The gold standard of TV news remains CBS’s “60 Minutes.” It has been home to some of the best reporters in the business — from Mike Wallace to Lesley Stahl to Ed Bradley to Morley Safer to Katie Couric to Harry Reasoner and on and on.
Now add a new name to “60 Minutes’” impressive roster. Cecilia Vega, the chief White House correspondent for ABC News, is joining “60 Minutes” and will start reporting for the show in the spring.
“This is a dream come true,” Vega said in a statement. “I am beyond honored to join the ranks of this legendary show and to work alongside the best reporters in journalism.”
Vega has been with ABC News since 2011 and has become one of the network’s top on-air reporters, particularly when covering both the Trump and Biden White Houses. She also covered Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
Before ABC, Vega worked at ABC’s KGO-TV in San Francisco. She got her journalism start as a print reporter, including a stint at the San Francisco Chronicle.
Bill Owens, the executive producer of “60 Minutes,” told The Washington Post’s Jeremy Barr, “I think she’s a throwback. She’s classic in the most elegant and sophisticated way. She’s also interested in every type of story.”
Owens also told Barr that Vega was the “first and only person” he mentioned when, a few years ago, a CBC executive asked him about potential new hires for “60 Minutes.”
Here comes the boss
Jeff Bezos visited the offices of The Washington Post on Thursday. He wasn’t there to deliver an Amazon package.
The billionaire owner of the Post was there to sit in on newsroom meetings — something he hasn’t done in more than a year. But his timing sent off alarm bells inside the Post. Just last month, Post publisher Fred Ryan announced that the news organization would have layoffs early this year.
A Post spokesperson said Bezos was at the paper to meet with Ryan, executive editor Sally Buzbee and staff. He sat in on the morning news meeting and reportedly said, “I’m delighted to be here and see all these faces. Thank you for allowing me to listen in.”
Apparently he didn’t say much more than that, at least to the staff. The New York Times’ Benjamin Mullin and Katie Robertson wrote, “During the meeting on Thursday, Mr. Bezos’ retinue stood outside the room, earpieces clearly visible. As he left, a Post employee wearing a red shirt emblazoned with the insignia of The Post’s guild stopped him and asked why the company was laying people off without offering buyouts first, according to the three people with knowledge of the meeting. Mr. Bezos responded that he was at The Post to listen, not answer questions, and underscored his commitment to The Post’s journalism.”
As far as the impending layoffs, they are expected to take place in the first quarter of this year. Ryan said they would impact a single-digit percentage of the Post’s workforce. The Post has approximately 2,500 employees. In addition, the Post has said they also will be adding some jobs, and that the total headcount could end up being about the same. But some of those heads will be different, thus the reason for a little tension around the Post these days.
Where’s the leak?
One of the biggest media scoops last year was when Politico’s Josh Gerstein and Alexander Ward obtained an initial draft of a Supreme Court decision to strike down Roe v. Wade. The Supreme Court almost immediately confirmed the draft’s authenticity and, as we know, the court later in 2022 did overturn the landmark 1973 decision that had established a constitutional right to abortion.
While those on both sides of the abortion issue accused the leak came from the other side, we still don’t know where the leak came from. And we might not find out.
The Supreme Court announced on Thursday that an internal investigation could not identify the person who leaked the draft. The court’s marshal, Gail A. Curley, oversaw the investigation and conducted 126 interviews with 97 employees for a 20-page report. The report indicated that the nine Supreme Court justices, 82 law clerks and many court employees had access to the electronic and/or hard copies of the draft opinion that ended up in the hands of Politico.
The report also said that those interviewed were told they could be fired if they did not respond to questions truthfully or refused to answer any questions. They also were asked to sign affidavits. The report did not say for certain that the justices were interviewed.
The Washington Post’s Robert Barnes and Ann E. Marimow wrote, “As part of the investigation, Curley and her team also reviewed any connections between court employees and reporters, including speculation on social media. Those inquiries ‘found nothing to substantiate any of the social media allegations regarding the disclosure.’”
The New York Times’ Charlie Savage and Adam Liptak wrote, “The report said the marshal’s office would investigate any new information that arose, and it made several recommendations for improving security practices. But it conveyed the distinct impression that there were enough holes in the system that the mystery of who leaked the opinion might never be solved.”
The actual report said, “If a court employee disclosed the draft opinion, that person brazenly violated a system that was built fundamentally on trust with limited safeguards to regulate and constrain access to very sensitive information. … The pandemic and resulting expansion of the ability to work from home, as well as gaps in the court’s security policies, created an environment where it was too easy to remove sensitive information from the building and the court’s I.T. networks, increasing the risk of both deliberate and accidental disclosures of court-sensitive information.”
Baldwin is charged
Actor Alec Baldwin and a crew member are each going to be charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter in the 2021 shooting death of a cinematographer on the set of a western movie. Baldwin was practicing using a gun when he shot and killed Halyna Hutchins and injured director Joel Souza. Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, who loaded the guns on the set and was in charge of them, also will be charged. Dave Halls, who handed the gun to Baldwin, agreed to a plea deal on a charge of negligent use of a deadly weapon.
The incident happened on the set of a movie titled “Rust,” which was being filmed in New Mexico.
In a written statement, Santa Fe First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies and special prosecutor Andrea Reeb said, “After a thorough review of the evidence and the laws of the state of New Mexico, I have determined that there is sufficient evidence to file criminal charges against Alec Baldwin and other members of the ‘Rust’ film crew. On my watch, no one is above the law, and everyone deserves justice.”
Baldwin’s attorney, Luke Nikas, put out a statement that said, “This decision distorts Halyna Hutchins’ tragic death and represents a terrible miscarriage of justice. Mr. Baldwin had no reason to believe there was a live bullet in the gun — or anywhere on the movie set. He relied on the professionals with whom he worked, who assured him the gun did not have live rounds. We will fight these charges, and we will win.”
If convicted, Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed could face up to 18 months in jail, plus fines. Should a jury decide a charge that also includes a firearm enhancement, the punishment could include a five-year sentence.
The New York Times’ Julia Jacobs and Graham Bowley wrote, “Ever since the shooting Mr. Baldwin had sought to strike a delicate balance: publicly maintaining his innocence in an effort to preserve his reputation and career while trying to stay out of legal jeopardy. He appeared on national television, where he said that he had been told the gun he was using that day did not have live rounds in it, and added that he was only following directions when he pointed it at the cinematographer.”
In the nationally-televised interview, Baldwin said, “Someone is responsible for what happened, and I can’t say who that is, but I know it’s not me.”
Dungy’s odd week
It has been a strange week for NBC football analyst Tony Dungy. First, the Hall of Fame coach was dragged by national media for his low-energy work as the color commentator on the Jaguars-Chargers playoff game.
But then came a bizarre tweet he sent out and then deleted on Wednesday. Responding to a tweet from the conservative Daily Wire, Dungy repeated a debunked far-right conspiracy that schools are putting litter boxes in bathrooms.
Dungy wrote in his tweet, “That’s nothing. Some school districts are putting litter boxes in the school bathrooms for students who identify as cats. Very important to address every student’s needs.”
Dungy deleted the tweet without explanation.
Indianapolis Star sports columnist Gregg Doyel, who knows Dungy from Dungy’s days as coach of the Indianapolis Colts, wrote, “Was he trying to be funny with his tweet about kids and litter boxes, or does he believe that thoroughly debunked myth? Either way, Tony, you should know better.”
Doyel later added, “How many were pushed too far, the last of a thousand small cuts, by a joke about litter boxes? People like Tony Dungy, you have a lot of power, a lot of influence. Use it compassionately. Or stick to sports.”
This is not the first time Dungy has shared controversial views. I’ve known Dungy for years, having covered him when I was a sports columnist at the Tampa Bay Times. Here’s a column I wrote about Dungy in 2014.
LIV Golf finds a home
The CW Network is most famous for shows such as “Gossip Girl,”
“Supernatural,” “One Tree Hill” and “America’s Next Top Model.”
Now it’s getting a little more controversial. It’s going to air golf.
Golf? Controversial? Yes, indeed.
LIV Golf, which is being financed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, has signed a deal with CW to air 14 tournaments in 2023. Many see the LIV tour as “sports washing” — a way for the Saudi government to back a popular sports league in hopes of getting attention away from its awful human rights record. Several of the top players on the PGA Tour have defected to LIV Golf.
No financial details of the TV deal have been released.
LIV Golf, about to start its second season, badly needs an American TV deal if it wants to compete with the PGA Tour. But signing on with the network owned by Nexstar Media Group that has never carried live sports is a risky proposition. Then again, it’s probably the best LIV Golf could do. ABC/ESPN, NBC and CBS all have ties to the PGA Tour and were not going to do a deal with the PGA’s enemy.
Among the major networks, Fox was the only one left. There were rumors that Fox and LIV were going to eventually strike a deal, but that didn’t happen.
That left a wild card such as the CW. Color me skeptical that this is going to work out for the fledgling golf association.
The New York Times’ Alan Blinder has more.
- Media feud! This one is between conservatives Steven Crowder and Ben Shapiro. The Daily Beast’s Justin Baragona covers it in “This Right-Wing Media Feud Just Took an Ugly Turn.”
- Variety’s Brian Steinberg reports that former NBC and MSNBC newsman Brian Williams has reached out to the powerhouse agency of CAA to help him plot the next move in his career. Williams left MSNBC at the end of 2021.
- The Washington Post’s Travis M. Andrews and Jeremy Barr with “CNN to air Mark Twain Prize for American Humor honoring Adam Sandler.”
- Legendary rocker David Crosby has died at the age of 81. Here’s an obit from Variety’s Chris Morris.
- For The Washington Post, Cathy Free with “Farmer dies, town learns he secretly paid strangers’ pharmacy bills.”
- For The New York Times, Joe Nocera with “Parenting Lessons From the 1990s Kids Who Grew Up Bills Fans.”
More resources for journalists
- Subscribe to PolitiFact’s weekly newsletter. Get facts delivered straight to your inbox.
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- Leadership Academy for Diversity in Media (Seminar) — Apply by Feb. 17.
- Lead With Influence (Feb. 2023) (Seminar) — Register by Jan 30.
Have feedback or a tip? Email Poynter senior media writer Tom Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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