Blogus Interruptus…

Posted in Blog Announcements on October 23, 2016 by icn2



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.


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.

CNN Should Investigate Brazile Email Ramifications…But It Won’t…

Posted in CNN on October 12, 2016 by icn2

The Hill’s Joe Concha writes about the Donna Brazile debate question email…

A few more questions: If Brazile has access to questions from time to time — again, her words — does Paul Begala have the same access, who runs a pro-Clinton super PAC? Does Ana Navarro, a Jeb Bush supporter and one of Trump’s harshest critics?

An internal investigation and some actual attempts at accountability would go a long way in solving this obvious breach. Remember, an internal investigation was conducted by the law firm of Paul, Weiss soon after the Roger Ailes sexual harassment suit by Gretchen Carlson over at Fox News. Will CNN do the same? Will anyone else in media outside of this space even demand one?

Sure. I will.

This is a no brainer to investigate. I don’t claim to have any inside knowledge of how this went down but there’s more than enough circumstantial evidence that optically points in one direction and one direction only. If that direction is invalid, the only way for it to be properly invalidated is to do an investigation.

But CNN won’t do that and even if it did the outcome would leave us with whetted appetites and nothing more. We can safely assume CNN is not interested in getting to the bottom of this and certainly isn’t interested in doing due diligence here. How can we be so certain of this? Two words: Fareed Zakaria.

The Zakaria investigation, and I use the term very loosely to describe that whitewash, set a benchmark for CNN. A bad one, yes…but a benchmark nontheless. The case against Zakaria was more solid than the case against Brazile here. With Brazile we have conjecture and assumption based on what her email said but what we don’t necessarily have is a smoking gun. With Zakaria there were numerous smoking guns in the articles he wrote and the transcripts of his show which at the very least showed Zakaria was guilty of patch writing. Some would argue the evidence was substantial enough to point to an even worse offense.

And yet despite all the available evidence, the best CNN could do is suspend Zakaria while it did an investigation, not release the results, and conclude they were satisfied with the way things stood.

Given all that does anyone believe CNN is going to do anything with Brazile?

This plays out in one of two ways:

A) CNN informs Brazile she’s no longer welcome back at the network and proceeds to hire an outside firm to dig into this situation to find the culprit or culprits.

B) The network ignores it, and by doing so, tacitly states it has no issue with collusion between its employees and presidential campaigns.

That’s the choice.

No. There’s a third option…

C) CNN informs Brazile she’s no longer welcome back at the network at some point down the road but does not launch an investigation. In effect CNN passive aggressively runs out the clock on Brazile while not publicly appearing to take any action.

This is the route I expect CNN to take.

Tent Shooting 101…

Posted in Miscellaneous Subjects on October 6, 2016 by icn2

The Hill’s Joe Concha pens an article I think is wrong in almost every way…save one.

It starts with what appears to be a non-sequitur…

Before addressing this spat, here’s a personal note from somebody who can say he’s both on the inside and outside when it comes to the world of cable news.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my years of meeting those who work on-air in cable news regardless of network — and I’ve been on them all many times — it’s this:
A majority are phonies. Absolute phonies.

The reason? A potent brew of ego, self-importance, a lack of self-awareness, more ego, and a constant need for attention.

Yeah…ok…they’re phonies. I get it. What on earth does that have to do with the propriety of the spat between Hannity and Kelly? Nothing.

Oh sure Concha takes a long and windy road from “they’re phonies” to the Howard Stern Show and somehow comes to the conclusion that because that dysfunctional family, which only succeeds because its sum is greater than its parts, is able to toss dirty laundry about that this is something everyone should emulate because it’s “more real” and “less phony”…

That may work for shock radio. It’s death for cable news.

The Stern show can get away with that because that’s where the bar is lowered to. It’s expected. It’s kind of like watching NASCAR for the crashes. You know there’s going to be shit flying around at some point and that’s why you tune in.

This is where we start getting into that “elitist” “high horse” territory of cable news has to aspire for higher than the Howard Stern Show. There need to be standards. The Stern Show basically has no standards (that don’t involve not breaking the law).

Tent shooting is anathema in cable news and journalism in general. Roger Ailes…you know the guy who used to run the network Hannity and Kelly call home…absolutely abhored tent shooting. Just ask Chris Wallace. MSNBC has had its occasional on air shenanigans but they have mostly been few and far between. Over at CNN, they run such a tight ship over there that anyone who dared take a shot at someone else would probably get fired…if they weren’t top flight talent that is.

Networks hate tent shooting. It means they no longer control the story and, worse, they don’t know where it’s headed. A news organization is hundreds if not thousands of people. It’s not the size of the tiny crew of the Stern show. There are just too many moving parts to allow those parts to start teeing off on one another.

And usually, when they do start teeing off on one another, even if it’s just passive aggressively, it’s sign of a real problem with the talent. No network wants to telegraph that it has talent issues in its shop.

It’s a distraction. No network likes distractions. On the Stern show they can get away with that crap because people have come to expect the lowest common denominator there. Then again, when the beefs get really bad it’s a problem even on the Stern show as you can tell from the turnover that show has had with its cast of characters.

So that’s why networks don’t want tent shooting. Tent shooting produces articles about the tent shooting and questions start swirling. Some of those questions linger for a long time, especially when it appears there’s genuine friction under the surface.

Just a few weeks ago everyone was aghast at the Washington Post’s Editorial board basically taking a dump on The Post’s Journalism wing over its Snowden coverage.

I actually don’t read Kelly’s comment as an attack at Hannity. It really reads as an attack at Trump to me. But Hannity’s response was definitely an attack on Megyn and, of the two, the one that crossed a few lines. But this shouldn’t be too much of a surprise because Hannity is so in the tank for Trump that’s his commentary has taken on an apoplectic take no prisoners scorched earth bent to anything negative about Trump no matter how legitimate it is. And Kelly’s comment was definitely legitimate because Trump has retreated to nothing but safe zones…even worse than Hillary.

Disagreement between co-workers isn’t a bad thing.


It shows authenticity — a concept all the phonies in this business can’t seem to grasp.

You want to know what helps make Fox so popular as it enters its 15th year of being No. 1? It’s editorial talent.

And what that talent does best? They speak their minds, even when it means (gasp) disagreeing with the way a co-worker runs his or her shop. The media bubble thinks it’s bad for the network, the end of harmony at Fox.

Guess what? Harmony is boring. Disagreement is much more engaging.

This is stupid. The propriety of the behind the scenes spat which breaks out into the open is bad not just because it’s an unnecessary distraction for the network but also because it also does absolutely nothing to help the shows.

What does the viewer get out of Hannity and Kelly publicly fighting each other? Nothing. The two don’t interact with each other on air almost ever so any hostility can’t drive a “What happens when they next come face to face” narrative ala Pro Wrestling. The Kelly File and Hannity shows are islands unto themselves. So any hostility off screen isn’t going to do anything on screen. Engaging? There’s nothing for the viewer to engage in when the spat happens off air and there’s no interaction on air.

It’s bad for the network. There is no upside for the network. The “media bubble” is 100% right about that. But the idea of “network harmony” is a straw man. It’s a myth. It has never existed. Concha is right about that. There has never been network harmony. There never will be network harmony.

But, while it might be fun to consider that there is no such thing as network harmony and extrapolate from that networks should embrace their employees showing that there is no such thing as network harmony, the reality is any network that goes this route would surely implode fast. No corporation could survive long by having its dirty laundry aired publicly by its employees engaging in tent shooting exercises and score settling while the network flounders about in the slippery slope world of what attacks are kosher and what attacks are going too far.

This is why we had PR people to begin with…to protect the corporation from its own employees by making one group of people the focal point between the public and the employees.

Social Media has blown up that model to some extent by creating multiple avenues for the talent to communicate with the public (and vice verse). Which is why networks have social media policies with very specific terms about what’s allowed and what’s not allowed. Some are more draconian than others obviously but it would not be unreasonable to conclude that Hannity’s tweet violated FNC’s social media policy.

For those of us who are process junkies (like me) or media navel gazers (like a bunch of others including Concha) spats that erupt are manna from heaven. We love it when we have same shop talent on talent violence. That’s even better than network on network violence.

But we’re not normal. We aren’t the casual viewer who doesn’t benefit from it. And our agenda totally differs from the networks we cover. We want openness because we learn more. Networks don’t want openness because it will lead to only one place; anarchy.

The 2016 Campaign Coverage Mess…

Posted in Miscellaneous Subjects on October 5, 2016 by icn2

Politico’s Jack Shafer scores a home run today writing about how screwed up campaign journalism has become in 2016…

But in campaign 2016 these disinformation efforts have become rampant, and they are gaining currency as never before thanks to the pick-up they’re getting from traditional media. Traditional media once shied from repeating stories they hadn’t confirmed, or that hadn’t been confirmed by their peers. But as so much of cable television has devolved from news to discussion about what people read in the news, that’s changed. It’s not that the old news gatekeepers aren’t doing their jobs. Most are. It’s just that the fences have been breached.

I was going to quote Shafer citing an example but they’re all so good that instead I’ll just say read the dang article…

As 2016 shapes up to be the disinformation campaign, there may be no easy and elegant way to stem the flow of fallacious TV stories, Web pieces, Trump speeches and Twitter blasts in these digital times. The dirty tricks of disinformation have always been part of politics and won’t be banished by decree. Nor will calls for a news quarantine of suspected disinformation work. Besides, news quarantines are antithetical to journalism. Good journalists have traditionally combated disinformation with real information, always knowing that in taking down the phony you run the risk of inadvertently giving it a boost. It’s a paradox we must live with, because the alternative of just letting candidate and information outlets to do their thing unchallenged is much worse.