Megyn Kelly to CNN Would Be A Risk For Both

Posted in Miscellaneous Subjects on December 3, 2016 by icn2

This post comes a little late but my mom is in the hospital with a coronary condition so I have not had the time to write. 

A couple of days ago Drudge posted a story that Jeff Zucker was going all out to poach Megyn Kelly from FNC. The motivation behind the leaking of this to Drudge would be juicy indeed. Which camp did the deed and why?

But I am instead going to write about why this would probably be a bad deal for both, but for vastly different reasons.

For CNN the risks and unknowns are greater than they are for Kelly. In order…

  • According to Drudge, Zucker can’t afford to outbid Fox so instead he is trying to entice Kelly by offering a very wide greater than CNN networks platform and a huge promotion campaign. CNN has a decidedly mixed record on this score. The network threw oodles of money behind a campaign to promote Anderson Cooper; a campaign which failed to deliver the ratings the network hoped for and drew much ridicule for the alleged cost.
  • Zucker is taking a bigger risk than necessary if he does things this way. Despite all the glamour shots, all the glowing articles, all the off network promotional appearances, all the hype (Some of it deserved. Some not)…the fact is it is a huge unknown whether Megyn Kelly’s FNC star power transfers off that network. Given the lackluster ratings her Fox broadcast prime time special turned in, this is also a question Fox may be asking itself. The stigma of partisan cable news is very powerful and makes it tough to broaden one’s profile to other less ideological platforms (see: Maddow, Rachel).
  • But even if it did transfer, the chances CNN could come anywhere close to getting the ratings FNC gets with Kelly are almost nil. CNN will almost certainly be overpaying for Kelly and not getting the payoff FNC gets.
  • Zucker’s  instincts regarding talent is checkered at best. For every winning move he has made, there have been two or three which have detonated spectacularly in his face. Alexis Glick being forced down the Today Show’s throat. Going all in on Kate Bolduan and Chris Cuomo because of their on air chemistry only to quietly sever that tie when it was obvious he was very very wrong.
  • Some could see this as a move to weaken FNC. It is true that Kelly is the prime time heir apparent to O’Reilly who has maybe a couple of TV years left in him so losing both could cause trouble. But this is predicated on the notion that FNC can’t adjust. As we have seen with Tucker Carlson positively flourishing in Greta Van Susteren’s  old timeslot, an apparent loss is not necessarily a loss.
  • If CNN comes within a half of FNC’s offer, that will put more than a few CNN telents’ noses out of joint.With justification.

For Kelly the risks are potentially just as high as CNN but for vastly different reasons.

  • She will not make as much money as she could at FNC. Exposure is nice but salary is the biggest barometer of stature in this industry.
  • No matter how much cross platform exposure Zucker throws Kelly’s way, the unavoidable fact is Zucker has made the network one where there is no leader. No star. No anchor. Instead it is a team of rotating cogs that can be swiped in and out as needed. There is no true pecking order among the top talent. Anyone can dominate at any time given the situation. It isn’t Anderson Cooper’s network. Nor is it Wolf Blitzer’s, Don Lemon’s, Jake Tapper’s, or anyone else’s. That especially includes Megyn Kelly who as the new kid on the block would have to prove herself all over again to justify the prominence Zucker would force down the viewer’s throat. At FNC she could become the face of the  network once O’Reilly is gone. At CNN she will always be one of a crowd.

Kelly would be better off at a broadcast network than she would at CNN, though not do as well as she would staying at FNC. CNN will likely never get the intended payoff it hopes for by luring her over. This is not a great deal for either.

Strawman 101…

Posted in MSNBC on November 16, 2016 by icn2

Mediaite’s Lindsey Ellefson pens a nonsensical article about MSNBC and what it needs to do…

MSNBC seems to constantly be in the midst of an overhaul. Earlier this summer, the network was proclaiming that their days as a bastion of liberal commentary were o-v-e-r, just like they were last winter, for instance, although it didn’t really seem like they ended up reining in Rachel Maddow, Chris Hayes, Joy Reid, and the rest of the gang either time. In the wake of the election of Donald Trump to the presidency, though, it’s time to start asking whether MSNBC should be trying to rein them in.

This is either a complete lack of understanding by Ellefson about what MSNBC has been up to or a complete Strawman argument. Or both.

First, MSNBC never ever proclaimed that their days as a bastion of liberal commentary are “o-v-e-r”. What it did do, once Andrew Lack came back, was say it was going to fix dayside and bring it back more under the news and analysis format and away from the unabashed liberal opinion format. But that’s only part of MSNBC’s schedule and that leads me to my second point which Ellefson gets wrong; there was never ever any intent of reining in Rachel Maddow, Chris Hayes, Chris Matthews, and Lawrence O’Donnell. Including Joy Reid in the list of the “spared” is wrong on two counts. First, she wasn’t part of prime and not central to MSNBC’s plans. Second her dayside show didn’t get spared, it got cancelled. Furthermore, if not for the Melissa Harris-Perry fiasco, Reid probably still would not have a show.

The one point Ellefson gets right is her first one. MSNBC always seems to be in the midst of an overhaul. It’s seems to have been like that since Phil Griffin took over 9 years ago.

Ellefson spends the rest of her article making a plaintive appeal for more liberal programming on MSNBC…

Where else can people look for liberal viewpoints on traditional television? Since Jon Stewart abdicated the throne at The Daily Show, the nightly broadcast that he made famous has failed to live up to the expectations his fiery legacy left behind. Sure, Bill Maher and John Oliver help out when they can on Real Time and Last Week Tonight respectively, but not everyone has HBO and to be clear, once-weekly shows are not enough to even out the selection of political opinions.

Look at the two main competitors of MSNBC, Fox News and CNN. Whether some people want to admit it or not, CNN is remarkably centered, and at the least, tries very hard to be. For every liberal commentator, there is a conservative. The shows tend to be hosted by actual journalists and anchors, not partisan pundits. Jake Tapper values journalistic neutrality so much that he does not vote and Anderson Cooper is seen as the industry standard for what “unbiased” is supposed to look like. On the other side of the spectrum sits Fox News, which is undeniably a hotbed for right leaning thought leaders. Fox News has a right to be that hotbed. In fact, it has as much of an obligation to its viewers to hold down the right side of the airwaves as MSNBC has to hold down the left. Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity make it clear that they are not journalists and we cannot begrudge them their right to share their thoughts.

There are a few inconvenient facts here which Ellefson pretty much ignores.

First, MSNBC is under no obligation to hold down any end of the political spectrum. What it is obligated to do is produce compelling programming that viewers tune in to and which generates a profit. That’s its only obligation and its not an obligation to its viewers but to the shareholders of Comcast. Whatever works.

Second, MSNBC has already tried to expand liberal P.O.V analysis dayside programming under Phil Griffin. Not once, but twice. Both times MSNBC’s ratings crashed outside of prime time and both times the network retreated to a more news format.

Third, other than Maddow, MSNBC’s prime time has been a weak sister in the ratings since Olbermann left (if you factor out the 2016 election juiced numbers). Chris Hayes still has not established himself as deserving of holding down the 8pm timeslot. O’Donnell has done okay for his timeslot but hasn’t moved the needle enough. Even Maddow’s numbers are off now that Olbermann isn’t there to lead in to her.

What this says is that liberal POV programming in primetime may still be the way to go for the network but some of the faces of that prime time may need to change if the network wants to make a long term push to draw in more viewers.

Tucker Carlson Tonight Premieres…

Posted in FNC on November 14, 2016 by icn2

I’m back. I’ve been back for almost a week but I came back with a mild cold that exploded into a nasty sumbitch of a cold that laid me out until last night. Normally getting a cold on a dive trip means no more diving the rest of the trip but it hit me after I completed my dives. I was lucky. Spudette? Not so lucky.

Anyway, I was pretty unplugged for most of the trip once I got to Raja Ampat. The satellite internet was spotty at best. Consequently, I had no idea that FNC had announced Tucker Carlson had gotten the timeslot vacated by Greta Van Susteren. And my cold had kept me off the internet once home so I didn’t know it debuted tonight until I saw the last five minutes of it.

What do you think of the show? I’m not sure I like the graphics package.

Blogus Interruptus…

Posted in Blog Announcements on October 23, 2016 by icn2

indo-2016

SFOTPEDPSMDCSOQUPGDPSTPESFO

I already had Raja Ampat on my bucket list long before I saw Richard Engel’s NBC report on the spot. I have done Palau and Palau is considered a Top 5 dive spot on the planet for most people. But Raja is…special. It’s Top 3…some would say #1 but it really depends on which metrics you use to rank dive spots and what you want in your dives.

I thought Palau was going to be a once in a lifetime trip for me…but then I went back three more times. This is different. The expense involved makes it different. I’ve never thrown this much money at a trip before. It’s more than when I did Komodo and Lombok two years ago. I don’t want to do that again. This is an itch that will get scratched and then I’ll move on to another cheaper itch.

But I will be able to say I dived Raja Ampat. A lot of people never will be able to.

This also allows me to avoid the last few weeks of the election and cable news’ nauseating coverage of it. I get to completely disconnect from the madness that has befallen us. This will be the first election where my choice for President will remain blank. All the choices are bad. All of them. Yes, some are worse than others but they’re all bad and I just can’t bring myself to support any of them.

I fly back on election night and depending on the result may just turn around at SFO and fly back out again.

Blogging resumes November 9th.

CNN vs. Morning Joe…

Posted in CNN, MSNBC on October 20, 2016 by icn2

In the latest in a long running battle, CNN’s Dylan Byers takes aim at Morning Joe yet again for the “favorable” coverage it gave Donald Trump…

Scarborough provided several pieces of evidence to back up the claim that they had been tough on Trump, including that, “I said from the beginning I would never vote for him, I said I was voting for Jeb Bush then I said I was voting for John Kasich” and that in early December 2015 he and Brzezinski had compared Trump’s proposed ban on Muslims to Germany in 1933.

Those limited examples are a fig leaf for the months of positive coverage and support that Scarborough and Brzezinski gave to Trump in the period of time Kristol was referring to: late 2015 and early 2016.

As CNNMoney and others have documented, Scarborough and Brzezinski — who visited privately with Trump on multiple occasions during the primaries — were overwhelmingly supportive of the Republican candidate during that time, consistently praising his unconventional campaign and defending him from his critics.

Scarborough, especially, spoke about Trump in glowing terms, praising him as “a masterful politician.” The Washington Post wrote that Trump had received “a tremendous degree of warmth from the show,” and that his appearances on the show, in person and over the phone, often feel like “a cozy social club.”

In February, several NBC News and MSNBC journalists, reporters and staffers told CNNMoney there was widespread discomfort at the network over Scarborough’s friendship with Trump and his increasingly favorable coverage of the candidate.

There’s a reason why this charge can still be hurled at Morning Joe…just as it could be hurled at Fox and Friends…just as it could be repeatedly hurled at CNN itself…

There’s more than enough available evidence to back up the idea that the media became obsessed with Trump that it lost its perspective for much of the primary season and into the summer. While I rarely agree with the usually wrong Bill Kristol, he’s right here; any attempt to say that Morning Joe was tough on Trump in late 2015 and early 2016 is essentially an inaccurate characterization of history.

Not that Byers should be the one squawking here. CNN’s hands are much more dirty than Morning Joe’s when it comes to their coverage of Trump. Byers knows this, of course…yet he throws darts at Morning Joe anyways. Lame…

The Best Shepard Smith Interview/Profile You’ll Ever Read…

Posted in FNC on October 19, 2016 by icn2

Yes, I am late to this. I have been distracted (for reasons which will become all too obvious in a few days).

But I felt it paramount that I note Michael Calderone’s Huffington Post interview with Shepard Smith. Quite simply it is the best Shep interview and profile I have ever read. Period. So, naturally it is a must read…

Everyone is going to zero in on Smith coming out publicly for the first time. But I am more interested in this part of the same passage…

He said that reports that Ailes had prevented him from coming out publicly several years ago were false. “That’s not true. He was as nice as he could be to me. I loved him like a father,” he said. “I trusted him with my career and with ― I trusted him and trusts were betrayed. People outside this company can’t know [how painful that betrayal was]. This place has its enemies, but inside, it was very personal, and very scarring and horrifying.”

Shep said he advocated strongly for leading the coverage of the crisis rather than shying away from it, and he was one of the few, if not the only, Fox anchors to report on it.

“It’s not over,” he added. “This was a real shock to the system, and it upended a lot of things that we thought we knew. We were wounded and horrified and very emotional, and we realize that as leaders we need to come in and face up to what we’ve learned … We have to make sure there aren’t young victims wandering around here who need us. We have to get appropriate counselors in here. We have to make sure legally everybody’s protected and have to make a commitment to be the most transparent, open and welcoming organization of our kind in the world, and I’m determined to be a part of the team that makes it happen.”

And then there’s this…

“There’s something else happening here, there’s an entire right-conservative electorate that feels like it’s been betrayed over time, that its candidates would say they’re going to do something and then wouldn’t do it,” he said. “But all the while, we were reporting that they knew better. Obamacare, they were gonna block it, they voted 55 times to stop it, and every time, we reported this is not going to happen. But they felt betrayed.”

And this…

In a more grounded Fox, Shep would take on a much greater role. In his most recent meeting with Rupert Murdoch, he asked where Murdoch felt the center of gravity was going to move post-Ailes, whether toward news or toward the opinion side. “He said, ‘I’m a newsman. I want to be the best news organization in America,’” Shep recalled.

Murdoch, he said, has big plans. “He wants to hire a lot more journalists, he wants to build us a massive new newsroom, he wants to make more commitments to places like this [studio], to hire reporters to work on beats, just enlarge our news-gathering,” Shep said. “When the biggest boss, who controls everything, comes and says ‘That’s what I want to do,’ that’s the greatest news I’ve heard in years. And he didn’t mention one thing about our opinion side.”

The Brazile Email Controversy Explained?

Posted in CNN on October 13, 2016 by icn2

We may have an explanation for what happened with the Donna Brazile debate question email fiasco and it comes from Jake Tapper. NewsBusters’ Matthew Balan spotted it

On WMAL’s Mornings on the Mall on Thursday, CNN’s Jake Tapper revealed his “understanding” about what happened surrounding the leaked town hall question to the Hillary Clinton campaign: “This was a Roland Martin follow-up. So, my understanding is that he, or…somebody on his team got that question to Donna Brazile.” Brazile apparently then sent the question to Hillary Clinton’s campaign, as revealed by Wikileaks’ release of John Podesta’s e-mails on Tuesday.

(snip)

The journalist repeated his condemnation of the whole Brazile leak near the end of the segment: “People at CNN take it very, very seriously; and to have somebody who does not take it seriously — to have us partner with that person; and then, they do something completely unethical and share it with Donna Brazile, who then shares it with the Clinton campaign, it’s horrifying and very, very upsetting, and….I condemn it in no uncertain terms. It’s awful.”

If Tapper’s version of events is correct this wasn’t CNN’s fault at all. But, if it wasn’t CNN’s fault at all and the question that got leaked to the Clinton campaign wasn’t even one of CNN’s questions, why lack of candor and a proper explanation of what happened? This wasn’t CNN’s doing so it’s most definitely in CNN’s interest to get it out there that it wasn’t their doing. And yet, days after this erupted, CNN, as an organization, wasn’t the one who was forthcoming, it was one of the moderators of the debate.

Why, CNN? Why? You could have nipped this in the bud quickly but your weak opaque public comments on the matter only made it worse. The network just made life more difficult for itself when, apparently, it wasn’t at fault.