Post your reactions to Howard Kurtz’s Media Buzz here.
Archive for the FNC Category
Post your reactions to Carol Alt’s new weekend FNC show here. I thought it was uneven and had a kid of infomercial feel to it with how disjointed it felt at times. I’ll confess that the only reason I saw it is I hadn’t adjusted my DVR’s weekend recording schedule yet…
Well, we shouldn’t be too surprised to find that Brian Lewis has hired powerhouse lawyer Judd Burstein. As TVNewser’s Chris Ariens pointed out earlier today, Lewis started out taking the high road publicly. But after a series of increasingly larger negative leaks on Lewis by elements of FNC, the high road was apparently no longer a viable option.
We already knew from Bill Carter’s reporting that exit agreement negotiations were still going on between FNC and Lewis so presumably lawyers were already involved on Lewis’ behalf. So why turn up the heat by hiring Burstein?
A clue can be found in the statement Burstein sent to Gawker today…
I have just been retained and am still plotting our course of action. But two things are very clear to me. First, Brian Lewis no longer has any confidentiality obligation to Newscorp or Roger Ailes because of the false and malicious statements made by Fox to date. Second, Roger Ailes and Newscorp have a lot more to fear from Brian Lewis telling the truth about them than Brian Lewis has to fear from Roger Ailes and his toadies telling lies about Brian Lewis.
This statement reveals two things…an attempt at damage control after a week of FNC based leaks on Lewis…and a classic attempt to leverage a better exit deal for Lewis. Given that Lewis was let go last month, that the negotiations have dragged on this long suggests that Lewis wasn’t happy with the terms being offered.
Thus the not so veiled, albeit totally vacant, threat that Lewis can talk about all kinds of things FNC would rather have him not talk about. It’s totally vacant because it’s not a threat one makes publicly if the intent is to go public and reveal all kinds of FNC dirt. If you want to shovel dirt…you shovel it…you don’t puff your chest about the possibility of shoveling it. You only puff your chest as a negotiating tactic.
What we’re seeing here is no different from the veiled, and just as vacant, threats Judith Regan made about a senior executive (which later was revealed to allegedly be Roger Ailes) in her lawsuit with News Corp. It was a negotiating tactic that nobody thought would ever get to trial and it didn’t.
I view Burstein’s statement the same way. This is a negotiating tactic aimed at getting the best possible deal for Lewis. FNC has no desire to see Lewis talking and I doubt Lewis has any desire to talk. It’s a high stakes poker game in the legal arena. Eventually both sides will come to an agreement and this threat, like Regan’s, will never result in those of us who yearn for dirt being spilled to get what we want.
But there is a wildcard in play here. That wildcard is just how strongly Roger Ailes feels Lewis talked extensively with Gabriel Sherman for his upcoming book. There’s no proof this has happened but Ailes apparently thinks it has. If Ailes has got it in his head that Lewis already spilled considerable dirt to Sherman, that would make Ailes reluctant to sign too big a check in exchange for Lewis’ legally binding silence. The reason this would be the case is because if Lewis had spilled considerable dirt to Sherman already then the need to legally silence Lewis drops considerably because the cat is already out of the bag so a large check would be pointless at that point.
Today’s news that Howard Kurtz’s new media show MediaBuzz will be slotted against his old Reliable Sources show on CNN certainly sets the stage for a showdown of sorts. If FNC should win the hour handily on the first airing, I would expect FNC to maximize the PR potential. Although we haven’t seen a lot of cross network warfare with anonymous sniping and Photoshop cheap shots aimed at CNN of the type which happened back when Jon Klein was running CNN (and yes I DO miss those days as they kept things interesting), one could think this case might be an exception this time since Kurtz was with CNN for so long and FNC did snap him up quickly.
Politico’s Mike Allen is reporting that Irena Briganti may be the one who takes over for Brian Lewis at FNC. Allen also has a lot more back story on Lewis’ firing…
IRENA BRIGANTI, the number two official in Fox News media relations, is likely to succeed her former boss, Brian Lewis, according a Fox News executive familiar with the situation. The executive did not divulge the reason Lewis was fired, citing possible legal talks. But the executive provided an unusually vivid window into the thinking of Fox News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes, who fired Lewis on July 25. Lewis, who was escorted from the building, had fallen from favor months before. Lewis had long had two offices: one near Ailes’s suite on the second floor of the former News Corp. tower in midtown Manhattan, and another on the 22nd floor. John Moody, a Fox News executive who took another assignment within the corporation and then returned, got Lewis’s prime real estate and Lewis was banished to the 22nd floor in July 2012, according to the executive.
On June 13, Lewis was out of the loop on the announcement that Sarah Palin was being re-signed as a Fox News contributor. The executive said Lewis also was excluded from conversations about Megyn Kelly’s promotion to primetime, announced July 2. And according to the executive, Lewis also was not told that Elisabeth Hasselbeck of “The View” was becoming a co-host of “Fox & Friends”; Briganti handled the July 9 rollout. “Roger wasn’t confident that [Brian] could keep those secrets,” the executive said. The executive said that one factor in the growing distrust of Lewis – but not THE trigger – was his suspected cooperation with Gabriel Sherman on his forthcoming book, “The Loudest Voice in the Room: The Inside Story of How Roger Ailes and Fox News Remade American Politics.”
Politico’s Dylan Byers writes about Brian Lewis…
But one of the issues at play, sources with knowledge of the situation told POLITICO on Wednesday, was that Ailes had suspected Lewis of leaking information to Gabriel Sherman, the author of a forthcoming book about Ailes and Fox News.
As executive vice president of communications, Lewis’s correspondence with Sherman came with the job. But on occasion, Lewis also discussed internal decision-making matters and spoke freely about network employees — the sort of thing that Ailes, a fierce protector of the Fox News brand, would likely view as a breach of trust.
The fact that Sherman’s book played some role in Lewis’s firing is nevertheless starting to leak beyond Fox News’s executive circle. On Tuesday night, Matt Drudge, founder of the influential Drudge Report site, tweeted, “TRUTH: Behind scenes shitstorm around reporter Gabriel Sherman and his anti-Ailes FOXNEWS book. Top source caught. Lawyers swarm scene.”
This was followed in relatively short order by a story by Mediaite’s Andrew Kirell…
“Few people at Fox have ever seen Lewis at any kind of a strategy meeting, certainly not about programming or talent or news,” the source said. “Lewis and [New York editor] Gabriel Sherman are the only two who believe that Lewis was actually the right-hand man to Roger Ailes.”
Sherman’s the author of an upcoming book on Ailes that will likely contain a majority of negative anecdotes. According to the source, Sherman got much of his information by talking to Lewis. “If Gabe Sherman’s book comes from the mind of Brian Lewis, it’ll be fiction,” the source asserted.
While insider sources all indicate that Lewis was well-known for his ability to strategize, the Fox exec said that things took a turn for the worse when “his ego got out of control and the spin became about himself.”
“He came to believe that he kept Roger ‘in line’, and that everyone else at Fox was an idiot,” our source continued. “He had his own agenda.”
I’m certain there’s at least some truth to this. The question I always come back to though is this: What is the agenda and who is it serving here?
More color is emerging…or more dirt is emerging (depending on your point of view) about the Brian Lewis firing…
The New York Times’ Bill Carter has some well placed leakage…
The news stunned many in the world of cable news, where Mr. Lewis, an executive vice president who ran the aggressive communications and public relations arm of Fox News, was long thought to be an indispensable adviser to Mr. Ailes. But one senior executive who worked closely with both men for a number of years said that their relationship had soured badly within the last year or so.
“This has been coming for a long time,” said the senior executive, who asked not to be identified because of professional relationships with both men. “They have not been close for a long time. I have known this was coming.”
The executive said that Mr. Lewis, who for most of the existence of Fox News occupied an office just down the hall from Mr. Ailes, had within the last year been moved to another floor. “It had gotten really nasty and acrimonious between the two of them,” the executive said.
And New York Magazine’s Gabriel Sherman chips in an interesting anecdote…an anecdote which makes me wonder why Sherman didn’t relay it back when it happened? Or did I just miss it?
In April 2012, I bumped into Lewis in North Carolina at a cocktail reception before Ailes delivered a speech to UNC Journalism students. Ailes had traveled down to Chapel Hill on News Corp.’s private jet with his handpicked biographer, Zev Chafets, and Lewis. It was a few days after the Fox mole story broke on Gawker.
“So, we’re gonna sue Gawker, and we might try and have him arrested,” Lewis said, referring to Joe Muto, the mole.
“Why are you guys making such a big deal about this?” I said. “You’re a television network valued at $14 billion. Isn’t this punching down?”
“Dude, I know. I was overruled,” Lewis said. “I told them, but I was told that legal would be handling this from here forward. I’m like, Okay.”
As Lewis saw it, tracking down Muto and firing him were the important things. Muto’s leaks, embarrassing as they were, were inconsequential.
“So he puts up a picture of O’Reilly posing with a naked girl? O’Reilly deserves to get whacked for that. Chucklehead,” Lewis said. “And he writes that Sean Hannity has trouble with TelePrompTers and coddles Republicans? Geesh, really?”
Wowwy wow wow wow. The Hollywood Reporter’s Paul Bond and Matthew Bellini write about FNC’s PR chief Brian Lewis being fired. Talk about shock moves I’d never ever expect to see happen. It would be like Ted Turner firing Tom Johnson…
Attempts to reach Lewis were not successful. An e-mail to Lewis at Fox News prompted an “on vacation” auto-reply message. Fox News insiders said Tuesday that Lewis no longer works for the company. A spokeswoman said “we do not comment on employee matters.”
Lewis also was senior adviser to Ailes, who was handpicked by Rupert Murdoch to create Fox News as its founding CEO. Today, Ailes also is chairman of Fox Television Stations. Before his firing, Lewis often was a spokesman for Ailes, who asked him to act as liaison between him and Zev Chafets while Chafets was writing his recently released book, Roger Ailes: Off Camera, a mostly flattering biography of Ailes.
Insiders say that their close relationship made it difficult for Ailes to cut Lewis loose, but the financial issues his actions raised — details of which were not available Tuesday — coupled with complaints about complacency and other matters, left Ailes feeling as if he had no other choice.
I didn’t think I’d ever see this happen. But Bill Kristol and FNC have apparently parted ways…
MediaPost’s David Goetzl writes about Roger Ailes talking at the 21st Century Fox Investors Conference about his succession plans…
Still — it wasn’t all humor, as Ailes indicated he intends to fulfill his contract, which runs through 2016. He says he has a succession plan that he updates every six months.
Do company chiefs Rupert Murdoch and Chase Carey know about it?
No. “They’re going to get surprised,” he said, acknowledging his recommendation may not be followed.
Well, well, well…thanks to a carefully placed (and well timed if you buy the theory that it was deliberately done before Roger Ailes’ talk at the 21st Century Fox Investors Conference…a theory I can’t dismiss out of hand) leak to Matt Drudge today that Megyn Kelly is slotted to take over FNC at 9pm, everyone is in a tizzy about what’s going over at FNC and what it all means. Rather than concentrate on what we know, let’s concentrate on what we don’t know which is a lot more substantive…
1. We don’t know where Sean Hannity lands. If you read Alex Weprin’s tea leaf parsing over at TVNewser, Shepard Smith’s 7pm hour could be in play…a possibility I find to be rather likely.
2. If #1 is true and Smith is losing 7, what will he be doing and exactly what have Ailes and Smith been working on regarding his future? Will it be an internet program? Ailes’ emphasis of “digital” programming in FNC’s future at least opens the door to such a possibility, though it seems a little risky on its face because internet news broadcasts haven’t been able to stick so far.
3. We don’t know the format of Kelly’s show. This is actually a big deal because a lot of people are jumping the gun here in thinking that because Kelly is going to prime at 9 that it automatically means she’s going to be as partisan as Hannity is. I actually believe the opposite is more likely because of what Ailes said about “improving flow”. Slotting Hannity at 7 followed by O’Reilly, Kelly, and Van Susteren makes a lot more sense from a flow standpoint than, say, Kelly at 7 followed by O’Reilly, Hannity, and Van Susteren.
Beyond this, I really don’t feel like doing a lot more tea leaf reading. There just isn’t enough info out there to chew on. It’s been a long long time since FNC changed up prime to this degree. I’d argue it’s the first major change since Van Susteren joined FNC (Hannity losing Colmes was a change but not as big because it always was Hannity’s show even though it was billed as a 50/50 show at least in the title.) A lot has changed in cable news during those years. FNC has managed to weather the changes better than MSNBC and CNN but nothing lasts forever and Roger Ailes is nothing if not proactive when he feels he needs to be. It seems that he now feels the time is right for some changes.
FTVLive writes that Rick Folbaum is apparently Florida bound…
It appears that Fox News Anchor Rick Folbaum is leaving the Big Apple and headed to South Florida.
Nothing has been announced from Fox as of yet, but Folbaum’s wife has let the cat out of the bag on her blog.
Folbaum’s wife Kelcey Kintner writes a blog called The Mama Bird Diaries. on her latest entry she writes “We are moving. To the Miami area. I have lived in New York a long time and it’s hard to imagine myself as anything but a girl who lives in NY but now I’m going to be a girl who lives in FL.
Today Greg Guttfeld took to Twitter with me in his sights. You can read the full blast here on Twitchy complete with said anonymous poster’s schadenfreude, but the gist of it concerns a post I wrote when The Five was first announced.
I was going to do a full mea culpa here and say, “Yes Greg, I got it wrong! I have no excuses.” After all…I did get it completely wrong. It’s been two years and The Five is still on the air. Not only is it still on the air…it’s absolutely flourishing. You can’t get more wrong than that.
Plus, as one who has made a career out of holding on to bulletin board material for years or dug up some obscure point I read somewhere just to throw it back in someone’s face when the time was right, I have to admire whoever held on to this post for this long. (I doubt it was Guttfeld. I would think once The Five took off the way it did he would have unloaded on me sooner than this if he had read it at the time I wrote it. I have a feeling someone recently dug it up and pointed it out to him and he ran with it. Nothing wrong with that though.) But whoever was the one, my hat’s off to you. You rock.
But then I read my post all the way through in context and compared it to what Guttfeld wrote and my view changed somewhat. Consider this Guttfeld quote.
“2 years ago @InsideCableNews said this on #thefive: “Nobody involved in this project should feel too secure about its future”"
Now here’s the full sentence I wrote…
“Nobody involved in this project should feel too secure about its future when the press release announcing it spells out that it has a short shelf life“
Context matters here. That announcement said that The Five would run through at least the summer. That’s anything but a full scale endorsement. FNC wasn’t sure exactly what it would have on its hands and it hedged. So based on that my point still stands up. I wouldn’t feel too secure knowing that my show has an announced possible end date. Would you?
Here’s another cherry picked sentence…
“[thefive] so oddball it sticks out like a sore thumb. I don’t think it will last.” —
Here’s the full sentence…
“It’s an oddball fit for that time period…so oddball it sticks out like a sore thumb. I don’t think it will last.”
Your World comes before it and Special Report comes after it. So, yeah compared to what bookends The Five, it’s still an oddball fit for that time period, albeit a very successful oddball fit. As to the second part regarding how long it would last…I already acknowledged I got that totally wrong. I seriously underestimated the shift that was taking place in cable news away from news and more towards POV opinion which is now far more entrenched than it was two years ago.
And then there’s this quote Guttfeld cited…
“FNC is apparently out of new ideas and unsure of a future course of action regarding 5pm.”
That too is still accurate. There was nothing original about The Five. The View had already been there. The Talk had been there. FNC itself had already been there with its online Strategy Room. Combine that with the short lease on life and you get the picture of a network that cobbled something together that wasn’t original but wouldn’t commit long term to it at the outset. And, again, context matters. While this sentence was at least quoted in full, unlike the above quotes, it is taken out of context with what comes after…
FNC is apparently out of new ideas and unsure of a future course of action regarding 5pm. Why else take the equivalent of The Strategy Room and put it on TV with a wider subject spectrum but only guarantee that it will run through the summer? FNC had months to prepare for the day it would be without Beck and this is the best it could come up with? The TV programming equivalent of a band-aid? Talk about a half hearted endorsement.
Beck’s show, whether you like it or not, was unique in cable news and all broadcast news. Nothing had appeared like it before or since. You can’t say the same thing about The Five.
So while I’ll readily admit I whiffed on The Five lasting (and succeeding) the way it has, the rest of the shots Guttfeld took at me, I can’t take too seriously since Guttfeld wasn’t serious about quoting me in context.
Update: Wow…apparently I made FNC’s TV too. That’s interesting. Kind of odd that an “obscure media blog” would merit this much attention from FNC. That segment had to have been signed off on by someone. If I’m that obscure and that irrelevant, why bother? That would qualify as punching down and in this business you don’t do that because it invariably elevates the punchee to some degree if for no other reason than it makes them more well known. But whatever…if people want to play their games who am I to stand in their way? It’s actually kind of an honor that this “gnat” merited swatting on TV…
The New York Post’s Emily Smith writes that Elizabeth Hasselbeck is joining Fox and Friends. Not surprising news since Gretchen Carlson to the best of my knowledge had not inked a new deal with the show and was working on an extension. Based on what Smith writes, it appears Megyn Kelly’s two hour show is going to get split in two when she departs and Carlson is getting one of those hours. Who will get the other one? Shepard Smith? (via J$)
ELISABETH Hasselbeck is leaving “The View” and joining Fox News’ morning show “FOX and Friends” as a co-host, Page Six has exclusively confirmed.
After much speculation, conservative co-host Hasselbeck is following Barbara Walters and Joy Behar out of the ABC daytime talk show.
She will join Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade on the Fox couch in mid-September.
Yes, I’m late to this but it was crazy at work today and I had zero time to check the internet. Mediaite’s Andrew Kirell scoops that Howard Kurtz is FNC bound…
Beginning July 1st, the network said in a press statement, Kurtz will anchor a version of what is now called Fox News Watch, which airs Saturdays on the network. He will also serve as an on-air analyst for the network throughout the week, in addition to writing a regular column for FoxNews.com.
Jon Scott, the current anchor of Fox News Watch, will move to the specials unit, serving as an anchor for that programming.
Part of me wants to say, “Is FNC going to give Kurtz the room to critique his own network?”. Some are no doubt going to say that Kurtz played softball with CNN at times so this should be no different. We shall see…
Update:Mediaite’s Noah Rothman interviews Kurtz, post-announcement…
Kurtz said that he expects to be an independent voice on Fox and his criticism of media personalities and institutions will be as sharp as it was on CNN.
“I think all three of the cable news networks have their strengths and weaknesses,” he said. “I’m not going to shy away from talking about that just as I have not shied away from occasionally having to critique some of my past employers.”
“Fox wouldn’t have hired me if it wasn’t interested in my independent brand of media criticism,” Kurtz noted. “So, I’m very comfortable that I’ll have the freedom to criticize anyone I need to in my new role.”
As I said above, we shall see…
David Hochman interviews Sean Hannity in Playboy…
PLAYBOY: Does it bother you that some people hate you?
HANNITY: Never. I don’t care, not even a little bit.
PLAYBOY: That’s good. What’s your secret?
HANNITY: I’ll tell you a story. There was somebody who works at Fox—I won’t mention this person’s name—and one of these websites started attacking this person. The first thing I said was, “Welcome to the big leagues.” If they’re not attacking you, you’re not doing your job effectively. I also said, “If you want to feel better, go google my name.”
PLAYBOY: How often do you google your name?
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.”
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…
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.