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Reliable Sources: VMAs winners; Trump talks to Reuters; 'truth isn't truth' fallout

A version of this article first appeared in the Reliable Sources newsletter. ...

Posted: Aug 21, 2018 10:23 AM
Updated: Aug 21, 2018 10:23 AM

A version of this article first appeared in the Reliable Sources newsletter. You can sign up for free right here.

MTV's big night

MTV's biggest night of the year, the Video Music Awards, was an A+ spectacle with both pop culture and politics headlines...

The top prize, video of the year, went to Camila Cabello for "Havana..." Cabello also won artist of the year...

"In your face, Trump"

Logic, performing alongside OneRepublic's Ryan Tedder, wore a "F*** the wall" shirt. "The duo invited families displaced by immigration laws -- all wearing shirts reading 'We Are All Human Beings' -- to join them onstage," per Rolling Stone.

Earlier, Tiffany Haddish and Kevin Hart jump-started the evening with a joint monologue... Hart said the VMAs were "game day," and "you guys are allowed to kneel. You can do whatever the hell you want. There's no old white man that can stop it. Do it."

He finished by saying "You never know what's going to happen at the VMAs -- I mean, beefs pop off, bad language, people run to the bathroom and send out crazy tweets -- it's basically like a typical day at the White House. In your face Trump, suck it!"

Tribute to Aretha

Chloe Melas emails: The two people everyone wanted to talk about on the red carpet were Aretha Franklin and Jennifer Lopez. I spoke with the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who was on hand for a televised tribute for Franklin...

J-Lo and A-Rod

"Jenny from the block is now a part of MTV history," Sandra Gonzalez wrote here.

Jennifer Lopez accepted the Video Vanguard Award while Alex Rodriguez watched from the audience. "You're like my twin soul. We're like mirror images of each other," she told him from the stage. "You make me realize every day the sky is not the limit, the universe is infinite, and so is what we can accomplish together with love and trust and understanding..."

Best New Artist:

Cardi B won the Moon Person prize for best new artist...

Entertainment sites were abuzz about her appearance since it was her "first public event" since giving birth five weeks ago. She trolled the crowd by pretending to bring her daughter on stage with her. Later, while accepting the award, she made a pointed statement that had viewers cheering: "All these people said I was gambling my career by having a baby. But I carried my baby and I had my baby and I'm still winning awards..."

-- Also: MTV announced during the show that it's bringing back "The Hills." Chloe has the full story here...

-- Two Tuesday plugs: Chloe will be on HLN and I'll be on CNN in the 6am hour with VMA highlights...

Michael Avenatti was there...

Variety reporter Marc Malkin's first Q for Michael Avenatti on the VMAs red carpet: "What the heck are you doing here?" Avenatti said he was invited... and reiterated that he's thinking about a 2020 run...

MTV's first-ever midterm year GOTV effort

Rock the Vote and MTV have been working together for decades. But now MTV is making a midterms push for the first time. At the VMAs, the network introduced +1TheVote, "a new digital initiative aimed at getting young people to convince their friends to register to vote with them," Wired's Issie Lapowsky reported. The TV promo featured Jared Leto, Adam Rippon, Lauren Jauregui and Fat Joe...

Trump, watching CNN, by watching Fox...

This is a prime example of the Fox News presidency. President Trump apparently caught some of Friday's Philip Mudd-Paris Dennard debate from "AC360" when Sean Hannity showed a clip from it on Monday night.

On Twitter, Trump said Dennard was "wonderful" while Mudd was "totally unglued and weird." Friday's debate was about Trump's revocation of John Brennan's security clearance... and Trump's tweet left no doubt that he's using his security clearance power to punish people who criticize him on TV. "Mudd is in no mental condition to have such a Clearance," the president wrote. "Should be REVOKED?"

>> Ben Shapiro tweeted: "Trump likes pardons and security clearances -- anything he can treat as a reward or punishment in this governmental version of 'The Apprentice'"

For the record, part one

-- Happy birthday, Oliver Darcy! Thanks to Playbook for tipping me off about the birthday. (Politico)

-- Kyle Buchanan is the NYT's new pop culture reporter, covering movies and TV, and "he will also assume the mantle of The Carpetbagger, The Times's awards season columnist..." (NYT)

-- This one's for my wife Jamie: Those two lost goats on the N line tracks in Brooklyn were transported upstate with the help of Jon Stewart and his wife Tracey. I'm sure this story will be a highlight of Tuesday's "Mornings on 1" show! (NYT)

-- On Monday afternoon "Trump erroneously referred seven times to the border protection agency -- CBP -- as 'CBC,' even though the teleprompter he was reading from listed the correct acronym..." (CNN)

Trump's next interview goes to: Reuters

Reuters reporters Steve Holland, Jeff Mason and James Oliphant sat down with POTUS in the Oval Office on Monday. The wire service sent out alerts and quotes for several hours thereafter...

→ Unfortunately it will not be publishing a complete transcript of the interview. (Neither did the WSJ after its Trump interview last week.) But excerpts of the "highlights" are up now...

Things that make you say "whoa"

Trump told the Reuters crew that he doesn't have to stay out of the Robert Muellerprobe -- "I can go in, and I could do whatever -- I could run it if I want. But I decided to stay out."

Ali Velshi's reaction on MSNBC: Trump has "just crossed a line here and said 'I could run the investigation into myself if I wanted to.' That sends a chill down our republican spines..."

Trump is casting doubt on the intel conclusion, again

Per Reuters, Trump "again neglected to blame Russia for interfering in the 2016 election, a conclusion reached by the U.S. intelligence community." Actually it's even worse than that: He once again cast doubt on that conclusion.

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"I think it's a disgrace," he said of the probe. "And they had played right into the Russians—if it was Russia—they played right into the Russians' hands." IF it was Russia...

So many tapes...

In the various photos, I count as many as eight tape recorders and phones -- some belonging to the reporters, others belonging to W.H. staffers...

Trump slams FB and Twitter for removing "certain people"

Trump is talking about Alex Jones and Infowars here, right? With Facebook's deletion of Jones and Twitter's one-week suspension of Jones freshly in the news, Trump told Reuters that it's "very dangerous" for the two companies to be making content decisions.

"I won't mention names, but when they take certain people off of Twitter or Facebook and they're making that decision, that is really a dangerous thing because that could be you tomorrow," Trump said. It sure seems to me like he's talking about Jones, who is, on the one hand, a notorious hate monger but, on the other hand, was a champion of Trump's campaign...

A GOP rallying cry

Trump tweeted over the weekend claiming that social media sites are "discriminating" against conservatives, without providing any proof. GOPers are rallying around this issue...

REMINDER: Jones and Infowars' temporary suspensions from Twitter will end in the next couple of days. In my interview with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey last Friday, Dorsey said the time-out was "worth a shot..."

This quote from @Jack is still getting attention

"I think we need to constantly show that we are not adding our own bias, which I fully admit is left, is more left-leaning," Dorsey told me. "We need to remove all bias from how we act and our policies and our enforcement and our tools."

"The Five" and other shows on Fox News featured the quote on Monday, using it to sow doubt about Twitter's credibility. But some commentators, including Fox's Greg Gutfeld, gave Dorsey credit for the honesty...

For the record, part two

-- An Phung emails: Scott Nover spoke with the hosts of the five major Sunday shows about the challenges of holding the powerful accountable on TV during an era when the president's media surrogates have a troubling relationship with the truth... (The Atlantic)

-- "Under fire from Chinese state media, Apple said it removed illegal gambling apps from its App Store in China..." (CNNMoney)

-- A candid column by sports columnist Luke DeCock: "I had an opportunity to join The Athletic, but I'm staying at The News & Observer." Why? In large part because "I still believe in newspapers and the absolutely essential role they play in the life of communities like the Triangle, a role a sports-focused website like The Athletic could never fill..." (N&O)

-- "The latest media casualty: Verizon and Hearst's Complex Networks is shuttering Rated Red, the Nashville-based video brand announced in 2016 as a kind of BuzzFeed for millennial conservatives," Steven Perlberg reports... (BuzzFeed)

Ross and Schwartz join Law & Crime Network

Oliver Darcy emails: Brian Ross and his longtime producer Rhonda Schwartz will join Dan Abrams' Law & Crime Network next month. Ross, who left ABC News earlier this year seven months after being suspended for an error related to Michael Flynn, will be the online network's chief investigative reporter. Schwartz will be executive investigative reporter.

Abrams is in growth mode, striking new distribution deals for the network... WaPo'sErik Wemple has more details here...

Sewell Chan jumps to LA Times

Last week I mentioned that the LA Times is in hiring mode. On Monday, it became much more visible. We are dramatically expanding our national and international coverage in the coming months," LAT managing editor Scott Kraft wrote in a memo to staffers on Monday. Here are some of the job postings.

Some of this is about filling holes left by former owner Tronc. And some of it is about expanding with an eye toward digital subscription growth.

On Monday the NYT's Sewell Chan announced that he's moving west "to be part of the revival of this vital American institution..." He'll be a deputy managing editor... He tweeted that "no publication is better positioned to tell the story of America's future..."

Still waiting...

CNN's Shimon Prokupecz ‏summed up the situation with a short tweet Monday afternoon: "Still waiting." The jury in the Paul Manafort trial has now deliberated for nearly 23 hours. Deliberations will resume Tuesday AM...

Brian Lowry emails: Cable news does a lot of things well, but filling time when there's nothing new to report -- like waiting for a verdict in the Manafort case, trying to read the tea leaves about what the lack of a conclusion says, or doesn't -- isn't one of cable's strengths. And frankly, it puts pressure on all the legal analysts signed up as contributors to get out over their skis, especially when presented with open-ended questions like (as Ali Velshi asked on MSNBC), "Does this third day of deliberation make you think of anything?"

Truth is not on the president's side.

...That's the big picture context here, right? Truth is not on the president's side. Truth is not on Rudy Giuliani's side. So all they can do is create confusion and try to create alternative facts and claim "truth isn't truth..."

>> The lead story on CNN.com right now: "Trump is concerned about McGahn's testimony"

Cable reactions

On Monday night, Sean Hannity barely tried to defend Rudy's "truth isn't truth" nonsense. "I think he could have been a little more articulate," Hannity said. Then he hurried back to his big story: "MUELLER'S ANTI-TRUMP WITCH HUNT RAGES ON," his show's banner screamed.

Meantime, on CNN, Chris Cuomo said the "latest set of salvos against Mueller is the best proof yet that Trump really thinks he has something to worry about..."

Water isn't wet...

John Berman and Alisyn Camerota on Monday's "New Day:"

BERMAN: So, I want to make one correction to something you just said.

CAMEROTA: Yes.

BERMAN: It's not Monday.

CAMEROTA: Oh?

BERMAN: You said it's Monday. I'm declaring it's not Monday and it's not because I say it's not. I'm giving myself this new presidential power that Rudy Giuliani just created yesterday. Monday isn't Monday. The sky is not blue, water isn't wet and truth is not truth...

Obama gives "Factfulness" a boost

Barack Obama shared his summer reading list on FB on Sunday. One of the books was "Factfulness," a "tome by Swedish academic Hans Rosling on the 'secret silent miracle of human progress.'" The book enjoyed a big boost on Amazon in the 24 hours after Obama recommended it. "Factfulness" was at #84 on Amazon's best seller list on Sunday afternoon, and now it's at #8...

Read more of Monday's Reliable Sources newsletter... And subscribe here to receive future editions in your inbox...

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