Most Powerful in TV News?
TV Week has compiled its annual list of the 10 most powerful people in TV News. However TV Week does a massive disservice to its readers with this list. It needs to quantify the term “powerful” and it doesn’t.
Is TV Week referring to actual raw power or some other form of power? The distinction is entirely relevent because the order would change depending on how the term “power” is defined. For example, if we were going to look at purely raw power of being able to do get something accomplished, nobody on that list of 10 is more powerful than Roger Ailes. Fact. The others all have to answer to someone or share decision making responsibility with someone (or in some cases several someones). Both Capus and McManus have strong minded bosses who want their own imprints on their respective news divisions and are known to micromanage. So in that respect they can’t be more powerful than their bosses because their bosses aren’t afraid to stick their noses in and gum things up. Ailes doesn’t. Murdoch has given Ailes far more latitude than either Capus or McManus have under Zucker and Moonves. Ergo, Ailes has the most naked, raw, power. Olbermann and O’Reilly don’t have any real power, it’s perceived power. N.S. Bienstock has a lot of power in this business but it’s based on reputation. Jim Walton has a lot of power, in fact I would rank him #2 behind Ailes. But Klein only has power inside CNN proper. Walton runs everything else at CNN Worldwide (and occasionally sticks his nose inside CNN as well). Westin is more like Capus and McManus than either Walton or Ailes.
TV Week’s list is more of a beauty contest version of power, sort of a “What’s hot/What’s not” version if you will. And it should have called itself that rather than imply that it’s some sort of actual power list. And there are two names I would add to it (or rather drop the silly inclusion of non-powerful and non-newsy Colbert, Stewart, and Poehler); Phil Griffin and Mark Hoffman. Griffin controls two of NBC’s three most powerful assets; Today and MSNBC. Griffin is also very close to Jeff Zucker and Keith Olbermann. In that respect Griffin may have more power than Steve Capus. Hoffman runs CNBC and if you want a barometer of his power all you have to look at is the fact that CNBC was spared the blade in the latest round of cuts to NBC News.