Climate change will receive dedicated and sustained attention from the mainstream media in 2019, a marked shift from years of relative indifference toward what is arguably the most significant issue of our time.

January 3, 2019 | Hollywood


Good morning, and welcome back to Byers Market. While you were sleeping, China reached the far side of the moon.


• What Dean Baquet is reading: "The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming," the highly anticipated climate change polemic from David Wallace-Wells. "Unusual for me to read non-fiction," the New York Times executive editor told me last night, "but it’s the story of our time."


Lukas Schulze/Getty

2019: The Climate Year


What's Next: Climate change will receive dedicated and sustained attention from the mainstream media in 2019, a marked shift from years of relative indifference toward what is arguably the most significant issue of our time.


Three reasons why:


Democratic lawmakers, who take control of the House today, have vowed to make climate change a top priority — even if their proposals are sure to be squashed by the Republican-controlled Senate.


Mike Bloomberg, who is poised to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on his presidential campaign if he decides to run, has already started pressing other candidates to state a plan for dealing with climate change.


• Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, who formally launched his 2020 campaign yesterday, has made climate change the raison d'être of his candidacy and says that global warming is his sole priority.


Fun Inslee anecdote, via The Atlantic's Isaac Dovere:


• A September poll of 500 Iowa caucus-goers found the top quality they were looking for in a candidate was “someone who will reestablish America’s leadership in the fight against climate change."


• "This is like gay marriage, [Inslee] figures: America is at a tipping point. Things are about to change. And voters will be looking for leaders who were already out front on the issue."


Sunday Vanguard: NBC's Chuck Todd dedicated the entire hour of last Sunday's "Meet The Press" to climate change. “We're not going to debate climate change, the existence of it. The Earth is getting hotter. And human activity is a major cause, period," Todd said. "We're not going to give time to climate deniers. The science is settled, even if political opinion is not."


Bloomberg to Todd: "I can tell you one thing, I don't know whether I'm going to run or not, but I will be out there demanding that anybody that's running has a plan. And I want to hear the plan, and I want everybody to look at it and say whether it's doable."


Curb Your Enthusiasm: Climate change will not be the first, second, third or fourth most important issue of the 2020 race, as it will inevitably take a back seat to more obviously immediate issues like the economy, health care, immigration, etc., as well as whatever President Donald Trump decides he wants to talk about. But it will get sustained attention on the national stage — and that must be seen as a relative victory for concerned progressives.


Marla Aufmuth/Getty

Jill Abramson vs. NYT


Talk of Midtown: Former New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson is taking a shot at her former paper, calling it "unmistakably anti-Trump," per Fox News' Howard Kurtz:


• "In a soon-to-be published book, 'Merchants of Truth,' ... Abramson ... offers some harsh words for her successor, Dean Baquet."


• "Abramson ... says the Times has a financial incentive to bash the president and that the imbalance is helping to erode its credibility."


Key quotes from the book:


• "Though Baquet said publicly he didn’t want the Times to be the opposition party, his news pages were unmistakably anti-Trump."


• "Some headlines contained raw opinion, as did some of the stories that were labeled as news analysis."


• "The more anti-Trump the Times was perceived to be, the more it was mistrusted for being biased. [The] vow to cover the news without fear or favor sounded like an impossible promise in such a polarized environment."


• "Given its mostly liberal audience, there was an implicit financial reward for the Times in running lots of Trump stories, almost all of them negative."


New this A.M.: Abramson tells Politico's Michael Calderone that Kurtz took her quotes "totally out of context," and that the book is "full of praise" for her alma mater.


Key context: While Abramson helmed the paper, she and Baquet were locked in a bitter power struggle that ultimately resulted in her ouster in 2014.


Baquet: No comment.


Bonus: NBC News veteran William Arkin has penned a lengthy goodbye note to the network yesterday in which he derided the media's obsession with President Trump: "In our day-to-day whirlwind and hostage status as prisoners of Donald Trump, I think — like everyone else does — that we miss so much," he wrote.

Rally the Market 


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• Spring break: Coachella's 2019 lineup is live. Headliners: Ariana Grande, Childish Gambino, Tame Impala ... plus, Solange, Anderson Paak., Mac DeMarco, Beach Fossils, Khalid and Pusha T.


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Tim Cook's 'toughest test'


Big in the Valley: Tim Cook faces a major leadership test at Apple after revealing that revenue for the quarter will fall short by as much as $9 billion due to slow sales in China.


• Cook lowered Apple's revenue guidance to $84 billion, down from the $89 to $93 billion it had previously projected.


• In a letter to investors, Cook said Apple "did not foresee the magnitude of the economic deceleration" in emerging markets, "particularly in Greater China."


• Apple stock fell more than 7% on the news. Dow futures fell by 370 points.


The Big Picture, via Bloomberg's Mark Gurman: "The news exposes [Cook's] toughest challenge since taking over as chief executive officer from the legendary Steve Jobs: how to take the company forward when it’s top product has lost luster with consumers."


• "Smartphone sales have stagnated and are virtually unchanged worldwide the past two years. Under Cook, Apple has launched a few new types of products, including AirPods and Apple Watch. Both, however, are glued to the iPhone."


What's Next: Gurman says Cook could "use this as an opportunity to reassess the company’s reluctance to make industry-shattering acquisitions," such as Netflix or Tesla.


Cook on CNBC: "I’ve always been very clear ... We look at many, many companies including very large companies. We’ve elected so far not to do those because we haven’t found one that we said, ‘wow, that’s a nice intersection of Apple.’ But I’d never rule it out."

Market Links


The FCC halts its review of media mergers (Variety)

Les Moonves escapes on David Geffen's yacht (Page Six)

The Oscars still doesn't have a host (THR)



Tribune TV goes dark


Talk of Tinseltown, via LAT's Meg James: "Nearly three dozen Tribune Media television stations ... went dark Wednesday afternoon on Charter Communications’ Spectrum pay-TV service after the two companies failed to reach agreement on a new distribution deal."


• "Customers in more than 6 million Charter Spectrum cable TV homes nationwide ... were swept up in the latest fee dispute between two major TV companies."


The Big Picture, via Axios' Sara Fischer: "Cable and satellite companies are struggling to reach deals with TV channels over how much they should have to pay for the content those channels provide ... leading to more programming blackouts for consumers [that could force] some smaller, niche cable channels out of business altogether."


• "Both Comcast and Verizon FiOS ... announced ahead of the New Year that they will drop Fuse, the music-oriented cable channel that's backed by Jennifer Lopez."


• "FiOS and Disney came very close to being unable to reach an agreement ahead of the New Year's Day deadline."


• "Dish Network has yet to reach an agreement after several months with both Univision and HBO over distribution costs."


Meanwhile ... Roku is adding premium subscriptions.


Nielson Barnard/Getty

Reed Hastings' new CFO


Hard Math: Netflix has hired former Activision and Disney executive Spencer Neumann to serve as its new chief financial officer, a complicated job given Netflix's massive pile of debt.


The Big Picture: The Netflix CFO job, previously held for eight years by David Wells, effectively amounts to making tens of billions of dollars in debt and outstanding content obligations add up to big profits down the line. No easy feat.


The Backstory, via Variety's Todd Spangler:


• "Reports of Netflix’s hiring of Neumann hit late Monday, after Activision Blizzard said in a regulatory filing that it was planning to fire Neumann. On Wednesday, Activision Blizzard said Neumann was 'terminated for cause for violating his legal obligations to the company,' an indication the company believes he breached his employment agreement."


What our sources tell us: Neumann breached his Activision contract for Netflix .. and Activision CEO Bobby Kotick is furious.

What's Next: Hollywood braces for a downturn: Variety's Brent Lang and Rebecca Rubin examine the new recession fears.


• Bonus: Eater's Alejandro Benes goes inside the final days of Valentino, "L.A.'s most iconic Italian restaurant."


See you tomorrow.


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