Brian Ross is out at ABC News

Investigative journalist Brian Ross is out at ABC News.

Ross confirmed his departure in a tweet on Monday afternoon. The veteran network reporter had been suspended without pay from ABC News after incorrectly reporting on air that President Donald Trump had directed former national security advisor Michael Flynn to make contact with Russia's government during his election campaign.

The mistake led to a firestorm of criticism directed at Ross and ABC News. The President had called for Ross to be fired and noted that Ross' report had affected the stock market. The network clarified the report a few hours later, then apologized for the mistake and benched Ross for a month. He returned in January in a different position, working on long-form pieces but not about Trump.

It is unclear precisely why Ross and his producer Schwartz are departing at this time. The two intend to keep on with their investigative work, Ross said in his tweet.

ABC confirmed the departure in a memo from the network president James Goldston.

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Kimberly Guilfoyle and Fox News part ways

Another member of the Fox News team is headed to the Trump administration.

Kimberly Guilfoyle, co-host of Fox News' “The Five” — who has also been romantically connected to Donald Trump Jr., is leaving the cable news channel to work on advocacy efforts for President Daonld Trump, according to several outlets. 

Vanity Fair’s Gabriel Sherman reports that Guilfoyle became a source of friction at the network, in part, because of her relationship with Donald Trump Jr.

"FOX News has parted ways with Kimberly Guilfoyle,” the network said in a statement.

Former Fox News co-president Bill Shine is currently deputy chief of staff for communications for the Trump administration.

Daily Beast highlights journalists' frustrations with high-powered lawyers of high-powered men

Washington Post contributor Irin Carmon had a message for everyone assembled at the Mirror Awards for journalism in June: there's a systemic problem. 

Her speech, embedded below, provides important context to a report from The Daily Beast published Thursday that several high-profile people hired a law firm to kill or soften stories about alleged sexual harassment — including the Post's story on Charlie Rose's conduct at CBS and the company's slow response. 

Carmon and Washington Post reporter Amy Brittain won the award for Best Story on Sexual Misconduct in the Media Industry for their piece on Rose.

"The stories that we have been doing are about a system," Carmon said. "The system has lawyers and a good reputation.” 

The Daily Beast story notes that authors Brittain and Carmon were not happy about those efforts.

“Indeed, the system is sitting in this room,” Carmon said at the event. “The system is still powerful men getting stories killed that I believe will one day see the light of day.”

The Daily Beast story also noted that the law firm was hired by Matt Lauer, the former "Today" host who was fired by NBC News for inappropriate sexual behavior.

Carmon, who was previously a national reporter for MSNBC and NBC News, recently joined New York Magazine as a senior correspondent  to cover a variety of women’s issues, the Supreme Court and media. The Daily Beast notes that former CBS News Chairman Jeff Fager, currently executive producer of “60 Minutes,” was also at the Mirror Awards event.

Former Paramount TV boss considers lawsuit

The former president of Paramount Television is considering a lawsuit against the company, according to a source close to the executive.

Amy Powell, who has been president of Paramount's TV arm since 2013, was fired by the company on Thursday evening after the studio decided she had made comments in a meeting that were not consistent with Viacom’s values, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Now, Powell is considering legal action, according to the source, who was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Powell had made comments during a conference call about black women being angry and about black children being raised by a single parent.

Powell isn’t going quietly.

“There is no truth to the allegation that I made insensitive comments in a professional setting — or in any setting," Powell’s personal publicist, Allan Meyer, said in a statement. "The facts will come out and I will be vindicated."

Justice wants a 'swift' review of AT&T appeal

The Department of Justice could slow down the completion of the AT&T-Time Warner merger for at least another three months and possibly longer.

Deadline writes that the Justice Department requested "swift" action in a filing Thursday so that the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals can hear its argument that the merger should be blocked. AT&T’s merger was given the green light by a federal judge, but the Justice Department is protesting that decision, arguing that the merger hurts consumers and competitors.

“AT&T and Time Warner have now closed their merger, but every day that they are allowed to combine aspects of their businesses more deeply will make it more difficult for this Court and the district court on remand to unwind the merger and preserve competition," the Justice brief reads

AT&T’s merger was first agreed in October 2016. Final briefs are due to court by Oct. 18. For now, AT&T has agreed that it will hold off on integrating its Turner unit, which sells the advertising AT&T hopes to revolutionize, until the appeal process has played out.

Separately, CNN Worldwide’s chief Jeff Zucker is taking medical leave for six weeks to take care of a heart condition, according to a tweet from CNN anchor Brian Stelter.

Netflix on an Oscar push?

Goodbye Jonathan Friedland; hello Lisa Taback.

Netflix just hired well-known Oscar campaign strategist Taback who was a long time collaborator with disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein’s Weinstein Co.

Taback and members of her team will join Netflix, according to a press release on Wednesday. Her appointment appears to point to Netflix's increasing desire to be successful on the TV and film awards circuit and solidify its reputation as the best place to work in Hollywood. 

Taback worked on a host of campaigns for movies such as “Pulp Fiction” and “Shakespeare in Love” before the two went their separate ways after some friction, documented here.

Netflix’s former PR boss left the company after being called out by CEO Reed Hastings for using a racial slur. Taback isn’t directly taking his post, rather she will run publicity for awards campaigns.

Reader revenue tops $130 million at The Guardian

Those annoying yellow banner ads on The Guardian's website suggesting readers dig deep for journalism have worked.

The Guardian Media Group said that it has raised about $130 million in reader revenue, according to a spokesman for the company, helping put the paper on a better financial path.

The Guardian's online coverage of Facebook's Cambridge Analytica scandal along with its journalism about America's heartland have helped convince readers to reach into their pockets to support the paper. The reader revenue figure includes subscriptions, newspaper sales and voluntary donations.

As paywalls have proliferated across the internet, The Guardian continues to give its stories away for free and is still losing money doing it — but is losing much less.

Back in 2016, the newspaper was in a rocky financial situation, closing offices and cutting staff. Last year, the company reduced its losses by two-thirds and is hoping to break even in its fiscal year 2018, which ends in April next year, according to Guardian Media Group chief executive David Pemsel. He set forth the company’s future vision at a soiree held at the home of Richard and Claudia Edelman on Tuesday evening.

The Guardian’s operating losses were $75 million in 2015-16. Now, their losses are $25 million, according to the company. Revenue is up one percent on the prior year to $282 million, according to spokesman Brendan O'Grady.

Pemsel said he was urged to erect a paywall but demurred, noting that the number of supporters (people who pay for a membership or one-off articles) had risen from 10,000 to 900,000 in the latest full year.

"When I started this role, the advice to me and our editor-in-chief Katharine Viner was simple - cut costs and put up a pay wall," Pemsel said. "We wanted to explore a different model, recognizing the huge reach and impact the Guardian has achieved., but also finding a way of asking readers to give us greater financial support."



Discovery CEO Zaslav is getting a raise

Discovery Communications CEO David Zaslav is getting a pay raise and a new contract that will see him  remain at the helm of the company through 2023.

Zaslav, who joined as president and CEO in 2007, will see his target bonus increase next year to $22 million (up from $9 million), though there is no guaranteed bonus amount, according to a company filing.  His base salary of $3 million remains unchanged. Zaslav also has stock grants. 

Zaslav has executed a host of major deals in recent years including acquiring Scripps Networks Interactive, which included cable channels HGTV and Food Network, and this summer negotiated a global rights deal for the PGA Tour, which will involve a new streaming service. The company is already a major shareholder in streaming platform BAMTech Europe, which helps support Discovery’s Eurosport channels.

Netflix's story stumbles

If you believe there is a tech bubble waiting to burst, then you might be paying close attention to Netflix today. Wall Street is not in a good mood after the company added fewer subscribers than expected — the first time that's happened in five quarters.

The streaming giant, which picked up more Emmy nominations than HBO, is one of the market’s best performers. The stock story, largely reliant on collecting more subscribers, fell apart yesterday after it missed a growth forecast.

And as Mediapost’s Alex Weprin pointed out, the company doubled its marketing spend to $1 billion in the first six months.

Eric Schiffer, CEO of private equity firm Patriach, told Reuters: “Investors are devastated by Netflix’s Q2 projection that went down in dramatic flames. Now future projections are suspect and that decimates valuation.”

Rob Arnott, head of fund advisory firm Research Affiliates, told Bloomberg TV that Wall Street may have focused more on the allure rather than the fundamentals of the Netflix story. “They qualify as a bubble," he said.

CNBC noted on Tuesday that analysts are predicting that so-called FANG stocks (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google parent Alphabet) will appreciate just 5.4 percent in the next 12 months, while Netflix will add just 2 percent. Here’s the report. The average return was 64.5 percent this past six months.

News consumption on smartphones continues to grow

The smartphone continues to grow as a force in news consumption. 

A new report from the Pew Research Center found that almost six-in-ten Americans now often read the news on their smartphones — almost triple the amount that did in 2013. 

That growth is particularly impressive in comparison to newsreading on desktop and laptop computers, which is just about flat. 

Pew found that young people more often get news on their mobile devices, but that the growth has been fueled by an uptick in consumption from older people and people with lower incomes.

The charts below highlight the growth in mobile news readership as well as some of the splits between people who read news on mobile vs. desktop. 

Media coverage torches Trump over Helsinki

You know it's bad when both the U.S. and Russian media are declaring Vladimir Putin the winner.

Media from both countries generally gave the Russian president the win over U.S. President Donald Trump after the two met in Helsinki.

One of the biggest news outlets in Russia, Izvestia, headlined its story on the Helsinki summit: “Trump immediately capitulates: Why the world’s press gave victory to Putin." The website added that Trump had “fallen into a trap set by the Russian President Vladimir Putin,” according to Google Translate.

Tabloid newspapers on both sides of the Atlantic went in for the kill on Tuesday. In the U.K., the left-leaning Daily Mirror declared Trump, “Putin’s Poodle: Trump branded a traitor.”

The Daily News cover screamed “Open Treason,” and noted in its coverage that Trump calls stories he disagrees with “fake news” but appeared to buy Putin’s denials about Russia’s interference in the U.S. election without question.

The cover carries a political cartoon showing Trump holding hands with Putin on Fifth Avenue and aiming a gun at Uncle Sam, an allusion to Trump’s comment that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and get away with it.

The more right-leaning New York Post also criticized Trump with its headline — "See No Evil" — describing the summit as a bear hug to “wicked BFF Vlad.” Fox News, generally supportive of Trump, hosted a variety of voices that criticized the president.

One Finnish newspaper simply noted the score: Trump 0, Putin 1. CNN’s Jake Tapper tweeted the front page.

The Russians would no doubt agree, though RT, a Russian TV channel that had to register as a foreign agent in the US and has been banned from selling ads on Twitter, offered a softer take. An op-ed by  Irish journalist Bryan MacDonald published on the RT website declared the Helsinki summit something of a storm in a tea-cup.

“US outlets and pundits would have you believe Trump handed over the family silver to Moscow. Which is nonsense,” he wrote.

“In reality, hardly anything changed. Trump didn't recognize Crimea, threaten to walk away from NATO or withdraw from Syria.”