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Protestors Gather Outside VMAs to Call Attention to Newark’s Water Crisis

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  • Activists staged a protest across from the VMAs on Monday to call attention to Newark’s lead-contaminated water crisis.
  • Protesters called the city out for hosting an award show while residents were still without clean water, and some asked for celebrities to use their voice to bring awareness to the issue.
  • Newark has been dealing with the water crisis for three years and on Monday announced plans to replace and repair pipes with the help of a $120 million loan.

Protests Staged Across from VMAs

While the biggest names in the music industry hit the stage in Newark’s Prudential Center for the MTV Video Music Awards on Monday, protestors gathered across the street to call attention to the ongoing water crisis in the New Jersey city.

The demonstration was organized by the Newark Water Coalition. Reports estimate that somewhere between 100 and 200 were in attendance, including both Newark locals and visitors who came to the city for the award show.

Newark has been facing a water crisis for several years now. The city tried to aid 38,000 residents who could be affected by high levels of lead in tap water back in October by giving them filters. A report from early August, however, showed that those filters may not be properly working, prompting the city to have to hand out bottled water. 

Protestors carried signs with messages like “VMAs, are you drinking this water?” and “this is environmental racism.” Many also chanted: “we don’t want no MTV, we want our water clean.”

According to the Newark Department of Public Safety, five people were arrested for attempting to cross police barricades. Other than this, the protests were peaceful and continued without incident.

Newark and Celebrities Called Out

Footage from NJ.com showed one leader of the demonstration calling the city out for hosting the VMA’s while its residents were struggling. 

“People are dying out here,” he said. “And you’ve got the nerve, you’ve got the nerve to have the VMAs in Newark. You’ve got the nerve to have these celebrities come here and not give a damn about the citizens of Newark.” 

Efforts were made to encourage celebrities to acknowledge the Newark water crisis while they were in town. The Newark Water Coalition tweeted at Cardi B, Taylor Swift, Lizzo, and Lil Nas X asking them to use their voices to call attention to it. 

Actress Piper Perabo sent out a tweet with a similar sentiment, suggesting stars bring the topic up both on stage and in interviews with the press.

The story did not make its way to the VMAs stage and big stars remained largely quiet on the matter. Reverend Al Sharpton attended the ceremony and did acknowledge the choice to have the show in a city facing a crisis of this nature. 

“It brings a limelight to a city where not everybody has to say, oh, I didn’t know there was lead in that city,” Sharpton said speaking to CBS New York. “So there’s a silver lining in this dark cloud, but that’s no comfort to those that’s living in the middle of that dark cloud.” 

Others online thought Newark demonstrated poor priorities by giving a venue to the VMA’s.

Some also thought the stars should have felt heavier responsibility to shine a light on the water crisis.

Developments in Newark’s Water Crisis

The protests came as potential strides were made in handling the city’s water crisis. On Monday, the Essex County Improvement Authority announced plans to give a $120 million loan that would be used to replace and repair lead pipes, which would be completed in under three years.

The plan would speed the repair process up greatly. A previous plan would have cost Newark $75 million and taken close to a decade to complete. Residents are still skeptical of the plan, as they have been promised solutions in the past that fell through. Votes by the city and county will take place Tuesday. Another vote is reportedly taking place in September.

See what others are saying: (NJ.com) (CBS New York) (TIME)

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NBC’s Peacock Launches With Free Tier to Compete in Streaming Wars, But Local Stations are Boycotting It By Refusing to Air “30 Rock” Special

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  • In a bid to compete with an increasingly competitive streaming market, NBC launched its streaming service Peacock on Wednesday with a free, ad-supported tier.
  • That tier contains about two-thirds of Peacock’s entire catalogue, with the rest being locked behind two different premium tiers: one ad-supported and one ad-free.
  • At the same time, most local NBC stations in the United States are refusing to air an upcoming “30 Rock” reunion special that will essentially be a giant advertisement for Peacock.
  • The reason NBC affiliates are boycotting the special is because they’re afraid Peacock will kill their viewership as people shift to online streaming.
  • Because of the boycott, reportedly, only about 40% of the country will be able to watch the special when it first airs. 

30 Rock” Special Boycotted By Affiliates

Major local TV station groups are preparing for a battle with NBCUniversal and its new streaming service Peacock, which launched Wednesday.

The casualty? “30 Rock,” a show which originally aired from 2006 to 2013, starring Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin, Tracey Morgan, and Jane Krakowski. 

As a way to boost its promotion of Peacock, NBC developed a one-hour “30 Rock” reunion special which is set to air Thursday night. In fact, the special is going to be so much of a promotion that, according to Vulture, it won’t include any traditional commercials and was even produced by NBCUniversal’s ad-sales division. 

However, that decision has left local NBC affiliate groups feeling like they’re being sidelined by NBCUniversal so that it can push its new streaming service. Because of that, it’s now being reported that most local NBC stations across the United States will refuse to air the “30 Rock” reunion.

In fact, the decision to boycott this special mainly comes directly from the massive media groups that own these local stations—not the stations themselves. That includes Gray Television, Hearst, Nexstar, Tegna, and Sinclair. Notably, Nexstar and Sinclair are the two largest owners of local stations in the country and control hundreds of stations each. 

The boycott will reportedly be so extensive that only about 40% of the country will even have the ability to watch that special when it first airs. 

“Station owners are understandably worried about Peacock siphoning viewers from linear TV, particularly since the new platform will offer next-day reruns of NBC shows on its premium tier (and week-late access to reruns on its free level),” Vulture reported.

It’s not unusual for local TV stations to interrupt shows for sports coverage or when there’s severe weather (or even if they’re concerned a program is too controversial), but it is unprecedented for multiple, major broadcast groups to have their stations all boycott a prime-time special.

Still, the decision to boycott the “30 Rock” won’t actually have any direct financial impact for NBC since it won’t be airing any commercials; however, that’s not the case for local stations airing the special. Because the hour will essentially be an uninterrupted infomercial for Peacock, those stations will be unable to air local ads—a major form of revenue for them.

While it would only mean one hour of ad revenue lost, most stations are able to sell more expensive ad slots during prime time. They’ve also already been struggling to retain advertisers during the COVID-19 pandemic, and many have suffered from sharp declines in ad sales.

The boycott also comes after NBCUniversal decided in January that Peacock would stream episodes of “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” and “Late Night With Seth Meyers” hours ahead of their broadcast on live TV. Notably, those shows will only air early for Premium subscribers, but it still means local TV  affiliates would essentially be airing reruns. 

That decision presented a major concern for TV stations, which must pay substantial fees for the rights to NBC shows and which are already facing declines in viewership.

It is possible, however, that the boycott could inadvertently push viewers wishing to watch the special to Peacock. In any case, cable TV will likely continue to struggle to retain viewers as they make the switch to streaming platforms. 

Peacock Launches With Free Tier

On top of the push and pull between cable and streaming services, competition among streaming providers is fierce. In fact, the market is already saturated with options such as Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, HBOMax, CBS All Access, and Apple TV+.

Because of that, there are serious concerns about whether Peacock can stay afloat in an industry already filled with, at times, seemingly limitless options on what to watch. For example, Apple TV+, which launched in November, has never attracted the viewership it had hoped to achieve. That’s despite heavily pushing a series headlined by Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, and Steve Carrell.

However, the major difference between Peacock and other platforms is that Peacock is free—well, sort of. Along with two different premium tiers, it’s also offering a free tier with roughly 13,000 hours of content. 

Under the free tier, viewers can watch whole series such as ‘This Is Us,” “Parks & Rec,” “30 Rock,” and “Everybody Hates Chris.” They can also stream full movies like the original “Jurassic Parks” and “The Matrix.”

If viewers want to see other shows, such as “Superstore,” or even a movie like “Shrek,” they will then have to upgrade to a premium tier, which will unlock about 7,000 more hours of additional content.

“The ‘freemium’ model will be the secret weapon for Peacock to win against the other big streaming services,” Michael J. Wolf, chief executive of the tech consulting firm Activate, told CNET. 

Wolf added that the free tier “will ensure that Peacock comes out of the gate with a large base of users and will be the service’s surest path to scale.”

Additionally, Peacock will still be able to collect revenue from the free tier, as it will be supported by ad sales. Even if viewers upgrade to the lowest premium tier, which is $5 a month, they’ll still see around 5 to 7 minutes of ads. The highest tier, which is $10 a month, is ad-free.

See what others are saying: (Vulture) (CNET) (Deadline)

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Nick Cannon Apologizes to Jewish Community, Demands Rights to Wild ‘N Out After ViacomCBS Firing

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  • Nick Cannon was fired from ViacomCBS after the company condemned anti-Semitic comments he made on his podcast.
  • Cannon claimed Black people could not be anti-Semitic because “the Semitic people are Black people.” He also praised the anti-Semitic Nation of Islam leader Minister Louis Farrakhan and brought up conspiracy theories about the Rothschilds. 
  • Cannon slammed ViacomCBS in a Facebook post, saying he would not be “bullied, silenced, or continuously oppressed” by any company. He is demanding full ownership of MTV’s “Wild ‘N Out,” which he hosts and produces.
  • He also apologized to the Jewish community and said it was never his intention to be hurtful.

Cannon Blasts ViacomCBS

Nick Cannon is taking shots at ViacomCBS after the company severed ties with him Tuesday over anti-Semitic comments he made on his podcast “Cannon’s Class.” 

In a 1,500 word Facebook status on Wednesday morning, the TV host said he would not be “bullied, silenced, or continuously oppressed” by any group or company.”

“I am disappointed that Viacom does not understand or respect the power of the black community,” he wrote, later alleging that the company has banned ads regarding George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. 

Cannon had been with Viacom since he was a kid on Nickelodeon. He later became the Chairman of TeenNick and went on to become a producer and host for other major projects. Among his most recent ventures for the network was hosting MTV’s “Wild ‘N Out.”

“I created a billion-dollar brand that expanded across a multitiered empire that is still Viacom’s biggest digital brand, touring business, talent discovery and incubation system and successful restaurant franchise,” Cannon claimed. “Based on trust and empty promises, my ownership was swindled away from me.”

Cannon is now demanding an apology from ViacomCBS, and for full ownership of “Wild ‘N Out.” He is ousting was announced Tuesday.

Anti-Semitic Comments on “Cannon’s Class” Podcast

In the 90 minute episode from late June, Cannon spoke to rapper Richard Griffin, known as Professor Griff, who was previously in Public Enemy until he exited the group in 1989 after making anti-Semitic comments. At the time, he told the Washington Times that he could prove that “Jews are wicked” and claimed that Jewish people are responsible for “the majority of wickedness that goes on across the globe.”

While his exact words were not brought up, the controversy regarding them was. Griffith continued to defend himself, and Cannon said that Griffith was “fearless” and speaking the truth. 

“In order for me to be anti-Semitic, I would have to be anti-Black man, anti-Black woman, anti-Black people, anti-Africa, anti-all of the people,” Griffith said. 

“Because the Semitic people are Black people,” Cannon added. “So y’all get that clarity, the Semitic people are Black people.” 

Cannon also mentioned the Rothschilds, a family that is the subject of many anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. He mentioned them a handful of times, including after Griffith claimed that Jewish people control six main media corporations in America. 

“Who are they? When we speak of the six corporations, when we go as deep as the Rothschilds, centralized banking, the 13 families, the bloodlines that control everything even outside of America,” Cannon said.

Cannon also repeatedly praised the controversial Nation of Islam leader Minister Louis Farrakhan, who has long been known for making anti-Semitic comments. Cannon referred to him as “honorable” and defended him against criticisms of anti-Semitism. 

Cannon also referred to Black people as the “true Hebrews.”

“So then, these people who didn’t have what we have, and when I say we I speak of the melanated people, they had to be savages, they had to be barbaric,” Cannon said at one point. “Whether it’s ‘Jewish people,’ ‘white people, ‘Europeans,’ ‘the illuminati,’ they were doing that as a survival tactic.”

Viacom CBS Severs Ties

These remarks received a substantial amount of backlash from those who said they were deeply rooted in anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. The American Jewish Committee called them “abhorrent and unacceptable.”

When announcing that they were severing ties with the star, ViacomCBS said they condemn “bigotry of any kind and we categorically denounce all forms of anti-Semitism.”

“We have spoken with Nick Cannon about an episode of his podcast ‘Cannon’s Class’ on YouTube, which promoted hateful speech and spread anti-Semitic conspiracy theories,” the company wrote in a statement. “While we support ongoing education and dialogue in the fight against bigotry, we are deeply troubled that Nick has failed to acknowledge or apologize for perpetuating anti-Semitism, and we are terminating our relationship with him.” 

“We are committed to doing better in our response to incidents of anti-Semitism, racism, and bigotry,” ViacomCBS added. 

Cannon’s Apology

In his Wednesday post denouncing Viacom, Cannon apologized to the Jewish community. He claimed he has received support from them during this controversy.

“I must apologize to my Jewish Brothers and Sisters for putting them in such a painful position, which was never my intention, but I know this whole situation has hurt many people and together we will make it right,” he wrote.

“As for Viacom, who is now on the wrong side of history, I will continue to pray for you,” he continued. “I don’t blame any individual, I blame the oppressive and racist infrastructure.” 

He also acknowledged the comments in a Facebook post and Twitter thread on Monday. 

“Anyone who knows me knows that I have no hate in my heart nor malice intentions. I do not condone hate speech nor the spread of hateful rhetoric,” he wrote, before saying that the “Black and Jewish communities have both faced enormous hatred, oppression persecution and prejudice for thousands of years and in many ways have and will continue to work together to overcome these obstacles.”

He called for open dialogue in conversations about anti-racism and social justice and maintained that everyone must work to educate one another for any of these issues to get better. 

Some, including Sean Combs, also known as P Diddy, shared support for Cannon. Combs said Cannon is welcome to come to his network, Revolt TV.

See what others are saying: (Deadline) (USA Today) (New York Times)

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Howie Mandel Shuts Down Captivity Rumors With the Help of David Dobrik

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  • A series of odd TikToks from Howie Mandel prompted users to believe that he was being held captive inside his home.
  • Mandel eventually debunked the theory with the help of YouTuber David Dobrik. 
  • While the entire ordeal with Mandel seems lighthearted, unfounded conspiracies have been easily spreading across social media in recent days.
  • The now-debunked theory that Wayfair is running a human trafficking operation, for instance, resulted in at least one person coming forward, angry that she was falsely identified online as a missing victim.

Why People Think Howie Is in Trouble

“America’s Got Talent” judge Howie Mandel has found himself at the center of one of the latest conspiracy theories circulating on TikTok.

Recently, his followers were worried because they believed he was being held captive inside his home and was trying to send signals to the outside world through his social media posts. Concerns began popping up in early July when TikTok users started commenting about how odd some of his uploads were. 

While some chalked it up to him just having an eccentric personality, others thought there was possibly more going on. One particular video that caught people’s attention was a crafting video where he showed his audience how to use a brown paper bag for “shoe stuff.” 

When he wrote the words on the bag, his viewers claimed each letter S looked like the number 5. So people thought this was a secret signal because when you call 999 for an emergency in the UK and can’t speak, you can be asked to dial 55 to be put through to police. 

At this point, people began analyzing his behavior and looking for more “secret messages.” Then, in another post, Mandel wrote a message in a bottle over a song by the same name, perhaps intentionally feeding into the conspiracy. He also uploaded a video of him dancing in a captain’s outfit along with a few other odd posts.

The comments were loaded with conspiracies and Mandel’s friend, YouTuber David Dobrik, even acknowledged the concerns writing, “Howie I think your phones been hacked youre sending some scary stuff. Plz reach out to me or nat.” 

@daviddobrik

Eventually, users began making tons of TikToks to explain why they think he’s in danger using the hashtags #SaveHowie or #SaveHowieMandel 

Some people claimed they spotted figures in the reflection of his sunglasses. Others claimed they left instructions in his comments of signal he should send if he needed help that he followed. However, they’re usually instructions like start your video with “hello” or wear a certain color in your next video – general things that could just happen by coincidence. 

Rumors Debunked 

There are dozens of different rabbit holes to go with this and tons of “evidence” people claim to have found.

On Sunday, Mandel uploaded a post in response saying he was fine. However, he was performing a nonsensical dance that people still found suspicious. 

But of course, as many have pointed out, we’d probably be hearing real concern from people close to him if he wasn’t okay. Still, to keep fans calm, Dobrik headed over to check on Mandel in his latest TikTok.  

@daviddobrik

Finally got to check on Howie!! Everything is all good @officialhowiemandel

♬ original sound – daviddobrik

When Dobrik explained that people are worried because his TikTok’s are weird, Mandel said, “Weird? I’m 65! I’m on TikTok.  that’s weird!”

“I’m okay. Nobody’s holding me. I can go wherever I want.” Mandel added.

It seems like TikTok has been home to a lot of baseless conspiracies lately, and while this one seems pretty lighthearted, people should be careful about the content they spread online. For instance, there’s recently been a now-debunked theory floating around about Wayfair secretly conducting a human trafficking operation through expensive furniture sales online. However, that’s not completely TikTok’s fault. It’s a theory that grew from Qanon and Reddit conspiracy theorists that has now spread all over social media.

As part of it, you might be seeing images floating around with missing persons who are alleged victims of the fake scheme. Now, at least one those individuals has recently taken to social media, angry that people were claiming she was missing when she isn’t. 

See what others are saying: (Distractify) (Metro UK)

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