Your Friday news roundup

January 11, 2019

A NEW PODCAST ABOUT FEAR

What scares you?

Dying? Heights? Squirrels?

What scares people is the subject of a new podcast produced by WNYC Studios in New York. It’s called, simply enough, 10 Things That Scare Me. In these short podcasts — most are under 10 minutes — minor and major celebrities as well as regular folks are asked to name what scares them.

Former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci is scared of divorce attorneys. Movie director Paul Feig (“Bridesmaids,” “Ghostbusters”) is afraid of rats and helicopters. Author John Green (“The Fault in Our Stars”) is afraid of geese.

In a statement, Paula Szuchman, WNYC Studio’s vice president of on demand content, said, “10 Things That Scare Me is an experiment in empathy. The show drops you right into the hidden world of a complete stranger whose fears invariably remind you of your own. These episodes are like little meditations, an opportunity to pause for a minute and feel connected to the people around you — even people who feel a world away. Which isn’t actually scary at all.’’

Some fears are silly (a popcorn kernel being stuck in a tooth forever, a Thanksgiving turkey comes alive), some are serious (losing a loved one, being a black father in today’s society), but all are fascinating.

The podcast started just last month and usually comes out two to three times a week. The newest edition, which comes out Friday, will feature “On The Media” host Brooke Gladstone, whose No. 1 fear is something happening to her children.

In the podcast, Gladstone says, “I can’t sleep unless the kids are home and the kids are 33 years old.’’

MOONVES STORY TURNS STRANGER

Agenda, a news service affiliated with the Financial Times, appeared to have a big scoop last month when it landed an interview with former CBS CEO Les Moonves, who had been ousted for allegations of sexual harassment. It would have been Moonves’ first public comments in four months.

Agenda quoted Moonves as saying that the fight over a $120 million severance was “far from over’’ and that CBS’s board would “do the right thing ultimately.’’ It was a stunning development. One issue, however: Moonves claims he never spoke to Agenda.

Now, Agenda has pulled all of Moonves’ quotes from the story. In an editor’s note that appeared online with the new story Thursday (note: story is behind a paywall), Agenda wrote, in part:

“Our reporters had each dialed a number obtained from a subscription public records database that purported to be Mr. Moonves’s number and spoken with an individual who identified himself as Mr. Moonves. The individual had knowledge of the CBS board’s decision and the history behind it. We stand by our reporters’ portrayal of those comments but, in light of our statement from Mr. Moonves, we have removed the quotes from the article.’’

This came 24 hours after Agenda stood by its reporters, Stephanie Forshee and Jennifer Williams-Alvarez, when Moonves’ representatives released a statement that said, “Mr. Moonves did not speak with reporters from Agenda in December 2018 or at any other time. Any suggestion that he did is without any factual basis whatsoever.’’

For weeks, Vanity Fair had been working on a piece wondering if Agenda fell for a catfishing scheme after its sources said Moonves had denied speaking to Agenda. It also seemed unlikely that Moonves would pick an obscure publication such as Agenda to speak out.

DOCTORED VIDEO LEADS TO FIRING
The Seattle Times is reporting that a staffer at the local Fox television affiliate Q13 has been fired after what appears to be a doctored video of President Donald Trump’s speech Tuesday night from the Oval Office. The doctored video, which you can see here, makes it appear as if Trump is sticking out his tongue between sentences.

In a statement early Thursday, Q13 news director Erica Hill said, “This does not meet our editorial standards and we regret if it is seen as portraying the president in a negative light.’’

Then later Thursday, Hill released another statement saying the station conducted an investigation and that the editor believed to be responsible for the video had been terminated. Hill did not name the editor.

FUN ITEM OF THE DAY

Good thing Susan Zirinsky, CBS News’ new president, wasn’t a young football whiz, or she might not be where she is today. Speaking at the CBS’s Super Bowl press day in New York on Thursday, Zirinsky said her very first job at CBS in the 1970s was with CBS Sports.

“My first job at CBS was as a freelance AD, cutting highlight packages at a truck in Baltimore,’’ Zirinisky said. “It was short lived when I turned to the video operator and said, “Excuse me, could you explain what a ‘1st-and-10’ is?’’’

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