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    What makes a private sexual encounter newsworthy? A little-known website raised that very question after publishing an unidentified woman's vivid account of comedian Aziz Ansari's sexual advances while the two were on a date. The story on Babe.net threw a wrench into the #MeToo movement, with some feminist writers dismissing the incident as a bad date that should have remained private. Others welcomed the piece for spurring a debate over deeper cultural attitudes that normalize aggressive behavior toward women. Media ethics experts say it's not easy to determine what constitutes a legitimate story of sexual misconduct in the midst of a social movement that has emboldened people to speak out on subjects once considered taboo. 'What takes this out of the realm of a really bad date and into the realm of something that is publicly significant?' asked Ed Wasserman, dean of the journalism school at the University of California, Berkeley. 'It's a little borderline.'   The story, which appeared Saturday, offers a detailed 3,000-word account of a night out between Ansari and a 23-year-old Brooklyn photographer that ended at the comedian's home. The woman told the site that the actor repeatedly initiated sexual activity despite what she later called 'clear non-verbal cues' indicating her discomfort and lack of interest. She also reportedly told Ansari that she didn't want to 'feel forced' in the encounter. The woman told Babe.net that she eventually decided the incident was a sexual assault and said she was angered when she saw Ansari wearing a 'Time's Up' pin at the Golden Globe Awards. The pin referred to a movement against sexual misconduct in Hollywood. The website published screenshots of what it said were text messages between the two the next day. The woman told Ansari the encounter had made her uncomfortable; he texted back with an apology. The story was initially published with no comment from Ansari because, the website said, his representatives did not get back to them by its deadline. Many major news organizations reacted cautiously. The Associated Press and other media outlets did not report on the story until Ansari issued a public statement addressing the claim the next day. The actor, who stars on the Netflix hit 'Master of None,' acknowledged that he apologized to a woman last year when she told him about her discomfort during a sexual encounter in his apartment that he believed to be consensual. Feminist writers, other actors and media commentators were left to debate the public value of an anonymous tale about a confusing encounter at a time when more women are speaking publicly about sexual assault. Some prominent women, including Whoopi Goldberg and Ashleigh Banfield, a host on the CNN spinoff HLN, concluded that the story didn't describe sexual misconduct of any kind and lacked newsworthiness. The feminist writer Jill Filipovic, in a column for The Guardian , said the piece touched on the need for more stories about 'how pervasive power imbalances benefit men and make sex worse for women.' But she said Babe.net squandered that opportunity by failing to 'tell this particular story with the care it called for' and muddying the line between sexual assault and misogynistic behavior.   The story's reporter and editors at Babe.net, which is less than two years old and says it has 3 million readers, have publicly defended their news judgment. 'We stand by our story,' said site editor Amanda Ross. Babe.net is published by Tab Media, a company that has received funding from Rupert Murdoch. Helen Benedict, a Columbia journalism professor, said the story's one-sided, anonymous account was difficult to judge. But that, she said, encapsulates the tension between the public's need to know and the obligation of the media to protect sources, particularly people who say they are victims of sexual assault and request anonymity. Benedict said the story didn't sufficiently press the woman on her motivations and took a flippant approach as to whether the incident constituted sexual assault. 'I don't feel that the reporters asked enough about what the goal was,' she said. 'What does she want?' Ryan Thomas, an assistant professor at the Missouri School of Journalism, said the piece lacked the rigor of other stories that used multiple sources to establish a clear pattern of abuse by prominent men like Harvey Weinstein and Louis C.K. 'Most of the journalism has been very methodical in identifying a catalog of incidents to build a picture of a pattern of behavior,' Thomas said. By contrast, he said, the Babe.net story 'focuses on a single case against a named individual by an anonymous individual,' thus raising questions about its newsworthiness and the care with which it was reported. Few have called into question the veracity of the report, particularly because Ansari himself did not dispute it. Wasserman, the Berkeley professor, said he finds it difficult to criticize the piece for crossing any lines of journalistic integrity. After wrestling with the question of whether the article addressed an issue of legitimate public concern, he said, he 'reluctantly' sided with Babe.net. 'Is this news? It really does come out of an area of activity that is normally considered to be pretty private,' he said. 'But on balance, the entire question of sexual misconduct arises from interactions that we should consider private.
  • Michael Wolff's 'Fire and Fury' sold more than 190,000 hardcover copies last week, the book's first full week of publication, a company which tracks the retail market told The Associated Press on Wednesday.In less than two weeks since its release, combined e-book, audio and hardcover sales now top 500,000 for Wolff's sensational account of a dysfunctional Trump administration.NPD BookScan, which compiles about 85 percent of hardcover and paperback sales, told the AP that about 220,000 hardcover copies have sold in all. That number is expected to go much higher. The book caught on with so many people that publisher Henry Holt and Co. has struggled to keep copies available. Amazon.com, where 'Fire and Fury' has been No. 1 throughout its publication, is advising customers that shipments may take 2-4 weeks. NPD BookScan does not register a sale until the book has actually been sent.Meanwhile, 'Fire and Fury' also has been a hit in other formats. Last week, CEO John Sargent of Holt parent company Macmillan told the AP that 'Fire and Fury' had sold more 250,000 copies as an e-book and more than 100,000 in audio. More than 1 million hardcover copies are in print.'Fire and Fury' is among the fastest selling nonfiction books in recent years, likely helped by President Donald Trump's denunciations and threats to sue. It also was last week's dominant seller. According to BookScan, no other release even reached 30,000 copies.
  • Television viewership for the NFL's divisional round playoff games was down 16 percent compared to last year, offering ammunition to critics of the football league, but there are a couple of compelling explanations.The weekend's four games averaged 30.43 million viewers, off from 36.22 million the year before, the Nielsen company said. The NFL has received some blowback from President Donald Trump and his supporters for protests involving the National Anthem, with some suggesting that had something to do with the audience being smaller for games this season.Last year had a blockbuster game between two rivals with national followings, Green Bay and Dallas, which reached more than 48 million viewers. Nothing came close this year, with the most-watched game, involving the furious finish between Minnesota and New Orleans, reaching 35.64 million people.Two of last year's games were also in prime-time, which naturally boosts the audience. This year only one of the games — Tennessee at New England — was in prime-time, and that was non-competitive.CBS easily won the week in prime time, averaging 10.7 million viewers. Fox had 6.7 million, NBC had 4.6 million, ABC had 4.3 million, Univision had 1.5 million, ION Television had 1.2 million, Telemundo had 1.1 million and the CW had 1 million.ESPN was the week's most popular cable network, averaging 4.52 million viewers in prime-time. Fox News Channel had 2.15 million, MSNBC had 1.93 million, HGTV had 1.48 million and USA had 1.3 million.ABC's 'World News Tonight' topped the evening newscasts with an average of 9.9 million viewers. NBC's 'Nightly News' had 9.7 million and the 'CBS Evening News' had 7.3 million.For the week of Jan. 8-14, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: College Football Championship: Alabama vs. Georgia, ESPN, 27.7 million; NFL Playoff: Tennessee at New England, CBS, 26.69 million; 'NFL Playoff Post-Game,' Fox, 23.44 million; 'The Big Bang Theory,' CBS, 15.93 million; 'College Football Championship Pre-Game,' ESPN, 15.66 million; 'NCIS,' CBS, 14.24 million; 'Young Sheldon,' CBS, 14.17 million; 'College Football Championship Post-Game,' ESPN, 13.59 million; 'Bull,' CBS, 10.5 million; 'Blue Bloods,' CBS, 10.17 million.___ABC and ESPN are owned by The Walt Disney Co. CBS is owned by CBS Corp. CW is a joint venture of Warner Bros. Entertainment and CBS Corp. Fox is owned by 21st Century Fox. NBC and Telemundo are owned by Comcast Corp. ION Television is owned by ION Media Networks.___Online:http://www.nielsen.com
  • Even North Dakota's tourism director admits it isn't easy promoting a state where the first day of the new year brought temperatures down to a brutal 45 below zero.But having Hollywood actor and Minot native Josh Duhamel make the pitch helps, said Sara Otte Coleman, who heads the state's tourism agency.'He has increased awareness,' she said.Among the least-visited states in the nation, the agency announced Wednesday that it will once again enlist the services of the star of several 'Transformers' movies to lure visitors to the state better known for its brutal cold weather than as a tourist destination.The agency also unveiled its $2.9 million marketing plan for 2018. It announced that Duhamel will be paid $365,000 to be the face of the state's tourism campaign for the next two years. The actor wasn't present at the announcement.Duhamel already has earned $525,000 since 2013 to be North Dakota's pitchman, records show.The tourism marketing campaign features new TV and print ads, as well as new travel and hunting guides that feature Duhamel. Many also include his 4-year-old son Axl, whose mother is Black Eyed Peas singer Fergie.This year's campaign will feature Duhamel's hometown of Minot and Grand Forks. It is a continuation of the North Dakota Legendary brand that was established in 2002 to help create more awareness of the state and what it has to offer, Otte Coleman said.It will continue to showcase North Dakota's outdoor activities as well as its top tourist destination, Theodore Roosevelt National Park located in the badlands in the western part of the state.Tourism officials will continue to gear marketing campaigns toward audiences in the neighboring states of Minnesota, South Dakota and Montana, as well as Wisconsin and the Canadian provinces of Manitoba and Saskatchewan, Coleman said. The agency also will target the Chicago-area this year, she said.Duhamel has been a good ambassador, and his television and other advertising have boosted visits to the state, Coleman said.The actor only lent his voice to the state's tourism campaign from 2013-15, but his role was expanded in 2016, said Kim Schmidt, a tourism spokeswoman.A survey was done that year that showed the advertising campaign reached 3.8 million households resulting in 354,000 non-resident trips to the state. All told, the advertising brought in $104 in non-resident spending for every $1 spent on advertising, Coleman said.A survey has not been done since.North Dakota's tourism division is part of the state Department of Commerce. The agency has a two-year budget of about $11 million and has 11 employees.Coleman said the agency has had discussions with Bismarck native and Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz about becoming a paid spokesman for the state but nothing has materialized yet.
  • Hugh Wilson, an award-winning director and writer with a knack for broad and witty comedy whose credits ranged from the raucous film 'Police Academy' to the popular sitcom 'WKRP in Cincinnati,' has died at age 74.Wilson died Jan. 14 at his home in Charlottesville, Virginia. His wife, Charters Smith Wilson, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that he had been battling lung cancer and emphysema.Wilson was a Miami, Florida native and University of Florida graduate who worked for years and advertising and copywriting before he joined Mary Tyler Moore Productions in the mid-1970s. He was soon writing scripts for 'The Bob Newhart Show' and 'The Tony Randall Show' and in 1978 created 'WKRP,' which drew upon Wilson's time at a radio station in Atlanta. He later created such short-lived series as 'Easy Street' and 'Frank's Place,' which starred 'WKRP' actor Tim Reid and brought Wilson an Emmy for writing.He was also successful in movies. In 1984, he helped launch a franchise by directing and co-writing 'Police Academy,' the satire starring Steve Gutenberg that became a box office smash despite being dismissed by Roger Ebert as 'the absolute pits.' Wilson didn't direct any of the inevitable 'Police Academy' sequels, but instead worked on 'Guarding Tess' and the hit comedy 'The First Wives Club.' His most recent film was the baseball story 'Mickey,' a 2004 release directed by Wilson and written by John Grisham.____Associated Press researcher Jennifer Farrar contributed to this report.
  • A group that preserves and promotes the work of a deaf, self-taught Idaho artist whose creations appear in museums around the world is fighting an attempt to dismiss its copyright infringement lawsuit against an Oregon children's book author.The Boise, Idaho-based James Castle Collection and Archive said in documents filed Tuesday in federal court that Allen Say's book 'Silent Days, Silent Dreams' steals images created by Castle, who died in 1977, and that its lawsuit should be allowed to move forward.About 28 of the 150 illustrations in the children's book, described in the opening pages as a work of fiction about Castle, are Say's copies of the artist's work. The lawsuit filed in October seeks up to $150,000 for each allegation of copyright infringement.A federal judge that month denied the group's request to temporarily halt book sales until the lawsuit plays out. U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill, who described the book as a 'fictional biography,' said it is not likely to infringe on Castle's work because it falls within fair legal use for purposes such as teaching or scholarship.Say and publisher Scholastic Inc. asked last month that the lawsuit be dismissed.The James Castle Collection and Archive responded Tuesday that the book does not fall within fair legal use because it doesn't add something new or transformative to Castle's work.'Say's use of Castle's work gives the original no new expression, no new meaning and no new message,' the group says, noting that the book is for commercial gain.Scholastic Inc. spokeswoman Anne Sparkman said Wednesday that the company doesn't comment on pending litigation.Castle was born deaf in 1899 in southwestern Idaho and was never able to speak or write. But he created thousands of works of art using various materials, including soot and his own spit.The 80-year-old Say, who lives in Portland, Oregon, won the Caldecott Medal in 1994 for what judges said was the best American picture book for children.His book is written from the perspective of Castle's fictional nephew. In the author's note, Say said he used soot and spit and other at-hand materials available to Castle to 'emulate his unschooled style.'Bruce DeLaney, co-owner of Rediscovered Books in Boise, said Say's title has been a steady seller but not a best-seller despite being about a local artist. He said that might be because the James Castle Collection doesn't back the book.'If there was a James Castle book that they were excited about, it would sell a lot better here in the valley because they have a lot of influence,' he said.
  • Former 'Jersey Shore' reality TV star Mike 'The Situation' Sorrentino wrote to a judge that he will plead guilty this week to federal tax charges, apparently ending a more than three-year legal odyssey.In the letter filed to the court on Wednesday, Sorrentino's attorneys said he and his brother, Marc, plan to plead guilty on Friday in Newark.Michael Sorrentino's lawyer didn't comment Wednesday on what charges to which his client would plead guilty.The brothers were charged in September 2014 with filing bogus tax returns on nearly $9 million in income. The seven-count indictment alleged the Sorrentinos earned that amount between 2010 and 2012, mostly through two companies they controlled, MPS Entertainment and Situation Nation.They allegedly filed false documents that understated the income from the businesses as well as their personal income. Michael Sorrentino also was charged with failing to file taxes for 2011, a year in which he earned nearly $2 million.The brothers also spent millions of dollars on personal expenses they claimed were for business in 2012, according to the indictment.Both brothers were charged with one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States, which is punishable by a maximum potential prison sentence of five years upon conviction. Both also faced counts of filing false returns, each of which carries a maximum three-year sentence.The U.S. attorney's office filed additional charges last April. Michael Sorrentino was indicted on charges including tax evasion, structuring bank deposits to avoid reporting requirements and falsifying records. Marc Sorrentino was charged with falsifying records to obstruct a grand jury investigationThe Sorrentinos have been free on bail since they were charged.'The Situation' appeared on all six seasons of the MTV reality show, which followed the lives of rowdy housemates in a New Jersey beach town. It ran from 2009 to 2012.He isn't the only New Jersey reality TV star to run afoul of financial laws in recent years.'Real Housewives of New Jersey' cast member Teresa Giudice and her husband Joe pleaded guilty in 2014 to bankruptcy fraud and submitting false loan applications to get $5 million in mortgages and construction loans. Joe Giudice also pleaded guilty to not paying about $200,000 in income taxes.Teresa Giudice served nearly a year in prison and was freed in December 2015. Her husband is serving a 41-month sentence.
  • Mandy Moore, Marisa Tomei, Olivia Munn and Rosanna Arquette will be among the presenters at Sunday's Screen Actors Guild Awards.Niecy Nash, Gina Rodriguez, Maya Rudolph and SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris are among the presenters announced Wednesday. The SAG Awards honor outstanding performances in television and film, with 'Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri' and 'Big Little Lies' the leading nominees.The show is one of the most reliable predictors of who will take home acting honors at the Academy Awards.Halle Berry, Dakota Fanning, Lupita Nyong'o, Emma Stone and Kelly Marie Tran are also scheduled to present during Sunday's ceremony at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles.Kristen Bell will host the show, which for the first time in its 24-year history will feature a host.___For full coverage of awards season, visit: https://apnews.com/tag/AwardsSeason
  • The Vermont Board of Libraries has recommended changing the name of a children's book award that now honors a prominent Vermont author and activist accused of once supporting sterilizing people with severe mental and physical disabilities.The board said it wants to remove the late Dorothy Canfield Fisher's name from the award to better match contemporary times and connect with young readers. The award, which was named after Fisher in 1957, honors excellence in children's literature.The board's unanimous recommendation to the state librarian last week came after discussions about Fisher's association with the state's eugenics movement, which had been described as an attempt to deal with social and economic problems through sterilization and breeding in the 1920s and '30s.Fisher, who wrote novels, nonfiction and short stories, was on a committee of the Vermont Commission on Country Life, which was linked to the eugenics movement.In the 1930s, some Vermonters of mixed French Canadian and Native American heritage, as well as poor, rural whites, were placed on a state-sanctioned list of 'mental defectives' and degenerates and sent to state institutions, such as the Home for the Feeble Minded in Brandon. Some had surgery after Vermont in 1931 became one of more than two dozen to pass a law that allowed for voluntary sterilizations for 'human betterment.'Judy Dow is a descendant of one of the families targeted and a teacher of Native American culture. When she raised concerns about Fisher's association with the movement and her treatment of Native American and French Canadian characters in her writing, Fisher's 81-year-old granddaughter, Vivian Scott Hixson, balked.'Many of the leaders of that movement were racists. Dorothy Canfield Fisher was not,' Hixson, who has a Ph.D. in sociology and taught at Michigan State University, wrote to the board. 'In fact, DCF combatted racism all her life.'Hixson, of East Lansing, Michigan, said Fishers' temporary support for 'the sterilization of people with severe mental and physical handicaps' stopped in the early 1930s when Fisher's soon-to-be son-in-law — Hixson's father — and others convinced her otherwise. Hixson's father, John Paul Scott, was a genetics and psychology researcher.'It's just unfortunate that people are looking for someone to attack,' Hixson said.Helene Lang, a former literature professor at the University of Vermont who has portrayed Fisher in living histories, also stood up to protect Fisher's name. She said Fisher's service on the committee did not mean she ever supported eugenics.'My goal was to protect her because she was a woman who did a lot of good and was particularly the antithesis of the eugenics movement,' Lang said Wednesday.The name change recommendation should not be interpreted as an indictment of Fisher, said Bruce Post, chairman of the Board of Libraries.'The Board was aware, to varying degrees, of the Vermont eugenics movement, but it felt that it was not the purview of the Board to involve itself in that larger issue,' he said by email.The board also recommended to the state librarian that the name of the award be reviewed every 15 years or sooner if appropriate. The state librarian did not return a phone call seeking comment.Hixson said she understands the need to connect to the children of today and what they're reading.'I have grandchildren,' she said. 'And their world is so different than the world that we grew up in.
  • A domestic battery charge against an actress on the former hit show 'Glee' has been dismissed in West Virginia. WCHS-TV reports that the case against 30-year-old Naya Rivera ended after her husband decided not to seek prosecution.An order was filed Friday in Kanawha County Magistrate Court.The Kanawha County Sheriff's Office said Rivera was arrested Nov. 25 for domestic battery in Chesapeake after Ryan Keith Dorsey told a deputy that Rivera struck him in the head and face.Agency spokesman Sgt. Brian Humphreys said the two were arguing over their child and Dorsey didn't require medical attention.Rivera was released after being arraigned.She is known for playing Santana Lopez on 'Glee.' Dorsey is also an actor and has appeared on shows including 'Pitch' and 'Nashville.