The two leading GOP presidential contenders had very different interview experiences with Fox News this past week. Donald Trump encountered pushback with Bret Baier while Ron DeSantis's interview while former Trump press secretary Kayleigh McEnany stuck to mainly favorable topics for the Florida governor. Each was an illustration that despite a troubled year, Fox remains the media kingmaker in the Republican nominating process. GOP presidential contenders have appeared in Fox interviews 160 times already this year, 15 times already this week. Fox is still the place to reach most conservatives, even as its ratings have declined following the firing of Tucker Carlson. The first GOP presidential primary debate will be on Fox in August.
Vanderbilt University Medical Center has turned over transgender patient records to the Tennessee attorney general’s team in what his office confirmed is an investigation into potential medical billing fraud. A Vanderbilt University Medical Center spokesperson told The Tennessean on Tuesday that the hospital provided the records to Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti’s office. Brandon Smith, the attorney general’s chief of staff, told the newspaper that the office “maintains patient records in the strictest confidence, as required by law.” He says the investigation is focused “solely on VUMC and certain related providers, not patients.” But the news spurred fears for some families in Tennessee, which has moved to ban gender affirming care for transgender youth.
Daniel Ellsberg, the government analyst and whistleblower who leaked the Pentagon Papers in 1971, has died at 92. Ellsberg had announced in February that he was terminally ill with pancreatic cancer. A letter released by his family says he died Friday morning. The leak of the 7,000-page Defense Department study revealed that officials had doubts about U.S. strategy in Vietnam, fueling the debate on U.S. involvement in southeast Asia. President Richard Nixon became so angry about the leaked material that he approved illegal actions which helped lead to his resignation in 1974. Ellsberg later was a prominent free speech and anti-Iraq War activist, and a champion of such future whistleblowers as Edward Snowden.
A longtime producer for Tucker Carlson is out of a job after being deemed responsible for the onscreen message this week that referred to President Joe Biden as a “wannabe dictator.” The producer, Alex McCaskill, confirmed his exit in an Instagram post. Fox would not comment on Friday. The message was posted onscreen Tuesday under separate boxes that showed video of Biden and former President Donald Trump, saying “wannabe dictator speaks at the White House after having his political rival arrested.” Carlson, in a Twitter video, didn't name McCaskill. But he said those who run Fox panicked at the message and scolded the producer, who offered to resign and was told to clean out his desk.
Fox News says it has addressed an onscreen headline that called President Joe Biden a “wannabe dictator” who sought to have his political rival arrested, without saying what was done. The chyron was shown on Fox Monday night, beneath a split-screen image of former President Donald Trump speaking to supporters live and Biden speaking earlier at the White House. Trump was speaking following his court appearance to plead not guilty on charges of hoarding classified government documents. Biden has said he has had no contact with the special prosecutor investigating Trump. PBS had second thoughts about its own onscreen message shown during the speech. CNN and MSNBC didn't air it live.
There will be no more rides to Hel on bus 666. The bus to the town of Hel on Poland’s Baltic coast has long been popular with tourists. But some Christian conservatives have protested what they see as Satanic overtones of a bus using the number symbolizing the devil leading to a place that sounds like the word “hell” in English. The local bus operator announced this week that bus 666 will no longer run to Hel, and that it was changing the line's number to 669. Local media said the bus company acted under the pressure of Christian groups, but that it was already considering going back to 666 amid public outcry over the change.
Fox News sent Tucker Carlson a cease-and-desist letter over his new Twitter series, Axios reported Monday, amid reports of a contract battle between the conservative network and its former prime-time host. After his April firing, Carlson kicked off a “Tucker on Twitter” series. Two episodes have aired so far. Fox has demanded Carlson stop posting videos to Twitter, The New York Times also reported Monday — as the network’s lawyers accuse Carlson of violating his contract, which runs until early 2025 and restricts his ability to appear on other media outlets. Carlson’s lawyers have said the network breached the contract first. A spokesperson for Fox and attorneys representing Carlson did not immediately return requests for comments Tuesday.
An official with Poland’s state broadcasting authority says it has received multiple complaints over the way state media covered a huge anti-government protest. State broadcaster TVP played down the size and significance of the weekend protest led by main opposition leader Donald Tusk in Warsaw. Hundreds of thousands of people took part to make it possibly the largest demonstration in decades in Poland. Organizers estimated that 500,000 people took part. The number is impossible to verify. But the march stretched for kilometers through the streets of Warsaw along the main route and down side streets. Protests were also held in other cities. TVP claimed that no more than 150,000 people took part and called it a “march of hate.”
CNN chief executive Chris Licht apologized to staff members on a conference call for distracting attention from their work through his own trip through the news cycle. Licht's year-long tenure at CNN hit a low point with the publication of a damaging profile in Atlantic magazine about the network's ‘meltdown.’ Meanwhile, a new executive from CNN's parent company is being brought in to help Licht with management. Licht has been trying to make the network more appealing to viewers who didn't like CNN's treatment of former President Donald Trump, which hasn't worked yet and alienated some of his own journalists.
Syrian state media is reporting that airstrikes attributed to Israel have targeted Syria’s capital city, the first such strikes in a month. Syrian air defenses have responded to the strikes in the vicinity of Damascus and shot down some of them, state news agency SANA reported. The attack late Sunday caused only “material damage,” it said. The last suspected Israeli airstrike on Syria was on May 2, targeting the international airport in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo. The attack killed one Syrian soldier and put the airport out of commission, state media said at the time. There was no immediate statement from Israeli authorities regarding Sunday’s strikes on Damascus.
The U.S. Park Police says it has placed two officers on administrative leave after video showed Australian journalists being attacked during Monday's protest in Washington, D.C. Acting Chief Gregory T. Monahan says the attack is being investigated. Video captured by WJLA-TV in Washington shows reporter Amelia Brace and cameraman Tim Myers being struck by officers as law enforcement cleared an area near the White House so President Donald Trump could walk to a church. The journalists were reporting live for Australia's Channel 7 on demonstrations protesting George Floyd's death. The network’s news director describes the attack as “nothing short of wanton thuggery.” Australia's prime minister urges Australians involved in Floyd-related anti-racism protests to be cautious.
While shaky and skewered by critics, Twitter’s forum for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to announce his presidential run nevertheless underscored the platform’s unmistakable shift to the right under new owner Elon Musk. He has promoted the platform as a haven for free expression, but it has been flooded with extremist views and hate speech since he bought it. That is raising alarms that Twitter will become an open forum for conspiracy theories, fake content and election misinformation as the country heads toward the 2024 presidential election. Though Democrats wince at the direction Musk has taken Twitter, most are staying put, saying they don't want to cede such an important space.
Prominent Indigenous journalist Stan Grant has quit television hosting duties in response to online racist abuse over his comments on historic Aboriginal dispossession. Grant is a member of the Wiradjuri tribe and a former international correspondent for U.S.-based CNN. He has been under fire since taking part in a panel discussion on the Australian Broadcasting Corp. ahead of the May 6 coronation of King Charles III in London. Topics included a push to have a president replace the British monarch as Australia’s head of state and Indigenous suffering from colonization. Critics complained that the ABC had soured the celebratory mood of the coronation.
The latest chapter in the drama surrounding Prince Harry and Meghan’s treatment by the tabloid media was much ado about something. But exactly what happened in New York when the royals were followed by a group of photographers is not completely clear. What is evident is that the pursuit will likely further fuel Harry’s fury with the media as well as his greatest fear that his wife could meet the same fate as his mother, Princess Diana. Diana died in a car crash while being chased by paparazzi. The couple’s representatives claimed they were pursued by paparazzi in a “near catastrophic car chase” through the streets of Manhattan. Photographers say it was a low-speed affair. No one was hurt.