David Folkenflik

It is one of the most recognizable shows on television — a mainstay for nearly a half-century, with a theme song promising, "Sunny day, sweepin' the clouds away."

Yet dark financial clouds have hovered over Sesame Street's parent company in recent years.

For all the changes wrought by the sexual harassment scandal that brought down former Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes, the Murdoch family that controls the network has held one goal paramount: to maintain continuity.

Monday night's debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will be the first time the two square off directly during this general election campaign. At such moments, the stakes are invariably characterized as high for the candidates, their presidential prospects on the brink of success or ruin.

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The parent company of Fox News has agreed to pay $20 million to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit against Roger Ailes, the channel's former chairman and CEO.

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Hillary Clinton has not held a single press conference since the start of 2016, triggering charges that she's trying to duck questions from reporters on the campaign trail.

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For Gawker Media's websites to live, Gawker.com, the actual namesake website, has to die. It will be shut down next week by its new owner, a victim of its own poisoned legacy.

Any obituary should start by acknowledging the good the subject rendered to the world. There's no reason not to do that here, other than the extent to which that impulse might appall some of Gawker's own writers were it a piece about the demise of another publication.

Sumner Redstone and his daughter Shari reasserted their control of Viacom Thursday night, resolving a crisis gripping the media conglomerate by arranging the departure of their renegade executive chairman, president and CEO Philippe Dauman in exchange for a $72 million payout.

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Arianna Huffington, the charismatic and self-invented founder of the Huffington Post, is stepping down as the site's editor-in-chief to build a new site around the concepts of health and wellness.

The move comes a few weeks after the Huffington Post's parent company, Verizon, acquired the fading digital powerhouse Yahoo.

Huffington ascribed her departure to the desire to pursue her separate and new initiative, called Thrive Global, built around the concepts of wellness and striking a balance between work and personal realms.

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The news that sexual harassment allegations have cost Roger Ailes his job threatens to obscure Ailes' singular career and his almost unrivaled influence in the public sphere.

But no contemporary figure has done more to shape the intersection of American media and politics than Ailes, who, until Thursday, had been the Fox News chief since its very first day on the air in 1996.

In his long career, Ailes advised a succession of Republican presidents on how to gain power and maintain it — both on their payrolls and off the books.

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The past few days may mark the moment at which the interests of Fox News and its charismatic chairman, Roger Ailes, diverge from those of its parent company, 21st Century Fox, and the Murdoch family that controls it.

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Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes has been sued for sexual harassment by a longtime Fox News host and anchor who alleges her career suffered at the network because she refused his sexual advances.

Gretchen Carlson's contract at the network expired late last month after a long stint as the co-host of the morning show Fox & Friends and nearly three years hosting her own show in the afternoon.

The accusations are not subtle.

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Media magnate Sumner Redstone quietly celebrated his 93rd birthday late last month. He subsequently marked the occasion by seeking to toss his protege off the board of the trust that will run Redstone's holdings after his death, including Viacom, one of the world's largest media conglomerates.

Attacks on the press carry a long and distinguished lineage in the rhetoric of American political campaigns.

Donald Trump, however, is a natural, a true once-in-a-generation talent. Even though he relies on media exposure more than most to make his case, Trump appears intent on further degrading a press already undermined by changes to the industry and a steep drop in public esteem.

Backed into a corner over questions about his efforts to raise money for veterans groups, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee on Tuesday came out swinging at a press conference.

So here we are. Noisily embraced by the plurality of Republican voters, not-so-quietly reviled by most Republican leaders, Donald Trump is all but assured that party's presidential nomination.

Journalists astonished at the result — and believe me, most are stunned by what has unfolded — find themselves confronted by some form of this question: Are the media to blame for Donald Trump?

A prominent columnist for the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the largest news organization in Nevada, resigned after being told he could no longer write about two of the state's biggest players, including his newspaper's new owner, casino magnate Sheldon Adelson.

"If I can't do my job, if I can't hold the heavyweights in the community to account, then I'm just treading water," the columnist, John L. Smith, told NPR in an interview. "It wasn't an easy decision to make, but there was no other decision to make — at least in my mind."

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