Photo Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast/Getty
Welcome to this week’s edition of Confider, the media newsletter that pulls back the curtain to reveal what’s really going on inside the world’s most powerful navel-gazing industry. Subscribe here and send your questions, tips, and complaints here.
EXCLUSIVE — TAPPER’S TANTRUM: Newly crowned CNN boss Mark Thompson is weighing up several priorities as he looks to get the failing network back on track and it looks like Jake Tapper wants to be one of them. Tapper “threw a tantrum” about not initially being sent to Israel to cover the conflict, according to two people familiar with the situation, going all the way up to Virginia Moseley, executive vice president of editorial, to make his displeasure known—something that did not go unnoticed by Thompson. “As CNN’s Anchor and Chief Washington Correspondent, Jake extensively covered the house speaker votes, lending his political expertise to the story, before raising his hand to head over to Israel to cover the unfolding war,” a rep for CNN said in a statement. “He has been doing an excellent job balancing both major stories and reporting across CNN platforms.” Tapper, who was eventually dispatched to the Middle East, has been doing his best to ingratiate himself with the new boss. He and his wife Jen this month hosted a dinner in honor of Thompson at their D.C. home, which was attended by execs and on-air talent. The dinner was initially to honor “the quad”—David Leavy, Amy Entelis, Eric Sherling, and Moseley—who had been managing the network following Chris Licht’s firing but following the announcement that Thompson was getting the top job, Tapper changed the dinner to be in Thompson’s honor, according to people familiar with the situation. CNN insiders tell Confider that when it comes to Tapper, everything is filtered through his own brand. During the summer Tapper encouraged CNN’s on-air talent to post to Instagram to promote his book and last year, after testing positive for COVID, he did not go home immediately, instead taping his show which incensed colleagues. Additionally, while he loves being seen as a mentor to younger staffers, anytime someone he has taken under his wing poses real competition, he views them as a threat and all-out war breaks out, according to people familiar with the matter. Another top employee who CNN insiders say poses a threat to Thompson’s success in his new gig is Moseley, who is widely viewed as someone who clashed with Licht before his downfall. “How do you bring in new people and you don’t kill the sleeper cells?” remarked one CNN staffer. Moseley is seen within CNN as a divisive figure, especially among women, and is close to Tapper. We also hear Thompson has been bemused with press coverage about his plans for the network, telling people close to him that he has no concrete plans as he is still figuring it out. Meantime, the launch of CNN’s much-hyped King Charles primetime show, a Licht creation starring Gayle King and Charles Barkley, has been pushed back several weeks owing to the war in Israel, Confider has learned. However, both King and Charles have been busy rehearsing at Hudson Yards. “King Charles is still slated to debut this year and Gayle and Charles are having fun with the rehearsals. People are going to like the show and we’re excited for people to see it,” a rep for CNN said in a statement. Tapper declined to comment.
EXCLUSIVE — CULT OF MUIR: David Muir is ABC’s unflappable, ratings-dominating World News Tonight anchor and one of its highest-paid on-air talents—and with a direct line to Disney head honcho, Bob Iger, he’s not someone you want to get on the wrong side of if you’re running the news division. But a bizarre incident resulted in just that, Confider has learned. News boss Kim Godwin and one of her loyal lieutenants, Stacia Deshishku, recently sat down with the producers of an ABC News special Israel at War: Living in Terror that aired on Oct. 11 and was fronted by Muir on the ground in the warzone. Deshishku voiced her and Godwin’s displeasure about the special, saying they had told the producers that they did not want “an extension of World News.” According to two people familiar with the meeting, Deshishku said, “We all know about the cult of Muir,” while Godwin smiled, a reference to the perception that Muir’s producers are beholden to the anchor. The comments were soon relayed to a “pissed” Muir, and Godwin held another meeting last Wednesday and backtracked, saying the remark had been “misunderstood.” A rep for ABC News declined to comment.