Fox fires contributor after he calls Kavanaugh accusers ‘lying skanks’

Fox News on Thursday fired contributor Kevin Jackson after he called Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and other women “lying skanks” for accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct.

Jackson, who has 67,000 followers on Twitter, posted a string of highly offensive tweets over a period of hours as the Senate Judiciary Committee interviewed Dr. Blasey Ford and then Brett Kavanaugh.

The conservative pundit and author, who as of Thursday night still identified himself in his Twitter bio as a Fox News contributor, tweeted: “Dang girl, stop opening your legs and OPEN A BOOK!”

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He also tweeted: “Holy Cow, a woman suffering from PTSD hosts STUDENTS from Google. FBI please investigate SEX PARTIES at #ChristineBlaseyFord house.”

He capped it off by saying that “Leftist women are skanky for the most part.”

In a statement, Fox News said late Thursday: “Kevin Jackson has been terminated as a contributor. His comments on today’s hearings were reprehensible and do not reflect the values of Fox News.”

The firing comes just days after Fox News’ Martha McCallum conducted an exclusive interview with Brett Kavanaugh on September 24.

The topic of sexual assault is a delicate one for Fox News, part of 21st Century Fox, since its late CEO Roger Ailes and former anchor, Bill O’Reilly, exited the network after accusations against them. Both men denied the allegations.

But Fox News’ executive suite is now dominated by women. Fox News CEO is Suzanne Scott, and the chief finance officerad sales and public relations chiefs are also all women.

Another Fox News personality, anchor Tucker Carlson, also questioned sex assault victims this week, saying in an segment with liberal radio host Ethan Bearman: “Sex offenders tend to commit serial sex crimes. Doesn’t she have an obligation to tell someone to stop him from doing it if he is a fact a sex criminal? Where’s her obligation here? What about the rest of us?”

That drew howls of protest from pressure group Media Matters which suggested an advertiser boycott.

AT&T-owned HBO said on Thursday it would no longer program live boxing, at least in the short term.

The network said in a statement: “Going forward in 2019, we will be pivoting away from programming live boxing on HBO,” adding that it could still look at events in the future.

“We’re a storytelling platform. The future will see unscripted series, long-form documentary films, reality programming, sports journalism and event specials and more unique standout content from HBO Sports.”

HBO featured its first boxing match in 1973, in which George Foreman won a stunning upset over Joe Frazier. Since then, boxing had reigned as HBO’s premium live sports offering.

The news, first reported in The New York Times, suggested that live boxing wasn’t a big reason that people subscribed to the premium TV service.

AT&T has said it will spend more money on programming, but also told Wall Street that it would find $1.5 billion in annual cost synergies within three years of the deal’s close. 

It also comes as other players are doubling down on combat sports with ESPN buying UFC rights in order to bring it to a more mainstream audience, and Fox Sports and Comcast sharing rights to WWE. Comcast owns NBC Universal, which is the parent company of NBC News.

Another service, DAZN, is also looking to spend serious money to compete in the sports world. The service, backed by billionaire Len Blavatnik and run by former ESPN president John Skipper, just offered a boxing match as part of a $9.99 monthly subscription — far cheaper than the typical pay-per-view price.

Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox said on Wednesday it would sell its shares in the U.K.-based pay-TV platform Sky to Comcast, removing any shadow of a doubt about the satellite broadcaster’s future ownership.

Comcast emerged as the winner of a recent auction for Sky, bidding around $40 billion for the satellite broadcaster, which has 23 million subscribers in Europe. Comcast owns NBCUniversal, which is the parent company of NBC News.

The winning bid left open a question as to whether Fox would opt to take the Comcast offer or remain a shareholder. Fox owned about 39 percent of Sky. 

Fox’s decision-making process was run in conjunction with Disney, since Fox had pledged to sell its Sky stake as part of a separate deal to sell assets to  Disney.  

Confirmation of Murdoch’s decision to give up the stake ends an era for the global media entrepreneur, now aged 87. Murdoch, the executive chairman of Fox, had a hand in creating Sky when satellite TV was in its infancy.

Sky CEO Jeremy Darroch issued a statement saying: “Nearly 30 years ago Rupert Murdoch took a risk to launch Sky and in the process changed the way we watch television forever.”

Darroch added: “Our aim is to make the next 30 years as exciting for customers, colleagues and all our stakeholders.”

Sky owns sports rights including, Italy’s Serie A soccer league, and England’s Premiere League and the European Champions League. Sky also has new partnerships with Netflix, Spotify and Italian media company Mediaset.

In a statement, Fox said it had accepted roughly $15 billion for its shares after obtaining Disney’s consent. Comcast had secured 37 percent of Sky’s shares as of Wednesday morning, according to a company spokesman.

The Fox stake gives Comcast more than 50 percent of Sky’s shares. Sky shareholders have until Oct. 11 to accept the offering.

Fox confirmed the news of its stake sale and in said a statement: “We bet — and almost lost — the farm on launching a business that many didn’t think was such a good idea. Today, Sky is Europe’s leading entertainment company and a world-class example of a customer-driven enterprise.”

Just eight years ago, Fox (then known as News Corporation) made an $11.6 billion bid to control Sky. That was scuttled by a phone hacking scandal and scrutiny from the British government.

Comcast, meanwhile, becomes the biggest pay-TV provider in the world with 52 million homes. The acquisition also has the potential to create a global presence in news. Comcast will take control of Sky News and already owns Euronews, based in France, and NBC News and CNBC in the U.S.

Former managing director of Sky Ventures, James Ackerman, told NBC NEWS: “21st Century Fox transformed the media landscape in Britain in a way no other organization has since the creation of the BBC. This is a tremendous opportunity for Comcast (as a platform company) to diversify overseas and unlock further growth for their content divisions. And anyway, it’s about time [Murdoch] cashed out on something.”

Is AT&T looking to establish a new national ad platform for the TV industry?

The company renamed its advanced advertising business on Tuesday with a promise to offer Madison Avenue something new — targeted advertising at scale. The new unit is called Xandr, after Alexander Graham Bell, who invented the telephone and established The Bell Telephone Company and the American Telephone and Telegraph Company.

AT&T acquired Time Warner’s content business for $85.4 with a stated intention of getting TV and online viewing data and marrying it with ad targeting capabilities — a combo the company says will allow it to charge more for its ad inventory.

Here’s how AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson explained it to Recode’s Peter Kafka.

In a statement about the new branding, the telecom giant noted that it has signed deals with regional cable companies Altice USA and Frontier Communications to aggregate and sell their national addressable TV advertising inventory.

Addressable advertising means ads that are targeted to identifiable consumers. TV and telecom firms have struggled to compete with internet companies simply because online players are much less regulated in what data they can share. “Xandr’s unique differentiator is its commitment to personalization,” the company said in its statement.

Still, the departure of Oath CEO Tim Armstrong doesn’t bode well for that kind of data mash-up in the current political climate. Oath is part of Verizon.

In the press release, AT&T said: “This initial step starts to create the foundation of a national TV marketplace for advertisers and premium content publishers.”

With TV measurement firm Nielsen exploring a sale, it appears AT&T is making a bold effort to reshape video ad buying with its extensive data and distribution capabilities.

Speaking at the Relevance Conference, Stephenson criticized media industry innovation, according to a tweet from Bloomberg’s Lucas Shaw that was confirmed by the company.

“I have not been exposed to many industries as reluctant to change as the media industry in terms of business models and changing how you deliver the product,” Stephenson said. “It is an industry that has about as much inertia as any industry I’ve been part of.”

While the phone company wants to have a closer relationship with their customers and viewers, it’s not clear consumers — or politicians — feel the same way. Privacy remains a huge topic of public concern and the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation has a hearing Wednesday about that very topic. The Los Angeles Times lays out who’s attending the high profile event: AT&T, Amazon, Google, Apple, Twitter and Charter Communications, but no consumer advocates.

Stevenson is arguing for the government to step in to regulate privacy, largely to avoid the states doing it themselves.

Craigslist founder Craig Newmark confirmed on Monday he is spending $20 million to back The Markup, a journalism project led by reporter Julia Angwin aimed at pointing out the serious deficiencies in tech platforms and their impact on society.

Angwin, a former Wall Street Journal reporter, most recently worked at ProPublica, where she looked at how Facebook ads could be used to exclude racial groups from housing, which is against the law. Here’s the story.

“The effects of foreign bad actors on our election, that’s been the most shocking to me,” Newmark said when asked about the most surprising negative effects of technology on society.

But rather than criticize the tech platforms, Newmark is choosing to play diplomat. He wants tech giants and the news media to play nice in order to fend off Russian interference in future elections.

“I can say first hand, a great deal of good is coming from all three major tech platforms,” Newmark said. “I’m engaged in quiet diplomacy, getting together a platform of people with constructive critics of the platforms. I’ve been doing it for some years without much traction, but as I get a little louder, I’m becoming more effective.”

Newmark added: “I have a great deal of confidence in what Facebook, Google and Twitter are doing.”

Some might see some irony in journalism funding coming from Newmark, who also gave a $20 million gift to the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. After all, Craigslist’s free online bulletin board drew classified ads away from newspapers, helping kickstart a difficult run for print media that continues.

Newmark pushes back against that narrative, pointing to research that shows the newspaper industry has been in decline for decades

Some people might know billionaire Len Blavatnik as the owner of Warner Music and France’s streaming music service Deezer, but he’s also behind a company attempting to upend the direct-to-consumer sports business.

Blavatnik, together with former ESPN president John Skipper, operate a company called Perform Group, which runs DAZN (pronounced “Da Zone”). The streaming service is getting its a big test this weekend, streaming its first major sports event — a boxing match between Anthony Joshua  and Alexander Povetkin.

The service is $9.99 per month (first month is free) and offers live and on-demand streaming of boxing matches and mixed martial arts as well as other library programming. Joseph Markowski, head of DAZN North America, told The Query the company is aiming to compete with the pay-per-view boxing matches that typically cost $70 to $100. The streamer is advertising this weekend’s match via digital media to win sign-ups.

“We’re not just competing with ESPN+, we’re competing with ESPN,” Markowski said.

He said the firm’s exclusive focus on streaming gives it a leg up versus other broadcasters who have to worry about cannibalizing their TV distribution revenue.

DAZN aims to be in the ring when it comes to negotiating for big sports rights when they are available, though Markowski declined to name any. He said DAZN has plans to grow well beyond its origins in the fighting realm, and we should expect to hear a lot more about their sports offering in the coming months.

Can it challenge a plethora of sports streamers already in the market both from the leagues and their TV partners as well as a possible move by a Facebook, Google or Amazon? Blavatnik’s pockets are pretty deep.

The #MeToo movement and the broader push for diversity in the entertainment industry are starting to have an effect on power dynamics in Hollywood.

The Hollywood Reporter’s annual 100 list released on Thursday is missing a host of influential names felled by the #MeToo movement. No longer on the list are former CBS Chief Executive Leslie Moonves, Pixar’s former chief John Lasseter, producer Brett Ratner and Amazon’s former studio head Roy Price.

Matthew Belloni, Hollywood Reporter editorial director, said that the list includes 35 women and people of color, a big change from prior years. He said the list was less a reflection of the magazine’s desire for inclusion and more about who’s got “juice” in the entertainment industry. 

“Women and people of color are having big success. Ryan Coogler (director) and Michael B. Jordan (actor) from ‘Black Panther,’ that’s a reflection of the massive success of that film. They are two names that constantly come up,” Belloni said. “Tiffany Haddish and Lin-Manuel Miranda are the same. Roy Price is off the list, and that allowed Jennifer Salke to go up.” Salke is the head of Amazon Studios.

The New Yorker’s Ronan Farrow, who has arguably had a bigger effect on who’s up and down in Hollywood than any other force in the past 12 months, joined the magazine’s top 100 for the first time, after Moonves was taken off the list at the last minute after he left CBS

Disney CEO Bob Iger tops the list for the third time in a row.  

Belloni said he has spent the day fielding angry emails and complaints about the list.

“Some in old-school Hollywood think there are personal agendas and there’s back room dealing,” he said, but added that the people at the top of the list, such as Netflix CEO Reed Hasting are there because they are buying. “They’re excited about people who are spending a lot of money.”

Amazon’s advertising business is growing so fast that measurement firm eMarketer is now predicting it will be the third-biggest digital ad sales entity by the end of the year, behind behemoths Google and Facebook.

On Wednesday, eMarketer revised an earlier projection published in March that had Amazon coming in fifth behind Microsoft and Verizon’s Oath, which includes AOL and Yahoo. 

Amazon is now expected to book more than $4 billion in ads. The company’s popularity among advertisers is driven in part by consumers’ shift to conducting product searches on Amazon and the firm’s two-day shipping service. Amazon is also selling ads on its streams of NFL Thursday Night Football and its gaming destination Twitch.

The report states that Amazon is projected to generate $4.61 billion in advertising revenue versus an earlier year-end forecast of $2.89 billion.

Notably, Google and Facebook’s share of the pie shrinks, according to this forecast. The so-called “duopoly” will take a 57.7 percent share of digital ad revenue in 2018 versus 59.2 percent last year, with smaller players also capturing some of the market.

eMarketer.com

“Fear,” is officially a record breaker.

Bob Woodward’s book about disarray in the Trump White House recorded first-week sales of 1.1 million in all formats, a record for publisher Simon & Schuster.

The last record holder was Walter Isaacson’s “Steve Jobs” biography, according to the publisher. That book sold 379,000 copies back in November 2011.  

“There is only one word to describe the sales of ‘Fear’ – and that word is huge,” said Jonathan Karp, president and publisher of Simon & Schuster, which is part of CBS Corporation. “What’s especially gratifying is the appreciation readers and reviewers have for the integrity and importance of Bob Woodward’s reporting.”

The publisher has ordered a 10th printing, bringing the number of hardcover copies in print to 1.2 million. First day sales were 900,000, the company said in a statement.

Still, the book, only its second week on sale, is already fading from the news cycle as another title about President Donald Trump has emerged — this one from Stormy Daniels, who claims she had an affair with Trump more than a decade ago. Her book, “Full Disclosure,” published by St. Martin’s Press, is now attracting headlines after The Guardian wrote about its contents.

And there’s more Trump-related books on the way. Earlier today, the Associated Press reported that former FBI official Andrew McCabe has signed a book deal for “The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump,” out on Dec. 4.  

Staff and former editors of Time Magazine are celebrating the news that Marc Benioff, the Salesforce CEO worth $6.6 billion, and his wife Lynne Benioff are acquiring the iconic magazine from Meredith Corporation.

Richard Stengel, who ran the newsweekly between 2006 and 2013, told NBCNews.com that was happy to hear about the acquisition.

“It sort of like a dream come true in the sense of here’s a tech billionaire who believes in the brand and in impartial news coverage and growing Time both domestically and internationally and doesn’t want to play an editorial role,” Stengel said. “It’s the best of all possible worlds.”

Nancy Gibbs, who was the first woman editor of the magazine from 2013 to 2017, said: “I’m over the moon, because obviously we’ve been living with uncertainty for a long time and hoping for the best outcome.

“What struck me, is this is not some bloodless business transaction,” Gibbs said. “You can feel the passion and the purpose that he and Lynne bring to this.”

Gibbs said she met Benioff, who is spending $190 million on the magazine, at a dinner in Davos, Switzerland, when she was running the Time Inc. news group. 

Gibbs, who is now the Edward R. Murrow Chair of Press, Politics and Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, added: “When it comes to imagining a new future, I can’t imagine a better steward. I’m thrilled for my colleagues and readers and everyone who spent so much of our careers there and rooting for the best possible outcome.”

Time magazine’s editorial staff were also celebrating the change in ownership on Twitter. Chris Wilson, the director of data journalism, tweeted: “I’m delighted that it will be in wise and benevolent hands with the Benioff family.”

Columnist Susanna Schrobsdorff tweeted: “There’s no better owner for Time and no better time to own Time.”

Recode noted the magazine sent the famed bar cart around the office to celebrate.

Benioff said in a text message exchange with a New York Times reporter — conducted while he was receiving a massage — that Time is still in a strong financial situation. “It’s a very strong business,” he reportedly texted. “Very profitable.”

The WSJ reported on Monday that Time is projected to see a 9 percent decline in revenue in 2018 from $173 million in 2017.

Jennifer Grygiel, assistant professor of communications and magazine at Newhouse School, wondered about the all-round rejoicing given tech’s role in wrecking the traditional economics of publishing. 

“I am not one of those people who are celebrating the sale of legacy publishing to a tech insider,” Grygiel said.

While she says Benioff is well liked because of his stance on human rights and same sex marriage, legacy publishing has been decimated by tech disruption. 

While Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and philanthropist Laurene Powell Jobs have shown what investment and expertise can do for publications such as The Washington Post and The Atlantic, other wealthy individuals have found publishing a tough road and have given up their investments. 

Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes sold The New Republic after a rocky period of ownership, and billionaire Joe Ricketts folded DNAInfo after he couldn’t find a way to make it profitable. Peter Barbey, a wealthy investor, said he would sell The Village Voice just three years after buying it.

Still, Grygiel said there may be more Silicon Valley luminaries headed for the publishing world. Alibaba’s Jack Ma acquired the South China Morning Post, while Pierre Omidyar, the eBay founder, created The Intercept. 

Meredith is looking to sell other major magazine titles including Fortune, Money and Sports Illustrated.