No CBO score for health care bill; Colbert’s admission; new Murdoch intel; Brad Pitt speaks; NYT’s gains; Hulu’s news; fresh cord-cutting fears

By Brian Stelter and the CNNMoney Media team. View this email in your browser!
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All eyes on the House’s health care vote
(But what’s in the bill?)

There’s going to be a health care vote in the House of Representatives on Thursday — but lawmakers and reporters and therefore the public don’t know what the consequences will be.

Republicans “ran on the notion that Democrats pushed things through too fast." But now “that’s exactly what they’re doing," CNN’s Dana Bash said on “AC360″ Wednesday night.

The original bill would have left 24 million fewer people insured by 2026 than the status quo would. The new bill? Unknown. There’s no new Congressional Budget Office score. “If you were being cynical here — far be it for me to be cynical — but you would say that there is some incentive to get this done BEFORE you get the score," Gloria Borger said…

Top tweets

 — ABC’s Rick Klein:Sean Spicer says it’s ‘literally impossible’ to determine impact of the health care bill. And yet, WH pushing hard for a vote…"

 — CNN’s Manu Raju at 9pm: “A number of House members say they haven’t seen latest version of bill that will remake the health care system and will be voted on tomorrow…"

 — Vox’s health care expert Sarah Kliff: “It is absurd to vote for AHCA without a CBO score — and unclear why legislators aren’t demanding one… At some point, GOP will find out what their bill does. Presumably they should do that before they vote for it…

Meanwhile, over on Fox…

Fox’s hosts on Wednesday night were so busy talking about Hillary Clinton, James Comey‘s testimony, Democratic resistance to Trump, and liberal intolerance that… they hardly had time left to cover the pending vote. It seemed to me that CNN and MSNBC spent more time covering the breaking news…

 — As the NYT’s James Poniewozik wrote: Tucker Carlson “has solved the dilemma of how to be pro-Trump by being anti-anti-Trump…"

If the bill passes the House, what will happen in the Senate?

That’s the more important DC story… And the most important story is how this bill will affect Americans far from DC…

Now comes the hard part for the Murdochs

Dylan Byers emails his latest story: Roger Ailes, Bill O’Reilly and Bill Shine are gone, but the Murdochs’ problems are far from over. In the weeks ahead, the Murdochs’ handling of the allegations against Fox News will be subject to multiple investigations and reviews on both sides of the Atlantic:

1. The UK Office of Communications review into whether or not 21st Century Fox is “fit and proper" to take full ownership of Sky. When I asked if the Ofcom review would include Fox’s handling of Ailes, O’Reilly and Shine, a representative for the regulator told me, “we will look at all relevant information."

Just today, Wigdor LLP, which represents 19 current and former Fox employees in connection with claims of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation, sent Ofcom a letter urging the regulator to oppose the Sky deal. 

2. The Justice Department investigation into possible Fox News misconduct…

3. The Paul, Weiss investigation into the allegations of wrongdoing at Fox. 21st Century Fox is expected to present the firm’s findings to the DOJ, according to a source with knowledge of the matter..

Dylan’s take

Dylan adds: The investigations of Fox are likely to raise questions about the family’s handling of their business and their commitment to corporate responsibility.

The Murdochs are likely hoping that the decision to part ways with Ailes, O’Reilly and Shine will demonstrate to investigators and to the public that they take complaints of sexual harassment and discrimination seriously. But the fact that they only moved to sever ties with these men amid public pressure, years after the first accusations and lawsuits, will draw scrutiny over that commitment. Read more…

Who’s being considered for the Fox News CEO job?

Dylan adds: Two sources with knowledge of the matter said the Murdochs are at least informally searching for a new chief executive at Fox News who could put the network’s troubles squarely behind it.

For now, though, Fox News continues to face public scrutiny over the continued presence of veteran executives who are accused of being complicit with the old guard. “They keep kicking the can down the road," one TV executive told me. “I don’t understand why you would want to keep facing the same problem over and over again…"

Colbert admits he would have “changed a few words…"

“I’m still the host!" Stephen Colbert said at the top of Wednesday’s “Late Show," according to a transcript provided to CNN. He acknowledged the controversy over his Monday night comments about President Trump… specifically his vulgar remark about Trump and Vladimir Putin… by saying this:

“I had a few choice insults for the president in return. I don’t regret that. He, I believe, can take care of himself. I have jokes; he has the launch codes. So, it’s a fair fight. So while I would do it again, I would change a few words that were cruder than they needed to be.

Hannity’s rational response

Megan Thomas emails: Colbert’s unlikely defender? Sean Hannity. The Fox News host called Colbert a “horrible human being" but criticized calls to #FireColbert. On Twitter, Hannity said “He is a horrible human being, but if u don’t like him change the channel… Boycotts, demands to fire people who make political comments you disagree with, this is what the left is doing to conservatives. #FreeSpeech"

— Programming note: Bill Carter and I will be talking about all of this on “New Day" Thursday at 6:50am ET…

For the record, part one

By “Reliable Sources" P.A. Francesca Giuliani-Hoffman: 

 — Don’t open that doc! A massive phishing attack with a fraudulent Google Doc attachment threw Twitter into a frenzy on Wednesday…

 — A very interesting read from Katrin Bennhold at the NYT on how British tabloids influenced Brexit…

 — A big cash infusion for the Lenfest Institute for Journalism, the nonprofit trust that owns the Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily News and Philly.com. The Lenfest Institute has raised $26.5 million since January from local philanthropists and national journalism foundations. Gerry Lenfest, who created the trust, promised to match future contributions dollar-for-dollar up to $40 million…

 — Mic is launching a gaming vertical called “Multiplayer…"

“Media Stocks Take a Hit as Cord-Cutting Fears Intensify"

“Media stocks took a beating Wednesday as concerns about sluggish ad sales and cord-cutting left investors in sell mode," Variety’s Brent Lang reports. Fox ended the day down 5%, Discovery fell 4.2%, CBS fell 3.3%, etc. “Viacom and AMC Networks were hit particularly hard, losing more than 7% and 6% of their values, respectively."

“The sell-off appeared to have been triggered by Time Warner‘s quarterly earnings report," Lang writes. Though TWX’s overall revenues and profits “beat Wall Street’s expectations, softer ad sales and domestic subscriber losses in its Turner division spooked investors." Time Warner closed down 0.28%… 

Hulu launches live TV service in beta

Sandra Gonzalez reports: Hulu held its upfront presentation on Wednesday in NYC. Leading their news dump was the launch of its live TV beta service. The $39.99 price tag comes with more than 50 channels (including some local affiliates for select areas), 50 hours of recording storage, and access to Hulu’s library of content…

Beau Willimon’s next project

Sandra adds: Also announced at Hulu’s upfront: the renewal of its ultra-buzzy dystopian drama “The Handmaid’s Tale" and a series order for a new show from “House of Cards" executive producer Beau Willimon. The new project is tentatively titled “The First" and is about the first human mission to Mars. It goes into production later this year and is set for a 2018 premiere

NYT gains record # of digital subscribers

308,000 — that’s the number of net new digital subscribers at the NYT in the first quarter of 2017, a record gain that has been partly attributed to the Trump presidency. Times CEO Mark Thompson called the # “astonishing." He said it makes Q1 “the single best quarter for subscriber growth in our history."

On the other hand… Print ad revenue declined by nearly 18% as big companies spent less on display ads in the paper.

On the OTHER other hand… Digital ad revenue increased by 19%. Here’s my full story about the results…

For the record, part two

 — “South Sudan detained an NPR journalist for nearly four days before releasing him Monday, a spokeswoman for the organization said…

— The WashPost’s Callum Borchers finds that “Sean Spicer has been talking to the media a lot less lately…" 

 — “NBCUniversal is changing its business plan for the Seeso SVOD service that launched in January 2016," and Evan Shapiro is leaving, Variety’s Cynthia Littleton reports…

Cernovich joins forces with InfoWars

Right-wing troll Mike Cernovich has a new hosting gig at InfoWars. Oliver Darcy emails about his story: 

What I think is key… In many ways, the marriage between Cernovich and InfoWars (led by Alex Jones) is a perfect fit. Both represent a brand of journalism perhaps best comparable to the National Enquirer. Each hawks sensational and often wildly inaccurate or misleading stories to their audiences, but mixes them in with a smattering of items that appear to hold some water. Such a strategy helps create a defense against critics who categorize InfoWars and Cernovich under the so-called “fake news" umbrella. While most of their reports may not be accurate, they can point to legitimate scoops corroborated by mainstream news outlets as evidence they should be trusted on everything else they report, blurring the lines for news consumers…

Charlie Warzel profiles Alex Jones

BuzzFeed’s Charlie Warzel has been working on this piece for a long time… An in-depth look at how Alex Jones became Alex Jones, and what might come next…

Trump and the media
How Trump thinks like a journalist

Francesca Giuliani-Hoffman emails: Jonathan Swan at Axios makes an excellent point: that Trump thinks like a journalist. “You see this side of Trump in his off-hand asides to the journalists interviewing him that you get when the publication publishes the full transcript," Swan argues. Trump feeds the reporters’ ego by showing knowledge of their work, plays editor by suggesting framing ideas to the reporters, and doles out nuggets of “exclusive" information that cater to the reporters’ need to break news. Swan collected examples of how that’s true…

Two new efforts to create a “Breitbart for the left"

More from Oliver Darcy: Democrats REALLY want to create a Breitbart for the left. “Priorities USA, one of the left’s largest advocacy groups, is launching a multi-million dollar digital arm aimed at mimicking the success of right-wing media to reach Democrats who did not turn out for Hillary Clinton in 2016." Read Oliver’s full story here…

 — Unrelated, but similar: Francesca Giuliani-Hoffman notes: Steven Perlberg reports that Elizabeth Spiers and Peter Feld are raising money to create something that would be “the left’s answer to Breitbart…"

Decoding the anonymous in-fighting

“When the White House is a set of anonymous-quote–spewing rival factions, you need to do some extra work to figure out where your news is coming from. How can you tell which Trump adviser delivered which unattributed comment?" Slate’s words correspondent Katy Waldman tried to figure that out… Check it out here…

Do you agree with this “Trump Rule?"

Brian Lowry emails: LATimes columnist Doyle McManus makes an interesting suggestion under what he labels the “Trump Rule," counseling people to ignore the president’s proposals. “President Trump doesn’t pay attention to the details of his administration’s plans; why should you?" he writes.

While there’s almost certainly something to that, from a media perspective, it’s problematic, and gets back to the question of how much oxygen should be devoted to things like the president’s tweets. Ignoring them — or at least downplaying — them makes a degree of sense, except news outlets are programmed to treat pronouncements by the President of the United States as if they carry weight

The entertainment desk
Brad Pitt speaks

Lisa France emails: Brad Pitt has opened up with his first extensive interview since splitting from Angelina Jolie. In this must-read, he talked to GQ about his family being “ripped apart" and how he was drinking too much to mask his issues.

Read Lisa’s wrap-up here…

Lowry reviews “Galaxy Vol. 2″

Brian Lowry emails his latest review: Nothing will prevent “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2″ from blasting off with an enormous bounty for Disney, but the freshness that characterized the original isn’t there in this sequel — it’s sporadically fun, but weighed down by a weak villain and an abundance of daddy issues…

For the record, part three

 — Megan Thomas emails: Talk show host and former congressman Joe Walsh may have redefined “mean tweets" when he criticized Jimmy Kimmel for getting political during his Monday night monologue about his son’s health battle. The backlash against Walsh was swift — and comedian Patton Oswalt was among those quick to scathingly respond on Twitter… EW has details here…

 — Lisa France emails: You won’t actually be able to see Robin Williams in his final film as it’s a voiceover role, but the film is being released in the U.S. this month… Details here…

 — More from Lisa: Temperatures aren’t the only thing hot in the summertime. So here’s our rundown of some of the major movies hitting the big screen as the weather heats up…

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