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Archive for October, 2012
The Daily Beast’s Lloyd Grove profiles Soledad O’Brien…
If O’Brien’s shtick is appreciably more acerbic than conventional morning fare, her ex-boss, former CNN/U.S. president Jonathan Klein, praises “her tough questioning and lean-in demeanor, her ability to get people to open up to her, and her relentless drive to make everything as good as it possibly could be.” Klein left the once-dominant cable outlet in late 2010 amid chronically low ratings, and the management shake-ups continue to this day. But O’Brien, who dropped out of Harvard in the late ’80s for an entry-level job at Boston’s NBC station (she went back to Harvard a decade later and completed her degree), is keeping her head down and screening out the “noise.”
When she launched Starting Point in January, it was a return to morning television after five years of making award-winning documentaries. (In 2007 Klein pulled her from American Morning, CNN’s previous effort in the troubled time slot.) These days O’Brien is an unignorable factor in the presidential campaign. It was on her program, which runs a distant third to Fox News’s Fox & Friends and MSNBC’s Morning Joe, that Romney blurted that “I’m not concerned about the very poor” (a gaffe that immediately went viral) and Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom likened his candidate to an Etch a Sketch (a comparison that persists in the media-political bloodstream).
In recent weeks, O’Brien has tangled with a posse of Republican talking heads—most memorably with frequent guest John Sununu, who, when she challenged his assertions about Medicare, advised her to “put an Obama bumper sticker on your forehead.” She’s also twitted the odd Democrat or two.
Getting my bearings again after 11 days of running around two islands dealing with Mantas, volcanoes, Tsunami Alerts, and, naturally, lost snorkel gear. Only this time it wasn’t my snorkel that got claimed by Mother Ocean…it was Spudette’s. More on that in the months to come I’m sure…
No you don’t have double vision…
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Ahhhhh…focus groups. You get a wide variety of people. You get some who can bite their tongue and you get some who…uh…can’t.
Post your reactions to the tonight’s debate, and the coverage thereof, here…
Newscast Studio’s Dak Dillon looks at MSNBC TV’s new site layout and finds it wanting…
Each show page has a branded banner running across the top, but maintains the overall same look and feel of the rest of the site (for an example, see the “Morning Joe” show page).
This approach is a departure from MSNBC’s previous strategy of having show pages that used a fully branded background and placed video content prominently. Now, video is simply embedded at the top of standard story pages.
One of the major weaknesses of this new look is the headline font. Designers opted for a condensed version of Futura, which seems difficult to read in many places, and has a particular negative affect on scan-ability of headlines on section fronts and the homepage. Its harsh lines also don’t contrast very well with the more round, friendly and contemporary lines found in the “MSNBC” typeface.
It’s a rather subjective topic but I don’t have a problem with the font. But Dillon is wrong about one thing…not every show has been converted to the new format. In fact nearly a third of MSNBC’s show pages haven’t been given the new treatment. I find it ridiculous that MSNBC would launch an incomplete website makeover though it certainly illustrates which shows they really care about and which shows they don’t seem to care that much about.
There’s this overblown controversy that’s erupted on the internet about last week’s Biden/Ryan debate. It started when Brian Maloney over at Radio Equalizer posted the above audio from Ed Schultz’s radio show which Johnny Dollar picked up on (later Mediaite posted an audio clip that just happened to include the exact same soundbite which started and ended at the exact same places as Maloney’s audio. Hmmmmmmmmm…)
The controversy apparently concerns Ed Schultz responding to a Reince Priebus tongue in cheek comment that Schultz must have coached Biden. Shcultz of course seized on that and “admitted” to coaching Biden.
The idea that Biden, who doesn’t need any motivation to be an attack dog after years of doing so as a U.S. Senator, would seek out Schultz to coach him is so laughable I broke two ribs in doing so. Of course Schultz was being sarcastic. Of course the Right would take Schultz’s comment at face value because a) it fits in with their preconceived notions and b) it gives them a weapon to beat MSNBC over the head with. More sensible people will read this for what it is, Schultz being the self-important blowhard attention seeking egomaniac that he is.
I predict that tomorrow we will get some sort of confirmation that Schultz had nothing to do with this at all.
Time’s Mark Halperin writes about concern in the Romney and Obama campaigns about Candy Crowley’s role in the upcoming debate…
While an early October memorandum of understanding between the Obama and Romney campaigns and the bipartisan commission sponsoring the debates suggests CNN‘s Candy Crowley would play a limited role in the Tuesday night session, Crowley, who is not a party to that agreement, has done a series of interviews on her network in which she has suggested she will assume a broader set of responsibilities. As Crowley put it last week, “Once the table is kind of set by the town hall questioner, there is then time for me to say, ‘Hey, wait a second, what about x, y, z?’”
In the view of both campaigns and the Commission, those and other recent comments by Crowley conflict with the language the two campaigns agreed to which delineates a more limited role for the moderator of the town hall debate. The questioning of the two candidates is supposed to be driven by the audience members themselves — likely voters selected by the Gallup Organization. Crowley’s assignment differs from those of the three other debate moderators, who in the more standard format are supposed to lead the questioning and follow up when appropriate. The town hall debate is planned for Tuesday at 9pm ET at Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY.
WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH! WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH! Cry me a river…
These clowns want to run this country and they’re essentially admitting they can’t handle questions they might not be expecting?
Debate Night – There was a VP debate this week and it was all the talk, especially Joe Biden being Joe Biden…
Willie Geist – Geist lands the 9am Today Show hour.
Diving for Manta Rays – Always fun. Haven’t done it in a few years. I need to do it again and soon. Real soon…
Morning Joe without Morning Joe – MSNBC has decided to rotate Joe and Mika on Way Too Early for the time being. Might as well call it Morning Joe Lite…
Bloody Repeats – HLN is going to be airing old episodes of ABC’s “What would you do?”
Post your nominations for this week’s What’s Hot/What’s Not. I’ll post the finalists on Sunday night…
MSNBC TOPS CNN FOR VP DEBATE COVERAGE
MSNBC Ranks #2 in Both Total Viewers and Demo for debate coverage and analysis
MSNBC’s Post-Debate Analysis up 12% compared to 2008
NEW YORK – October 12, 2012 – MSNBC beat CNN for coverage of yesterday’s Biden-Ryan Vice Presidential debate in both total viewers and A25-54. In primetime 8p-11p, MSNBC had 3.5 million total viewers and 1.3 million A25-54, while CNN had 3.3 million total viewers and 1.2 million A25-54.
MSNBC topped CNN during the live debate (9p-10:30p) with 4.4 million total viewers (vs. CNN’s 4.2 million) and with 1.6 million A25-54 (vs. CNN’s 1.5 million).
Compared to the 2008 Biden-Palin Vice Presidential debate, MSNBC’s post-debate analysis from 10:30p-11:00p is up 12% in total viewers (4.3 million vs. 3.9 million) and 3% in A25-54 (1.7 million vs. 1.6 million). Both CNN and FOX News were down double-digits compared to 2008.
415 Media’s Rich Lieberman says he’s hearing that MSNBC is looking to build a state of the art studio in San Francisco…
A source close to the network,(now under the umbrella of NBC News) tells me that the upper brass is looking into building a state-of-art studio in SF.
Well, for one, they have a ton of cash. And they have an audience here too. I’m sure there’s other reasons.
This, as it’s written, doesn’t make any sense to me. Why on earth would MSNBC want a studio in San Francisco. More to the point, why would NBC want to give MSNBC a studio in San Francisco. It just doesn’t pass the plausibility test for me. All of MSNBC’s major primetime talent except Lawrence O’Donnell is NYC based and O’Donnell lives in LA not San Francisco. The news anchors all live in NYC. I can’t believe MSNBC would set up a new show based in San Francisco. They’d get the talent to move to NYC. And besides, setting up a state of the art studio for one show is a ridiculously expensive proposition that can’t be justified…no matter how many tons of cash they have.
But let’s say for the moment that elements of NBC are mulling setting up a San Francisco studio. I don’t think it would ever be for MSNBC for reasons I’ve outlined above. But it could mean that NBC is thinking of dropping its troubled since launch affiliation with KNTV in San Jose. Ever since NBC split from KRON there have been persistent rumors that NBC wanted back in to San Francisco because it’s never been happy with the way things have gone with KNTV. It’s well known that KRON is looking to leave its ancient San Francisco studios. If NBC built new San Francisco studios and dumped KNTV and re-bought KRON (you can buy KRON easy these days), then this rumor of new San Francisco studios starts taking on a more likely reality.
Mediaite’s Noah Rothman launches a barrage at MSNBC dayside with Now with Alex Wagner as his primary target…
The success of MSNBC’s prime time programming has, however, apparently begun to alter how the cable news network approaches their dayside programs. Where the 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. ET block was once devoted to what the network said was straight, unbiased news programming, it is now leaning further towards left-leaning commentary and analysis. The most self-evident example of the shift to point of view programming in MSNBC’s dayside is Alex Wagner’s panel program NOW.
On October 10 alone, Wagner opened her program with a monologue admonishing Mitt Romney for his flip flopping on abortion rights issues (although, as I noted in this post, she had to selectively edit a 2007 presidential debate featuring Romney in order to make that point). Her panel of four guests has recently become bereft of conservatives. Yesterday featured Georgetown University Professor Michael Eric Dyson, MSNBC host and Salon.com editor Steve Kornacki, The Grio editor Joy-Ann Reid and New York Times Magazine editor Hugo Lindgren. All the while, featuring chyrons like “Bird Brained” when discussing Mitt Romney’s promise to end federal subsidization of PBS programming or “Mitt-Go-Round” when describing Romney’s evolution on abortion. While Wagner’s panel is rarely bereft of Republican guests, they are almost always outnumbered.
While NOW may be even more partisan and ideological than it has been previously, Rothman’s post seems a wee bit out of place to me. The idea that MSNBC has dropped news and moved to POV analysis is not a recent development. Back in April I wrote about how this has been an ongoing change at the network since 2011. Rothman is correct that opinion creep is now infesting dayside but that’s not news. Using Now to argue that point is, on its face, a rather silly thing to do. Now has never been a news program. From its very inception Now has always been POV analysis. The same thing goes for The Cycle.
Let us be clear about this. MSNBC is not a news network anymore. It is a politics and POV analysis channel that covers a few meager news stories for a few minutes during a given hour…longer if there’s a big news cycle going on. Rarely does the network deviate from this format and even when it does it doesn’t for very long. This causes some major stories to go under reported…collateral damage as a result of the politics/POV analysis dominated format. Rothman is correct in noting the sheer number of dayside hosts that now do POV or POV analysis and gets extra credit from me for noting which talents have not yet succumbed to this practice despite the fact that they themselves aren’t really covering all big news stories anymore but a small subset of the news in a few soundbites and b-roll.
But, as I said earlier, this is old news. It’s the permanent paradigm. It’s not changing. So you can either keep railing on about it, shouting at higher and higher volumes as if that had any chance of making a difference. Or you can move on and, if you still tune in to cable news for news as I do, you look elsewhere to be informed.
Mediaite’s Andrew Kirell makes a case for a Jeff Zucker led CNN Worldwide.
But Zucker’s failures were far more widely covered then his enormous success in leading NBC’s cable assets — a record which would be directly relevant to the CNN job. On the news side, he can be largely credited with guiding MSNBC out of the gutter and establishing it as an actual competitor to Fox and ultimately beating CNN.
Under his leadership, MSNBC and sister financial news network CNBC logged record profits and ratings unseen up to that point. Cash cow Today (which he produced and led to its dominance in the morning show wars) expanded to four hours and remained the number-one morning show until after he left. Nightly News retained its perch atop the network news shows under his guidance.
But what is often forgotten in the media is how much success he achieved with NBC Universal’s entertainment cable assets like USA, Bravo, Syfy and Oxygen — all of which became ratings leaders and increasingly profitable under his leadership. As one top media executive tells us: “He had his setbacks and made some mistakes but there is no one who understands the news business, and arguably cable, as well as Jeff Zucker.”
Fine. Except that kind of cable resume is not tailored to someone leading CNN Worldwide but someone looking to take over for Turner Broadcasting CEO Philip Kent or Time Warner CEO Jeffrey Bewkes. Kirell’s argument applies an incorrect test to measure Zucker’s suitability for running CNN Worldwide. What Zucker did with USA, Bravo, Syfy, and Oxygen carries a lot less weight to being a sutibable President of CNN Worldwide than Kirell thinks it does. What Zucker did to MSNBC, CNBC, and The Weather Channel is a lot more applicable. And Zucker’s record there is far more suspect.
It was Zucker that pushed docs onto MSNBC and turned it into the crime channel in the years before it became known as the Progressive channel. It was Zucker that let the firewall between news and opinion erode on MSNBC. It was Zucker that allowed Phil Griffin to install ideological pundits as the anchors for political news coverage. It was Zucker that diluted the Weather Channel’s brand by putting on reality TV and movies once he got his hands on the channel. Zucker intervened a lot less with CNBC but even there he let primetime turn into a taped mess…albeit a better rated taped mess. Over and over again throughout his oversight of NBC Universal’s news properties, Zucker has displayed a consistent record of eschewing brand specificity and clarity in favor of brand generalization and an “increase the ratings regardless of brand applicability” approach.
If Zucker is installed at CNN Worldwide the cost to CNN could be everything that its brand has held dear for thirty plus years. That may be CNN’s ultimate outcome regardless of whether Zucker is chosen or not. But with Zucker onboard I would fear for CNN’s soul…and I suspect a lot of CNN staffers would as well.
CNBC AND NBC NEWS TO DEVOTE SPECIAL PROGRAMMING AND CROSS-NETWORK COVERAGE OF “INVEST IN AMERICA”
CNBC’s Jim Cramer & Phil LeBeau Report Live from the Utica Shale in Ohio
ENGLEWOOD CLIFFS, N.J., OCTOBER 11, 2012—America’s road to recovery has been a rocky one, and despite some glimmers of hope, apprehension looms among investors. On Thursday, October 18th, CNBC and NBC News will provide special programming and comprehensive coverage of “Invest in America.”
As high gas prices threaten our economic resurgence and political unrest rattles overseas, the need for American energy independence is more important than ever. CNBC’s Jim Cramer and Phil LeBeau will report live from the Utica Shale in Ohio, considered by many as the location for America’s next big energy boom. Once a prosperous area at the heart of American industry, the economy in Steel Country, Ohio was hit hard long before the recession. After years of struggle, there are sparks of new life and optimism in the region driven by the Utica Shale, a little-known oil and natural gas formation located thousands of feet beneath the surface of several U.S. states.
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Post your reactions to tonight’s debate, and the coverage thereof, here
In an odd move, HLN announced that it had acquired the rights to re-airing old episodes of ABC’s reality based “What would You Do?” series. Well at least its not prison docs or ancient pedophile entrapment reruns…
HLN EXPANDS ITS LINE-UP WITH ACQUISITION OF POPULAR BROADCAST SERIES WHAT WOULD YOU DO? PREMIERING OCTOBER 21
HLN Introduces Dr. Drew On Call October 22 & Builds On Popular Franchises
NEW YORK, NY—October 11, 2012—HLN has acquired the exclusive cable television rights to more than 35 episodes of the popular ABC News program What Would You Do?, a first time broadcast acquisition for the news and views brand. HLN general manager & executive vice president Scot Safon announced the acquisition today, noting a larger HLN portfolio expansion that includes the launch of new primetime offerings Dr. Drew On Call and Nancy Grace Mysteries, and new daytime show Making It In America.
“HLN is exploring new programming dimensions that connect us with a broader audience while continuing to deliver what HLN fans want: must-see, must-share news that relates to how we live today,” said Safon. “What Would You Do? is a great program that invites viewers to question how they might behave when confronted with situations drawn from everyday life and daily news, from eye-witnessing abusive behavior to blowing the whistle on a scam. This show allows you to put yourself inside the kind of stories we are covering every day.”
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Politico’s Dylan Byers writes that Mika and Joe will be doing Way Too Early when Willie Geist leaves the show.
Morning Joe co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski will switch-off hosting “Way Too Early,” the 30-minute show Geist launched in 2009 as a lead-in to MSNBC’s signature 6-to-9 a.m. morning program. Morning Joe producer Louis Burgdorf will provide on-air assistance.
This prompted MSNBC to send Politico a non-denial denial statement…
Willie has made a 5:30 a.m. wake-up call both informative and fun. “Way Too Early” has become must-see TV for the country’s morning treadmill enthusiasts. The show will continue, but no host has been determined. We have nothing to announce at this time.
The whole reason Way too Early was different from Morning Joe wasn’t just the format but the host as well. Putting on either Mika or Joe would dilute that uniqueness that differentiated it from the three hours which come after it. It would be a defensive move by MSNBC to preserve the half hour but ultimately it would be counterproductive. If MSNBC is serious about using Jor and Mika for that show it would be better served by extending Morning Joe rather than muddy the waters and sowing show brand confusion by putting them into the Way too Early format.
CNN announced its VP debat coverage plans…
CNN’s VP Debate Coverage to Feature Fact Checks, Focus Group, Time Clock
Rep. Paul Ryan Spoke with Dana Bash in a National Exclusive about Debate Prep
CNN will air the debate between Vice President Biden and Rep. Ryan on Oct. 11, with special coverage beginning at 7 p.m. In Washington, Wolf Blitzer, Anderson Cooper and John King, will lead the network’s coverage with Soledad O’Brien inside the debate hall in Kentucky and Erin Burnett live from Old Dominion University in Virginia, where she will be joined by a group of undecided voters. Oct. 16 presidential debate moderator Candy Crowley will join the network’s coverage from Washington to provide insight as to what she’ll be listening for during the debate.
‘Debate Night in America’ coverage will include senior congressional correspondent Dana Bash’s national exclusive interview with Romney running mate Rep. Paul Ryan, who spoke about his debate preparation and White House correspondent Brianna Keilar’s exclusive interview with Beau Biden. On hand throughout the evening’s coverage to provide expert analysis will be chief political analyst Gloria Borger and senior political analyst David Gergen, in addition to CNN contributors Paul Begala, Alex Castellanos, Van Jones and Mary Matalin.
The New York Times’ Brian Stelter writes about Willie Geist going to The Today Show, which is now official…
The network confirmed that Mr. Geist would become a permanent presence on “Today,” where he has regularly filled in for Matt Lauer this year.
His impending appointment was first reported last month.
Mr. Geist is currently the host of the irreverent 5:30 a.m. newscast “Way Too Early” and a co-host of the 6-to-9 a.m. “Morning Joe” on MSNBC, a favorite of political junkies. He said in an interview that he will continue co-hosting the 6 a.m. hour of “Morning Joe” because he “wanted to keep a foot in the ‘Morning Joe’ political world.’”
Then, he said, “I’ll jog across the street and finish prepping for the 9 a.m. hour.” (The “Today” studio is in a building across 49th Street from MSNBC’s studio, both at Rockefeller Center in Midtown Manhattan.)
“Way Too Early,” which was conceived by Mr. Geist three years ago, will continue, but with a new host. He or she has not been chosen.
And let the speculation begin on that. Who do you think will get the Way too Early gig? Poll question!
Update: Not a chance…
CNN announced the creation of CNN Films…
First CNN Film, Richard Robbins’s “Girl Rising,” to air Spring 2013 on CNN, CNN International alongside Theatrical Release
Projects from Acclaimed Filmmakers Alex Gibney and Andrew Rossi
CNN, the worldwide leader in news, today announced the creation of CNN Films to secure feature-length documentaries for air on CNN and CNN International, alongside theatrical distribution. The move is part of a wider strategy to acquire original non-fiction content to complement CNN’s award-winning news programs; it was announced by CNN Worldwide Managing Editor Mark Whitaker.
“Girl Rising,” the first documentary acquired by CNN Films, will air in spring 2013. The film, which inspired a global action campaign to promote girls’ education called 10×10, tells the extraordinary stories of several girls from around the globe, fighting to overcome impossible odds to realize their dreams. The film includes voice performances by Academy Award Winner Meryl Streep, Academy Award Nominee Anne Hathaway, Kerry Washington, and Selena Gomez. “Girl Rising” is directed by Academy Award Nominee Richard E. Robbins (“Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience”) and executive produced by Tom Yellin and Holly Gordon of the Documentary Group and Paul G. Allen of Vulcan Productions.
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The Great Debate – Well…the great debate until the next great debate on Thursday anyways…
FNC’s Debate Numbers – Big, big, big…
Chris Matthews melts down – I guess he didn’t like Obama’s debate performance, eh?
George Zimmerman to sue NBC News – Does he have a case?
Nothing made the cut this week…
…though I was tempted to put ICN’s piss poor blogging this week on the list…
Post your nominations to this week’s What’s Hot/What’s Not. I’ll post the finalists on Sunday night…