Inside the Roger Ailes Crisis…

Posted in FNC on September 22, 2016 by icn2

In your must read of the year, Vanity Fair’s Sarah Ellison dives deep behind the curtain of the Roger Ailes saga. How deep? This deep…

With Paul, Weiss on board, Zweifach told its lawyers to act fast. There was no time to “get everything off the hard drives, texts, and e-mails,” as one of the executives close to the investigation recalls. The company “wanted to move quickly to preserve the business and do something about the women who may have been victimized.” Moving quickly also had the consequence of limiting the scope of the investigation. This was not to be an open-ended inquiry like the one on Bill Clinton that had produced the Starr Report. It would not look into whether employees at Fox News were regularly spied on and intimidated by superiors; whether demeaning comments about women were something that female employees at Fox News simply had to accept; or whether Rupert Murdoch himself had known anything about Ailes’s behavior. Certain as the Murdoch brothers were that they had to conduct an internal investigation, they were equally certain that they wanted to protect the company they had spent most of their lives learning how to inherit. Their greatest uncertainty may have related to their ability to maintain Ailes’s business success at Fox News.

Not convinced? How about this…

Two days later, on July 13, Ailes held a strategy session with his key advisers. Beth Ailes announced that she had reached out to Megyn Kelly twice, to see if she would be willing to issue a statement of support for Roger. Other anchors had spoken out in defense of Ailes against the Carlson allegations, but Kelly had been conspicuously silent. Now she had just sent a text message. Beth Ailes read it aloud, according to a person who was in the room: Kelly was sorry, but she had been advised by the company not to speak publicly about the matter during the investigation, and she could not, therefore, speak out against Carlson. “I hope you understand,” Beth Ailes read, adding that Kelly was being “cold” after all Ailes had done for her. By that time, according to a person familiar with what occurred, Kelly had already spoken to Lachlan Murdoch to report the general dismay among some staff, which she shared, about the pressure to come to Ailes’s aid and paint him as a white knight—pressure she felt was being exerted by Fox stars such as Kimberly Guilfoyle, Bret Baier, and Greta van Susteren.

Still not convinced? Well…

The lawyers from Paul, Weiss briefed Zweifach at least once a day on the results of what they were hearing. Zweifach, in turn, briefed the Murdochs. A 21st Century Fox executive recalls Rupert saying late that week, after he had heard multiple reports from the investigation, “I think we know where this is going.” Meanwhile, Roger Ailes was increasingly stung by Megyn Kelly’s continuing public silence. According to an executive familiar with the matter, after reporters asked Fox News’s spokesperson, Irena Briganti, why Kelly had not said a word in support of Ailes, Ailes wanted Briganti to issue a pointed, nasty comment: “Everyone has the right to remain silent.” Briganti never put out such a statement and advised that no response was the best response. According to the executive, Beth Ailes, who was in the office daily, advocated attacking Kelly through friendly media outlets, such as Breitbart News. She also asked Todd Starnes, a conservative columnist and Fox News radio host, to write a blog post about Kelly’s public silence. (He never did.) Roger Ailes told his core group of advisers several times that week that there needed to be more negative stories about Carlson. (Ailes’s lawyer Susan Estrich strongly disputed this narrative but provided no specific factual correction.)

21st Century Fox Signs FNC’s Shine and Abernethy To Longterm Deals

Posted in FNC on September 14, 2016 by icn2

TVNewser’s Chris Ariens writes about 21st Century Fox signing FNC’s top two executives to long term deals…

Rupert Murdoch has signed the two co-presidents of Fox News and Fox Business to longterm contracts.

Last month, Jack Abernethy and Bill Shine were named co-presidents in the wake of Roger Ailes resignation in July. Today’s news gives those moves more permanence, even as Murdoch remains executive chairman of FNC and FBN.

“Jack and Bill have been instrumental in FOX News’ continued dominance in the ratings and historic earnings performance,” said Murdoch in a statement. “I am delighted they’ve each signed new deals, ensuring stability and leadership to help guide the network for years to come.”

Bill O’Reilly’s Revisionist History…

Posted in FNC on September 13, 2016 by icn2

Politico’s Alex Weprin writes about Bill O’Reilly’s appearance on the Today Show this morning…

O’Reilly, appearing on NBC’s “Today” show to promote his new book “Killing the Rising Sun,” was asked by co-anchor Savannah Guthrie about Ailes’ departure from the channel, and Gretchen Carlson’s sexual harassment claims.

“I don’t know anything about the case, nothing,” O’Reilly said. “So, he was a great boss. Best boss I ever had, and that’s what I said to [NBC late night host] Seth Meyers, that’s all I’ve said. And I’m not going to say anything else because I work for this company. And I don’t really have any insight into anything. So for once in my life, I’m going to keep my big mouth shut.”

If you are a close follower of cable news you no doubt started choking as you read that last paragraph.

I have refrained from writing anything on the FNC talent that commented on Gretchen Carlson’s lawsuit after it was filed save for when Jeanine Pirro made news accidentally and Greta Van Susteren’s rather innocuous commentary to Lloyd Grove.

I didn’t write about Neil Cavuto’s op-ed or Geraldo Rivera and Sean Hannity’s Twitter ramblings or anyone else’s commentary about the lawsuit before alleged victims started coming out of the woodwork and before the eventual settlement.

I certainly didn’t write about Bill O’Reilly’s commentary.

Oh…you didn’t know about Bill O’Reilly’s commentary? Apparently neither does Bill.

At the risk of provoking Johnny Dollar’s wrath by citing the liberal activist Think Progress, Think Progress’ Judd Legum takes O’Reilly to task for his revisionist history (note: Legum called it “Amnesia”)

Back in July, a week after Carlson’s suit was filed, O’Reilly declared on NBC’s Late Show with Seth Myers that Ailes was the victim of a frivolous lawsuit. O’Reilly told Myers that “[i]n this country, every famous, powerful or wealthy person is a target.”

He suggested that Carlson’s lawsuit against Ailes, which Fox News ended up settling for $20 million, was “a frivolous lawsuit.” He suggested that America adopt “the English system of civil law whereby if you file a frivolous lawsuit and you lose, the judge has a right to make you pay all court costs.”

He called the entire situation a product of an “out-of-control tabloid society that is tremendously destructive.”

“I stand behind Roger 100 percent,” he concluded.

It’s one thing to re-assess the available public evidence and decide to totally reverse course and fall on your sword as Geraldo Rivera did very publicly on Facebook. Sure some of Rivera’s most cynical critics will question the timing of his U-turn because Rivera lost his book deal with Harper Collins just two days earlier…and regardless of whether there’s any merit to that line of questioning…the timing automatically puts that question into play regardless of whether it is deserved or not.

But at least Rivera looked at the evidence and decided his original position could no longer be supported.

That’s more than O’Reilly has ever done. O’Reilly has basically denied that he offered any defense or show of support to begin with. That should not be any surprise to anyone who has followed O’Reilly’s M.O. which is to rationalize and re-parse everything rather than admit to any weakness or error in his original argument.

To listen to O’Reilly this morning is to listen to someone deny his past. Pathetic, Bill. Really pathetic.

Update: I incurred Johnny Dollar’s wrath

This kind of slippery, inaccurate rewording is why I dinged @ErikWemple & @InsideCableNews for citing ThinkProgress.

Fine. Here’s the verbatim quote of the relevant section offered by O’Reilly on Seth Meyer’s show courtesy of Tommy Christopher at Mediaite

In this country, every famous, powerful, or wealthy person is a target. You’re a target, I’m a target. Anytime, somebody could come out and sue us, attack us, go to the press, or anything like that. Until Amer — and that’s a deplorable situation because I have to have bodyguards. I have to hire bodyguards, physical bodyguards, all right? Until the United States adopts the British system of civil law, whereby if you file a frivolous lawsuit and you lose, the judge has a right to make you pay all court costs. Until we adopt that very fair proposition, we’re going to have this out of control tabloid society that is tremendously destructive. I stand behind Roger 100 percent.

The bolding is mine but I bolded it because this is the part that where O’Reilly tries to cast Carlson’s suit as somehow not legitimate. Otherwise why bring it up at all? It’s a total non-sequitur to the rest of O’Reilly’s answer. A complete tangent.

O’Reilly doesn’t do tangents. Everything O’Reilly says is related to a point he’s trying to make.

This adoption of the British legal system O’Reilly called for is something he’s been hot about for well over a decade. Consider this Jack Shafer article in Slate from 12 years ago…

Bill O’Reilly came alive last night (July 14) on his highly rated Fox News Channel show, The O’Reilly Factor, during a discussion with Keith Graves, a reporter for the United Kingdom’s Sky News. In his opening, O’Reilly asked Graves, “What should be done with people … who continue to continue to accuse Prime Minister Blair and President Bush of deliberately lying about WMD?”

Graves didn’t adequately respond, so O’Reilly rephrased the question:

Now if somebody calls a prime minister a liar in print or on television in Britain, can they get in trouble? Because here you can call your president or anybody else a liar, even when the evidence that there is no lie is overwhelming, and simply walk away and not get anything to happen to you. Is it the same in England?

Yes, Graves replied, the prime minister would have grounds for a libel action if somebody called him a liar without evidence. And with that O’Reilly got to what was really on his mind. The subject wasn’t the failings of the CIA and MI6. And it wasn’t Tony Blair’s damaged reputation. It’s the damage being done to Bill O’Reilly’s reputation by Al Franken’s book, Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them!

Said O’Reilly:

Some of those smear books that are written here are being sold in London. Can I go over there and sue those people over there? Because I can’t win here. Can I go over there and sue? Because I’ll go.

So, O’Reilly in typical O’Reilly fashion did, at the very least indirectly, de-legitimized Carlson’s lawsuit and did back Roger Ailes’ version of events. Here’s the smoking gun…

I stand behind Roger 100%

You don’t “stand behind” someone in a controversial case unless you are backing their version of events.

O’Reilly could have offered support to Ailes based on Bill’s history with him. That would be both understandable and fair. Others did take that route.

That’s actually the direction Bill started out at with Meyers but then he veered off in another direction. Bill backed Ailes…stood behind him “100%” in the very next sentence after going on a rant about frivolous lawsuits. You would have to be in complete denial to not automatically arrive at a conclusion that the two are linked together and linked on purpose.

I will give the benefit of the doubt to O’Reilly in one area. O’Reilly could have just fumbled in his original response to Meyers. The problem is the Today Show interview would have been his opportunity to clean up any inadvertent mess me made on Meyers’ show.

Instead of cleaning it up, he ignored it entirely. Worse, he lied…

Well, first of all, my comments were made to Seth Meyers about what kind of a boss Roger Ailes was, not about the case. I don’t know anything about the case, OK? Nothing. So he was a good boss, best boss I’ve ever had, and that’s what I said to Seth Meyers. That’s all I’ve said.

No that’s not all you said Bill. You went off on a rant about frivolous lawsuits.

Again, this a classic O’Reilly tactic. Double down in denial while ignoring critical contrary evidence. Malmedy, anyone?

Press Releases: 09/06/16

Posted in Press Releases on September 6, 2016 by icn2

MSNBC (1), CNN (1)

MSNBC

MSNBC will provide special coverage surrounding Wednesday’s Commander-in-Chief Forum with Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. The one-hour NBC News event, moderated by Matt Lauer at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, will simulcast live at 8pm ET on the NBC broadcast network and MSNBC, and stream live on NBCNews.com.

MSNBC will present the following programming throughout the day:

· MSNBC’s dayside coverage will originate live from the flight deck of the Intrepid Museum from 9am – 5pm ET, led by anchors Stephanie Ruhle, Craig Melvin, Tamron Hall, Andrea Mitchell, Hallie Jackson, Thomas Roberts, Kate Snow and Chris Hayes.

· Throughout the day, NBC News Correspondent Tammy Leitner will be onboard the Intrepid bringing up-to-the-minute coverage of the Forum’s set up and candidate and VIP arrivals. Political correspondents Kasie Hunt, Hallie Jackson, Katy Tur and Kristen Welker will provide live reports from the campaign trail, Jacob Soboroff will continue the #UpForGrabsMSNBC series from the battleground state of Ohio, and Hans Nichols will provide analysis of where the candidates stand on national security issues. Chris Jansing will host a Forum watch party in the battleground state of Florida.

· At 4pm, Chris Hayes anchors live from the Intrepid Museum.
· At 5pm, Chuck Todd hosts “MTP Daily” live from the Intrepid Museum.
· At 6pm, Steve Kornacki anchors live from the Intrepid Museum.
· At 7pm, Chris Matthews hosts “Hardball” live from the Intrepid Museum.

___________________________

CNN

A Trip to Hanoi, Featuring Dinner with President Obama, Kicks off Season Eight of CNN Original Series Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown, Sunday Sept. 25 at 9pm

New Edition of Prime Cuts Features Season Seven Highlights with a Taste of Season Eight

(September 6, 2016) Season eight of the top-rated Emmy and Peabody award-winning CNN Original Series Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown begins on Sunday, September 25 at 9pm ET/PT with a trip to Hanoi, Vietnam featuring dinner with president Barack Obama.
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More Van Susteren…

Posted in FNC on September 6, 2016 by icn2

NY Magazine’s Gabriel Sherman has more on the Greta Van Susteren departure from FNC…

Fox News announced Greta Van Susteren was leaving the network and will be replaced by Brit Hume until the election. Fox’s media correspondent Howard Kurtz reported Van Susteren left after asking to renegotiate her contract. But a source close to Van Susteren disputed this, telling me Van Susteren left because “she is troubled by the culture” Ailes built. On September 1, Van Susteren notified Fox that she was exercising a clause in her contract that allows her to leave Fox if Ailes is no longer running the channel.

Over the summer, Van Susteren took flak for casting doubt on Carlson’s claims. The source says Van Susteren did not know about Ailes’s alleged harassment at that point.

Settlement in the Carlson Lawsuit…

Posted in FNC on September 6, 2016 by icn2

Vainity Fair’s Sarah Ellison writes about FNC settling the Carlson lawsuit on behalf of Roger Ailes…

The Murdochs appear intent on putting the Ailes saga behind them as they move into the last stretches of an election and an attempt to corral crucial anchors, such as Megyn Kelly, to re-sign with the network. Now the company has agreed, on behalf of Ailes, to settle Carlson’s suit for a stunning $20 million, according to three people familiar with the settlement. To reinforce their seriousness about creating a new culture in a post-Ailes world, the company offered Carlson a public apology as part of the settlement. “We sincerely regret and apologize for the fact that Gretchen was not treated with the respect and dignity that she and all of our colleagues deserve,” the statement noted. (The company, according to two people familiar with the discussions, has also reached settlement agreements with two other women.)

Though Carlson’s case is against Ailes personally, Fox is essentially his insurer for any settlement, according to two people familiar with the arrangement, and discussions between Ailes’s legal team and 21st Century Fox’s legal team became very tense regarding how much Ailes might pay in a settlement. (At press time, it was unclear how much Ailes was personally on the hook for.) As part of the language at the end of the settlement, numerous people with knowledge of the deal told me, Carlson has agreed not to bring any further legal action against other executives at Fox News, or against the company itself.

Greta Van Susteren Departs FNC…

Posted in FNC on September 6, 2016 by icn2

Greta Van Susteren exercised her Roger Ailes escape clause…

Yes, I have left the Fox News Channel.

On Thursday night, I made my decision and informed Fox News of my decision that I was leaving Fox News Channel per my contract.

Fox has not felt like home to me for a few years and I took advantage of the clause in my contract which allows me to leave now. The clause had a time limitation, meaning I could not wait.

The timeframe Greta cites is going to raise some eyebrows. “A few years” could put her show being moved out of primetime into play as a contributing factor.