Oscars hosting gig — it used to be a sought-after position! But now? It’s “thanks but no thanks.”

Trump was frustrated by the “growing perception that no one of stature wanted the job,” the AP reported. Per CNN’s Jeremy Diamond, “Trump was sick of the prevailingnarrative & wanted to put an end to the speculation & bowing out ofcandidates” like Chris Christie. Enter Mulvaney. According to CNN’s Kaitlan Collins, he was at the W.H.for a meeting about the “looming government shutdown.” He wasn’t therefor a job interview! But he “walked out with a promotion…”

Did Christie’s book play a part in his disinterest in the role?

Heading into Friday, Chris Christie seemed to be the frontrunner for Trump’s CoS. Not only does he have a wealth of experience, but he shares chemistry with the president. So why did Christie publicly come out and say that he was not interested? Officially, Christie said, “that now is not the right time for me or my family to undertake this serious assignment.” But he has a book coming out in January titled “Let Me Finish: Trump, the Kushners, Bannon, New Jersey, and the power of In-Your-Face Politics.” And multiple reporters say that was a factor.

WaPo’s Josh Dawsey tweeted, “Christie’s lucrative memoir, which is expected to settle some scores, will come out in January. It’s finished. Being chief of staff would have complicated that.” Bloomberg’s Jennifer Jacobs said that Christie “damaged his standing with Trump with memoir republishing.” And NYT’s Maggie Haberman reported that the book “is expected to touch on his tenure as a federal prosecutor” during which Christie “prosecuted Charles Kushner, the father of Jared Kushner… a task that has since complicated his relationship with the Trump family.”

“Trump can still convince people to look elsewhere”

The Atlantic’s Elaina Plott wrote in her latest piece that Trump used the Apprentice-styled search for anew CoS, in part, to “manipulate the news cycle” and send “journalists scrambling to report” the latest updates. “This week thus showcased not only how the White House problems show no signs of ebbing, but also how, in spite of them all, Trump can still convince people to look elsewhere,” Plott wrote…

All the president’s investigations

Brian Stelter emails: Reporters are great at covering the minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour developments in Trump’s assorted scandals. But what about the BIG story? That’s a lot harder to capture…

CNN on Friday made a concerted effort to zoom out, WAY out. Multiple segments explained “Trump’s deepening legal jeopardy” and “all the president’s investigations.” A graphic noted that the Trump Organization, Trump’s foundation, his 2016 campaign, his transition, his inauguration, and his administration are all under investigation. 

As Ana Cabrera said on Friday: “The one common denominator in each of those? President Trump himself, who is lashing out and blaming other people around him.”
Dean: “Much more damning than Watergate”
Stelter continues: I think the segments were inspired, in part, by CNN contributor John Dean‘s viral tweet overnight. He wrote, “Trump’s campaign. Trump’s transition. Trump’s inauguration. Trump’s presidency. Plus Trump & family. All are now under state and federal criminal and civil investigations. This is much more damning than Watergate, and it is just getting started.”

I know I’ve been a broken record about this, but 90-second nightly news packages and 500-word stories are not enough — the audience needs a lot more to fully digest what’s going on. This came up on Rachel Maddow‘s show on Thursday night, too. “What a moment we are all living through,” she said… “I don’t know who you know or how old they are, but nobody else has ever lived through a moment in the American presidency like this. We’re the first.” So what are the best ways to tell THAT story?

    Cohen speaks to ABC
One of George Stephanopoulos’s key questions for Michael Cohen: “How does this end for Donald Trump?”

Cohen’s answer: “That sort of gets into the whole investigation right now between special counsel’s office, the attorney general’s office, you also have the SDNY — I don’t want to jeopardize any of their investigations.” Translation: Much more to come…
    This Sunday on “Reliable”
Brian Stelter emails: On Sunday morning I’ll be joined by Edward Felsenthal, Joan Walsh, Matt Lewis, Olivia Nuzzi, and Will Bunch… Plus Michael Rothfeld, one of the WSJ reporters who broke the Cohen/Trump/Enquirer news… And Oliver too, if he’s free! Darcy, are you available?

Darcy replies: Yes, I’ll move my brunch plans, see you there 📺
 
FOR THE RECORD, PART ONE

Poynter asked 19 Facebook fact-checkers what they think of their partnership with the social media company. Most said it was a net positive, but there is more work to be done… (Poynter

 — The Daily Beast reports via multiple sources that Jared Kushner served as an important conduit between National Enquirer publisher David Pecker and Trump… (Daily Beast)

 — Fox News is “fixated on an alleged wave of media attacks” on Melania Trump. In response, Mediaite points out some of the vicious attacks on Michelle Obama that aired on Fox News… (Mediaite)

 — Hossein Derakhshan writes, “The news is dying, but journalism will not — and should not…” (NiemanLab)
    The Weekly Standard is no more


Share Tweet Forward   Welcome to Friday’s edition of the Reliable Sources newsletter. This is Oliver Darcy, filling in for Brian Stelter, and ready to walk you through a busy day of media news. I enjoy reading your feedback, so please do get in touch via email or find me on Twitter.

Scroll down for news on The Weekly Standard, Facebook’s latest data breach, Mika Brzezinski’s on-air apology, and more. But first, some breaking news…
 
BREAKING NEWS:
Federal judge rules ACA’s individual mandate unconstitutional
There is some blockbuster news out of Texas tonight. A federal judge declared the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate unconstitutional, adding, “The court declares the remaining provisions of the ACA … are inseverable and therefore invalid.” CNN’s story is here with all the details…

Expect this story to dominate a good portion of the news cycle as we head into the weekend. It’s generating a lot of chatter — among both journalists and politicians — and Trump has already started to tweet about it…
 
The “acting” chief of staff is…
OBM director Mick Mulvaney. Trump announced the news in a tweet, naturally. He added a couple hours later, “For the record, there were MANY people who wanted to be the White House Chief of Staff. Mick M will do a GREAT job!” In an “acting” capacity, BTW.

So who actually wanted the job? That’s unclear. As Irin Carmon quipped on “New Day” Friday morning, the chief of staff job is like the Oscars hosting gig — it used to be a sought-after position! But now? It’s “thanks but no thanks.”

Trump was frustrated by the “growing perception that no one of stature wanted the job,” the AP reported. Per CNN’s Jeremy Diamond, “Trump was sick of the prevailing narrative & wanted to put an end to the speculation & bowing out of candidates” like Chris Christie. Enter Mulvaney. According to CNN’s Kaitlan Collins, he was at the W.H. for a meeting about the “looming government shutdown.” He wasn’t there for a job interview! But he “walked out with a promotion…”
Did Christie’s book play a part in his disinterest in the role?
Heading into Friday, Chris Christie seemed to be the frontrunner for Trump’s CoS. Not only does he have a wealth of experience, but he shares chemistry with the president. So why did Christie publicly come out and say that he was not interested? Officially, Christie said “that now is not the right time for me or my family to undertake this serious assignment.” But he has a book coming out in January titled “Let Me Finish: Trump, the Kushners, Bannon, New Jersey, and the Power of In-Your-Face Politics.” And multiple reporters say that was a factor.

WaPo’s Josh Dawsey tweeted, “Christie’s lucrative memoir, which is expected to settle some scores, will come out in January. It’s finished. Being chief of staff would have complicated that.” Bloomberg’s Jennifer Jacobs said that Christie “damaged his standing with Trump with memoir he’s publishing.” And NYT’s Maggie Haberman reported that the book “is expected to touch on his tenure as a federal prosecutor” during which Christie “prosecuted Charles Kushner, the father of Jared Kushner… a task that has since complicated his relationship with the Trump family.”
  “Trump can still convince people to look elsewhere”
The Atlantic’s Elaina Plott wrote in her latest piece that Trump used the Apprentice-styled search for a new CoS, in part, to “manipulate the news cycle” and send send “journalists scrambling to report” the latest updates. “This week thus showcased not only how the White House’s problems show no signs of ebbing, but also how, in spite of them all, Trump can still convince people to look elsewhere,” Plott wrote…
 
All the president’s investigations     Brian Stelter emails: Reporters are great at covering the minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour developments in Trump’s assorted scandals. But what about the BIG story? That’s a lot harder to capture…

CNN on Friday made a concerted effort to zoom out, WAY out. Multiple segments explained “Trump’s deepening legal jeopardy” and “all the president’s investigations.” A graphic noted that the Trump Organization, Trump’s foundation, his 2016 campaign, his transition, his inauguration, and his administration are all under investigation. 

As Ana Cabrera said on Friday: “The one common denominator in each of those? President Trump himself, who is lashing out and blaming other people around him.”
Dean: “Much more damning than Watergate”
Stelter continues: I think the segments were inspired, in part, by CNN contributor John Dean‘s viral tweet overnight. He wrote, “Trump’s campaign. Trump’s transition. Trump’s inauguration. Trump’s presidency. Plus Trump & family. All are now under state and federal criminal and civil investigations. This is much more damning than Watergate, and it is just getting started.”

I know I’ve been a broken record about this, but 90-second nightly news packages and 500-word stories are not enough — the audience needs a lot more to fully digest what’s going on. This came up on Rachel Maddow‘s show on Thursday night, too. “What a moment we are all living through,” she said… “I don’t know who you know or how old they are, but nobody else has ever lived through a moment in the American presidency like this. We’re the first.” So what are the best ways to tell THAT story?

    Cohen speaks to ABC
One of George Stephanopoulos’s key questions for Michael Cohen: “How does this end for Donald Trump?”

Cohen’s answer: “That sort of gets into the whole investigation right now between special counsel’s office, the attorney general’s office, you also have the SDNY — I don’t want to jeopardize any of their investigations.” Translation: Much more to come…
    This Sunday on “Reliable”
Brian Stelter emails: On Sunday morning I’ll be joined by Edward Felsenthal, Joan Walsh, Matt Lewis, Olivia Nuzzi, and Will Bunch… Plus Michael Rothfeld, one of the WSJ reporters who broke the Cohen/Trump/Enquirer news… And Oliver too, if he’s free! Darcy, are you available?

Darcy replies: Yes, I’ll move my brunch plans, see you there 📺
 
FOR THE RECORD, PART ONE

Poynter asked 19 Facebook fact-checkers what they think of their partnership with the social media company. Most said it was a net positive, but there is more work to be done… (Poynter

 — The Daily Beast reports via multiple sources that Jared Kushner served as an important conduit between National Enquirer publisher David Pecker and Trump… (Daily Beast)

 — Fox News is “fixated on an alleged wave of media attacks” on Melania Trump. In response, Mediaite points out some of the vicious attacks on Michelle Obama that aired on Fox News… (Mediaite)

 — Hossein Derakhshan writes, “The news is dying, but journalism will not — and should not…” (NiemanLab)
    The Weekly Standard is no more     It was the ending feared most by staffers at The Weekly Standard. On Friday morning, Clarity Media Group — a media holding company owned by billionaire Philip Anschutz and the parent company of The Weekly Standard — announced that after more than 23 years of serving as a voice for traditional conservatism, the magazine will cease publishing. Its final issue will be published on December 17. The announcement was delivered to staff in an all-hands meeting after the magazine’s editor-in-chief, Steve Hayes, met privately with Ryan McKibben, who heads Clarity Media Group. My story has all the details here…
  Inside the all-staff meeting
At the brief all hands meeting, which I obtained an audio recording of, McKibben told staff that they would be paid through the end of the year, and that afterward they would receive severance which would range in scale depending on factors like seniority. To receive severance, however, employees would need to sign a strict non-disclosure and non-disparagement agreement. “I know it’s an emotional day, but I want to tell you, don’t get on social media and attack anybody because it will put your severance in jeopardy,” McKibben told employees. 

McKibben was not eager to take questions. When staff raised some at one point during the meeting, McKibben replied, “I’m not going to take questions. This isn’t a press conference.”
  TWS subscriptions transferred to new WaEx mag
Staffers at The Weekly Standard had suspected its owner declined to allow the magazine’s leadership to find a buyer because the company wanted to retain access to its subscribers and use them to help launch the Washington Examiner magazine, another one of its media properties. McKibben disputed such speculation at Friday’s meeting, but said that the publisher had a legal legal obligation to subscribers, and that it would be fulfilled by the new Washington Examiner magazine.
  What happens to the archives? 
McKibben stunned staff when he said at Friday’s meeting that “at some point” The Weekly Standard’s website is “going to come down.” That left some with the impression that the archives would be removed. I reached out to Clarity Media Group asking about the magazine’s archives, and a spokesperson told me that “at this time” they will remain online. The spokesperson added, “Clarity will determine the long-term future of the website as they work through additional details of the closure.”
  A shift in conservative media
A lot of ink has already been spilled about the death of The Weekly Standard. But the bottom line is this: It represents a broader shift in conservative media. Outlets on the right that are critical of Trump have lost influence or changed their tone, while media organizations on the right supportive of the President have flourished. 

Hayes touched on this in an all-staff note he sent early Friday morning. Hayes wrote, “This is a volatile time in American journalism and politics. Many media outlets have responded to the challenges of the moment by prioritizing affirmation over information, giving into the pull of polarization and the lure of clickbait. I’m proud that we’ve remained both conservative and independent, providing substantive reporting and analysis based on facts, logic and reason.”
  “Needed now more than at anytime in our previous 23 years…”
After the shuttering of The Weekly Standard was announced, Hayes said in a statement that he was “profoundly disappointed in the decision to close The Weekly Standard,” writing that its “unapologetically conservative” voice was “needed now more than at anytime in our previous 23 years.”

Bill Kristol, who was the original and longtime editor, tweeted, “All good things come to an end. And so, after 23 years, does The Weekly Standard. I want to express my gratitude to our readers and my admiration for my colleagues. We worked hard to put out a quality magazine, and we had a good time doing so. And we have much more to do. Onward!”
 
FOR THE RECORD, PART TWO

The Week’s Matthew Walther writes about “what made The Weekly Standard great…” (The Week)

John Podhoretz, a co-founder of The Weekly Standard, writes that the creation of the magazine was his “proudest professional moment” and adds, “The cessation of the Standard is an intellectual and political crime…” (Commentary

The Weekly Standard’s Alice Lloyd writes about “last lines” and how “the best last lines aren’t endings at all…” (The Weekly Standard)

National Review’s Ramesh Ponnuru: “Though the magazine was a competitor to National Review, our rivalry was friendly and respectful. The Standard was a reliable source of intelligent and felicitous writing…” (National Review)

Max Boot: “I devoutly hope a new [Weekly] Standard will arise to lead the Republican Party out of the moral and political oblivion to which the president is consigning it…” (WaPo)
    Mika apologizes on-air for “vulgar” remark     Mika Brzezinski was back on “Morning Joe” Friday morning — and she apologized at the outset of the show for what she characterized as her “vulgar” language earlier in the week. You’ll recall, Brzezinski generated a storm of controversy when she asked on Wednesday if Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was a “wannabe dictator’s butt-boy.” 

“Please allow me to say this face to face,” Brzezinski said. “The term is crass and offensive and I apologize to everyone, especially the LGBTQ community and to my colleagues for using it.” Brzezinski added, “I will work hard to be better. I just wanted to say on camera, looking people straight in the eye: I am really, really sorry.”
 
CBS donates $20 million
Brian Stelter emails: On the day Les Moonves was forced out of CBS in September, $20 million from his severance was earmarked for donations. On Friday, CBS named the 18 groups that are getting grants. The goals, according to CBS: “Increasing the number of women in positions of power, promoting education and culture change, and supporting victims of harassment and assault.” The CBS press release did not mention Moonves by name, but it didn’t have to. Here’s my full story…
  What the recipients said
“We thank CBS for these donations,” the groups said in a joint statement. “We also recognize these funds are not a panacea, nor do they erase or absolve decades of bad behavior.” The recipients also said “we look forward to receiving the full results of the investigation into Mr. Moonves and an update on additional concrete commitments that CBS — and all organizations — will make to support lasting change.” 
  Kadro says goodbye to “CBS This Morning”
Brian Stelter emails: In an internal memo on Friday morning, “CBS This Morning” exec producer Ryan Kadro said he’d been discussing his next steps with David Rhodes since September. Now he’s officially stepping down, effective January 4. Kadro played a key role in building “CBS This Morning” from the very beginning. My impression is that he’s well liked inside CBS. His exit is widely seen as a reaction to the morning show’s shaky ratings. The #’s slumped after Charlie Rose was fired a year ago. “CBS News expects to name a successor soon,” a spokeswoman told me…

 –> In a Friday night memo to staff, Rhodes wished Kadro well and said “we have a number of compelling internal and external candidates” for his job. Rhodes said the new E.P. will “take the reins in January.” 
  Speaking of CBS News…
Stelter adds: Why doesn’t “60 Minutes” have a permanent executive producer yet? It has been three months since Jeff Fager was forced out. Bill Owens is just the “interim” E.P. This VF story by Joe Pompeo had an explanation earlier this week: The permanent appointment — Owens, or maybe Susan Zirinsky, or a surprise candidate? — “will not be made” until the law firms’ investigation of CBS, Moonves, Fager, etcetera “is complete.”

Pompeo noted that “staffers are eager for a decision, especially given the wider tumult and uncertainty within the company. The decision is ultimately Rhodes’s to make, but it is expected to involve close input and scrutiny at the highest levels.” I’m hearing more and more frustration from inside “60” about the situation…

 –> Quoting from Rhodes’ Friday night memo: “I continue to be assured in conversations with Joe Ianniello that our company is committed to positive change. We’re working in concert to bring everything to fruition as quickly as possible on a number of fronts…”
 
Facebook announces another privacy problem
Another day, another massive user data issue announced by Facebook. On Friday, the social media company said that it had exposed some photos from as many as 6.8 million users without their permission. Facebook blamed a bug that allowed third-party app developers to access photos which might not have been publicly shared by the person. Donie O’Sullivan has details here…
The new king of the news dump?
Donie O’Sullivan emails: Facebook is becoming the new king of Friday news dumps. Today we learned a bug exposed millions of people’s photos. In September, Facebook announced it had suffered its biggest beach in history. That announcement also came on a Friday. When Facebook admitted that Sheryl Sandberg did actually receive emails about the work Definers (the firm that pointed out George Soros’ links to a group critical of Facebook) it chose to do so on Thanksgiving Eve. And, when Facebook released a report it had commissioned into its role in genocide in Myanmar it did so on the eve of last month’s midterm elections. Maybe it’s all a coincidence. But for a company that says it wants to be transparent it doesn’t look great…
    Dorsey’s gov’t-organized balloon ride in Myanmar
Jack Dorsey’s trip to Myanmar — a country that has experienced violence which activists say might have been fueled in part by social media — has already resulted in a sizable amount of backlash. Ryan Mac’s latest for BuzzFeed is sure to add more fuel to the fire. Mac reported that a now-deleted Facebook post showed Dorsey had taken a hot-air balloon ride in Myanmar arranged by the country’s government. Mac said a Twitter spokesperson confirmed the balloon ride, but said Dorsey had no knowledge of the government’s role with it. Yikes…  
FOR THE RECORD, PART THREE

Daniella Emanuel emails: A new analysis from the Tow Center shows that Apple News editors in the UK rely on only six publications for over 75% of their top news stories…(CJR)

An Phung emails: A Kentucky appeals court ruled that Purdue’s secret OxyContin papers should be released. This is a victory for the health and science news site STAT, which filed a motion more than two years ago to unseal the records… (STAT)

Phung emails another item: ICYMI: The NewsGuild and Writers Guild are having a “banner year for organizing and bargaining” according to this report by Poynter. As newsrooms grapple with layoffs and budget shortfalls, young staffers are unionizing to “take control of what they can…” (Poynter)

Shep Smith is really fed-up with the Hillary Clinton comparisons: “That investigation is over…” (Mediaite)

 — Kudos to WaPo for conducting this “Fact Checker poll…” It shows that the vast majority of Americans refuse to believe Trump’s most egregious falsehoods… (WaPo)
 
THIS WEEK’S PODCAST Inside Mic’s collapse and Vox Media’s growth
“Digital media companies fighting for their futures” is the theme of this week’s “Reliable Sources” podcast. The guests: Two former editors from Mic, Kerry Lauerman and Colleen Curry, and Vox Media’s publisher Melissa Bell. You’ll come away understanding more about what works, and what doesn’t work, for digital media players. Listen to the pod via Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, TuneIn, or your favorite app…     Tucker Carlson loses an advertiser      An insurance company said Friday that it would no longer advertise on Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s show after the host seemed to suggest mass immigration makes the country “dirtier.” On Thursday night’s program, Carlson said, “We have a moral obligation to admit the world’s poor, they tell us, even if it makes our own country poorer, and dirtier, and more divided.”

Pacific Life responded by telling The Hollywood Reporter’s Jeremy Barr that as a company it strongly disagreed with Carlson’s comment, and that it would pause its advertising on his show “as we reevaluate our relationship with his program.”
Fox calls it an “unfortunate and unnecessary” distraction
I asked a Fox News spokesperson on Friday afternoon for a comment about Pacific Life pausing ads on Carlson’s program. The spokesperson responded by lacing into left-leaning groups like Media Matters that highlighted Carlson’s comments, saying, “It is a shame that left wing advocacy groups, under the guise of being supposed ‘media watchdogs’ weaponize social media against companies in an effort to stifle free speech. We continue to stand by and work with our advertisers through these unfortunate and unnecessary distractions.”
 
A streaming role for Turner’s Kevin Reilly
Kevin Reilly, president of TBS and TNT and chief creative officer at Turner Entertainment, will now also oversee content strategy for WarnerMedia’s forthcoming streaming service. Deadline has the details here…

>> Brian Lowry adds via email: Reilly’s ascent follows a similar move by CBS to consolidate content — including CBS All Access — under chief Showtime’s David Nevins, and both execs cut their teeth at NBC during the “Must-See TV” era. The two joined former colleagues in reminiscing about that period at a Hollywood Radio and Television Society panel last year…
 
What Rupert knows
Alex Koppelman emailsBrian previewed The Ringer’s oral history of Fox’s stunning move to take NFL rights away from CBS in this newsletter the other night. It is as good and interesting as advertised, but I wanted to highlight in particular what seems to me to be the most important quote from it. 
 
It’s from George Krieger, who served for years as a top executive at Fox Sports: “When he does a deal, Rupert’s thinking about, ‘What’s this going to look like 10 years out, 20 years out? Will this help me build a network?’ The other guys are trying to manage financials for the next quarterly financial report.”
 
It’s a quote that says a lot about the history not just of TV but of digital and print media over the past 10 years — all the executives who’ve chased traffic for short-term wins with no concern for the long-term damage they’re doing to their brands, for example. And it’s something that executives should keep in mind if the economy cools off over the next couple years. You can cut and cut and cut and keep your investors happy for a while, but somewhere there’s someone smarter and bolder than you who’s thinking about the future — and soon enough they’ll be kicking your ass.
    Alex Jones is now broadcasting on Instagram 
InfoWars founder Alex Jones is banned by nearly every major social media company. He’s not allowed on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Apple, Spotify, Pinterest, and other such platforms. But the one place he hasn’t been barred from is Instagram — and it seems he’s now starting to take advantage of it.

On Friday, Jones used his Instagram account to broadcast live an episode of the InfoWars show “War Room.” I reached out to Instagram to see if the company had any comment on the issue — after all, Instagram’s parent company Facebook has already banned Jones. An Instagram spokesperson said, “We will be continuing to review reports that we receive from the Instagram community and take action in line with our Community Guidelines.”
 
FOR THE RECORD, PART FOUR

 — Kevin Roose writes about “how YouTube’s year-in-review ‘Rewind’ video set off a civil war…” (NYT)

 — CJR interviews a 19-year-old college student who reported on decades of sexual misconduct allegations against a violin professor at the University of Michigan… (CJR)

 — White House spokesperson Hogan Gidley jokingly asked if Fox News host Bill Hemmer wanted a job in the administration after Hemmer seemed to offer some public relations advice on immigration during a segment… (Mediaite)
    Apple strikes a Peanuts deal
Apple has struck a deal with DHX Media to produce new series, specials and shorts based on the beloved characters from the animated world created by Charles M. Schulz,” Sandra Gonzalez reports, citing “a source familiar with the deal.” She says “the deal with DHX is a major get for Apple in the children-geared programming space…”         By Chloe Melas:

— Here’s the first look at the “Downton Abbey” movie…

— Chris Pratt and Katherine Schwarzenegger make their relationship IG official…

 David Letterman’s Netflix series has been renewed… 
 
“If Beale Street Could Talk” finds epic quality in love story
Brian Lowry emails:Barry Jenkins took the Oscar two years ago for “Moonlight,” and he could be in the mix again with “If Beale Street Could Talk,” a beautifully rendered love story. It’s based on James Baldwin’s 1970s novel, but directly ties into themes about African-Americans and the justice system that resonate today.

Read Lowry’s full review here…
 
“Springsteen on Broadway” gives fans best seat in the house
Lowry sends another one: Netflix gives Bruce Springsteen fans the best seat in the house for “Springsteen on Broadway,” a marathon special that transfers his sold-out one-man stage show to the screen, shrewdly timed to drop right after its run closes.

Read Lowry’s full review here…  
That’s a wrap on this edition of the newsletter. Enjoy your weekend. Brian will be back on Sunday!   Share Tweet Forward
Mika Brzezinski was back on “Morning Joe” Friday morning — and she apologized at the outset of the show for what she characterized as her “vulgar” language earlier in the week. You’ll recall, Brzezinski generated a storm of controversy when she asked on Wednesday if Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was a “wannabe dictator’s butt-boy.” 

“Please allow me to say this face to face,” Brzezinski said. “The term is crass and offensive and I apologize to everyone, especially the LGBTQ community and to my colleagues for using it.” Brzezinski added, “I will work hard to be better. I just wanted to say on camera, looking people straight in the eye: I am really, really sorry.”
 
CBS donates $20 million
Brian Stelter emails: On the day Les Moonves was forced out of CBS in September, $20 million from his severance was earmarked for donations. On Friday, CBS named the 18 groups that are getting grants. The goals, according to CBS: “Increasing the number of women in positions of power, promoting education and culture change, and supporting victims of harassment and assault.” The CBS press release did not mention Moonves by name, but it didn’t have to. Here’s my full story…
  What the recipients said
“We thank CBS for these donations,” the groups said in a joint statement. “We also recognize these funds are not a panacea, nor do they erase or absolve decades of bad behavior.” The recipients also said “we look forward to receiving the full results of the investigation into Mr. Moonves and an update on additional concrete commitments that CBS — and all organizations — will make to support lasting change.” 
  Kadro says goodbye to “CBS This Morning”
Brian Stelter emails: In an internal memo on Friday morning, “CBS This Morning” exec producer Ryan Kadro said he’d been discussing his next steps with David Rhodes since September. Now he’s officially stepping down, effective January 4. Kadro played a key role in building “CBS This Morning” from the very beginning. My impression is that he’s well liked inside CBS. His exit is widely seen as a reaction to the morning show’s shaky ratings. The #’s slumped after Charlie Rose was fired a year ago. “CBS News expects to name a successor soon,” a spokeswoman told me…

 –> In a Friday night memo to staff, Rhodes wished Kadro well and said “we have a number of compelling internal and external candidates” for his job. Rhodes said the new E.P. will “take the reins in January.” 
  Speaking of CBS News…
Stelter adds: Why doesn’t “60 Minutes” have a permanent executive producer yet? It has been three months since Jeff Fager was forced out. Bill Owens is just the “interim” E.P. This VF story by Joe Pompeo had an explanation earlier this week: The permanent appointment — Owens, or maybe Susan Zirinsky, or a surprise candidate? — “will not be made” until the law firms’ investigation of CBS, Moonves, Fager, etcetera “is complete.”

Pompeo noted that “staffers are eager for a decision, especially given the wider tumult and uncertainty within the company. The decision is ultimately Rhodes’s to make, but it is expected to involve close input and scrutiny at the highest levels.” I’m hearing more and more frustration from inside “60” about the situation…

 –> Quoting from Rhodes’ Friday night memo: “I continue to be assured in conversations with Joe Ianniello that our company is committed to positive change. We’re working in concert to bring everything to fruition as quickly as possible on a number of fronts…”
 
Facebook announces another privacy problem
Another day, another massive user data issue announced by Facebook. On Friday, the social media company said that it had exposed some photos from as many as 6.8 million users without their permission. Facebook blamed a bug that allowed third-party app developers to access photos which might not have been publicly shared by the person. Donie O’Sullivan has details here…
The new king of the news dump?
Donie O’Sullivan emails: Facebook is becoming the new king of Friday news dumps. Today we learned a bug exposed millions of people’s photos. In September, Facebook announced it had suffered its biggest beach in history. That announcement also came on a Friday. When Facebook admitted that Sheryl Sandberg did actually receive emails about the work Definers (the firm that pointed out George Soros’ links to a group critical of Facebook) it chose to do so on Thanksgiving Eve. And, when Facebook released a report it had commissioned into its role in genocide in Myanmar it did so on the eve of last month’s midterm elections. Maybe it’s all a coincidence. But for a company that says it wants to be transparent it doesn’t look great…
    Dorsey’s gov’t-organized balloon ride in Myanmar
Jack Dorsey’s trip to Myanmar — a country that has experienced violence which activists say might have been fueled in part by social media — has already resulted in a sizable amount of backlash. Ryan Mac’s latest for BuzzFeed is sure to add more fuel to the fire. Mac reported that a now-deleted Facebook post showed Dorsey had taken a hot-air balloon ride in Myanmar arranged by the country’s government. Mac said a Twitter spokesperson confirmed the balloon ride, but said Dorsey had no knowledge of the government’s role with it. Yikes…  
FOR THE RECORD, PART THREE

Daniella Emanuel emails: A new analysis from the Tow Center shows that Apple News editors in the UK rely on only six publications for over 75% of their top news stories…(CJR)

An Phung emails: A Kentucky appeals court ruled that Purdue’s secret OxyContin papers should be released. This is a victory for the health and science news site STAT, which filed a motion more than two years ago to unseal the records… (STAT)

Phung emails another item: ICYMI: The NewsGuild and Writers Guild are having a “banner year for organizing and bargaining” according to this report by Poynter. As newsrooms grapple with layoffs and budget shortfalls, young staffers are unionizing to “take control of what they can…” (Poynter)

Shep Smith is really fed-up with the Hillary Clinton comparisons: “That investigation is over…” (Mediaite)

 — Kudos to WaPo for conducting this “Fact Checker poll…” It shows that the vast majority of Americans refuse to believe Trump’s most egregious falsehoods… (WaPo)
 
THIS WEEK’S PODCAST Inside Mic’s collapse and Vox Media’s growth
“Digital media companies fighting for their futures” is the theme of this week’s “Reliable Sources” podcast. The guests: Two former editors from Mic, Kerry Lauerman and Colleen Curry, and Vox Media’s publisher Melissa Bell. You’ll come away understanding more about what works, and what doesn’t work, for digital media players. Listen to the pod via Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, TuneIn, or your favorite app…     Tucker Carlson loses an advertiser 
Share Tweet Forward   Welcome to Friday’s edition of the Reliable Sources newsletter. This is Oliver Darcy, filling in for Brian Stelter, and ready to walk you through a busy day of media news. I enjoy reading your feedback, so please do get in touch via email or find me on Twitter.

Scroll down for news on The Weekly Standard, Facebook’s latest data breach, Mika Brzezinski’s on-air apology, and more. But first, some breaking news…
 
BREAKING NEWS:
Federal judge rules ACA’s individual mandate unconstitutional
There is some blockbuster news out of Texas tonight. A federal judge declared the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate unconstitutional, adding, “The court declares the remaining provisions of the ACA … are inseverable and therefore invalid.” CNN’s story is here with all the details…

Expect this story to dominate a good portion of the news cycle as we head into the weekend. It’s generating a lot of chatter — among both journalists and politicians — and Trump has already started to tweet about it…
 
The “acting” chief of staff is…
OBM director Mick Mulvaney. Trump announced the news in a tweet, naturally. He added a couple hours later, “For the record, there were MANY people who wanted to be the White House Chief of Staff. Mick M will do a GREAT job!” In an “acting” capacity, BTW.

So who actually wanted the job? That’s unclear. As Irin Carmon quipped on “New Day” Friday morning, the chief of staff job is like the Oscars hosting gig — it used to be a sought-after position! But now? It’s “thanks but no thanks.”

Trump was frustrated by the “growing perception that no one of stature wanted the job,” the AP reported. Per CNN’s Jeremy Diamond, “Trump was sick of the prevailing narrative & wanted to put an end to the speculation & bowing out of candidates” like Chris Christie. Enter Mulvaney. According to CNN’s Kaitlan Collins, he was at the W.H. for a meeting about the “looming government shutdown.” He wasn’t there for a job interview! But he “walked out with a promotion…”
Did Christie’s book play a part in his disinterest in the role?
Heading into Friday, Chris Christie seemed to be the frontrunner for Trump’s CoS. Not only does he have a wealth of experience, but he shares chemistry with the president. So why did Christie publicly come out and say that he was not interested? Officially, Christie said “that now is not the right time for me or my family to undertake this serious assignment.” But he has a book coming out in January titled “Let Me Finish: Trump, the Kushners, Bannon, New Jersey, and the Power of In-Your-Face Politics.” And multiple reporters say that was a factor.

WaPo’s Josh Dawsey tweeted, “Christie’s lucrative memoir, which is expected to settle some scores, will come out in January. It’s finished. Being chief of staff would have complicated that.” Bloomberg’s Jennifer Jacobs said that Christie “damaged his standing with Trump with memoir he’s publishing.” And NYT’s Maggie Haberman reported that the book “is expected to touch on his tenure as a federal prosecutor” during which Christie “prosecuted Charles Kushner, the father of Jared Kushner… a task that has since complicated his relationship with the Trump family.”
  “Trump can still convince people to look elsewhere”
The Atlantic’s Elaina Plott wrote in her latest piece that Trump used the Apprentice-styled search for a new CoS, in part, to “manipulate the news cycle” and send send “journalists scrambling to report” the latest updates. “This week thus showcased not only how the White House’s problems show no signs of ebbing, but also how, in spite of them all, Trump can still convince people to look elsewhere,” Plott wrote…
 
All the president’s investigations     Brian Stelter emails: Reporters are great at covering the minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour developments in Trump’s assorted scandals. But what about the BIG story? That’s a lot harder to capture…

CNN on Friday made a concerted effort to zoom out, WAY out. Multiple segments explained “Trump’s deepening legal jeopardy” and “all the president’s investigations.” A graphic noted that the Trump Organization, Trump’s foundation, his 2016 campaign, his transition, his inauguration, and his administration are all under investigation. 

As Ana Cabrera said on Friday: “The one common denominator in each of those? President Trump himself, who is lashing out and blaming other people around him.”
Dean: “Much more damning than Watergate”
Stelter continues: I think the segments were inspired, in part, by CNN contributor John Dean‘s viral tweet overnight. He wrote, “Trump’s campaign. Trump’s transition. Trump’s inauguration. Trump’s presidency. Plus Trump & family. All are now under state and federal criminal and civil investigations. This is much more damning than Watergate, and it is just getting started.”

I know I’ve been a broken record about this, but 90-second nightly news packages and 500-word stories are not enough — the audience needs a lot more to fully digest what’s going on. This came up on Rachel Maddow‘s show on Thursday night, too. “What a moment we are all living through,” she said… “I don’t know who you know or how old they are, but nobody else has ever lived through a moment in the American presidency like this. We’re the first.” So what are the best ways to tell THAT story?

    Cohen speaks to ABC
One of George Stephanopoulos’s key questions for Michael Cohen: “How does this end for Donald Trump?”

Cohen’s answer: “That sort of gets into the whole investigation right now between special counsel’s office, the attorney general’s office, you also have the SDNY — I don’t want to jeopardize any of their investigations.” Translation: Much more to come…
    This Sunday on “Reliable”
Brian Stelter emails: On Sunday morning I’ll be joined by Edward Felsenthal, Joan Walsh, Matt Lewis, Olivia Nuzzi, and Will Bunch… Plus Michael Rothfeld, one of the WSJ reporters who broke the Cohen/Trump/Enquirer news… And Oliver too, if he’s free! Darcy, are you available?

Darcy replies: Yes, I’ll move my brunch plans, see you there 📺
 
FOR THE RECORD, PART ONE

Poynter asked 19 Facebook fact-checkers what they think of their partnership with the social media company. Most said it was a net positive, but there is more work to be done… (Poynter

 — The Daily Beast reports via multiple sources that Jared Kushner served as an important conduit between National Enquirer publisher David Pecker and Trump… (Daily Beast)

 — Fox News is “fixated on an alleged wave of media attacks” on Melania Trump. In response, Mediaite points out some of the vicious attacks on Michelle Obama that aired on Fox News… (Mediaite)

 — Hossein Derakhshan writes, “The news is dying, but journalism will not — and should not…” (NiemanLab)
    The Weekly Standard is no more     It was the ending feared most by staffers at The Weekly Standard. On Friday morning, Clarity Media Group — a media holding company owned by billionaire Philip Anschutz and the parent company of The Weekly Standard — announced that after more than 23 years of serving as a voice for traditional conservatism, the magazine will cease publishing. Its final issue will be published on December 17. The announcement was delivered to staff in an all-hands meeting after the magazine’s editor-in-chief, Steve Hayes, met privately with Ryan McKibben, who heads Clarity Media Group. My story has all the details here…
  Inside the all-staff meeting
At the brief all hands meeting, which I obtained an audio recording of, McKibben told staff that they would be paid through the end of the year, and that afterward they would receive severance which would range in scale depending on factors like seniority. To receive severance, however, employees would need to sign a strict non-disclosure and non-disparagement agreement. “I know it’s an emotional day, but I want to tell you, don’t get on social media and attack anybody because it will put your severance in jeopardy,” McKibben told employees. 

McKibben was not eager to take questions. When staff raised some at one point during the meeting, McKibben replied, “I’m not going to take questions. This isn’t a press conference.”
  TWS subscriptions transferred to new WaEx mag
Staffers at The Weekly Standard had suspected its owner declined to allow the magazine’s leadership to find a buyer because the company wanted to retain access to its subscribers and use them to help launch the Washington Examiner magazine, another one of its media properties. McKibben disputed such speculation at Friday’s meeting, but said that the publisher had a legal legal obligation to subscribers, and that it would be fulfilled by the new Washington Examiner magazine.
  What happens to the archives? 
McKibben stunned staff when he said at Friday’s meeting that “at some point” The Weekly Standard’s website is “going to come down.” That left some with the impression that the archives would be removed. I reached out to Clarity Media Group asking about the magazine’s archives, and a spokesperson told me that “at this time” they will remain online. The spokesperson added, “Clarity will determine the long-term future of the website as they work through additional details of the closure.”
  A shift in conservative media
A lot of ink has already been spilled about the death of The Weekly Standard. But the bottom line is this: It represents a broader shift in conservative media. Outlets on the right that are critical of Trump have lost influence or changed their tone, while media organizations on the right supportive of the President have flourished. 

Hayes touched on this in an all-staff note he sent early Friday morning. Hayes wrote, “This is a volatile time in American journalism and politics. Many media outlets have responded to the challenges of the moment by prioritizing affirmation over information, giving into the pull of polarization and the lure of clickbait. I’m proud that we’ve remained both conservative and independent, providing substantive reporting and analysis based on facts, logic and reason.”
  “Needed now more than at anytime in our previous 23 years…”
After the shuttering of The Weekly Standard was announced, Hayes said in a statement that he was “profoundly disappointed in the decision to close The Weekly Standard,” writing that its “unapologetically conservative” voice was “needed now more than at anytime in our previous 23 years.”

Bill Kristol, who was the original and longtime editor, tweeted, “All good things come to an end. And so, after 23 years, does The Weekly Standard. I want to express my gratitude to our readers and my admiration for my colleagues. We worked hard to put out a quality magazine, and we had a good time doing so. And we have much more to do. Onward!”
 
FOR THE RECORD, PART TWO

The Week’s Matthew Walther writes about “what made The Weekly Standard great…” (The Week)

John Podhoretz, a co-founder of The Weekly Standard, writes that the creation of the magazine was his “proudest professional moment” and adds, “The cessation of the Standard is an intellectual and political crime…” (Commentary

The Weekly Standard’s Alice Lloyd writes about “last lines” and how “the best last lines aren’t endings at all…” (The Weekly Standard)

National Review’s Ramesh Ponnuru: “Though the magazine was a competitor to National Review, our rivalry was friendly and respectful. The Standard was a reliable source of intelligent and felicitous writing…” (National Review)

Max Boot: “I devoutly hope a new [Weekly] Standard will arise to lead the Republican Party out of the moral and political oblivion to which the president is consigning it…” (WaPo)
    Mika apologizes on-air for “vulgar” remark     Mika Brzezinski was back on “Morning Joe” Friday morning — and she apologized at the outset of the show for what she characterized as her “vulgar” language earlier in the week. You’ll recall, Brzezinski generated a storm of controversy when she asked on Wednesday if Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was a “wannabe dictator’s butt-boy.” 

“Please allow me to say this face to face,” Brzezinski said. “The term is crass and offensive and I apologize to everyone, especially the LGBTQ community and to my colleagues for using it.” Brzezinski added, “I will work hard to be better. I just wanted to say on camera, looking people straight in the eye: I am really, really sorry.”
 
CBS donates $20 million
Brian Stelter emails: On the day Les Moonves was forced out of CBS in September, $20 million from his severance was earmarked for donations. On Friday, CBS named the 18 groups that are getting grants. The goals, according to CBS: “Increasing the number of women in positions of power, promoting education and culture change, and supporting victims of harassment and assault.” The CBS press release did not mention Moonves by name, but it didn’t have to. Here’s my full story…
  What the recipients said
“We thank CBS for these donations,” the groups said in a joint statement. “We also recognize these funds are not a panacea, nor do they erase or absolve decades of bad behavior.” The recipients also said “we look forward to receiving the full results of the investigation into Mr. Moonves and an update on additional concrete commitments that CBS — and all organizations — will make to support lasting change.” 
  Kadro says goodbye to “CBS This Morning”
Brian Stelter emails: In an internal memo on Friday morning, “CBS This Morning” exec producer Ryan Kadro said he’d been discussing his next steps with David Rhodes since September. Now he’s officially stepping down, effective January 4. Kadro played a key role in building “CBS This Morning” from the very beginning. My impression is that he’s well liked inside CBS. His exit is widely seen as a reaction to the morning show’s shaky ratings. The #’s slumped after Charlie Rose was fired a year ago. “CBS News expects to name a successor soon,” a spokeswoman told me…

 –> In a Friday night memo to staff, Rhodes wished Kadro well and said “we have a number of compelling internal and external candidates” for his job. Rhodes said the new E.P. will “take the reins in January.” 
  Speaking of CBS News…
Stelter adds: Why doesn’t “60 Minutes” have a permanent executive producer yet? It has been three months since Jeff Fager was forced out. Bill Owens is just the “interim” E.P. This VF story by Joe Pompeo had an explanation earlier this week: The permanent appointment — Owens, or maybe Susan Zirinsky, or a surprise candidate? — “will not be made” until the law firms’ investigation of CBS, Moonves, Fager, etcetera “is complete.”

Pompeo noted that “staffers are eager for a decision, especially given the wider tumult and uncertainty within the company. The decision is ultimately Rhodes’s to make, but it is expected to involve close input and scrutiny at the highest levels.” I’m hearing more and more frustration from inside “60” about the situation…

 –> Quoting from Rhodes’ Friday night memo: “I continue to be assured in conversations with Joe Ianniello that our company is committed to positive change. We’re working in concert to bring everything to fruition as quickly as possible on a number of fronts…”
 
Facebook announces another privacy problem
Another day, another massive user data issue announced by Facebook. On Friday, the social media company said that it had exposed some photos from as many as 6.8 million users without their permission. Facebook blamed a bug that allowed third-party app developers to access photos which might not have been publicly shared by the person. Donie O’Sullivan has details here…
The new king of the news dump?
Donie O’Sullivan emails: Facebook is becoming the new king of Friday news dumps. Today we learned a bug exposed millions of people’s photos. In September, Facebook announced it had suffered its biggest beach in history. That announcement also came on a Friday. When Facebook admitted that Sheryl Sandberg did actually receive emails about the work Definers (the firm that pointed out George Soros’ links to a group critical of Facebook) it chose to do so on Thanksgiving Eve. And, when Facebook released a report it had commissioned into its role in genocide in Myanmar it did so on the eve of last month’s midterm elections. Maybe it’s all a coincidence. But for a company that says it wants to be transparent it doesn’t look great…
    Dorsey’s gov’t-organized balloon ride in Myanmar
Jack Dorsey’s trip to Myanmar — a country that has experienced violence which activists say might have been fueled in part by social media — has already resulted in a sizable amount of backlash. Ryan Mac’s latest for BuzzFeed is sure to add more fuel to the fire. Mac reported that a now-deleted Facebook post showed Dorsey had taken a hot-air balloon ride in Myanmar arranged by the country’s government. Mac said a Twitter spokesperson confirmed the balloon ride, but said Dorsey had no knowledge of the government’s role with it. Yikes…  
FOR THE RECORD, PART THREE

Daniella Emanuel emails: A new analysis from the Tow Center shows that Apple News editors in the UK rely on only six publications for over 75% of their top news stories…(CJR)

An Phung emails: A Kentucky appeals court ruled that Purdue’s secret OxyContin papers should be released. This is a victory for the health and science news site STAT, which filed a motion more than two years ago to unseal the records… (STAT)

Phung emails another item: ICYMI: The NewsGuild and Writers Guild are having a “banner year for organizing and bargaining” according to this report by Poynter. As newsrooms grapple with layoffs and budget shortfalls, young staffers are unionizing to “take control of what they can…” (Poynter)

Shep Smith is really fed-up with the Hillary Clinton comparisons: “That investigation is over…” (Mediaite)

 — Kudos to WaPo for conducting this “Fact Checker poll…” It shows that the vast majority of Americans refuse to believe Trump’s most egregious falsehoods… (WaPo)
 
THIS WEEK’S PODCAST Inside Mic’s collapse and Vox Media’s growth
“Digital media companies fighting for their futures” is the theme of this week’s “Reliable Sources” podcast. The guests: Two former editors from Mic, Kerry Lauerman and Colleen Curry, and Vox Media’s publisher Melissa Bell. You’ll come away understanding more about what works, and what doesn’t work, for digital media players. Listen to the pod via Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, TuneIn, or your favorite app…     Tucker Carlson loses an advertiser      An insurance company said Friday that it would no longer advertise on Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s show after the host seemed to suggest mass immigration makes the country “dirtier.” On Thursday night’s program, Carlson said, “We have a moral obligation to admit the world’s poor, they tell us, even if it makes our own country poorer, and dirtier, and more divided.”

Pacific Life responded by telling The Hollywood Reporter’s Jeremy Barr that as a company it strongly disagreed with Carlson’s comment, and that it would pause its advertising on his show “as we reevaluate our relationship with his program.”
Fox calls it an “unfortunate and unnecessary” distraction
I asked a Fox News spokesperson on Friday afternoon for a comment about Pacific Life pausing ads on Carlson’s program. The spokesperson responded by lacing into left-leaning groups like Media Matters that highlighted Carlson’s comments, saying, “It is a shame that left wing advocacy groups, under the guise of being supposed ‘media watchdogs’ weaponize social media against companies in an effort to stifle free speech. We continue to stand by and work with our advertisers through these unfortunate and unnecessary distractions.”
 
A streaming role for Turner’s Kevin Reilly
Kevin Reilly, president of TBS and TNT and chief creative officer at Turner Entertainment, will now also oversee content strategy for WarnerMedia’s forthcoming streaming service. Deadline has the details here…

>> Brian Lowry adds via email: Reilly’s ascent follows a similar move by CBS to consolidate content — including CBS All Access — under chief Showtime’s David Nevins, and both execs cut their teeth at NBC during the “Must-See TV” era. The two joined former colleagues in reminiscing about that period at a Hollywood Radio and Television Society panel last year…
 
What Rupert knows
Alex Koppelman emailsBrian previewed The Ringer’s oral history of Fox’s stunning move to take NFL rights away from CBS in this newsletter the other night. It is as good and interesting as advertised, but I wanted to highlight in particular what seems to me to be the most important quote from it. 
 
It’s from George Krieger, who served for years as a top executive at Fox Sports: “When he does a deal, Rupert’s thinking about, ‘What’s this going to look like 10 years out, 20 years out? Will this help me build a network?’ The other guys are trying to manage financials for the next quarterly financial report.”
 
It’s a quote that says a lot about the history not just of TV but of digital and print media over the past 10 years — all the executives who’ve chased traffic for short-term wins with no concern for the long-term damage they’re doing to their brands, for example. And it’s something that executives should keep in mind if the economy cools off over the next couple years. You can cut and cut and cut and keep your investors happy for a while, but somewhere there’s someone smarter and bolder than you who’s thinking about the future — and soon enough they’ll be kicking your ass.
    Alex Jones is now broadcasting on Instagram 
InfoWars founder Alex Jones is banned by nearly every major social media company. He’s not allowed on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Apple, Spotify, Pinterest, and other such platforms. But the one place he hasn’t been barred from is Instagram — and it seems he’s now starting to take advantage of it.

On Friday, Jones used his Instagram account to broadcast live an episode of the InfoWars show “War Room.” I reached out to Instagram to see if the company had any comment on the issue — after all, Instagram’s parent company Facebook has already banned Jones. An Instagram spokesperson said, “We will be continuing to review reports that we receive from the Instagram community and take action in line with our Community Guidelines.”
 
FOR THE RECORD, PART FOUR

 — Kevin Roose writes about “how YouTube’s year-in-review ‘Rewind’ video set off a civil war…” (NYT)

 — CJR interviews a 19-year-old college student who reported on decades of sexual misconduct allegations against a violin professor at the University of Michigan… (CJR)

 — White House spokesperson Hogan Gidley jokingly asked if Fox News host Bill Hemmer wanted a job in the administration after Hemmer seemed to offer some public relations advice on immigration during a segment… (Mediaite)
    Apple strikes a Peanuts deal
Apple has struck a deal with DHX Media to produce new series, specials and shorts based on the beloved characters from the animated world created by Charles M. Schulz,” Sandra Gonzalez reports, citing “a source familiar with the deal.” She says “the deal with DHX is a major get for Apple in the children-geared programming space…”         By Chloe Melas:

— Here’s the first look at the “Downton Abbey” movie…

— Chris Pratt and Katherine Schwarzenegger make their relationship IG official…

 David Letterman’s Netflix series has been renewed… 
 
“If Beale Street Could Talk” finds epic quality in love story
Brian Lowry emails:Barry Jenkins took the Oscar two years ago for “Moonlight,” and he could be in the mix again with “If Beale Street Could Talk,” a beautifully rendered love story. It’s based on James Baldwin’s 1970s novel, but directly ties into themes about African-Americans and the justice system that resonate today.

Read Lowry’s full review here…
 
“Springsteen on Broadway” gives fans best seat in the house
Lowry sends another one: Netflix gives Bruce Springsteen fans the best seat in the house for “Springsteen on Broadway,” a marathon special that transfers his sold-out one-man stage show to the screen, shrewdly timed to drop right after its run closes.

Read Lowry’s full review here…  
That’s a wrap on this edition of the newsletter. Enjoy your weekend. Brian will be back on Sunday!   Share Tweet Forward
By Chloe Melas:

— Here’s the first look at the “Downton Abbey” movie…

— Chris Pratt and Katherine Schwarzenegger make their relationship IG official…

 David Letterman’s Netflix series has been renewed… 
 
“If Beale Street Could Talk” finds epic quality in love story
Brian Lowry emails:Barry Jenkins took the Oscar two years ago for “Moonlight,” and he could be in the mix again with “If Beale Street Could Talk,” a beautifully rendered love story. It’s based on James Baldwin’s 1970s novel, but directly ties into themes about African-Americans and the justice system that resonate today.

Read Lowry’s full review here…
 
“Springsteen on Broadway” gives fans best seat in the house
Lowry sends another one: Netflix gives Bruce Springsteen fans the best seat in the house for “Springsteen on Broadway,” a marathon special that transfers his sold-out one-man stage show to the screen, shrewdly timed to drop right after its run closes.

Read Lowry’s full review here…

That’s a wrap on this edition of the newsletter. Enjoy your weekend. Brian will be back on Sunday!



Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, International, Local, News, Opinions, Politics, Regional0 Comments

PHOTO: Michael Cohen sits down for an interview with ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos on

Ex-Trump lawyer Michael Cohen says Trump knew it was wrong to make hush-money payments during campaign


GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ERIC AVRAM, ELIANA LARRAMENDIA and JAMES HILLGood Morning America – December 14, 2018

Donald Trump directed Michael Cohen to arrange hush-money payments with two women because then-candidate Trump “was very concerned about how this would affect the election” if their allegations of affairs became public, the president’s former personal attorney said in an exclusive interview with ABC News.

Cohen’s comments are his first since being sentenced earlier this week to three years in federal prison for financial crimes, lying to Congress and two campaign finance violations in connection with the deals with the women, Karen McDougal and Stormy Daniels, who claim past affairs with Trump.

“I knew what I was doing was wrong,” Cohen told ABC News’ Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos. “I stood up before the world [Wednesday] and I accepted the responsibility for my actions.”

PHOTO: Michael Cohen sits down for an interview with ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos on 'Good Morning America,' Friday, Dec. 14, 2018. (ABC News)
PHOTO: Michael Cohen sits down for an interview with ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos on ‘Good Morning America,’ Friday, Dec. 14, 2018. (ABC News)

When asked if the president also knew it was wrong to make the payments, Cohen replied, “Of course,” adding that the purpose was to “help [Trump] and his campaign.”

Cohen said he is “angry at himself” for his role in the deals, but that he did it out of “blind loyalty” to Trump.

(MORE: Cohen said Trump made him ‘follow a path of darkness rather than light’)

“I gave loyalty to someone who, truthfully, does not deserve loyalty,” he said.

Federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York have implicated, but not charged, the president in the deals reached in the closing weeks of the 2016 election. They allege that Cohen acted “in coordination with and at the direction of” Trump, according to court filings. Prosecutors also reached a non-prosecution agreement with AMI, the publishers of the National Inquirer, in which the tabloid admitted to making a $150,000 payment to McDougal “in concert” with the Trump campaign.

The president has denied allegations of the affairs — but has had shifting explanations about when he learned about the payments to the women. He has also contended that the deals were private and unrelated to the campaign and that if anything illegal occurred, it was Cohen’s responsibility.

PHOTO: Michael Cohen sits down for an interview with ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos on 'Good Morning America,' Friday, Dec. 14, 2018. (ABC News)
PHOTO: Michael Cohen sits down for an interview with ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos on ‘Good Morning America,’ Friday, Dec. 14, 2018. (ABC News)

Trump has lashed out at Cohen since his sentencing, contending in a Thursday tweet that his former close confidant only agreed to plead guilty “in order to embarrass the president and get a much reduced prison sentence, which he did.”

“It is absolutely not true,” Cohen said. “Under no circumstances do I want to embarrass the president. He knows the truth. I know the truth.”

(MORE: Tabloid involved in Trump hush money payment reaches deal with federal prosecutors)

Cohen was particularly distressed by another Trump tweet on Thursday, in which the president implied that prosecutors investigating Cohen had let his wife and father-in-law off the hook.

“Instead of him taking responsibility for his actions, what does he do?” Cohen said. “He attacks my family.”

And Cohen refuted the president’s contention that he never directed Cohen to do anything wrong.

PHOTO: In this Sept. 19, 2017, file photo, President Donald Trump's lawyer Michael Cohen departs following a closed door meeting with the Senate Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Andrew Harnik/AP, FILE)
PHOTO: In this Sept. 19, 2017, file photo, President Donald Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen departs following a closed door meeting with the Senate Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Andrew Harnik/AP, FILE)

“I don’t think there is anybody that believes that,” Cohen told Stephanopoulos. “First of all, nothing at the Trump organization was ever done unless it was run through Mr. Trump. He directed me to make the payments, he directed me to become involved in these matters.

“He knows the truth. I know the truth. Others know the truth,” Cohen continued. “And here is the truth: People of the United States of America, people of the world, don’t believe what he is saying. The man doesn’t tell the truth. And it is sad that I should take responsibility for his dirty deeds.”

(MORE: Trump denies he ‘directed’ Michael Cohen to break the law as prosecutors contend)

When confronted about his convictions for lying to Congress and for tax evasion and banking crimes, Cohen said he was “done with the lying. I am done being loyal to President Trump and my first loyalty belongs to my wife, my daughter, my son and this country.”

“Why should we believe you now?” Stephanopoulos asked.

“Because the special counsel stated emphatically that the information that I gave to them is credible and helpful,” Cohen replied. “There’s a substantial amount of information that they possessed that corroborates the fact that I am telling the truth.”

PHOTO: President Donald Trump answers questions from the press while departing the White House, Nov. 29, 2018 in Washington. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)
PHOTO: President Donald Trump answers questions from the press while departing the White House, Nov. 29, 2018 in Washington. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Cohen — who is due to report to prison on March 6 — has professed his willingness to continue to answer questions for special counsel Robert Mueller and other federal and state investigators.

He declined in the interview to answer specific questions about the Mueller investigation “out of respect for process.”

“I don’t want to jeopardize any of their investigations,” he said.

(MORE: Federal judge orders Stormy Daniels to pay Trump nearly $300K in legal fees)

But when asked if he thinks the president is telling the truth about the Russia probe, Cohen replied simply, “No.”

Cohen once said he would “take a bullet” for the president, but now he finds himself opposing the president and facing the prospect of becoming a witness against him.

“It’s never good to be on the wrong side of the president of the United States of America, but somehow or another this task has now fallen onto my shoulders and as I also stated … I will spend the rest of my life in order to fix the mistake that I made.”

PHOTO: Michael Cohen, center, President Donald Trump's former lawyer, accompanied by his children Samantha, left, and Jake, right, arrives at federal court for his sentencing in New York, Dec. 12, 2018. (Craig Ruttle/AP)
PHOTO: Michael Cohen, center, President Donald Trump’s former lawyer, accompanied by his children Samantha, left, and Jake, right, arrives at federal court for his sentencing in New York, Dec. 12, 2018. (Craig Ruttle/AP)

Cohen said as he observes Trump’s actions in the White House, he barely recognizes the man he served for more than a decade at the Trump organization.

“He’s a very different individual,” Cohen said. “I think the pressure of the job is much more than what he thought it was going to be. It’s not like the Trump organization where he would bark out orders and people would blindly follow what he wanted done. There’s a system here; he doesn’t understand the system and it’s sad because the country has never been more divisive and one of the hopes that I have out of the punishment that I’ve received as well as the cooperation that I have given I will be remembered in history as helping to bring this country back together.

“I will not be the villain of his story,” he said.

Posted in Court, Crime, International, Local, News, Regional0 Comments

In Plea Deal, Russian Woman Admits to Being a Secret Agent

In Plea Deal, Russian Woman Admits to Being a Secret Agent

Associated Press

Published 13 December 2018

Image via AP Photo/File

WASHINGTON (AP) — A Russian woman accused of being a secret agent admitted Thursday that she conspired to infiltrate the American gun-rights movement to gather intelligence onconservative political groups as Donald Trump rose to power.

Maria Butina, 30, agreed to plead guilty to a conspiracy charge as part of a deal with federal prosecutors.

The case, which is separate from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, has offered insight into how Moscow seeks to influence American policy.

Prosecutors say Butina and her Russian patron, Alexander Torshin, used their contacts in the National Rifle Association to pursue Russian back channels to American conservatives during that campaign, when Republican Trump defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Butina’s case, brought by federal prosecutors in Washington, also comes amid a broader push by the Justice Department to enforce U.S. laws governing foreign agents, including those accused of working for Russia.

As part of her deal, Butina pleaded guilty to a single charge of conspiracy to act as an unregistered foreign agent and she agreed to cooperate with investigators.

Prosecutors also say it is “very likely” that she will be deported from the U.S. after her sentence is completed. The charge carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison, though the defense noted Thursday that federal sentencing guidelines recommend no time to six months.

According to her plea agreement, Butina’s work was directed by Torshin, a Russian government bank official now under sanction by the Treasury Department for his ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Butina admitted that she “sought to establish unofficial lines of communication with Americans having power and influence over U.S. politics.” She said her boyfriend, conservative political operative Paul Erickson, helped her as she tried to use his ties with the NRA to set up the back channels. Erickson, who is referred to as “U.S. Person 1” in court papers, he has not been charged.

In their filings, prosecutors have said federal agents found Butina had contact information for people suspected of being employed by Russia’s Federal Security Services, or FSB, the successor intelligence agency to the KGB. Inside her home, they found notes referring to a potential job offer from the FSB, according to the documents.

Investigators recovered several emails and Twitter direct message conversations in which Butina referred to the need to keep her work secret and, in one instance, said it should be “incognito.” Prosecutors said Butina had contact with Russian intelligence officials and that the FBI photographed her dining with a diplomat suspected of being a Russian intelligence agent.

Butina’s lawyer, Robert Driscoll, had previously decried the charges against her as “overblown” and said prosecutors criminalized her mundane networking opportunities. He has said his client was a student interested in American politics and wanted to see a better relationship between the U.S. and Russia.

Butina, jailed since her arrest in July, had mounted an aggressive defense and tried to have the charges against her tossed. But for several weeks, Butina’s lawyers and federal prosecutors had indicated in court papers that they were working toward a resolution in the case.

___

Associated Press writer Chad Day contributed to this report.

By Associated Press

Published 13 December 2018

Filed Under russia , russian spy

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, Court, Crime, International, Local, News, Politics, Regional0 Comments

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