December 16, 2019

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‘Sexual harassment … can leave scars that do not heal’

You might love them. You might see them as a news network that tells it like it is, speaking directly to hard-working Americans in a no-nonsense way.

You might hate them. You might see them as state TV, a mouthpiece for President Donald Trump, a propaganda machine that ignores facts and advances racism, hatred and wild conspiracy theories.

What you don’t do is feel ambivalent about them.

I’m talking, of course, about Fox News — the most-watched cable news network in the country.

Just last week, Fox News announced the best primetime numbers it has ever had in its 23-year history. Meanwhile, this country has undergone a major shift in the past couple of years with the #MeToo movement.

So it’s the perfect time for a movie such as “Bombshell,” which is out in limited release now and is set to hit screens nationally this Friday. It’s about the sexual harassment at Fox News and stars Charlize Theron as Megyn Kelly, Nicole Kidman as Gretchen Carlson and John Lithgow as the late Roger Ailes. (By the way, Theron looks eerily like Kelly in the movie.)

Slate’s Heather Schwedel does a fact vs. fiction piece about the movie.

In an Instagram post, Kelly said the film is “loosely based” on her story and that she had nothing to do with the making of the film. She said she would give her thoughts on the movie at a later time, but in the Instagram post, she did say, “Watching this picture was an incredibly emotional experience for me, and for those with whom I saw it. Sexual harassment is pervasive in this country; it can leave scars that do not heal. My heart goes out to those who’ve gone through it, who I hope might find some comfort in this story.”

Carlson was a guest on Sunday’s “Reliable Sources” on CNN and talked about her 2016 suit against Ailes and the $20 million she received from Fox News as a result. At the time, she signed a non-disclosure agreement, something she now regrets.

“But how could I have known we would be in this position?” she said. “How could I have known we would have these mini-series and movie projects being made about the story? Back then it was a very different environment.”

She added that it’s time to end the NDAs.

“I see this as the next phase of the revolution, that women want their voices back … Enough is enough,” Carlson said. “We want to be able to say what happened to us as a way of moving this forward for our next generation.”

For a great intro into the film, here’s a really insightful scene as narrated by director Jay Roach. It’s part of The New York Times’ “Anatomy of a Scene” feature.

Speaking of Megyn Kelly …

Megyn Kelly. (Photo by Victoria Will/Invision/AP)

So what’s Kelly up to these days?

First, she gave an extensive interview with PBS’s “Frontline,” covering topics such as Fox News, Breitbart and that one debate question — the time she asked then-candidate Donald Trump about calling women “fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals.” The result was Trump later blasting Kelly on Twitter.

“Nobody complained except one guy,” Kelly told “Frontline.” “I wasn’t trying to be unkind to Trump in that moment. I was just doing my job as a reporter. But the way Trump sees media, the way he sees life, is all, ‘They like me, or they don’t like me.’”

Kelly also said that Trump’s attacks on her led Breitbart to go after her.

“They tried to destroy me,” said Kelly, who reportedly received death threats. Less than a year later, Kelly left Fox News.

Now, after her rocky tenure at NBC, Kelly is trying to find her place back on TV. In a New York Times story by Michael M. Grynbaum and John Koblin, Kelly has reportedly told friends that she felt like “the Rachel Maddow of Fox News and the Sean Hannity of NBC.”

Maybe that will work in her favor as the Times writes that people close to her said she “believes she can find a niche as an equal-opportunity skeptic amid a divided news media.”

One final note: Kelly’s “Frontline” interview is part of a special called “America’s Great Divide: From Obama to Trump,” which will air Jan. 13-14.

Let’s go to the videotape

“NFL on Fox” reporter Jay Glazer. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

The big controversy in the NFL these days is a team being investigated for cheating. No surprise it’s the New England Patriots, who have a history of that kind of thing.

While doing a feature on a Patriots scout, a production company associated with the team taped the opponent’s sideline — a no-no. Now the league is trying to determine if the football operations department of the Patriots used the video.

The big scoop of the weekend was from Jay Glazer of  “NFL on Fox,” who obtained exclusive video of the production team getting busted for the violation. This is an example of big-time reporting.

As New York Post sports media columnist Andrew Marchand tweeted, “I’ll take 1 scoop like this over 50 transaction ‘scoops.’”

Weinstein: ‘My work has been forgotten’

Harvey Weinstein arrives at court for a bail hearing Dec. 6 in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

Harvey Weinstein says that when it comes to advancing the cause of women, he deserves a pat on the back. Incredibly, he is being serious.

After being accused of sexual assault and/or harassment by more than 80 women, Weinstein is playing the victim. According to Page Six’s Rebecca Rosenberg, Weinstein said, “I feel like the forgotten man. I made more movies directed by women and about women than any filmmaker, and I’m talking about 30 years ago. I’m not talking about now when it’s vogue. I did it first! I pioneered it! It all got eviscerated because of what happened. My work has been forgotten.”

Weinstein goes on trial Jan. 6 in New York City for rape. Meanwhile, he and his bankrupt film studio, The Weinstein Company, just reached a tentative $25 million civil settlement with more than 30 accusers.

Rosenberg has more comments from Weinstein, if you’re so inclined to hear anything he has to say.

Insert song lyric/title pun here

Linda Ronstadt attends the 42nd annual Kennedy Center Honors at The Kennedy Center last week in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Greg Allen/Invision/AP)

At a State Department event honoring this year’s Kennedy Center honorees, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo asked honoree Linda Ronstadt, playing off one of her big hits, when will he be loved?

Later, Ronstadt delivered a devastating line when she answered him: “I’d like to say to Mr. Pompeo, who wonders when he’ll be loved, it’s when he stops enabling Donald Trump.”

CNN’s Peggy Drexler offers her opinion on the exchange.

Runner who slapped reporter is charged

Remember the story of the Savannah TV reporter, Alex Bozarjian, who had her rear end smacked while covering a running race? The man, Thomas Callaway, who hit her is being charged with misdemeanor sexual battery.

Bozarjian is being represented by attorney Gloria Allred, who put out this statement:

“Alex Bozarjian is glad that law enforcement is taking this matter seriously. She feels that a reporter should be able to do her job without being assaulted. Alex wants to thank the members of the public who have reached out to her to offer support. If this case goes to trial, she will be a witness. For that reason, she will have no further comment until the case concludes, but she does hope that there will be a just result.”

After the incident, Callaway apologized during an interview with the station, saying, “It was an awful act and an awful mistake. I am not that person that people are portraying me as. I make mistakes, I’m not perfect and I’m asking for forgiveness and to accept my apology.”

Hot type

  • Excellent work by the Sacramento Bee with a documentary about the police shooting death of Stephon Clark that changed a family and a city forever. Compelling and important work. (The Bee is scheduled to lift its paywall today so non-subscribers can view the doc.)
  • New York Times climate reporter Hiroko Tabuchi and Times visual journalist Jonah M. Kessel went to the west Texas oil fields with a camera that can photograph otherwise invisible leaking methane. The results are disturbing.
  • Most interesting feature of the weekend was Elaina Plott’s profile of Fox News’ Tucker Carlson in The Atlantic.
  • On the anniversary of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, Newtown High School won the state football championship. The emotional story here by the Hartford Courant’s Jordan Otero Sisson and Emily Brindley.
  • Finally, something sweet to start your week: She’s 105, he’s 106 and they celebrated 80 years of marriage. The Washington Post’s Gillian Brockell with the story.

Editor’s note: The Poynter Report will take a brief pause starting Dec. 20 and resume publication Jan. 6. Thank you for reading and enjoy the holidays!

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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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