Archive for December, 2012

Cable News 2013 New Year’s Resolutions…

Posted in Miscellaneous Subjects on December 31, 2012 by icn2

It’s that time again. Here are the 2013 Cable News Network Resolutions…resolved in absentia by yours truly…

ICN resolves on behalf of CNN…

- To not succumb to Jeff Zucker’s temptation to dumb down CNN’s hard news brand. There is more to news than Politics…yes. That does not include breaking Entertainment Industry news. Nor does it include an emphasis on taped reality TV style programming, crime docs, or topical movies.

- To decide on a format for mornings before deciding on any talent changes.

- To change the public narrative of what it’s trying to accomplish. Jeff Zucker made a tactical error when, during his unveiling conference call with Phil Kent, he bit on a reporter’s boobytrapped question about primetime and put it out there that CNN’s goal was to be #1 again. That’s the old CNN narrative and it’s a loser because CNN will never be able to match FNC’s primetime ratings, let alone beat them. The new narrative is branding and profitability and why ratings, while important, are not the defining measuring stick of success or failure in a niche market like cable news. I have argued for years that CNN can’t win the perception war in the battle of the cable news networks if the key measuring stick is ratings. That will always favor FNC and MSNBC because the two all but abandon news in primetime and it’s not a fair fight when you pit news against what is essentially echo chamber infotainment for most of their competition’s primetime hours.

- To think “Format first, talent changes second” – Fix your programming before fixing your talent.

- To not get hung up on “name talent” as a panacea, something this network has done too many times in the past. It doesn’t work. Maddow wasn’t a name when she got her show. Even Olbermann wasn’t really a name in cable news before he got his MSNBC show (the second one). O’Reilly and Hannity were basically nobodies to the majority of the country when they joined FNC. See a pattern here? You can develop hit programming without having an all star name attached to it. And, actually, having an all star name tends to raise the stakes and focus everyone’s attention on the show and its immediate success or failure.

ICN resolves on behalf of MSNBC…

- To have an explanation at the ready when the 2013 numbers drop off after the election.

- To finally rid the network of the taped crime programming. MSNBC expanded greatly on the weekends and it has been airing its full primetime lineup on Friday nights including west coast repeats. This isn’t 2006. It’s 2012. MSNBC doesn’t need to fill the hours with tapes crime shows that now generate lower numbers than their primetime programming.

- To not put Ezra Klein, if he should get a show, in primetime…especially at 8pm.

- To start thinking about what it’s going to do with Mornings when Joe and Mika bolt…as everyone in the industry expects them to. Don’t think for a second that CBS wouldn’t drop Charlie, Norah, and Gayle in a heartbeat if it could land those two.

ICN resolves on behalf of FNC…

- To change things up. Every three to five or so years FNC goes through a bunch of programming and talent purges. It’s one way the network has stayed fresh and on top for so long despite using the same tired old gameplan it’s used for the last 13 years. I know, I know…if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Well things break down eventually because of sameness and age. Look at the Today Show.

- To shrink their graphics. They are too damn big now. Ok, so you made them readable for SD vidwers because you broadcast in SD at 16×9. Well, why are we HD viewers getting punished by SUCH BIG LETTERS? Screw the SD viewers! They should have upgraded to HD by now anyways!

- To cancel the Saturday Business Block – If I want business news with a Fox flavor, I’ll watch FBN. I won’t watch the Saturday Business Block on FNC which isn’t even about business anymore (as it was 11 years ago) as much as it’s about political style bashing. I can’t learn anything about business watching that block now. It’s a holdover relic from a time when News Corp. didn’t have a business channel.

ICN resolves on behalf of Bloomberg TV…

- To get bigger HD penetration. This is a 2012 resolution holdover since I still don’t have Bloomberg in HD on DirecTV.

ICN resolves on behalf of CNBC…

- To slap a muzzle on Rick Santelli and his ilk – I’m sick of “the crazy” breaking out on CNBC the way it has been this year. If I’m watching CNBC it’s because I want business news and analysis, not the freak show shoutfests that have been breaking out there. I would expect disagreement between analysts but we’re talking CNBC talent infighting here. These days the only time CNBC makes news on the media blogs is when one of these spats erupts and there’s viral video of it. That’s not good for CNBC’s reputation.

ICN resolves on behalf of FBN…

- To keep going in the way they’ve been going. Progress was made this year. Let’s not screw it up with bad programming decisions. Yes, re-signing Imus was a long term admission by the network that despite the progress made, it’s still not ready to take on CNBC head to head in the mornings. But momentum has been gained elsewhere, particularly in primetime.

Here are the 2012 resolutions and the results…
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TJ Holmes To Freelance on MSNBC Saturday…

Posted in MSNBC on December 28, 2012 by icn2

Holmes posted the following tweet today…

MSNBC. 7 AM tomorrow morning. #backintheanchorchair

Press Releases: 12/28/12

Posted in Press Releases on December 28, 2012 by icn2

CNBC (1)


With the fiscal cliff still looming over the American economy and the clock quickly ticking down, CNBC will broadcast a live special, “CNBC Special Report: America’s Economy Held Hostage,” on Sunday, December 30th beginning at 8PM ET. The special will be anchored by CNBC’s Amanda Drury & Brian Sullivan from CNBC Global Headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, NJ with live reports from CNBC’s John Harwood and Eamon Javers in Washington, D.C., Steve Liesman from CNBC Headquarters and Rick Santelli at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.

What’s Hot/What’s Not: 2012 Hot Edition…

Posted in What's Hot/What's Not on December 28, 2012 by icn2

What’s Hot for 2012:

FBN Overhauls Primetime – The network gutted its current primetime lineup (save John Stossel’s one night a week show) and will replace it with repeats of earlier in the evening business shows. In addition the network is moving Geri Willis to early prime and adding a show for Melissa Francis at 5pm ET.

Larry King and CNN part company? – Word emerged that CNN wasn’t going to be doing any more Larry King specials.

Sarah Palin on CNN for Stupid Super Tuesday – CNN sending a reporter up to Alaska to stake out a specific polling place in the hopes of corralling Sarah Palin was a stroke of genius. Palin is a contractual FNC contributor but has shown occasional tendencies in the past to “go rogue” off FNC’s reservation when a non FNC camera and microphone are shoved in her face. Any normal high profile FNC contributor would have kept their comments to a terse minimum, but not Palin. One could literally feel the frustration emanating from the Avenue of the Americas as executives at FNC watched helplessly as their contributor actually answered questions relayed by the Alaska reporter from John King on CNN’s air. The only thing more surprising than CNN’s extended exclusive with Palin was that she wasn’t banished for the evening by FOX. If I had been in charge she would have been punished for giving CNN all that buzz. She turned up later on with Neil Cavuto where the big scoop for FBN was Palin revealing who she voted for. Too little, too late. CNN had already stolen the show.
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What’s Hot/What’s Not: 2012 Not Edition…

Posted in What's Hot/What's Not on December 28, 2012 by icn2

What’s Not for 2012:

MSNBC shafts Pat Buchanan for the wrong reasons – The issue never was Pat’s incendiary positions. No, those were well known and tolerated at MSNBC and NBC for years. It was placating its Progressive viewing base that was the issue. A precedent had been set; if you’re Progressive and you’re peeved with MSNBC over something it did, you now had a network more willing to listen than before.

Quid Pro Quo? – MSNBC allowed Ed Schultz to participate in a Democrat retreat as a panel guest. Schultz also got an interview with Nancy Pelosi while at the retreat. There may have been no connection between the two but it’s a situation that on its face doesn’t look good.

Rah, Rah, Rah! – CNN getting caught twice showing a staffer whipping up the crowd at its Florida debate raises all kinds of questions about the authenticity of the crowd response to the debate.

CNN to Trademark “Magic Wall” – Four years after it debuted, and after its become a common term of reference in the industry? Good luck with that…

Roland Martin Suspended by CNN – Was it deserved? That question is still being debated…as is CNN’s standards policy vis a vis how it’s implemented (Martin) and not implemented (Dana Loesch)…

Nancy Grace being Nancy Grace – Way to go getting all conspiracy theory over Whitney Houston’s death…

Fuku-what? – The Fukushima catastrophe has significantly altered Japan’s focus on nuclear energy with all but a tiny handful of the country’s reactors being shut down for the moment. One would have expected that the US networks would have devoted significant coverage to this ongoing issue. Well, excluding PBS’s Frontline which this year set the bar incredibly high with a pair of Peabody worthy in depth reports on the disaster, coverage in the US has been woefully inadequate. Not even CNN’s Anderson Cooper, who in the past has shown strong inclination to revisit disaster areas over and over again, has made a journey there.
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The Gift That Keeps on Giving…

Posted in Miscellaneous Subjects on December 28, 2012 by icn2

Page Six continues to dip into that seemingly bottomless well that is CNN and Jeff Zucker…

As speculation hits fever pitch over whom Jeff Zucker will woo next to try and reinvigorate CNN, sources tell Page Six he’s eyeing ABC’s prime-time news lineup. After poaching senior White House correspondent Jake Tapper, insiders say Zucker’s looking at further ABC talent, including “20/20” co-anchor Chris Cuomo. (Cuomo, who co-hosts the show with Elizabeth Vargas, is also ABC’s chief law-and-justice correspondent and the brother of Gov. Andrew.) “Jeff’s still looking for an anchor he can basically make the centerpiece of the network,” a source says. We’ve previously reported that Zucker’s been eyeing former “Today” host Ann Curry, but an NBC rep insists she’s under contract. The onetime NBC head’s also reportedly aiming to beef up Hollywood coverage, and might move CNN’s Erin Burnett to mornings to battle “Today” and “Good Morning America.” Another source sniffed, “Jeff should be careful how many people he tells will be the face of the network.” Reps for both CNN and ABC declined to comment.

The only thing remotely newsworthy here (don’t believe the Chris Cuomo hype…I can’t see him leaving ABC after just getting 20/20) is that Zucker is looking for a “centerpiece” anchor. Extrapolating on that, one would conclude that Anderson Cooper will be losing his “face of CNN” status. If this story is true of course…

Free for All: 12/26/12

Posted in Free For All on December 26, 2012 by icn2

What’s on your mind?

Your 2012 Pipedream of The Year…

Posted in FNC on December 26, 2012 by icn2

Comes courtesy of Carpe Diem

Hopefully, 2013 will be a time for new beginnings–for FNC and Kiran. A time for Roger Ailes to forgive Kiran after her sojourn in the desert. And, a time for Bill Shine to give Kiran that “very special opportunity“ to team up with Aly again (and Clayton) to make more F&FW magic.

We pause to let the laughter die down at the Avenue of the Americas…

Still waiting…

I’ll just say this. Keith Olbermann probably stands a better chance of returning to MSNBC then Chetry does of returning to FNC…

The Hazards of LiveTV: #25,183

Posted in Hazards of Live TV on December 24, 2012 by icn2

I don’t know about you but I think Bartiromo just plain lost it. You should never lose it as an anchor, no matter how annoyed with the guest you are.

More CNN Speculation…

Posted in CNN on December 24, 2012 by icn2

Page Six continues its rampage

New CNN boss Jeff Zucker has been looking to raid certain print publications to beef up the network’s talent roster. We’re told he’s “reached out to some top reporters in Hollywood to help CNN break more news in that area. He has been sounding out reporters at Variety and Hollywood Reporter.” The source added, “You can’t turn TV people into great reporters, but you can turn a great reporter into a decent broadcaster.” Zucker also just hired Jake Tapper, ABC News’ chief White House correspondent (watch out, John King). Meanwhile, we’re still hearing Erin Burnett will be headed back to the morning show, while “American Morning” anchor Soledad O’Brien has been promised a primetime slot.

1. Why the emphasis on Entertainment News? What happened to hard news? That’s going to make some people in Atlanta chafe.

2. The morning issues are not a talent problem. They are a format problem. It’s always been a format problem even though CNN kept (mistakenly) focusing on it as a talent problem (though some of the talent switches were poorly thought out and they exacerbated the situation). Swapping Burnett for O’Brien won’t solve that format problem. This is a familiar problem that networks routinely face and screw the pooch on. They blame the talent for their execution errors in format, subject matter choice, timeslot placement, etc, etc. If the show fails it’s always “because the talent couldn’t do the job” not because “we just didn’t have a good idea what to do at that hour and we lack vision”. Sometimes it really is the talent but most of the time it isn’t.

3. If CNN puts Soldead O’Brien in primetime it will fail. I’ll just get that out of the way right now. In primetime, personalities are as important as format, if not more important. You need to be larger than life…especially at 8 and 9. This is one of the reasons why I find Piers Morgan’s show so maddening…rarely does his on air demeanor match the larger than life social media persona he created.

O’Brien’s tough interview reputation, which has been the only thing Starting Point has been able to build off of at all, is simply not enough for a primetime show host. Take a look at 8pm. It hasn’t made much of a difference for Anderson “Keeping Them Honest” Cooper. If it hasn’t helped Cooper who is CNN’s flagship anchor, it’s certainly not going to help O’Brien.

If CNN wants to move the needle past MSNBC in primetime it needs to get creative. Moving chess pieces around isn’t the answer. Finding a different game to play is.

Bill O’Reilly Interview…

Posted in FNC on December 24, 2012 by icn2

The New York Times’ Leslie Kaufman interviews Bill O’Reilly about his book “Killing Lincoln: The Shocking Assassination That Changed America Forever”. Ok, so the Mayans were wrong about the end of the world but O’Reilly letting the New York Times interview him is in the ballpark…

To do the research he hired Martin Dugard, who had helped write “The Murder of King Tut: The Plot to Kill the Child King” (2009) and “The Last Voyage of Columbus” (2005) among other books and, perhaps more important, shares his manly-men-on-great-men aesthetic. On his Web site Mr. Dugard, who in addition to being a successful author is a long-distance runner and coach, says that he “specializes in chronicling the drive of great men to realize their potential.”

Mr. O’Reilly said: “He basically does the research, and I write it, and we go over every line together. I supply the you-are-there narrative. It works great.”

The one exception to the research rule is that Mr. O’Reilly conducts interviews himself when live witnesses to events can be found. He does the interviews by phone from his office, tapes them and has them transcribed. For the Kennedy book, he said, “I did all the interviews with the F.B.I. guys, and they never talk to anyone.” For example, he said, he was the first to get access to the F.B.I. agent who was assigned to Marina Oswald. Law enforcement, he explained, “trust me.”

What’s Hot/What’s Not: 12/23/12

Posted in What's Hot/What's Not on December 23, 2012 by icn2

What’s Hot:

FNC and Gun Control discussion – Whether FNC discussed Gun Control over the weekend or not (it did) or whether or not it discussed it the way some wanted it discussed (debatable depending on your ideology), this story ran like wildfire over the internet the first half of the week thanks to…

Gabriel Sherman – Sherman has been a thorn in FNC’s side for a while now (and will be even more so when his Roger Ailes book comes out). Twice this week Sherman wrote about FNC and the gun control story. The first article about David Clark’s editorial judgement was interesting (mostly because of how FNC chose to push back on it). The second article about about the spiking of John Lott’s gun control Op-Ed, less so.

Richard who? – Everyone in the industry knew Richard Engel was missing in Syria earlier this week. But just about the only way you’d know is if you read Turkish or Twitter because, as is customary among news organizations when such a situation arises, almost nobody was writing about it except Gawker.

Jake Tapper to CNN – In a surprise move, CNN announced that it had hire Jake Tapper. It wasn’t a surprise that Tapper would choose to leave ABC; not after getting passed over for This Week twice. But it was a surprise that CNN got him. It was easily their best pick up in over a decade.

What’s Not:

The Hollywood Reporter – If you’re going to take what FNC feeds you without doing your due diligence, you should be prepared for fallout.

Target: Gabriel Sherman – The tenacity and venom in the pushback to Sherman’s first story was so over the top, it was suspect. I will wager it had less to do with shooting down Sherman’s story and more to do laying groundwork and poisoning the well for Sherman’s upcoming Ailes book.

Nielsen and Twitter – The two joined up to measure something vague having to do with TV reach on Twitter. I remain skeptical that it will lead to anything substantive.

Do as I say, not as I do – Why is it that news organizations carve out an exception for themselves when one of their own gets kidnapped? In just about every other case, news organizations won’t hesitate to write about a kidnapping or hostage situation if they get wind of it. The old boy network in action I guess…

Ben Sherwood – Whenever Sherwood steps down from ABC it should be noted in the write ups that he was the one who let Tapper slip through ABC’s fingers. He’ll never make as mistake as bad as that the rest of his career.

What’s Hot/What’s Not: Submissions…

Posted in What's Hot/What's Not on December 22, 2012 by icn2

Post your nominations for this week’s What’s Hot/What’s Not. I’ll post the finalists on Sunday night…

Dave Briggs Departs Fox and Friends Weekend…

Posted in FNC on December 22, 2012 by icn2

Dave Briggs’ surprise announcement that he’s leaving Fox and Friends (via J$)

Free for All: 12/21/12

Posted in Free For All on December 21, 2012 by icn2

What’s on your mind?

Ben Sherwood Shoots ABC News in the Foot in Slow Motion.

Posted in CNN on December 20, 2012 by icn2

Ben Sherwood has just made the biggest mistake he’ll ever make as President of ABC News; he let Jake Tapper go to CNN. Losing Tapper doesn’t immediately hurt ABC as much as it does in the long term and Sherwood’s short term calculation will come back hard to hit ABC eventually.

Politico’s Dylan Byers sums up the Tapper/This Week fiasco nicely with some anonymous quoting

“Jake had his eye on the chair, and he got tired of waiting,” a source familiar with the situation told POLITICO. “I think it became clear to him he wasn’t going to get it.”

The conventional wisdom is Tapper would have never considered CNN as an option had he been given This Week. But after getting passed over twice; first by the square peg/round hole Christianne Amanpour hiring and then again when George Stephanopolous replaced Amanpour and wouldn’t be dislodged, the writing was on the wall for Tapper. For whatever inexcusable miscalculation, Sherwood and ABC couldn’t see him in the chair full time.

It will very likely prove to be an irreplaceable loss. With Tapper, ABC had a talent with the take no prisoners tenacity of Sam Donaldson melded with the Washington D.C. street smarts of Tim Russert. You can’t put a price tag on those kind of traits. They are just too rare to value. With Tapper at This Week, ABC wouldn’t be faced with what NBC was faced with when it named the still not well accepted by everyone for Sundays David Gregory to take over Meet The Press. Gregory has had to grow into his role and build the gravitas he did not come into the job with. It’s still a work in progress. Tapper, like Russert, would have been a natural with gravitas galore. You can bet your ass there are a few Champagne corks popping over at 30 Rock…

And yet Sherwood couldn’t see it. Faced with choosing between lesser known but with a ton of upside Tapper and the well known, well liked, and rock steady but peaked Stephanopolous, Sherwood made the short term safe choice.

ABC will pay for Sherwood’s poorly thought out decision. Not now. But, in a few years when Diane Sawyer steps down from World News and Stepanopolous succeeds her, as everyone in the industry expects him to, ABC will be faced with a power and credibility vacuum at This Week it now has no one capable of filling.

CNBC 2013 Primetime Changes

Posted in CNBC on December 20, 2012 by icn2

CNBC announced a bunch of new programs for 2013 primetime…


Premiere Dates Set For New Series:

“Treasure Detectives” on Tuesday, March 5th at 9PM ET And “The Car Chasers” on Tuesday, March 5th at 10PM ET

ENGLEWOOD CLIFFS, N.J., December 20, 2012— CNBC today unveiled the network’s new primetime programming lineup that will air during CNBC Prime. CNBC has greenlit two series: TREASURE DETECTIVES from Endemol USA and THE CAR CHASERS from ITV Studios America in association with Leepson Bounds Entertainment. CNBC Prime’s new series will premiere on Tuesday, March 5th. “Treasure Detectives” and “The Car Chasers” mark the first reality series to be added to CNBC’s new primetime since the network announced it would be exploring new reality formats in primetime. Additionally, CNBC added four new unscripted projects to its development slate, including THE NEXT BIG BIG THING (working title) featuring music impresario Charlie Walk; MONEY TALK$ (working title), a look into the gritty world of sports gambling; LIQUIDATE YOUR LIFE (working title) a chance to start all over; and THE BIG FIX (working title) featuring America’s turnaround king. The announcement was made today by Mark Hoffman, CNBC President and CEO, and Jim Ackerman, CNBC’s SVP of Primetime Alternative Programming.

“The conflict between fear and greed and buy and sell plays out on our air everyday so there is great opportunity to extend those themes into primetime,” said Hoffman. “Reality is ever-expanding and with our unique content focused on money, CNBC is well-positioned to influence the genre.”
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CNN Lands Jake Tapper

Posted in CNN on December 20, 2012 by icn2

CNN announced that it has hired Jake Tapper. Easily the best pickup by CNN in 10 years…


Tapper to Anchor New Weekday Program Beginning in 2013

Accomplished Washington journalist Jake Tapper, who has served the last four years as ABC’s senior White House correspondent and is a best-selling author, joins CNN as anchor of a new weekday program and CNN’s chief Washington correspondent, it was announced today by Ken Jautz, executive vice president of CNN/U.S.

Tapper has been a widely-respected reporter in the nation’s capital for 14 years and his most recent book, The Outpost: An Untold Story of American Valor, is currently on The New York Times best seller list. In his new role at CNN, he will be a key Washington, D.C. anchor and correspondent for CNN.

“We are thrilled to have Jake join CNN and take the helm of a brand new weekday program,” said Jautz. “Jake is an exceptional reporter and communicator, and we look forward to developing a program that takes advantage of all of his strengths, his passion and his knowledge of national issues and events.”

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More FNC Gun Control Controversy?

Posted in FNC on December 20, 2012 by icn2

Once in a week wasn’t enough apparently. New York Magazine’s Gabriel Sherman is back with another FNC gun control story only this time from the other side of the spectrum…

Since the Newtown massacre, Lott, one of the country’s most vocal Second Amendment absolutists, has been donating his time to CNN while Fox News, the network that pays him and employs his son as a producer, has held him at bay. Lott told me that he submitted a column for Fox’s website on Monday about assault weapons but was informed yesterday afternoon by a Fox News staffer that the article would not run. “They didn’t send me an e-mail. I got a call,” he explained. “They said, ‘This is just too sensitive.’”

In the unpublished column, Lott described the differences between the Bushmaster rifle used by Adam Lanza and weapons actually used by the military. “No self-respecting military in the world would use the civilian version of these guns,” he wrote. Lott argued that lawmakers were using the Newtown tragedy to scare citizens. “Some politicians want to truly frighten the public by painting a false image of machine guns on America’s streets to push regulations on semi-automatic guns,” he wrote. “Despite the rhetoric used by many such as President Obama, not a single multiple victim public shooting has involved a machine gun.” Lott concluded his column writing that new gun laws will make Americans less safe. “The Bushmaster, like any gun, is indeed very dangerous, but it is not a military weapon,” he wrote. “If you want to ban semi-automatic guns, ban all of them, not just guns based on how they look. Yet, despite the immediate emotional appeal, banning semi-automatic guns will jeopardize safety.” A Fox News spokesperson told me in an e-mail that Lott’s column was rejected because it was “too technical for that period of time.” He added that “Lott accepted the reason and moved on. As an aside, we have published ten of his columns since September.”

Too technical for that period of time? Since when is FNC concerned with technicality by a contributor penning an Op-ed? And what about this discrepancy in reasons for the spiking between Lott and FNC? ‘Too technical for that period of time’ hardly equates to “They said, ‘This is just too sensitive.’”


Joe Muto Interview

Posted in FNC on December 20, 2012 by icn2

Jim Romenesko inerviews Fox Mole and potential Darwin Award nominee Joe Muto…

You mentioned in an earlier email that “I really hate reading those [comments on the TV Newser post], especially now that I’ve got some perspective on the whole thing and realize what an ass I made of myself.” How do you now view the “Fox Mole” episode?

Well, I get into that kind of stuff a lot in the book, so I think the nice people at Dutton would appreciate me not spoiling it just yet. But let’s just say that when I answered my apartment door at 6:30am to find a detective from the New York District Attorney’s office armed with a search warrant, one of the first thoughts that crossed my head was “Hmm, there are probably one or two things I could have done differently here.”

Ya think?

Free for All: 12/20/12

Posted in Free For All on December 20, 2012 by icn2

What’s on your mind?

Tweet of the Day…

Posted in CNN, FNC on December 20, 2012 by icn2

CNN’s Carol Costello

FOX is interviewing Santa. Santa told the “Friends” ‘people used to call me Santa,’ but since this war on Christmas started… Seriously?

Pushback Rebuttal?

Posted in FNC on December 19, 2012 by icn2

Mediaite’s Tommy Christopher tries to push back on the push back to Gabriel Sherman’s FNC piece on Monday…

New York Magazine‘s Gabriel Sherman is under fire from the conservative media, and from Fox News’s Brit Hume, over his reporting on internal emails regarding Fox News’ weekend coverage of gun control in the wake of Friday’s horrific mass shooting. Much of that criticism is based on a story, from The Hollywood Reporter‘s Paul Bond, that purports to debunk Sherman’s reporting, but a review of what Sherman actually wrote, and how Fox News actually covered the issue of gun control this past weekend, reveals that THR didn’t check their facts, or didn’t care.

Christopher then goes on to argue that the type of discussion regarding “gun control” on FNC was weak…

The “both sides represented” by Fox News over the weekend, then, were:

Gun control is not the issue
Gun control is not the only issue
Let’s talk about something else

As supporting evidence, Christopher linked to a video, source unknown, of selectively edited clips from various FNC shows on Saturday and Sunday. Selectively edited clips are always a red flag for me. You can’t evaluate a segment or a series of segments fairly if you only have snippets of the segments to go on.

Notice the shift in narrative though? It’s no longer “FNC didn’t talk about Gun Control”. It’s now “FNC didn’t talk about Gun Control in a way I feel was meaningful.” It’s not a yes/no proposition anymore but a subjective in the eye of the beholder proposition. I consider that too slippery a slope to venture down. If you have to resort to subjectivism to frame your argument, you are going to be hard pressed to convince anyone whose ideological world view isn’t the same as yours.

On the other hand there is this…

Bond took what was spoon-fed to him by “Fox News insiders,” didn’t insist that they provide him with a full accounting of the emails that Sherman reported on, then closed the loop with an on-the-record source.

To be clear, there is absolutely nothing wrong with a network making a public relations effort to rebut negative press, and Fox News has no duty to tell Gabe Sherman’s side of the story, or provide evidence to contradict their own. That’s the reporter’s job, and THR‘s failed at it.

On this point, Christopher and I are in agreement. The Hollywood Reporter story had all the markings of a classic story plant.

FBN Gains Viewers in 2012

Posted in CNBC, FBN on December 19, 2012 by icn2

TVNewser’s Chris Ariens has FBN’s numbers for 2012 and the numbers appear to be showing promise…

CNBC, which in April will celebrate 24 years on the air, is not having a stellar 2012 in the ratings department. And while it still doubles or even more than triples the viewership of its only rated competitor Fox Business (Bloomberg is not publicly rated), CNBC is declining while FBN is showing growth. The 2012 ratings year ends Dec. 30, but here’s how the networks are stacking up as we go into the holidays.

12/26/11 – 12/17/12:

CNBC Total Day Average: 171,000 Total Viewers / 51,000 A25-54
FBN Total Day Average: 63,000 Total Viewers / 14,000 A25-54

Free for All: 12/19/12

Posted in Free For All on December 19, 2012 by icn2

What’s on your mind?


Posted in Miscellaneous Subjects on December 18, 2012 by icn2

Last night, The Hollywood Reporter’s Paul Bond had pushback from FNC regarding Gabriel Sherman’s piece on David Clark’s alleged edict on Gun Control disucssion…

One problem with that narrative, though: Fox News insiders say it isn’t true, and that, in fact, both sides of the gun-control debate were represented many times throughout the weekend’s programming.


But a cursory look at the programming that Fox News aired over the weekend indicates that gun-control was a topic at least five times, including a lengthy discussion between host Chris Wallace and a Democratic lawmaker followed by Wallace with a Republican lawmaker. That segment is embedded below, and similar segments where gun control was a topic over the weekend can be seen at

Then there’s this…

And sources say the initial email from Clark was not the network-wide edict it has been portrayed as, but an email to three people concerning a panel discussion on one show.

The initial email from Clark to three panelists reads: “Gentlemen, it is too soon to talk the politics of gun control. The victims’ families still don’t even have the bodies of their loved ones. Let’s leave it for another time. Thanks.”

New York Magazine quotes from follow-up emails Clark sent to those who were involved with the segment. A Fox News representative said they are not authorized to share private emails between executives and on-air panelists and could not comment further on those exchanges.

Let me get this straight. Elements at FNC were authorized to give out Clark’s original email, if that was the sum total of Clark’s original email. But those same elements were not authorized to give a fuller picture of subsequent emails nor shed any more light on the substance of those emails? That’s a very odd stance to take. It doesn’t make sense if the end goal is a full accounting of what happened and why. Remember, the point of this article is ostensibly to shoot down Sherman’s story. So why hold back on what appear to be key details?

It’s clear that Gun Control was discussed on FNC on Sunday. At least three examples have been publicly cited; The Fox News Sunday segment (per Sherman himself), a discussion on Fox and Friends Sunday and another in the evening during a special Special Report hour (as mentioned by Alex Weprin Merril Knox on TVNewser today). But what happened during the time period between Fox and Friends and Special Report (Fox News Sunday airs on FOX broadcast and may or may not fall outside of Clark’s editorial jurisdiction)? That’s a huge chunk of hours when the subject seems to have not been discussed at all or at the very least has not been demonstrated to have been discussed at all.

I just don’t feel like we have a complete picture of what transpired over the weekend. It’s like looking at a jigsaw puzzle that’s only partially assembled.

Martha McCallum Re-ups with FNC…

Posted in FNC on December 18, 2012 by icn2

TVNewser’s Alex Weprin reports that Martha McCallum has re-signed with FNC for another multi-year term…

Free for All: 12/18/12

Posted in Free For All on December 18, 2012 by icn2

What’s on your mind?

Soledad O’Brien Interview…

Posted in CNN on December 18, 2012 by icn2

The New York Times’ Andrew Goldman interviews Soledad O’Brien…

Jeff Zucker, who rose to the top of NBC Universal after producing “Today,” was just named head of CNN Worldwide, and he reportedly plans to immediately focus on your morning show, which is behind in the ratings. How scared are you?

Not at all. He was my boss years ago when I worked at the “Today” show. I’m absolutely thrilled to have him back.

But can you seriously be so calm, considering that The New York Post reported that Zucker’s considering moving Erin Burnett to your slot?

Listen, I have been doing this gig for a while. People go crazy with speculation every time there’s a shift in leadership. I can’t comment on every rumor, but so far I’ve read reports on me, Anderson, Piers, Ann Curry and Erin Burnett, and all that’s clear to me is that somebody’s busy dialing Page Six.

Who? Can you be a little more specific?


When you were weekend co-host of “Today,” you said that the recognition you got for softer stories, like one about a trapeze school, felt “a little hollow.” Would you be willing to go lighter now?

I’m fairly confident that I’m not going to be cooking salmon and doing fashion shows on CNN.

Richard Engel and Three Others Freed From Captivity in Syria…

Posted in MSNBC on December 18, 2012 by icn2

The New York Times’ Brian Stelter and Bill Carter write about Richard Engel and three others being freed after getting kidnapped five days earlier in Syria…

Mr. Engel and the crew members, whose names were not released by NBC, were blindfolded by the kidnappers and “tossed into the back of a truck,” NBC’s Web site said. From that point on, NBC had no contact with them. The network’s Web site said there was “no claim of responsibility, no contact with the captors and no request for ransom during the time the crew was missing.”

The site said the crew members were being moved to a new location on Monday night “when their captors ran into a checkpoint manned by members of the Ahrar al-Sham brigade, a Syrian rebel group. There was a confrontation and a firefight ensued. Two of the captors were killed, while an unknown number of others escaped.” The rebels helped escort the crew to the Syrian border.

NBC tried to keep the crew’s disappearance a secret for several days while it sought to ascertain their whereabouts. Its television competitors and many other major news organizations, including The New York Times, refrained from reporting on the situation, in part out of fears that any reporting could further endanger the crew.


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