July 2, 2021

Hey everyone. Thanks, as always, for reading The Poynter Report. Here’s an update for you: The Poynter Report is ready for a summer vacation — just a week to recharge. So we’re going to take off next week. The newsletter will return July 12. In the meantime, enjoy the Fourth of July. Stay safe and I’ll see you again on the 12th.

Now onto today’s newsletter …

Meghan McCain is leaving ‘The View’

Meghan McCain, the conservative voice who often is at the forefront of heated debate on ABC’s “The View,” announced she is leaving the show. She stunned viewers at the start of Thursday’s program, saying, “I’m just going to rip the Band-Aid off. I am here to tell all of you, my wonderful cohorts and viewers at home: This is going to be my last season here at ‘The View.’”

McCain, who will remain until the end of July, said it was not an easy decision.

“On a professional note, this show is one of the hands-down, greatest,  most exhilarating, most wonderful privileges of my entire life,” McCain said.

No doubt that McCain was a polarizing figure, not only among viewers, but often among even her own colleagues. McCain, daughter of the late Republican senator and presidential candidate John McCain, usually was the lone voice on the show representing some conservatives. I say some because she often was critical of Donald Trump, and she also was an advocate for the LGBTQ+ community.

However, some of her more conservative views meant she frequently clashed with co-hosts such as Whoopi Goldberg and Joy Behar. Former “The View” co-host Abby Huntsman, who is a Republican, left the show in 2020, reportedly in part because of her contentious relationship with McCain and an uncomfortable work environment.

But McCain’s co-hosts praised her on Thursday.

Goldberg said it was “quite wonderful” to have McCain on the show for the past four years, while Behar said McCain performed “brilliantly” on the show and called her a “formidable opponent.”

Perhaps the constant battles on the show finally wore down McCain. She certainly looked miserable from time to time, especially of late. But Variety’s Elizabeth Wagmeister reported that any on-set feuds had nothing to do with McCain’s departure. McCain moved to Washington, D.C., when the show started being taped remotely because of COVID-19. She seemed to indicate her preference for staying in the nation’s capital.

“When I said goodbye to all of you in the studio, I found out I was pregnant,” McCain said. “I came to the D.C. area, and we have this incredible life here. And as any new mom knows, when I think about where I want Liberty to have her first steps, I have a really wonderful life here.”

In a statement, ABC praised McCain’s determination and political experience and added, “She recently came to us with her decision to depart the show at the end of this season, a difficult choice that she made for her and her family that we respect and understand. We wish the best for Meghan as she plans her next chapter, and thank her for the passion and unique voice that she shared with us and our viewers each day.”

No word yet on if and how ABC will replace McCain, but you would expect — and hope — it would bring in a conservative voice to continue giving the show diverse opinions. Ratings were good during McCain’s time on the show.

As far as what’s next for McCain, she might be a good fit on Fox News if she chooses to remain on TV.

To review her time at “The View,” People’s Janine Puhak has “Meghan McCain’s Most Memorable Moments on ‘The View.’”

Slash and cut

When the hedge fund Alden Global Capital acquired Tribune Publishing six weeks ago, there was concern — based on Alden’s reputation — that it would start slashing and cutting. Well, my colleague Rick Edmonds, Poynter’s media business analyst, checked in and found that, yep, Alden is staying true to that reputation.

Edmonds reported that, based on statistics compiled by the NewsGuild, Alden has bought out and let go at least 10% of the newsroom workforce. Check out Edmonds’ story for all the details of what’s happened so far and what could happen next.

Edmonds wrote, “Alden has had access to Tribune’s books for a long time — creating a window to plan moves once the takeover deal was complete. Given that time frame, the buyouts could be a substantial one-time resizing that will hold for some time. Experience shows, however, that one should never underestimate Alden’s proclivity to cut more.”

Ron Klain on ‘Sway’

White House chief of staff Ron Klain, as he appears in promotional art for The New York Times’ “Sway” podcast. (Courtesy: The New York Times)

White House chief of staff Ron Klain is the latest guest on Kara Swisher’s “Sway” podcast for The New York Times. The two discuss the COVID-19 pandemic response, the delta variant of the virus and how social media platforms led to widespread pandemic misinformation. Swisher pushes Klain on what the Biden administration plans to do to regulate tech giants.

Swisher also asked Klain what he thinks about Donald Trump’s power in the Republican Party.

“Well, he seems to be quite influential in the Republican Party,” Klain said. “And we see a steady stream of Republicans traveling down to Mar-a-Lago and courting his favor and whatnot. I think the best thing we can do in the Biden administration is deliver on our priorities. And that’s what we’re focused on. I’m going to let Republicans deal with Donald Trump. Look, I do think that he clearly posed a grave threat to democracy in his efforts to refuse to accept the election results and then to lie about the election results, his continued efforts to lie about the election results, spread that lie, spread that disinformation, and then, of course, the violence on Jan. 6, the insurrection on Jan. 6. And so I would hope that he would have less and less influence in our country. We’re going to see how that plays out.”

Swisher asked Klain just how cognizant the White House is of all that Trump does. Klain said, “Look, obviously we’re cognizant of him, but we’re focused on doing our jobs and our job does not involve Donald Trump.”


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McCammond back at Axios

Alexi McCammond, who stepped away from being editor at Teen Vogue before she even started because of a social media controversy, has landed on her feet. McCammond is headed back to Axios to be a political reporter to cover the 2022 midterms.

McCammond, 27, was at Axios as a reporter when she was tapped by Condé Nast earlier this year to become editor of Teen Vogue despite having no experience as a senior editor. Not long after, staffers at Teen Vogue complained about racist and homophobic tweets McCammond posted a decade ago. The tweets were no secret. McCammond had previously addressed and apologized for the tweets she sent when she was a teenager. It has been reported that McCammond addressed the tweets during the interview process with Condé Nast and she was still hired.

McCammond met with the Teen Vogue staff in hopes of gaining trust. But on March 18, just days before she was supposed to begin her assignment with Teen Vogue, McCammond put out a statement that said, “My past tweets have overshadowed the work I’ve done to highlight the people and issues that I care about — issues that Teen Vogue has worked tirelessly to share with the world — and so Condé Nast and I have decided to part ways.”

McCammond had a solid reputation as a political reporter at Axios. She covered Joe Biden’s presidential campaign and made regular appearances on MSNBC and NBC. In 2019, she was named emerging journalist of the year by the National Association of Black Journalists and she made Forbes “30 under 30” list in 2020.

Maria Taylor and ESPN

ESPN’s Maria Taylor. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

New York Post sports media columnist Andrew Marchand had a very interesting column this week about the contract negotiations going on between ESPN and on-air personality Maria Taylor, host of “NBA Countdown” and a sideline reporter on the network’s top college football games.

Marchand reported that Taylor, who is believed to be making $1 million a year, was offered a raise to $5 million a year at one point in the negotiations. But Taylor turned it down. Sources told Marchand that Taylor is hoping for “Stephen A. Smith money” — or at least in the neighborhood. That would be something like at least $8 million a year.

Marchand wrote, “Today, ESPN wants to keep Taylor, but the initial offer is not on the table, according to sources. What she is being offered right now is not known, but it is believed to be in the $2 million-$3 million range.”

Anytime ESPN goes through high-profile contract negotiations, things get polarizing. While some on-air talent get huge raises, others are asked to take pay cuts or are sent packing. And because viewers are fickle and each has their own opinions on who they like and dislike, every contract negotiation becomes newsworthy.

In this case, there are those who might believe that Taylor is a unique talent who deserves to be richly paid, while others believe that she has no business asking to be paid like Smith or Mike Greenberg or Mike Wilbon because she doesn’t bring as much to the airwaves as those personalities.

In the end, what someone is worth is what someone is willing to pay. In Taylor’s case, she certainly would draw interest from other networks, as well as streaming services. Marchand mentioned NBC and Amazon as possible suitors. But for $8 million a year? That seems unlikely.

ESPN has shown it doesn’t mind if some talent walks out the door, but you have to believe they don’t want to see Taylor get away.

The other thought here is it isn’t just about the money. If Taylor, indeed, is asking for Stephen A. Smith neighborhood money, it also would come with power. ESPN is not going to pay anyone that kind of money without making that person one of the highest-profile personalities on the network. And it could include some high-profile assignments on partner ABC, such as “Good Morning America.”

It’ll be interesting to see what happens, and we won’t have to wait long. Taylor’s contract is set to expire at the end of the NBA Finals, which will be around July 20 or thereabouts.

Media tidbits

  • Politico’s Meridith McGraw, Tina Nguyen and Cristiano Lima with “Team Trump quietly launches new social media platform.”
  • Strong lineup on tonight’s “Washington Week” (8 p.m. Eastern on most PBS stations). Moderator Yamiche Alcindor will be joined by Yasmeen Abutaleb (The Washington Post), Jonathan Lemire (Associated Press), Ayesha Rascoe (NPR), and Jonathan Swan (Axios). Topics will include Supreme Court decisions, the infrastructure deal, COVID-19, and criminal charges against the Trump Organization.
  • Vox’s Emily VanDerWerff with “How Twitter can ruin a life.”
  • Mike Coppinger has joined ESPN as a boxing reporter. ESPN says he will cover boxing and mixed martial arts and will appear on TV and radio. Coppinger has been a boxing writer for USA Today, The Athletic and Ring Magazine.
  • Yahoo News has released the sixth episode of season three of its podcast “Conspiracyland,” which is an eight-part series that reveals new details about the state-sponsored assassination of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

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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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