NYT's Nicole Perlroth and Matthew Rosenberg had the scoop on Monday: "With President Trump facing an impeachment trial over his efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son Hunter Biden, Russian military hackers have been boring into the Ukrainian gas company at the center of the affair, according to security experts." That would be Burisma. "It is not yet clear what the hackers found, or precisely what they were searching for," Perlroth and Rosenberg wrote. "But the experts say the timing and scale of the attacks suggest that the Russians could be searching for potentially embarrassing material on the Bidens — the same kind of information that Mr. Trump wanted from Ukraine when he pressed for an investigation of the Bidens and Burisma, setting off a chain of events that led to his impeachment."
A report by Area 1, an online security firm, flagged this infiltration for reporters. CNN's Brian Fung writes: Burisma employees "were tricked into giving up their computer credentials by a sophisticated network of fake websites set up by Russian military intelligence, the GRU, said Area 1..."
"Think hard – really hard..."
>> CNN's Marshall Cohen commented: "This might be the most important news of the day. Russia could leak Burisma emails, and slip in some doctored emails, to harm Biden later on, if he is the Democratic nominee. The 2016 playbook all over again."
>> The Daily Beast EIC Noah Shachtman reacted this way: "I hope my fellow editors will think hard — really hard, a lot harder than they did in 2016 — before publishing any material hacked by the Russians."
>> "Now we know it's 2016 again," CNN analyst Juliette Kayyem wrote. "Trump just as likely to publicly ask for the info to be released. So question for responsible media and commentators is this: he's the same, are you?"
>> Flashback to Oliver Darcy and Donie O'Sullivan's story from early 2019: "Hackers could target the 2020 election. How will newsrooms respond if they release stolen data?"
Impeachment returns to center stage
WaPo's top headline in Tuesday editions: "Senators insist on trial for Trump." The lead: "Top Senate Republicans on Monday rejected President Trump’s call for outright dismissal of the impeachment charges against him, but continued to grapple with the shape of the Senate trial that could begin as soon as this week..."
>> Keep an eye on this: "Giuliani associate Lev Parnas turns over thousands of pages of documents to impeachment investigators..."
>> Late-breaking via Mediaite's Josh Feldman: "Laura Ingraham teed off on Senator Mitt Romney tonight for his openness to hearing witnesses at the Senate impeachment trial..."
Michael Rothfeld and Joe Palazzolo are out with "The Fixers," about the "lawyers and media tycoons who enabled the rise of Donald Trump..."
Nancy Pelosi will meet with House Democrats at 9am ET...
"Jeopardy: Greatest of All Time" tournament resumes at 8pm ET...
CNN and the Des Moines Register's #DemDebate starts at 9pm ET... I'll send out a special edition of the newsletter ahead of time...
FOR THE RECORD, PART ONE
-- A review of Google News results about Cory Booker's exit from the 2020 race reveals a lot of disappointment. If you haven't read it yet, check out Rebecca Buck's thread about what made Booker such a unique candidate to cover... (Twitter)
-- On a related note, Ezra Klein taped a podcast with Booker on Friday and published it on Monday morning, shortly before Booker dropped out. Klein says it was "simultaneously, one of the most inspiring and maddening interviews I’ve done with a presidential candidate..." (Twitter)
-- MJ Lee's scoop drove the day in 2020 politics: "Bernie Sanders told Elizabeth Warren in private 2018 meeting that a woman can't win, sources say." (CNN)
-- Sanders denied it, but later in the day Warren issued a statement with her account of the meeting: "I thought a woman could win; he disagreed." (CNN)
-- "The back-and-forth will most likely animate not only Tuesday night's debate but the jockeying among the liberal groups and activists who are aligned behind either candidate..." (NYT)
Tuesday's debate is a 'critical event'
Before the Sanders/Warren story broke, David Axelrod tweeted: "Iowa is essentially a four-way heat with three weeks to do. Makes Tuesday's CNN debate in Des Moines a critical event. This is particularly so because several of the most competitive candidates will shortly be tied up with jury duty in Washington!"
Dennis Publishing is launching The Week Junior in the US
The Week, a 19-year-old newsmag in the United States, is launching a spin-off edition for children, called The Week Junior.
Dennis Publishing says this will be "the first weekly news print magazine in the United States since The Week launched in 2001." The target audience is 8- to 14-year-olds... Dennis says it has achieved success in the UK with a similar mag for kids...
>> "When we launched The Week Junior in the UK, everyone told us that children don't read the news; we proved them wrong. Children are smarter and more eager to know what is going on than they are given credit for. Our mission is to inspire children with inspired reading," Kerin O'Connor, CEO of The Week and The Week Junior, said in a statement. The new mag will launch this spring...
FOR THE RECORD, PART TWO
-- "You Call That Transparency, Mr. President?" The NYT editorial board's latest: "His every thought appears on Twitter, but where are his tax returns, documents on Ukraine and receipts for his travels?" (NYT)
-- WaPo's anatomy of Trump's "four embassies" assertion: "Based on what is known so far, Trump’s statement was at best an unfounded theory and at worst a falsehood... The result is a credibility crisis for an administration that has long struggled to communicate factual information to the public..." (WaPo)
-- Boing Boing was hacked on Friday... and now the site is warning visitors about the breach... (Boing Boing)
-- "Fox Television Stations has unveiled Fox Soul, an ad-supported streaming channel that blends original talk and lifestyle series with locally produced shows aimed at African American viewers..." (Variety)
Abby Huntsman leaving "The View:" the backstory
Abby Huntsman's surprise announcement on Monday came after she lodged complaints about a troubled culture at the show. There were also newfound tensions between her and co-host Meghan McCain.
Huntsman said she wanted to join the gubernatorial race of her father, Jon Huntsman, which is true, but there was more to the decision. Sources told me and Oliver Darcy that Huntsman complained to ABC about the toxic work environment, and it seemed the concerns fell on deaf ears.
And there was this: Huntsman and McCain, both of whom hail from famed Republican families, were allies behind the scenes until recently. But there was a dispute between the two women, stemming from Huntsman's on-air enthusiasm for her children, per sources. McCain, who wrote an op-ed in the NYT about her miscarriage last summer and has continued to talk publicly about her fertility challenges, suggested to Huntsman that the child-centric chats were insensitive. Word of the "baby fight," as one person called it, quickly spread around "The View." Huntsman and McCain have since made amends over the argument, according to three people. Here's our full story...
>> Huntsman's last day is Friday... Who will succeed her?
Will McCain stay?
Our story noted that McCain has felt isolated at "The View" for months, and mulled leaving the talk show last summer. A source said "Meghan has been miserable there for quite some time, and not because of Abby. She wishes her nothing but the best..."
Tuesday's UK front pages
Megxit is the lead in almost every paper, as documented by Sky News here, with one notable exception:
"The heat in the world's oceans reached a record level in 2019, showing 'irrefutable and accelerating' heating of the planet, writes The Guardian " on Tuesday's front page...
Still no comment from Disney...
...About The Times UK's report that "The Duchess of Sussex has signed a deal with Disney to benefit a wildlife charity..."
FOR THE RECORD, PART THREE
-- Changes coming to MSNBC's schedule? "Chuck Todd's daily show could move to mornings, causing angst among the show's staff," The Daily Beast's team reports. Other moves are also possible... (Beast)
-- The story also says that Shep Smith "has had conversations with MSNBC President Phil Griffin about a potential gig when his non-compete clause expires, although his price tag is expected to be considerable for any interested network..."
-- Following up on last night's newsletter item from Brian Lowry: Here is his review of "America's Great Divide" from the "Frontline" team... (CNN)
Another round of buyouts at Tribune
Kerry Flynn writes: Tribune Publishing is offering buyouts to employees for the second time in two years -- and just months after hedge fund Alden Global Capital became the largest shareholder in the company. The news came via a Monday AM email to staffers from Tribune Publishing CEO and President Tim Knight. More in my story here…
>> Peter Nickeas, a Chicago Tribune reporter, tells me, "My colleagues all work themselves into the ground to make the region a better place and I'm sick of seeing their sacrifices treated with such disregard... It's just really disheartening."
FOR THE RECORD, PART FOUR
By Kerry Flynn:
-- Alex Heath reports that Twitter is working on a tipping feature, and he shares a new org chart on the company's leadership... (The Information)
-- LatinX students at DePaul launched La DePaulia, a Spanish-language news site, following the closing of Tribune’s Hoy in November... (Chicago Tribune)
-- Jack Marshall reports on the "ROI of snacks," as in why media companies offer perks like free food to employees... (Digiday)
G/O Media's vote of no confidence
Kerry Flynn writes: Replace Jim Spanfeller. That's what G/O Media's editorial union asked G/O's owner Great Hill Partners to do in a letter sent Monday. WSJ's Ben Mullin has the scoop, writing that the letter alleged Spanfeller's leadership "has resulted in decreased web traffic and increased turnover among employees..."
>> GMG Union tweeted, "We the members of GMG Union, have lost all faith in the ability of the current leadership team, headed by CEO Jim Spanfeller, to adequately represent the best interests of our company or its staff."
Top 10 book checkouts!
As The New York Public Library celebrates its 125th anniversary, a team of experts compiled a list of "the top 10 checkouts" in the library system's history. Drumroll please...
10: The Very Hungry Caterpillar
9: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
8: How to Win Friends and Influence People
7: Fahrenheit 451
6: Charlotte's Web
5: To Kill a Mockingbird
4: Where the Wild Things Are
2: The Cat in the Hat
1: The Snowy Day
FOR THE RECORD, PART FIVE
-- Kerry Flynn emails: Harvard law professor Larry Lessig sued the NYT for defamation in a suit filed on Monday. Lessig alleges the headline and lede in a Sept. 2019 article, "A Harvard Professor Doubles Down: If You Take Epstein's Money, Do It in Secret," are "sensationalized, false and defamatory." The NYT says "we plan to defend against the claim vigorously..." (The Verge)
-- NYC is a small world: "Gigi Hadid was among 120 potential jurors called on Monday for the Harvey Weinstein rape trial..." (CNN)
Year-over-year gains for NFL divisional #'s
"The Divisional round is arguably the best NFL weekend on the calendar, and in a season of positive ratings news for the league, the totals for the four games mostly continued that trend," Awful Announcing's Jay Rigdon wrote Monday.
Nielsen stats via NFL PR: "The overall 2020 Divisional round average across 4 games is 33.2 million viewers, up +2% versus last year's 2019 Divisional round average."
And the 2020 playoffs to-date – the wild card and divisional games combined – "are averaging 32.0 million viewers, up +5% vs. last year..."
Via Lisa Respers France, here is the full list of nominees...
Netflix on top
Deadline's Mike Fleming Jr notes: "Netflix has turned in its best performance in the rankings of distributors with Oscar nominations — 24 compared to 15 last year. They have secured the top spot for the first time. Disney ends up right behind with 23, between the studio's 10 noms, six each for 20th Century Fox and Searchlight, and another for Disney-owned National Geographic's The Cave."
"As for the rest of the distribution field," he adds, "Sony Pictures had a strong showing of 20 noms spread across Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood, Little Women, Sony Pictures Classics' Pain and Glory and Sony Pictures Animation’s animated short Hair Love. They are followed by 16 between Universal Pictures and its arthouse label Focus Features mostly for 1917; with Focus pitching in a pair for Harriet including Best Actress for Cynthia Erivo; Warner Bros notched 12, mainly for the disruptive overachiever Joker..."
"Congratulations to those men"
"With just four words, Issa Rae struck a nerve on Monday while announcing the best director nominations for the 92nd Oscars," Sandra Gonzalez writes. "Many eyes had been on the category, with particular attention being paid to whether 'Little Women' director Greta Gerwig or any other of this year's notable female directors could score a nomination in the category historically dominated by men." Nope -- five men scored noms...
>> Variety's Kate Aurthur wrote a version of her all-male-noms story in advance: "Very sad to have prewritten this story, and to have it turn out to be true."
Brian Lowry emails: There's always talk of "snubs" after the Oscar nominations, but I think the situation was somewhat exacerbated this year by an abundance of good movies, and a shortage of truly great ones. The result is that the choices appear even more arbitrary, and the oversights -- especially those involving women and people of color -- more acute...
"Joker" leads Oscar noms with 11
More from Lowry: It's worth echoing a point from my Oscar noms preview piece -- that "Joker's" validation by Academy voters has to be particularly gratifying to those associated with the movie, who were fending off questions and concerns about the film -- including its tone and level of violence -- prior to its debut.
About the Fox film studio...
Lowry adds: One business-related footnote, considering that the underperformance of Fox's movies has been a topic of conversation, including a recent tweet by analyst Rich Greenfield, who suggested Rupert Murdoch was "a genius" for dumping it when he did. Notably, Disney's only two best picture nominees come under the Fox shingle -- "JoJo Rabbit" and "Ford v. Ferrari." "Toy Story 4" did nab an animated feature nomination, but "Frozen 2" was overlooked. It's hard to tell if all that reflects some blowback related to Disney's box-office dominance, or merely further proof of the adage that money can't buy you awards love...
FOR THE RECORD, PART SIX
-- Lisa Respers France writes: Cynthia Erivo turned down performing at the BAFTAs because of the lack of diversity, but what about the Oscars? (CNN)
-- News from the TCA press tour: Showtime has renewed "Shameless" for an eleventh and final season... (THR)
-- Showtime said the "Vice" documentary series, formerly on HBO, will premiere on March 29... (TheWrap)
Catch up on Sunday's "Reliable Sources"
Listen to the podcast version via Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn, or your podcast player of choice... Catch the video clips on CNN.com... Or watch the entire episode via CNNgo or VOD...
Thank you for reading! Send me your feedback via email... See you tomorrow...