Fox Business Network has terminated the contract of contributor Tobin Smith, who was paid $50,000 to tout the stock of Petrosonic Energy, a network spokesperson told Business Insider.
Smith’s contract was terminated under the network’s contributor policy, which states that “no contributor to FBN, nor his/her firm, and/or family members are allowed to accept financial consideration of any kind whatsoever to issue research, advertisements, or to otherwise promote individual stocks or securities.”
Archive for the FNC Category
Sarah Palin signs with FNC again…
Former Governor Sarah Palin Rejoins FOX News Channel as Contributor
NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Former Alaska governor and 2008 Republican Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin is rejoining FOX News as a contributor, announced Roger Ailes, Chairman and CEO of the network. Palin will appear on FOX News Channel’s (FNC) daytime and primetime programming, starting with FOX & Friends on Monday, June 17th. She will also contribute to FOX Business Network (FBN).
This is odd since the CW was that Palin and FNC had worn out their welcome so to speak. It would be interesting in hearing why Palin decided to return for another round…
Politico’s Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen write about a statement from Roger Ailes rebutting Jonathan Alter…
If you’ve been wondering what’s on the mind of Roger Ailes, now you know. The chairman and CEO of Fox News gave us a statement – remarkable in its detail and vitriol – quarreling with the portrayal of him in Jonathan Alter’s new book about the 2012 campaign, “The Center Holds: Obama and His Enemies.” Ailes is billed as one of those enemies, with cameos through the book (one index entry: “Ailes, Roger, paranoia of”). Many of the allegations are rehashed from a 2011 Rolling Stone piece by Tim Dickinson, but Ailes took aim at Alter.
“Jonathan Alter got 3 out of 13 items within a range of being at least partially correct,” Ailes wrote in an email to us. “The rest are patently, provably false and Alter either needs to check into a first year journalism program at Columbia or a rage counseling center immediately.”
Read the tic-toc rebuttal on Politico…
This seems to be the year of the FNC/Roger Ailes book. The ones that are generating the most buzz are Gabriel Sherman’s and Joe Muto’s but there is a third book…the official book if you will; Ze’ev Chafets Roger Ailes biography (though Chafets himself characterizes the book as “not a formal biography” in the prologue). I definitely plan on reading Sherman’s. I’m less certain on Muto’s because there is the axe grind factor that could be in play. But to be “fair and balanced” I felt I should read Chafets’ book first.
I really wasn’t interested in doing so. Conventional wisdom was this would be a whitewash book meant to undercut Sherman’s. Some of the reviews were not exactly kind. However, the book much like the book’s subject is far more complex than the broad brushes have painted.
From the book’s tone it’s clear that the author thinks highly of Ailes. But Chafets plays most of the book straight. It’s an open question whether Chafets got the full picture of Ailes or FNC’s operation; the section on the Judith Regan lawsuit comes to mind. But the picture Chafets does get he plays more or less straight. Anyone who labels this book as a whitewash or fawning would be mostly in error.
There is no way you can call the book a whitewash with passages like this…
Read more »
Salon has published a book excerpt from Joe Muto…
The bottom line is that each show had one person — be they anchor or producer or whoever — who was directly accountable to the Second Floor. That was the brilliance of the company’s power structure. One misconception that outsiders always had about the channel is that we’d sit around all morning planning how to distort the news that day. But there was never any centralized control like that. No “marching orders,” as it were. Instead, it was more a decentralized, entrepreneurial approach. Each show was an autonomous unit. Each showrunner — who had not risen to their position by being stupid — knew exactly what was expected of them, knew what topics and guests would be acceptable.
Theoretically, each show could talk about whatever they wanted to talk about, and take any angle they wanted to take, and book any guest they wanted to have on.
Realistically, there was tremendous pressure to hew closely to the company line. The Second Floor monitored the content of every show very closely. Each show was required to submit a list of all the guests and all the topics well before the fact; the list would be reviewed by one of the relevant vice presidents. Most of the time, this was just a formality — as I said, the showrunners knew their boundaries — but every once in a while, a certain guest or topic would set off alarm bells on the second floor, leading to a series of increasingly urgent and unpleasant e-mails and phone calls for the showrunner.
Even if a segment passed initial muster, the Second Floor reserved the right to pull the plug if it took a turn they didn’t like. They were always watching, and never hesitant to exercise their authority. Roger himself had a phone in his office, a hotline he could pick up and immediately be connected to the control room. Every producer knew that, and dreaded seeing his name on the caller ID. If Roger took the time to personally call the control room, in my experience it was almost never complimentary.
Expect to see more of this in the weeks to come. The New York Daily News’ Gossip Confidential talks to Joe Muto about his upcoming book on FNC…
A former producer for “The O’Reilly Factor,” Muto says he still has nightmares about his old boss.
“Bill does a lot of yelling and ridiculing,” he said. “We’d have pitch meetings twice a week, he’d stand us up in a row and shoot down our ideas one by one and laugh at us.”
He was so controlling, Muto says, that the staff debated for a week before telling him his “Do it live!” video had gone viral. The combined videos of O’Reilly melting down have over 2 million YouTube hits.
Muto goes on to describe working with Sarah Palin, who was hired as a correspondent for the network.
“She is every bit as good-looking, and is also every bit as dumb, as they say,” he says. “We knew immediately it was not working out with her.”
Palin exhibited “the worst type of diva behavior” while collecting $2 million a year from Fox, and “could not be bothered,” Muto said.
“We had to track her down and beg her to be on the show, and she was under contract.”
But then there’s this bit of B.S…
“I’m guessing they’re not thrilled with this book,” he told Confidenti@l. “It wasn’t my idea to get fired in a blaze of glory.”
Oh yeah it was. Nobody put a gun to your head and said, “Leak this video…OR ELSE!”…
The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple has a memo from Roger Ailes to his staff about the James Rosen investigation controversy…
Fox News chief Roger Ailes has sent a memo to his subordinates at the leading cable news network. He sent this memo to his staff today in connection with the federal investigation into an alleged leak to Fox News reporter James Rosen, a story that the Washington Post’s Ann E. Marimow broke earlier this week.
The memo’s a masterpiece, too. For all those who wonder what it is about Ailes that endears his people to him — and that makes him such a good interviewee for any media reporter lucky enough to get an audience with him — just read this.
Read the memo here…
The only question I have, which has been banging around in my head for the past couple of days, is about the subject of whether this was reporter intimidation or not.
Sure the optics of this reek of reporter intimidation. But the key sticking point in such a theory is this is a tree falls in a forest scenario wrapped up in a chicken or egg scenario. All this took place a few years ago in secret and Rosen and FNC, apparently, were totally unaware it took place. So how can you intimidate someone if they don’t even know they’re being intimidated? Sure, now that the news is out it’s intimidation because Rosen now knows that his movements were being tracked. But at the time the investigation was taking place…if Rosen didn’t know, how was he being intimidated? Don’t you have to know what you are doing is being monitored in order to be threatened? If the news never got out would Rosen and FNC be looking over their shoulders now?
This is just an interesting thought exercise for me. I deplore what took place. It shouldn’t have happened. And now everyone will be looking over their shoulder when they meet with any government source.
The Washington Post’s Ann E. Marinow scoops about a DOJ leak investigation involving FNC’s James Rosen…
When the Justice Department began investigating possible leaks of classified information about North Korea in 2009, investigators did more than obtain telephone records of a working journalist suspected of receiving the secret material.
They used security badge access records to track the reporter’s comings and goings from the State Department, according to a newly obtained court affidavit. They traced the timing of his calls with a State Department security adviser suspected of sharing the classified report. They obtained a search warrant for the reporter’s personal e-mails.
The case of Stephen Jin-Woo Kim, the government adviser, and James Rosen, the chief Washington correspondent for Fox News, bears striking similarities to a sweeping leaks investigation disclosed last week in which federal investigators obtained records over two months of more than 20 telephone lines assigned to the Associated Press.
At a time when President Obama’s administration is under renewed scrutiny for an unprecedented number of leak investigations, the Kim case provides a rare glimpse into the inner workings of one such probe.
The Hollywood Reporter’s Michael O’Connell writes about Sean Hannity’s 1,000th show…
THR: Have you ever really feared for your job?
Hannity: In all honesty, I did have a bad haircut and I had no business being on television. I was awful. I’ve said to Roger [Ailes] many times, “Why didn’t you fire me in the first six months? I was god awful.” He said nobody was really watching then. The timing for me to grow was perfect. Today, there would have been articles written about how I did that first night. It’s much more competitive.
FNC had Hannity doing a lot of interviews about his 1,000th show. The number seemed kind of an arbitrary reason for this level of PR to me. Yes, it was his 1,000th but Hannity & Colmes had been on the air nearly three times as long and it never got this kind of orchestrated press attention when it hit its 10 year mark as far as my memory recalls.
But this particular exchange I found the most noteworthy of all of the interviews because it underscores just how much the focus has tilted in the media towards cable news. It’s not just that FNC’s numbers are astronomically larger by comparison to its launch day. It’s the whole ecosystem on the internet that had emerged which is aimed at breaking down every little cable news detail that transpires.
The New York Times’ Brian Stelter writes about Megyn Kelly re-upping with FNC…
Although some contract renewals are mere formalities, this one was not; Ms. Kelly’s future has been the subject of media speculation since late last year. She took meetings with the heads of at least two other television networks. But she decided to stay at Fox News, where she hosts the two-hour afternoon program “America Live.”
It is unknown whether the contract renewal is a precursor to a more prominent role for Ms. Kelly on Fox, the highest-rated cable news channel in the United States. Talent contracts typically do not guarantee certain time slots, but Ms. Kelly has been mentioned in the past as a candidate for a prime-time program.
A spokeswoman for Fox News did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday. The news of her contract renewal, confirmed by several people with knowledge of the situation, will come as good news to her fans, of which there are many; “America Live” was watched by an average of 1.1 million viewers in the first quarter of the year, slightly more than the shows before and after hers.
Well, well, well…the media blogosphere certainly has been busy today. But then what would you expect when a major newspaper puts out a story that uses the words “Roger” and “Ailes” in it. We had accusations, denials, recriminations, finger pointing, finger wagging, and snark. And that was just on Twitter. But there were a few things that transpired today which I do want to touch on. So let’s start with the snark…
I was already sick of this story by mid-morning. So someone called into the control room…gee like that never happens in cable news. Say what you will about Ailes and his operation at FNC, the media does seem to hyperventilate quite a bit more when his name is attached to the story. There’s no justification for it really.
So I was bored with the story. Yes, I believe the Mediaite story that it was really Shine who called in. I still wasn’t certain on the accusation that Rivera’s mic had been cut off or not (more on that later). Rivera coming out and saying that it wasn’t didn’t sway me any. Unfortunately, Geraldo has a documented track record of embellishment so I can’t give his denials the same weight as I would someone else like, say, Bret Baier. Besides, FBN managed to convince Don Imus that an FBN leak didn’t come from FBN, so who is to say that Rivera wasn’t similarly “spun”?
So the story was kind of dull for me. Not much to add on and I was going to let it slide. But then Mediaite’s Joe Concha had to shoot his mouth off.
It wasn’t so much that Concha took on Alter. Alter’s original anecdote as reported by Brian Stelter had been pretty thoroughly thrashed by this point and there was more than enough contradictory evidence to cast serious doubt that Alter’s reporting was on target. No, what got me burning was Concha getting reckless and taking on Stelter. You could paint the walls with the sarcasm dripping from this Concha paragraph…
Fear not: Stelter—not exhausted yet from Tweeting minute-by-minute details of his media tour promoting his new book on morning television (already 42 percent off on Amazon)—is a pro. He’ll undoubtedly present a fair and balanced (pun intended) account of what really happened after Geraldo Rivera and Eric Bolling turned a segment on Fox & Friends in November into the verbal version of WWE Raw over what really, really happened in Benghazi.
Concha immediately follows up with this gem straight out of Bizarro World…
But while Stelter has some nice access over at MSNBC, Fox News probably feels like Pyongyang to him when it comes to getting information from the media relations folks over there. Why? Because Stelter has never been kind to Fox News, which isn’t a shock given his current employer’s perceived ideology (the New York Times hasn’t endorsed a Republican Presidential candidate since 1956).
Concha has either a short memory or a very convenient one. It takes two to tango and FNC and FBN have done their fair share of sabotaging Stelter over the years. And yet FNC and FBN have no problems opening their doors to Stelter when they feel like it.
So what’s Stelter supposed to do when FNC decides to not respond, assuming FNC was given plenty of warning about Stelter’s deadline? Not publish? If FNC was given plenty of time to respond and chose not to, which they definitely have a history of doing and following a logic that apparently makes sense to nobody else but them, then FNC itself shares some of the blame for what happened next. They could have put this to bed easily. They apparently chose not to. They apparently chose to let this explode all over the internet and get Alter’s story out there and then decided to shoot it down by handing their version of the story over to Mediaite. Again, this is predicated on the notion that Stelter gave FNC plenty of time to respond and they chose not to…something only Stelter and FNC know the truth to.
Now, call me cynical…call me a conspiracy theorist. But is it outside of the realm of the plausible that FNC chose to let the story spread precisely so that when they knocked it down, Alter looks even worse than he would have if they had given it to Stelter? I have no idea, though I kind of admire the Machiavellian aspect of that kind of thinking.
But back to the video tape. You know…the video tape? The thing that at one point was the heart of this story back before the accusations, denials, recriminations, finger pointing, finger wagging, and snark? Yeah…that thing.
I finally got to see the unedited version. I am absolutely convinced his mic got cut. There is no question about it. Here’s what Mediaite’s Andrew Kirell wrote…
Around 7:20 into the video, long after Rivera has made his dissenting points clear and the argument has seemingly winded down, critics like Alter, et al, believe the audio dips in his microphone. At no point during the segment is Rivera inaudible.
It’s easy to miss. Most people won’t catch it. You need the volume turned up to even have a shot at it. But I’ve worked with audio long enough and seen enough dead mic TV to tell the difference. It wasn’t just that Rivera’s audio “dipped”. It changed its qualities. It was clear and sharp one second. It took on a more distant echo-y sound quality the next. You don’t get that from a microphone that’s on and attached to your person. You get that when another microphone nearby pics up your voice and you have no working microphone on your person. That kind of sound is unmistakable. We’ve all seen enough newscasts where mics malfunction. If there’s more than one person on the set you will hear the other person’s voice more often than not. How loud their voice comes across TV depends on the proximity to the other live mic(s) and the volume of the mic-less orator.
Here’s what I think happened: FNC wanted to end the segment. It was already long and Doocy had been trying to ease Rivera out of the segment to no avail. Finally, someone killed his mic. Whether it was on orders or not, I have no idea…and I really don’t care. The segment was long and Rivera wouldn’t stop. Something had to give. So his mic got killed and the segment was walked out to commercial with Rivera still chirping during the toss.
But because Rivera was still chirping and chirping loudly, and because he was close enough to Doocy and Doocy’s mic (and probably Carlson’s and Kilmeade’s) that one or more of their mics picked up his voice. Not with the same quality mind you…that much is obvious as when Doocy and Rivera cross-talk and Doocy’s audio is sharp as a bell and Rivera’s isn’t.
So it appears to me that at least one part of Alter’s anecdote was dead on after all. Rivera’s mic did get cut.
The New York Times’ Brian Stelter writes about an anecdote in Jonathan Alter’s upcoming book on the 2012 campaign…
“Roger Ailes covered the Benghazi story as if it were Watergate just before Nixon’s resignation, with almost wall-to-wall coverage,” Mr. Alter writes before describing Mr. Rivera as the only Fox anchor who was “allowed to offer a dissenting view.”
Mr. Rivera did so on the conservative morning show “Fox & Friends” on Nov. 2, the Friday before Election Day. As the three hosts criticized the administration for failing to save the ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans who died in Benghazi, Mr. Rivera protested. He accused the co-host Eric Bolling of lying, calling him “a politician trying to make a political point.”
“After the argument continued for several minutes, Ailes called the control room and told the producers to cut Rivera’s mic,” Mr. Alter writes.
A spokeswoman for Fox News did not respond to a request for comment on Sunday.
Mr. Alter suggests in the book that the episode is atypical; Fox programming, he writes, generally reflected Mr. Ailes’s views without his explicit instructions.
As you can imagine, this story has caused a bit of heat on the internet. Johnny Dollar in particular pushed back hard…
Q for @jonathanalter and @DylanByers – If story is true, it would be on the video.
Over 7 min straight, mic never cut
I had better things to do last night than get in the middle of a Twitter pissing match…like watch my Sharks go up 3-0 on a surprisingly hapless Vancouver. But this morning I went to Dollar’s link and played the video…
…It turns out that Dollar’s rebuttal evidence is inconclusive. It’s not the whole segment. The video abruptly ends. Whether Rivera’s audio got cut off or not…this video neither proves nor disproves it. So this controversy will continue…
Update:Mediaite’s Andrew Kirell has FNC pushing back hard and saying that it wasn’t Ailes at all who phoned in…
Mediaite has learned from a Fox News spokesperson that Ailes never called the control room that morning, but rather, Bill Shine (Fox’s EVP of Programming) did. Shine did not order Rivera’s mic to be cut. Instead his call was to urge the show to move on because the segment had come to its conclusion, as the EVP seemed to believe that two Fox personalities calling each other liars with an escalating tone made for bad morning television and could potentially alienate their audience if it continued.
I am going to have to wait until tonight to take a look at Mediaite’s “full length video” before commenting further…
What was your first entry-level job in your field and how did you get it?
MM: My first entry-level job in my field was a bilingual television meteorologist at AccuWeather in State College, Pennsylvania. I sent them a demo tape of some weathercasts I had previously recorded during college internships. They scheduled an interview and offered me the job shortly after. Working at AccuWeather was a great experience and made me very knowledgeable in different weather events and world geography, two skill sets that I need for my job at Fox News Channel.
What is one thing you wish you knew about your industry when you first started out that you know now?
MM: Many people told me that there was a typical path to follow when trying to become a meteorologist at a national television channel. I was told that I would need to start by working in smaller markets and eventually work my way up to top markets. I believed that for a while, until Fox News offered me my dream job without the conventional path. They believed in my ability, work ethic and weather knowledge, even though I was a young 23 year-old at the time. I learned that there is no exact journey to a dream job [and] that you must create your own path.
TVNewser’s Alex Weprin notes that FNC was the #1 cable network last week and does so with a nice spiffy
FNC PR supplied graphic…
Correction: TVNewser’s Alex Weprin says that the graphic is their creation and wasn’t FNC supplied. Well, it looked like the kind of graphic FNC would whip up but obviously I was wrong and I must apologize to both TVNewser and FNC for my lousy guess.
The bombing in Boston and the explosion in Texas dominated cable news last week, and the cable news channels saw ratings surges as a result. Fox News was the number one cable channel in both primetime and total day, the first time that happened since last year’s Presidential election, and the first time it happened in a non-election week since Hurricane Katrina in 2005. CNN meanwhile rose to 3rd among ad-supported cable channels (4th among all cable channels), its best placement in years.
FNC’s gratuitous victory lap chart aside, there is no denying this was a huge week for the network and underscores that even with its breaking news brand working in its favor, CNN is still in a very tough fight for the hearts and minds of TV viewers when big news breaks.
The other big takeaway from this item is how poorly MSNBC fared relative to CNN and FNC. This is underscored by what happened Friday night which this CNN release from yesterday illustrates…
CNN WAS #1 IN CABLE NEWS ON FRIDAY IN KEY DEMOS 25-54, 18-34
Network Has Best Delivery Since Election Day and Highest Non-Political Delivery in 10 Years
CNN Digital Posts Record Numbers; Highest Traffic of 2013, Among Top Days in History
According to Nielsen time period data for Friday, April 19, CNN was the top-rated cable news outlet averaging 2.47 million viewers in primetime and 1.34 million in total day in the key demo adults 25-54. FXNC followed with 1.93 million in primetime and 953k in total day and MSNBC posted 618k and 387k respectively in the key target demo adults 25-54.
CNN also ranked #1 in cable news among younger viewers 18-34 in primetime with 1.01 million and #2 in all of television (NBC averaged 1.22 million). CNN’s 18-34 primetime performance is +25% above ABC’s 808k, +60% ahead of CBS’ 631k, +140% over FXNC’s 420k, and +327% above MSNBC’s 236k.
On Friday, CNN posted its highest total day total viewer, 25-54 and 18-34 audiences since Election Day 2012 (Election Day total viewers 3.48 million, 25-54 1.70 million and 18-34 1.02 million). Across all demos (total viewers, 25-54, 18-34), Friday was the network’s highest total day performance (non-political) in 10 years (since the Iraq War).
Compared to the prior four Fridays, CNN had the largest total day growth in cable news – increasing +1168% in 25-54 and +788% in total viewers. FXNC was up +333% in the demo and +73% in total viewers, and MSNBC increased +231% and +220% respectively
If I’m Comcast and I’m looking at these numbers, I’m clenching my teeth at the fact that my cable news network is able to do well when news doesn’t break but gets trounced by its competitors when it does.
Fox News, which rarely lets a competitive swipe get by, responds, “Phil’s network of partisan pundits have to rely on the talents of Brian Williams and NBC News to cover basic news events. So him calling anything a disgrace in regards to news coverage is ironic considering he oversees one daily.”
The New York Times Brian Stelter writes about how FNC and MSNBC cover the gun control debate, though the article is more tilted to focussing on FNC. Everyone will focus on Phil Griffin throwing a bomb at FNC…
Phil Griffin, the president of MSNBC, noted that the networks ABC, CBS and NBC broadcast special reports because they deemed the president’s remarks that important. He called Fox’s decision to skip it “a disgrace.”
Admittedly that is more interesting than Michael Clemente’s non-responsive response…
Michael Clemente, Fox’s executive vice president of news, said in a statement: “Fox News has reported all sides of the gun debate — at length since well before the tragedy in Newtown, and we will continue to do so. Yesterday’s decision not carry the president’s statement live, was made when we received the following from the White House press office ‘THE PRESIDENT delivers a statement on common sense measures to reduce gun violence.’ We’ve carried and reported on numerous presidential speeches and ideas for reducing gun violence, as well as those from influentials on the other side of the issue.”
But I am most interested on how this all played out on The Five yesterday…
Earlier on “The Five” on Wednesday, during a conversation about media bias as it related to bombing coverage, the lone liberal among the five commentators, Bob Beckel, asked co-host Greg Gutfeld, “Can I talk about guns here, or do we have to stick with your topic?”
“You do whatever you want, Bob,” Mr. Gutfeld said.
“No guns? No guns, right. Of course not,” Mr. Beckel said, shrugging and looking straight into the camera, as if speaking to the producers in the control room. “Let’s let the N.R.A. run this, too.”
Mr. Gutfeld argued that “if we were pro-N.R.A., wouldn’t we talk about it, Bob?” When the Obama statement was cut off after a few seconds, Mr. Gutfeld appeared surprised by the control room’s decision. “I want to apologize,” he said at the end of the hour. “I think that should have been handled better.”
Looking at yesterday’s numbers for the Boston Marathon attack, I am struck by how low MSNBC’s numbers are in the Demo compared to CNN and FNC. Both of those networks were doing demo numbers in the million viewer range with CNN edging out FNC at 8, 9, and 10. By contrast MSNBC’s best showing was at 9pm and the best it could do is a little over half a million.
I wanted to compare yesterday to a “regular night” and after looking back the past couple of weeks I settled on picking April 4th for a comparison. It’s not a scientific choice but it is within MSNBC’s observed “trading range” for the past couple of weeks.
MSNBC essentially did a little better than doubling its April 4th demo. Sounds good at first until you see what FNC and CNN did. FNC did anywhere between double and better than triple its April 4th demo, depending on the hour. CNN did even better with upwards of 10x its April 4th demo number…again depending on the hour.
By comparison, Total Viewer increases were more uniform across all three networks which saw Total Viewer numbers essentially double, save for FNC at 9 and 10 which nearly tripled Total Viewers at those hours.
This suggests a proportional “breaking news demo gap” for MSNBC where, for some reason, the network can’t keep pace with its rivals’ proportional gains. The question is why? What is it about MSNBC that makes Demo viewers not tune in with the same proportial levels as they do on CNN and FNC? Is it because MSNBC viewers will instinctively tune in to NBC instead, something FNC and CNN do not have to contend with because their viewers have no similar outlet to deal with? Is it because MSNBC has heavily throttled back its dayside news operation in favor of POV analysis programming to a far greater degree than either FNC or (especially) CNN?
Whatever the reason, last night suggests that MSNBC has a breaking news scaling problem in the Demo that its rivals do not.
Related: Mediaite’s Joe Concha looks at the same numbers and argues that NBC News should take over breaking news stories.
Simply put, anchoring is one of the toughest white-collar jobs in the world. The good from the not-so-good are sniffed out by an audience quite quickly. In the cable news world, where great anchors are at a premium due to an overall shift to opinion journalism, there’s Shep Smith (FOX), Anderson Cooper (CNN), and everyone else.
And Monday’s numbers reflect that. In Cooper’s case—who has struggled on slow news nights—his ratings improved nearly 900 percent in the key 25-54 demo from his Friday night show to Monday night (155,000 vs. 1.393 million). In Smith’s case, he finished just a hair behind CNN in the demo but won the overall audience category handily at 5:00 PM with nearly four million viewers, or nearly four times the audience of Chris Matthews at the same hour.
So NBC can do two things:
(1) Simply concede breaking news to CNN and FOX.
(2) Pass the rock to another studio at 30 Rock
Option #2, of course, would mean to preempt its MSNBC programming in favor of NBC News and Brian Williams, who has been NBC’s face for news since 2004. His competitors—both steady and solid in the form of Diane Sawyer (ABC) and Scott Pelley (CBS)—are still relatively new to the big chair. Williams—a versatile, smooth, unflappable anchor who has proven he can deftly handle the kind of horrifying chaos we saw out of Boston on Monday—should be what MSNBC viewers are provided in situations like this.
It sounds good. On paper. But in practice it’s not that cut and dried. The problem with that strategy is it has been tried before in MSNBC’s distant past and it didn’t work then. Things have changed drastically since those days. MSNBC had no ratings then. It does now. But though the ratings have improved the breaking news problem is still a problem but for completely different reasons.
It all boils down to branding and network identification. MSNBC has carved out its niche as a POV analysis channel with occasional news bites. That’s what people tune in for the other 350 odd days a year when there isn’t big breaking news that sucks up multiple days. CNN’s brand has been hard news so naturally it’s a solid option people will tune in to when big news breaks. (though that may change drastically as Jeff Zucker continues to mold the network with his “everything is news” mantra). FNC’s dayside news operation is more news than opinion so it also remains a viable option for breaking news coverage in viewers’ eyes.
MSNBC, with its POV analysis brand, is apparently stuck with a network identification that does not serve it well when news breaks. It’s not just that brand that’s the problem. It’s also the apparent fear inside 30 Rock that to do news on MSNBC and to do it well risks undermining NBC broadcasts’ far more lucrative news properties.
This is why you never see a big get interview air on MSNBC first before NBC broadcast and when it does finally air it airs with NBC talent. This leaves MSNBC in the unenviable position of fighting for B-list gets for its exclusives; like Joe Biden. A list gets? They air on NBC first.
So you combine MSNBC’s POV brand with NBC’s reticence to make MSNBC a news destination, even in dayside, and you get a network that can’t draw proportionally comparable Demo viewers to CNN and FNC when news does break. Putting on NBC talent to handle the coverage will not fundamentally alter that forumula. The formula remains and the viewers know it. So they won’t follow Brian Williams over.
The only way they might follow Williams over is if NBC decides to alter the formula I just described; for example, beefing up dayside’s news bonafides with strong general news and A list get interviews with MSNBC talent. That would create a new identity for the network while not destroying what has been built in primetime and pre-prime. That, by the way, is more or less how FNC does it. But I don’t think NBC would dare go there.
Maryland Life’s Eugene L. Meyer profiles FNC’s Ed Henry…
And don’t be too impressed with his job, he cautions. The life of a White House reporter, while often exciting, can be tedious and far from glamorous. A winter holiday trip to Hawaii with the vacationing President Obama sounded good, he recalls, but the reality was different.
“I flew out first, my wife and kids two days later,” says Henry. “Then the fiscal cliff ruined our Christmas. I had to come back early. My wife and kids were stranded in Hawaii. I was getting reports from the beach.”
New Year’s Eve found him “in the basement of the White House at 11:59 p.m. How pathetic is that?”
After midnight, he drove home alone, completely sober, “my family not around, going to bed at 1 a.m.” To mark the New Year, he watched a replay of the ball dropping in Times Square.
“I hated the fiscal cliff,” says Henry of the financial story that preoccupied pundits and dominated news coverage in the capital for several months, “because it went on and on and dragged me out of Hawaii.”
OK, so Tucker Carlson is joining FNC. Am I the only one who sees how riddled with conflict of interest angles this move is?
Carlson founded The Daily Caller. But now he must answer to a new master, FNC. Going forward, how is this complicated relationship between The Caller, Carlson, and FNC supposed to sort itself out?
I know, I know…some of you are no doubt saying to yourselves “What about Dan Abrams, Mediaite, and ABC?” Looks like an identical scenario, right? Wrong.
Abrams fire walled himself from Mediaite and its editorial process starting day one and has repeatedly distanced himself from anything it has done editorially other than to comment on stories he thought were well done. There is no direct link, nor any perceived link, that can go from Mediaite via Abrams to ABC. Or vise versa.
Not so with Carlson. Carlson has fronted for The Caller many times and on particularly big stories he’s gone on the air to promote them. That’s the difference and for FNC that’s the problem.
Take the Menendez story for an example of where things could go bad for FNC because of Carlson’s active relationship with The Caller. It started out one way with Carlson and the Caller taking victory lap after victory lap but then the story u-turned and they have been on the defensive since. Could FNC tolerate being caught up with that by association? I doubt it.
Then there’s the saga of scoops. Say The Caller breaks a story (which doesn’t end up U turning on them like Menendez apparently has) and Carlson knew it was going to be published? How are Aisles & Co. going to feel about one of their employees keeping secrets from them?
I could go on but I think you get my point. The Carlson, Caller, FNC relationship is inherently conflict ridden. Anyone with eyes can see that. FNC or Carlson, or both, need to come forward and specifically lay out how this relationship between the three will be addressed going forward.
“I drive into the city,” he tells Zap2it, “park my car, come up to my office, turn on the computer, make sure there’s no fires that need to be put out. Then I put my jacket back on and literally walk over to St. Patrick’s Cathedral, light the candles, come back. I don’t do it because I’m supposed to do it; I do it because I like it. It makes me feel good, knowing that I’ve done that.
“I light five candles. One, two, three, four, five — get it?”
He’s noticed a little change in the crowds at the Roman Catholic cathedral since the election of Pope Francis — formerly Argentinian Cardinal Jose Mario Bergoglio — at the Vatican in Rome on March 13, 2013.
“I’ve got to tell you,” he says, “there are a lot more people there every day. Maybe it’s the TV coverage, maybe it’s the new pope, but Catholics are certainly more aware. Maybe it’s going to bring Catholics back to the Church, which would be a good thing.”
The LA Times’ Irene Lacher interviews Shepard Smith…
You seem to be an anomaly at Fox News. You seem to disagree with your peers there on issues like gay rights, global warming and the public option for healthcare, and on the Web you seem to get more reader criticism from the right than the left. So why are you at Fox News?
I’ve always been at Fox News. They tell me my job is to find out what happened and tell people about it and to try to figure out what’s truth and what’s spin and report it. I try to stake my ground not on the left or the right but on the side of truth and facts. Then if you want to believe something else, then have at it. But it’s not my job to delve into those opinionated things. Global warming is real.
So were you surprised when MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow stated publicly that she’s a big fan of yours?
I know Rachel. I’m a fan of Rachel’s. But what she said very generously is I do regular guy and voice of God at the same time. By voice of God, she means you can be a news anchor and be taken seriously and then when it’s fun, you can have a little fun. We all know each other in this business. It’s a very small community, and we all pretty much like each other. And I admire and respect Rachel. Everything in this thing we do to me is Ole Miss and LSU. I love Ole Miss; I hate LSU. And that’s how MSNBC and Fox News viewers are, and I understand it and I respect it because I hate LSU.
Mediaite noted that Fox News didn’t cover a couple of car chases in L.A. a couple of weeks ago that would have fallen into your time slot. Did you decide to stop covering car crashes after your show mistakenly broadcast a suicide after a car chase last September?
We had a five-second delay, which had always served us well, but the technology failed and after that, all the technology was rebooted and all the people were retrained and all the apologies were issued and now we’re more careful than before. It means I’m not trusting the technology to save us as much. Risk and reward, I’m balancing differently. I’m not saying we’ll never cover a car chase, but I am telling you we are going to be extra cautious.
AdWeek’s Mike Shields interviews Shepard Smith…
How much Fox News do you actually watch?
I keep Megyn [Kelly’s] show [America Live] on in the couple of hours before I go to work, and I usually have it on at some point in the mornings.
Do you read about yourself on the Web?
I read some of it. One thing about that is that you get stuff you like and don’t like. I keep up with what’s being said in the industry more so, things like Mediaite. There is this one thing Politico does called the Daily Shep—it’s usually me saying something stupid. I get a kick out of it. You can’t do this for 25 years without a pretty thick skin.
Do you have a favorite app?
Well, there are lots of apps for news that I use. I’m on YouTube a lot. I spend a lot of time on Delta and JetBlue’s apps. I love Peapod for groceries, Open Table, Seamless.
Yesterday I linked to a Mediaite piece by Joe Concha making the argument that cable news taunting was bad for business. I needed time to think about Concha’s article before responding…
Here’s Concha’s argument in a nutshell…
If I’m a loyal CNN or MSNBC viewer and I watch these kinds of segments that focus on Fox News, do you know what I might do the following night?
I’d switch to Fox to see what all the buzz was about. And who knows? Maybe I’d never go back if I liked what I saw.
On a superficial level Concha’s argument makes sense. But the more I thought about it the less sense it made. 30 years ago it would be a far more likely outcome. Not anymore. With DVRs, streaming internet clips, and websites like Mediaite which highlight even the tiniest overblown controversy, one doesn’t have to choose between one show or another. They can have it all; they can watch one show and then review their DVR recording of the other show or jump on the web and watch clips or read Mediaite writing about it. Nielsen is working hard to try measure everything now and the danger of a network losing revenue because of a program switch will diminish in the future as those new metrics take shape.
Concha correctly notes that Keith Olbermann changed the rules for cable news taunting. But then Concha goes on to make an incorrect deduction…
Upon returning to MSNBC in 2003, Olbermann quickly realized that providing an audience five hours of compelling programming per week was a difficult task. Most guests are fairly predictable and dry, most political topics outside of catfights between Republicans and Democrats, tedious. So he created a foil, a nemesis, in the form of his decidedly-more popular (in terms of ratings) 8:00 p.m. competitor, Bill O’Reilly. The formula (as pointed out in this space before), was simple:
Olbermann would attack O’Reilly, invariably in his “Worst Persons” segment.
O’Reilly would refuse to respond to Olbermann by name. Even his guests and contributors were instructed not to evoke Keith in any manner. Instead, “NBC News” and “General Electric” (NBC’s parent company at the time) were basically code for “Olbermann” when firing back.
O’Reilly knew responding to an anchor with half his audience would only serve to grow that audience, fan the flames and hurt his image of superiority (again, from a ratings perspective) by punching down. In the end, Olbermann never seriously challenged O’Reilly, and the latter only expanded his influence throughout all levels (television, print radio, etc.) of media.
There are several things wrong here and I will tick then off one by one…
Mediaite’s Joe Concha writes about cable news spats…
So does CNN or MSNBC benefit by attacking Fox?
Sure, it may provide their more myopic audience members some red meat (“Look! O’Reilly is yelling at someone! Fox is stupid!”), all while replacing some-otherwise-boring or repetitive segment in the process (“COMING UP: Who’s to blame for the sequester? Republican strategist (insert name) and Democratic strategist (insert name) will predictably provide their talking points like two C-3POs to help you get a good night’s sleep…THAT’S NEXT!”). Ugh.
Of course, Fox will return the favor in this regard as well, but not remotely as often due to the punching down theory outlined above. For them, it’s more to push a narrative it particularly excels at: Media bias and the guilty parties behind it. Pointing out an on-air brawl between a right-leaning O’Reilly and a liberal Colmes doesn’t prove any point around bias (two sides being presented). Instead, the footage is provided simply for supposed shock value of seeing a prominent host berate one of his co-workers by calling him a liar on national TV, all while (allegedly) to prop up the network (CNN, MSNBC) as superior to such behavior (which, if this clip and this clip are any indication, are not).
The final challenge around such segments is execution. O’Donnell and Schultz did a fair job mocking O’Reilly, but there are two bigger issue that always seem to be ignored:
1) Try as they might, news anchors and hosts aren’t comedians (where delivery is everything).
2) Jon Stewart sets the bar too high in ridiculing the media (and especially Fox) every night. Anything else presented pales in comparison.
Vanity Fair has exerpts from Zev Chafets’ upcoming book on Roger Ailes…
For months, Roger Ailes and I had been meeting regularly at Fox News headquarters in Midtown Manhattan, at his home in Putnam County, and at public and private gatherings. In that time I got a closer look at Roger Ailes than any journalist who doesn’t work for him ever has. He is plainspoken, wryly profane, caustic, and above all competitive, whether he is relating how he told NBC not to name its cable channel MSNBC (“M.S. is a damn disease”) or, in an appearance before a student audience, trying to recall the name of a CNN anchor “named after a prison.” (Soledad O’Brien.) Ailes, in his years as a political consultant, created images for a living, and his own narrative is constructed from the sturdy materials of American mythology. In our first meeting, he said he had dug ditches as a kid and would be happy to go back to it if the whole media-empire thing ever fell apart. Ailes is no more likely than I am to dig ditches (and a lot less likely to need to), but I got his point. He is a blue-collar guy from a factory town in Ohio who has stayed close to his roots. After I had known him for a while I asked what he would do if he were president of the United States. He said that he would sign no legislation, create no new regulations, and allow the country to return to its natural, best self, which he locates, with modest social amendments, somewhere in midwestern America circa 1955.
Ailes and Rupert Murdoch are very respectful of each other. Ailes credits Murdoch with realizing that there was a niche audience (“half the country,” as Charles Krauthammer, a Fox contributor, drily put it) for a cable news network with a conservative perspective. Murdoch, for his part, assured me that he doesn’t dictate editorial decisions. “I defer to Roger,” he said. “I have ideas that Roger can accept or not. As long as things are going well … ”
One moment of tension occurred in 2010, when Matthew Freud, the husband of Murdoch’s daughter Elisabeth and a powerful British public-relations executive, told The New York Times that “I am by no means alone within the family or the company in being ashamed and sickened by Roger Ailes’s horrendous and sustained disregard of the journalistic standards that News Corporation, its founder, and every other global media business aspires to.” A spokesman for Murdoch replied that his son-in-law had been speaking for himself, and that Murdoch was “proud of Roger Ailes and Fox News.” Ailes mocked Freud in an interview in the Los Angeles Times, saying he couldn’t pick the British flack out of a lineup and suggesting that he (a descendant of Sigmund Freud’s) “needed to see a psychiatrist.”
Murdoch often drops by Ailes’s office to joke and gossip about politics. “Roger and I have a close personal friendship,” he told me. Ailes agrees—up to a point.
“Does Rupert like me? I think so, but it doesn’t matter. When I go up to the magic room in the sky every three months, if my numbers are right, I get to live. If not, I’m killed. Our relationship isn’t about love—it’s about arithmetic. Survival means hitting your numbers. I’ve met or exceeded mine in 56 straight quarters. The reason is: I treat Rupert’s money like it is mine.”
Politico’s Dylan Byers writes about the two major Roger Ailes books that will come out this year…one sooner than the other…
On Wednesday*, Vanity Fair will publish an excerpt from a forthcoming biography of Ailes, due out March 19, by Zev Chafets, the author of a largely favorable biography about conservative talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh. Three sources familiar with the Ailes-Chafets dealings on the book believe that Ailes — who provided Chafets with interviews and access — is using the book to counteract another forthcoming Ailes bio, tentatively titled “The Loudest Voice in the Room: Fox News and the Making of America,” by Gabriel Sherman, a contributing editor at New York Magazine.
In the wake of that publishing one-upsmanship, a strong effort has been made to discredit Sherman — with much of the criticism being leveled by commentators on Ailes’ Fox News network. Fox News pundits have taken to Twitter to call Sherman “a [George] Soros puppet,” a “phony journalist,” a “stalker” and “harasser.” He has also come under fire from other conservative commentators, anti-gun-control activist John Lott and the editors of Breitbart.com.
Byers piece mostly covers old history but there is some new stuff in there…
For the Ailes book, the Fox chief granted Chafets multiple interviews and even helped to arrange interviews with his friends, family and colleagues, sources said.
Peter Boyer, the Newsweek/Daily Beast staff-writer who recently joined Fox News as editor-at-large, said it was Chafets “who approached Ailes about doing a book, not the other way around.”
“Zev’s book is Zev’s book, not anyone else’s; and I’m sure that it is the product of the same journalistic rigor and standards that he has always applied to all his work over a long and respected career,” Boyer, who described Chafets as a friend, told POLITICO.
Byers also has Michael Wolff thumping his chest for no apparent reason other than because he can…
“The truth is, without Roger, Gabe Sherman really doesn’t have a book about Roger — all he has is a book about Gabe Sherman’s Roger Ailes. And what the hell is that?” Wolff continued. “This is one of those stories where access is vital, and a write around is surely going to be inferior… Roger, in his inimitable way, has clearly decided to let Gabe Sherman fail.”
The Hollywood Reporter’s Paul Bond reports that Carol Alt has signed a deal with FNC for a new weekend show…
“Living well is an important topic for discussion,” said Fox News executive vp programming Bill Shine. “As a renowned supermodel, Carol has embodied a healthy lifestyle for years and will bring both informative and helpful ideas to our viewers.”
The show is expected to debut in the summer.
This statement from Mediaite’s Tommy Christopher…
I’m not sure why this is a problem, especially since MSNBC has never blocked off specific hours for hard news the way Fox has
…is factually inaccurate. Here is just one example from Politico’s Dylan Byers…
Something I learned just now from MSNBC: It has news shows and “point of view” shows.
MSNBC considers everything from 3 p.m. into primetime to be “point of view” shows. That includes Martin Bashir, Dylan Ratigan, Chris Matthews, Al Sharpton, Ed Schultz, Rachel Maddow, and Lawrence O’Donnell.
Meanwhile, the shows that run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. are not “point of view” shows. That includes Chuck Todd, Chris Jansing, Alex Wagner, Andrea Mitchell, and Tamron Hall.
I will argue until my dying breath about Alex Wagner’s show not being anything other than POV as will Noah Rothman. But the point still stands…MSNBC considers 9-3 to be its news block hours.
As to the rest, yes, Megyn Kelly…who has been known to slap down people on her show for talking inaccuracies before…should have gone after Daftari for spouting nonsense.
Politico’s Dylan Byers writes that FNC is not renewing Dick Morris. The only shock about this news is it took them this long to get around to dropping him…
Morris, who was on contract with Fox News throughout the 2012 presidential campaign, had not appeared on the network for almost three months after Fox News president Roger Ailes decided to keep him off the network. He is scheduled to appear on CNN on Wednesday.
Considering how often Morris wound up being so completely wrong about so much, this was long overdue…
Politico’s Dylan Byers writes about James Carville and Mary Matalin being dropped by CNN…
CNN contributors and political power couple James Carville and Mary Matalin are leaving the network, Carville told POLITICO today.
The decision was CNN’s, Carville said: “I was told that they wanted the contributors to be more available — essentially, closer to Washington. I’m not always available, I don’t live there.”
In other news FishbowlDC reports that Erick Erickson will be jumping from CNN to FNC