November 10, 2021

ABC News’ Jonathan Karl had quite the revelations during an appearance on Monday night’s “The Late Show” with Stephen Colbert. Promoting his new book “Betrayal: The Final Act of the Trump Show,” Karl said he learned there was an official White House photographer with Vice President Mike Pence during the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol.

“I got ahold of the photographer,” Karl said. “I actually saw all of the photographs. … (Pence) was in a loading dock in an underground parking garage beneath the Capitol complex. No place to sit. No desk, no chairs, no nothing. He was in this concrete parking garage. … This is the vice president of the United States and he’s, like, holed up in a basement.”

Karl said he asked Pence if he could publish those photographs — one of which was Pence looking at Donald Trump’s tweet that said Pence didn’t “have the courage” to stop the certification of the election. But Pence refused to give Karl permission.

“I have a suspicion that the January 6th committee is going to want to see those photos,” Karl said.

About Jan. 6, Karl said it was “​​absolutely heartbreaking” watching the rioters and added, “By the way, they almost succeeded.” He said that while researching his book, “I came to realize that we were far closer to losing it all than I even realized at the time — and I was freaked out, like we all were, at the time.”

Speaking of Karl’s book, he has an essay adapted from his book in The Atlantic: “The man who made January 6 possible. The story of Johnny McEntee — the ‘deputy president’ who rose to power at precisely the moment when democracy was falling apart.”

Karl writes, “People close to Trump say there is no doubt he is going to run for president again in 2024. I am not convinced he will run, but if he does, he will be the clear favorite to win the Republican nomination. The idea of him getting elected again, although highly unlikely, no longer seems impossible. If that happens, McEntee will probably play a key role right from the start. As one of Trump’s more level headed senior aides told me, ‘I shudder to think what the Cabinet would look like in a second term.’ Johnny McEntee, I expect, is already working on his list of names.”

Brian Williams to leave NBC News

Breaking news Tuesday night: Brian Williams announced he is stepping down as anchor of MSNBC’s “11th Hour” show and will leave NBC News entirely by the end of the year.

It truly is the end of an era.

In a statement, Williams, 62, said, “Following much reflection, and after 28 years with the company, I have decided to leave NBC upon the completion of my current contract in December. I have been truly blessed. I have been allowed to spend almost half of my life with one company. NBC is a part of me and always will be.”

He did not announce what he might do next.

Williams added in his statement, “This is the end of a chapter and the beginning of another. There are many things I want to do, and I’ll pop up again somewhere.”

MSNBC and the “11th Hour” program, which airs weeknights at 11 p.m. Eastern, revitalized Williams’ career after controversy ended his tenure as anchor of the “NBC Nightly News.” In interviews, including one on David Letterman’s show, Williams exaggerated his role in a helicopter episode in Iraq. When the truth came out in 2015, Williams was suspended six months and then was removed permanently as anchor — a job he had held for nearly 11 years.

Williams’ reputation as a journalist took a hit, but he worked his way back as a breaking news anchor for MSNBC and the network created the “11th Hour” for him in September 2016 — just before the presidential election.

CNN had previously reported Williams had grown tired of the late-night schedule and now there’s speculation that Williams could join CNN’s new streaming service, CNN+. But that is just speculation.

In a statement, MSNBC president Rashida Jones said, “Brian’s time at NBC has been marked by breaking countless major stories, attracting leading journalists and guests to his programs, and most especially, great resiliency. He has built a fiercely loyal following for The 11th Hour and we and our viewers will miss his penetrating questions and thoughtful commentary.”

Aaron Rodgers takes responsibility for YOU being misled

Radio host Pat McAfee in 2019. (AP Photo/Gregory Payan, File)

Here comes Aaron Rodgers again, trying to explain his COVID-19 comments. The Packers quarterback turned to his favorite outlet — “The Pat McAfee Show” — on Tuesday to talk about the past week in which he tested positive for COVID-19 and said that he had not been vaccinated after previously telling reporters, “Yeah, I’ve been immunized.”

Rodgers told McAfee, “I made some comments that people might have felt were misleading. And to anybody who felt misled by those comments, I take full responsibility for those comments.”

So wait, it’s our fault that we felt misled? Rodgers’ comment sounded an awful lot like the sorry-if-you-were-offended apologies we so often get when someone says something stupid. Again, this isn’t about Rodgers’ decision to not get vaccinated; it’s that he lied to the media and broke some NFL protocols for unvaccinated players.

On Tuesday, Rodgers basically doubled down on his decision to not get vaccinated, saying, “I stand by what I said and the reasons why I made the decision.”

He told McAfee, “I understand that this issue, in general, is very charging to a lot of people because we are talking about public health. I totally respect that. I made a decision that was in the best interest based on consulting with my doctors. And I understand that not everybody is going to understand that necessarily. But I respect everybody’s opinion.”

Last week on McAfee’s show, Rodgers said he was in the “crosshairs of the woke mob” and felt he was a victim of cancel culture. McAfee, once again on Tuesday, handed Rodgers a megaphone to amplify his message with not a whole lot of pushback. He did ask Rodgers some direct questions about the controversy, but it was also clear that he is a former football player who is pals with Rodgers and that he is not a journalist.

Earlier this week, McAfee addressed his initial interview and the reaction to it, saying, “Overall positive. Lotta negative. And I do apologize for potentially not hammering home the science and stats like I should have, I guess a lot of people were saying. But also, there’s no way you were thinking that’s what I was gonna do. Like there’s no way anybody had that as the expectation.”

On one hand, you can understand McAfee’s point. He’s not a “60 Minutes” correspondent. He doesn’t pass himself off as a journalist. And, the point has been made by many that by merely letting Rodgers talk, McAfee actually did get Rodgers to explain (expose?) himself.

Then again, if Rodgers is going to come on and talk about vaccines and science and bring up Joe Rogan’s name, McAfee does have an obligation to push back a little. The topic is too important not to.

Not so fast

According to The New York Times’ Marc Tracy, more than 300 employees at Hearst magazines have signed a petition objecting to the company’s plan to have them return to the office next week. Hearst publishes more than two dozen magazines, including Cosmopolitan, Esquire, Harper’s Bazaar, Redbook and Good Housekeeping.

The plan laid about by Hearst was to have employees come in once a week at first and then twice a week starting early next year. Eventually, it would become three days a week. In addition, employees will need to be vaccinated. According to Tracy, approximately 300 of the magazine division’s 550 employees sent a petition asking the company not to make employees work from the office.

The petition said, “We support a continuation of the functional norm that we have reached as a result of our extraordinary circumstances, with employees and teams able to make decisions that are appropriate for their work needs. We have seen our colleagues adapt to unprecedented changes in our work lives without a drop in productivity.”

House of horrors

Diane Sawyer, right, has exclusive interviews with children from the Turpin family. (Christina Ng/ABC News)

The story broke in January 2018. A 17-year-old girl escaped her family home and called 911. She reported the unthinkable: She and her 12 siblings were being held captive by their parents, David and Louise Turpin. Some of the children were held in chains and padlocks. Despite being 17, the girl was so emaciated that she was mistaken for a young child. Authorities found horrific conditions in the home and that all but one of the children, ages 2 to 29, had been abused.

Now ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer has the first interviews with children from the Turpin family, including the one who escaped and made the 911 call. She told Sawyer, “I think it was us coming so close to death so many times. It was literally a now or never. If something happened to me, at least I died trying.”

Another daughter said, “The only word I know to call it is hell.”

The interviews are a part of a “20/20” special that will air Nov. 19 called “Escape from a House of Horror — A Diane Sawyer Special Event.” The two-hour special begins at 9 p.m. Eastern. The program includes never-before-seen ​police body camera video, as well as footage and photos from the children’s lives inside their parents’ house

The parents are now spending life in prison after pleading guilty to 14 counts each of torture, dependent adult abuse, child endangerment and false imprisonment.

‘He’s a sociopath’

Earlier this week, Arizona Republican Congressman ​​Paul Gosar tweeted out an altered animated video that depicts him killing Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and swinging a sword at President Joe Biden. The bizarre and brazen video has drawn outrage, including from Gosar’s own sister.

Appearing on “CNN Newsroom,” Jennifer Gosar told Alisyn Camerota that her brother doesn’t deserve the right to serve in Congress.

“No one holds him accountable,” Jennifer Gosar said. “Does he have to act on it himself before we believe that he is a sociopath?”

She went on to say, “What I am is a common person. I have proximity to this sociopath who has been elected from a very gerrymandered district. There is no other way that someone like Paul Gosar wins without that. He is incompetent. It starts with censure, it works for expulsion, he does not deserve the right to serve in this Congress. … He has demonstrated, by his treasonous plot, that he has conspired against the United States government. I think that’s merited a forfeiture of his seat.”

Portnoy suspended from Twitter

Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy, who was the subject of an Insider story last week about alleged violent sexual behavior, said on Instagram that he was suspended from Twitter for 12 hours after he posted an email exchange with an editor from Insider. Portnoy asked the editor, Nicholas Carlson, to appear on a podcast to discuss the story, but Carlson declined. Portnoy posted Carlson’s email address in the exchange.

Since the Insider story last week, Portnoy has defended himself on Twitter and, in a cliched move, went on Fox News and found a sympathetic ear in Tucker Carlson.

On Tuesday, before the Twitter ban, Portnoy tweeted, “I’ve eliminated sleep from my schedule. Just running on adderall, coffee and revenge nowadays.”

Media tidbits

CBS News’ Lesley Stahl. (Andy Kropa/Invision/AP)

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Tom Jones is Poynter’s senior media writer for He was previously part of the Tampa Bay Times family during three stints over some 30…
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