Lauren Sherman collects the pre-Fashion Week gossip and reports on Zac Posen’s Old Navy posting.
Rachel Strugatz captures the mystery and mayhem inside the House of Lauder.
Bill Cohan, as only he can, explains how Jack Welch’s $650 billion, quarter-busting machine turned into Larry Culp’s hydra.
Eriq Gardner explores Elon Musk’s legal options after losing that $55 billion pay package.
Dylan Byers illuminates the fresh panic inside CNN as the network signals its post-linear reality.
John Ourand reveals what really surprised the sports business world about the ESPN-WBD-Fox deal.
Matt Belloni wonders whether Ryan Coogler’s innovative ownership deal will become the new normal.
Julia Alexander details the real reason Paramount+ was doomed from the start.
Julia Ioffe profiles Brett McGurk, the man everyone loves to hate in D.C.
Abby Livingston and Tina Nguyen each offer their readout from one of the worst weeks in recent Capitol Hill history.
Teddy Schleifer breaks the news on R.F.K.’s running mate overtures and S.B.F.’s former ’24 frontrunner.
Tara Palmeri preludes the demise of McConnelldom and captures all the R.N.C. anxieties.
Matt and analyst Rich Greenfield discuss whether Iger has turned around Disney on The Town.
Tara and CNN’s Elie Honig dig into the latest twist in Trump’s legal travails on Somebody’s Gotta Win.
Peter Hamby and Julia Ioffe delve into Tucker Carlson’s Putinphilia on The Powers That Be.
|On Tuesday afternoon, I was sitting in a small office in Puck’s Chelsea headquarters preparing to tape an episode of The Powers That Be, our daily podcast aggregating the comings and goings within our various power corridors. I was talking via Zoom with John Ourand, my newest partner, going over some of the topics on our editorial agenda. John was headed to Las Vegas, America’s favorite convention metropolis, for the Super Bowl. Over the video call, he enumerated the various subplots and points of intrigue coursing through the inner sanctum of the sports business industrial complex, all of which happen to be obsessions of mine—the machinations at ESPN, the strength of the NFL, the next set of media rights deals on the market, and so forth.
And yet, right as we were about to tape, John’s eyes went Sixth Sense wide. He’d just received notice of an impending deal between Disney and Warner Bros. Discovery and Fox, all foes in the streaming wars, to partner and build some new and amorphous sports mega-streamer—an apparent ark that would hasten the transition of sports viewing from linear to O.T.T. John forwarded me the memo, and my own pupils dilated, too. After all, this was going to become an object of profound infatuation for our company on multiple levels.
One of the crucial elements that makes Puck so different from other mediacos is that we don’t simply cover the news—we also report on what the principals are saying under their breath, and how it’s all likely to play out, without fear or favor, and certainly without tiptoeing around what’s really going on. As I’ve noted innumerable times before, my colleagues aren’t simply reporters, they’re also domain experts and influencers in their space. They weren’t going to just cover this deal. They were also going to perspicaciously analyze it, like a Wall Street banker or management consultant.
Immediately, as John and I began taping our episode of The Powers That Be, Puck’s vaunted Slack channel was accumulating layers of scholarship around the finer points of the deal. Within hours, Julia Alexander had authored a brief on the partnership, The Great Sports Rebundling, which elegantly pointed the periscope toward the key questions surrounding governance, profit-sharing, and critically, technology. Which of these frenemy mediacos would be building and hosting this streaming hydra? As Julia noted in a brilliant companion to this piece, Paramount+’s Existential Questions, technology capacity is perhaps the most underappreciated element in streaming successes. Many large media companies spent the better part of a decade trying to bullshit Wall Street into valuing them like they were tech plays. By this point, it’s pretty clear which made the requisite investments.
Within a couple days, John provided his own assessment of the deal. Sports Media’s Three-Headed Monster not only offers an astute analysis of the consumer dimension, but also reveals how this consortium totally blindsided their partners at the leagues and cable companies. (Perhaps this is one reason that Comcast, which obviously operates a vast cable network in addition to its traditional media units, wasn’t at the table. Or maybe the bad blood between Bob Iger and Brian Roberts persists. Don’t know yet…) Meanwhile, Matt Belloni and John worked through these open items on an unforgettable episode of The Town entitled, Will the New All-In-One Sports App Finally Kill Cable? And Dylan and I scrutinized some of the deal logic in his sweeping piece on the latest machinations in the business, Little Britain—a reference to the turnaround artistry of U.K.-born C.E.O.s Will Lewis and Mark Thompson at The Washington Post and CNN, respectively.
But if you only have time to read one piece this weekend, I’d strongly urge you to turn your attention to Julia Ioffe’s absolutely fabulous and extraordinary profile, Who’s Afraid of Brett McGurk? Naturally, the story centers on McGurk, the power diplomat and N.S.C. star and good ole boy who has defied Washington gravity by remaining relevant regardless of who is in the White House—including his current boss, Joe Biden. So, of course, everyone in town loves to hate on him, question his success, or offer a bon mot or two. Like so much of Julia’s work, it’s a story not only about her subject, but the town itself. And in that regard, it’s a truly priceless story of our time, and precisely what you should expect from Puck.
Have a great weekend,