November 7, 2019

The Poynter Report is our daily media newsletter. To have it delivered to your inbox Monday-Friday, click here.

Good Thursday morning. I can hardly wait for today’s episode of “The View.” Read below to find out why. In the meantime, a surprising directive from Fox News.

Fox News edict: Don’t name whistleblower

CNN’s Brian Stelter and Oliver Darcy had the big media scoop Wednesday, reporting that Fox News executives have told on-air talent to not reveal the identity of the whistleblower who sparked the impeachment probe against President Donald Trump.

The CNN media reporters wrote, “It’s possible that the situation at Fox could change if there were to be a development in the story or if Trump himself names a person he believes to be the whistleblower.”

Fox News isn’t going against the grain here. Other news organizations — including The New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, the Associated Press and the major networks — aren’t naming the whistleblower as of now. Stelter and Darcy wrote, “CNN has sent guidance to staff about not repeating any reporting that alleges the name and identity of the whistleblower.”

So why is Fox News joining the crowd a big deal? First, because there have been hints that someone at Fox News was eventually going to name the whistleblower. This week, Fox News primetime personality Sean Hannity claimed he knew the name, but wasn’t going to say it on the air. According to Stelter and Darcy, the Fox News directive is for all on-air talent, including primetime opinion hosts like Hannity.

There’s another reason why the Fox News directive is newsworthy: Trump’s allies want the name of the whistleblower to become public and many who have on-air jobs at Fox News can accurately be called Trump allies. In addition, Trump’s political supporters, such as Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, are calling on the media to out the whistleblower.

But there’s a reason media outlets aren’t blowing the whistle on the whistleblower, and that was explained well by someone who just happens to work at Fox News: media critic Howard Kurtz.

Appearing on Fox News on Tuesday, Kurtz said, “It would send a very chilling message to future whistleblowers, including in Democratic administrations, including people who have information on scandal, if they thought they could be turned into a political pinata if somebody just leaks the name to a reporter.”

Fox News’ Brit Hume pushed back with a question shared by many: “Isn’t it our obligation, broadly speaking, to print the news without fear or favor? There seems little doubt that this is a newsworthy event. Should we really concern ourselves with the internal government matters that don’t pertain to us? Aren’t we supposed to publish the news?”

Kurtz said, “There are all kinds of people who we don’t name although we could and we have legal power to. First of all, we protect our confidential sources. We don’t name people who are intelligence agents, in a covert capacity, we don’t name rape accusers, so I think you have to balance the news with it.”

Big (pay disparities) if true

(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

The Washington Post Newspaper Guild released a study about pay at the company, and the numbers are somewhat troubling. Bottom line: white men make more than anyone.

However, the Post claims the study is “seriously flawed” and does not accurately take into account factors such as position, experience and job performance.

In its study, the Guild acknowledges that some progress has been made to close pay gaps since Jeff Bezos took over as owner in 2013. But there is still pay disparity within the Post, it claims. In the newsroom, the Guild found women, as a group, are paid less than men; employees of color make less than white men; the desks with the highest median pay tend to be the most white and male; and men receive a higher percentage of merit pay raises than women even though they account for a smaller proportion of the newsroom.

The study reports that for the 290 salaried male newsroom employees, the median salary is $116,064. For the 284 salaried females, it is $95,595. The Guild says these groups have disparities in age and experience. The median age for men in the newsroom is 41 compared to 35 for women.

The most startling pay gap is among newsroom salaried employees under the age of 40. In that group, men make 14% more than women ($95,890 compared to $84,030).

Click here for the entire Guild report.

In a statement, the Guild said, “We know that these are complicated problems to solve. But they should be addressed with urgency and with significant investment from The Washington Post and other news organizations like it. We want to work alongside management to make our company a more fair place, to make staff and leadership more diverse, to better invest in and retain talent — to do all it takes to ensure that The Post is an industry leader in journalism and in workplace equity.”

In a statement to Poynter, a Post spokesperson said, “The Post is committed to paying employees fairly for the work they perform, and we believe that we do so, taking into account relevant factors like position, years of experience, and performance. It is regrettable that the Guild published a report on pay that does not appear to accurately account for these and other relevant factors, which have nothing to do with race or gender. In fact, the Guild concedes that its study’s ‘topline numbers such as median salary by gender or race and ethnicity cannot capture the entire story of pay at The Post.’ We believe the report is seriously flawed. It is disappointing that the Guild chose to issue it — The Post told the Guild before its release that we had many questions about their methodology.”

NYTimes’ subscriptions up, ad $$$ down

(AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews, File)

It was good news-bad news for The New York Times when its third quarter report was announced Wednesday.

The good news: The Times has added 273,000 new online subscribers, pushing its total to more than 4 million. Print and digital subscriptions to the Times now total an all-time high of 4.9 million.

The bad news: Not only is print advertising down, which is not a surprise, but so is digital advertising, which is a surprise. Overall advertising was down 6.7% with digital ad revenue down 5.4%.

So, let’s get this straight: the Times’ digital subscribers have gone up, but digital advertising has gone down? Times CEO Mark Thompson said in a statement that the decline was due to the “continued turbulence in the digital advertising space.”

Thompson added, “We expect a fairly challenging fourth quarter, largely due to comparison to a very successful Q4 in 2018.”

In the third quarter, the Times company earned $44 million in adjusted profit on $428.6 million in sales. However, costs are up 5.4% to $401 million. The Times said that was due to increasing the newsroom staff, as well as costs for its new TV show, “The Weekly.”

One other interesting tidbit: the Times revealed it has 500,000 digital subscribers from outside the United States. The Times’ Edmund Lee reports that most of the international subscribers come from Canada, Britain and Australia.

The third hour’s the charm

Talk about making chicken salad. When Megyn Kelly’s morning show flamed out at NBC, the network had to figure out something quickly with that time slot. So it expanded the “Today” show to a third hour and it has worked out just fine.

Writing for Variety, Brian Steinberg points out, “Now the third hour’s crew has done what many in the TV business cannot. As most shows continue to lose viewers to digital alternatives, the third hour of ‘Today’ has gained some back. The program saw the portion of its viewership most desired by advertisers — people between 25 and 54 — grow 3% over its predecessor in its first full year on air, while its overall audience rose 8%.”

Much credit belongs to hosts Sheinelle Jones, Craig Melvin, Dylan Dreyer and Al Roker. Third hour executive producer Jackie Levin told Steinberg that after launching the show on the fly following Kelly’s departure, “I don’t know that I’m afraid of anything anymore.”

Worth noting

Speaking of Brian Steinberg, the Variety reporter reminded everyone that today at 2:18 p.m. Eastern marks the one-year anniversary of the last Fox News Channel tweet. The lack of a presence on Twitter doesn’t seem to be hurting Fox News in any way. The network remains the most-watched cable news outlet on television.

Donald Trump Jr. to square off on ‘The View’

Donald Trump Jr. and girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

A reminder: Donald Trump Jr. is scheduled to appear today on “The View” at 11 a.m. Eastern, the ABC show’s 5,000th episode. Expect fireworks because it’s hard to imagine Joy Behar and Whoopi Goldberg (and even Meghan McCain) having an opportunity to confront the president’s son and letting it slide. And one would guess Trump, Jr. knows that going in and is ready.

“The View” co-hosts might be in a fighting mood after a dustup on Wednesday’s show between Behar and Democratic presidential hopeful Tulsi Gabbard. First, Gabbard confronted the entire panel for accusing her of being, in Gabbard’s words, “a traitor to my country, a Russian asset, a Trojan horse or a useful idiot.”

Soon, however, Gabbard and Behar squared off with Gabbard saying, “Let me start with how offensive it is to say that I’m a witting or unwitting asset of a foreign country, working against the interests of my country, a country that I am willing to lay my life down for. So if you are saying it’s not deliberately, then you are implying that I am too stupid and too naive and lack the intelligence to know what I am doing. And that is extremely offensive to me and to every woman of color.”

Also tune in

Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions will appear live on “Tucker Carlson Tonight” at 8 p.m. Eastern. It will be Sessions’ first interview since resigning from office and surely Carlson will ask Sessions about a possible run for the Senate in Alabama.

Is mighty Casey striking out?

Not long ago, The Players’ Tribune was the hot sports website, started by baseball legend Derek Jeter with revealing stories written by athletes. (Occasionally, ghostwriters helped with the prose.)

Now reports are that The Players Tribune is in financial trouble and is reportedly up for sale. Digiday’s Max Willens has a comprehensive breakdown of what went wrong.

The New York Post’s Keith J. Kelly reported last month that the site has burned through $80 million since its launch five years ago.

Hot type

Have feedback or a tip? Email Poynter senior media writer Tom Jones at

Upcoming Poynter training:

Want to get this briefing in your inbox? Sign up here.

Follow us on Twitter and on Facebook.

Support high-integrity, independent journalism that serves democracy. Make a gift to Poynter today. The Poynter Institute is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, and your gift helps us make good journalism better.
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…
Tom Jones

More News

Back to News