December 18, 2019

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Reasonable request or diva drama?

A moody actor? A misunderstanding? A veteran journalist who got what she asked for by ignoring a reasonable request?

These are the questions after actor Adam Driver abruptly walked out of an interview with legendary “Fresh Air” radio host Terry Gross. Apparently, the incident happened earlier this month.

One story is that Driver and/or his representatives let it be known to Gross’ people that he does not like to watch or listen to clips involving his acting. Some refer to it as a “phobia” and it was even a topic of discussion during a 2015 “Fresh Air” interview between Gross and Driver.

Like most “Fresh Air” interviews, this one took place with Gross in her Philadelphia studio and her guest in another. (Driver was in New York.) One source told The Daily Beast that Driver was encouraged to remove his headphones while the show played a clip from one of his movies. That story was confirmed by “Fresh Air” executive producer Danny Miller in a statement to Vanity Fair. However, Driver reportedly left at that time. Reports are it was a clip of Driver singing in the movie “Marriage Story.”

Miller told The Daily Beast, “We don’t really understand why he left,” adding that Gross said she thinks Driver is a “terrific actor” and that he was a great guest in 2015.

I wasn’t there so it’s impossible to know what agreements were made before the interview and whether or not Driver had the right to walk out. Most interview shows would prefer to not have any restrictions.

In this case, if Driver asked to not have clips played while he was doing the interview, it seems like a fair request — especially because “Fresh Air” wasn’t being asked to stay away from some sensitive topic. For example, it’s not like having Harvey Weinstein or Bill Cosby as a guest and then not being allowed to ask about their sexual misconduct. Driver asking “Fresh Air” to avoid playing a clip of his acting during the interview is not asking the show to abandon what journalistic principles it might have. And couldn’t it have edited the clip in after the interview?

By all accounts, Driver didn’t yell and he didn’t lash out at Gross. He simply took off his headphones and walked out, ultimately missing out on publicity for his projects. You could argue that he, not Gross, is more hurt by this. After all, the show was not live. It was being recorded to play at a later date, allowing “Fresh Air” time to run another interview. Driver also likely comes off looking like a diva.

But …

If (emphasis on the word if) Gross or the show blatantly ignored Driver’s either literal or implied request and the interview went down as is being reported, it’s hard to find fault with what Driver did.

More bad news for CBS News

An associate producer for “60 Minutes” has sued CBS, according to a story by HuffPost’s Emily Peck.

Cassandra Vinograd, who is based in London, is suing CBS for “unlawful discriminatory conduct” and “unlawful retaliatory conduct” after she attempted to report her boss — CBS News producer Michael Gavshon — for misconduct.

Vinograd told executives that Gavshon was frequently drunk at work. She also shared an old photo he texted her late one night of him urinating on a campfire. He later apologized for the text and said it was meant for his sister.

Vinograd’s lawsuit claims that since she has spoken out, she has been “stripped of all her work responsibilities” and that “CBS has failed to give Cassie a single assignment. Further, she is consistently excluded from work meetings, calls and emails.”

CBS told HuffPost in a statement that it was reviewing the complaint, that it would “vigorously defend” itself against a lawsuit and denied retaliating against Vinograd.

Sobering numbers, but a notable trend

Reporters Without Borders is out with its sobering numbers for 2019.  This year, 49 journalists were killed, 389 are in prison and 57 are being held hostage. While 49 killed journalists is a troubling number, it’s actually down 44% from a year ago and represents the lowest number of journalists killed in 16 years.

An explanation from ‘The View’

“The View” co-host Meghan McCain, left, shown here with Democratic presidential hopeful Tulsi Gabbard last month in New York. (Photo by Jason Mendez/Invision/AP)

You knew this was coming. A day after a testy exchange on “The View” when Whoopi Goldberg told Meghan McCain to “stop talking,” the two co-hosts addressed their on-air dustup on Tuesday.

“Things get heated on this show,” Goldberg said during the show’s open. “If you watch this show, you know this has happened over the years. We’re really passionate. This is our jobs. We come in, we talk to each other, sometimes we’re not as polite as we could be. That’s just the way it is.”

Goldberg explained it’s no different than sitting around the table with family and having a disagreement.

“This is not an indication that women can’t sit around and talk,” Goldberg said. “This is not an indication that we don’t know how to deal with each other on camera. This is happening in real-time. Stuff happens on this show in real-time and everybody wherever you sit in all of this, don’t assume that we’re over here with little butcher knives under the table. This is our gig and sometimes it goes off the rails and it does. Everybody just calm down. It’s a TV show.”

McCain said the two get along great and expressed her love for Goldberg, adding, “We fight like we’re family. It’s all good. We’re not tearing the set apart.”

McCain then said coverage of Monday’s exchange was “sexist.” She said, “I think the media is blowing it up; I just don’t think it would happen with men.”

I’m not sure I agree with McCain. Those who cover the media rarely back away from a good on-air squabble regardless of who is involved. Take, for example, people bickering on “Meet the Press.” And, to be fair, the Goldberg-McCain exchange was more than what we typically see on TV. After all, rarely does one co-host tell another to stop talking — even on the “embrace debate” sports shows on ESPN.

Impeachment coverage today

Look for wall-to-wall impeachment coverage on all the major and cable networks today. CNN, MSNBC and Fox News will be on it starting as early as 8 a.m. The major networks will bring out the evening news anchors — David Muir (ABC), Lester Holt (NBC) and Norah O’Donnell (CBS) — to anchor their coverage when it gets closer to actual voting.

PBS working on LGBTQ+ project

Scoop from Axios’ Sara Fischer: PBS is creating a new broadcast show and digital series centered around LGBTQ+ issues. The show is in its early stages and does not have a title just yet.

A PBS spokesperson told Fischer, “As viewer habits continue to evolve, PBS is working to align content across linear and digital platforms in order to meet viewers where they are.”

A must-read from The Washington Post

I’ve written several times this year that The Washington Post’s Jessica Contrera is one of the finest feature writers in the country. Her latest piece about a sex trafficker killed by one of his victims is another case of her outstanding work. The story will disturb, anger and sadden you.

But you should absolutely read it.

Hot type

  • Nieman Lab is talking to some of the smartest people in journalism, including Poynter’s own Doris Truong, to get their journalism predictions for 2020.
  • The Big Lead’s Bobby Burack is out with his sports media awards for 2019, including best radio show, best podcast and personality of the year.
  • One of my favorite parts about the end of the year is end-of-the-year lists. Here’s a good one. Kevin Fallon, senior entertainment reporter for The Daily Beast, lists his 20 best TV shows from 2019. (No. 3 was my favorite show of the year.)
  • “The Art of Dying.” Elite-level writing from Peter Schjeldahl in The New Yorker.
  • Four veteran reporters from The New York Times — Peter Baker, Alison Mitchell, Eric Schmitt and Carl Hulse — talk about covering the impeachment. The Clinton impeachment, that is.

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…
Tom Jones

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