The Hazards of Live TV: #25,150

Posted in Hazards of Live TV on October 20, 2018 by icn2

It’s been a long time since I’ve done one of these and if I hadn’t have stumbled upon it by accident yesterday, I never would have posted it. Contessa Brewer’s reaction is priceless…

HLN Blows Up Format…AGAIN! Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

Posted in HLN on October 16, 2018 by icn2

HLN blew up it’s dayside lineup and format yet again and that got me off my ass and on to the keyboard.

I’ve lost count how many times HLN has blown up its format since it stopped using CNN Headline News’ half hour wheel format in the mid 2000s. It’s surely blown it up at least four times in the last 10 years. News…then opinion mixed with news…then more tape than news…then a horrid social media tie in attempt…then back to live news which was supposed to cover more flyover territory stories. And during it all a revolving door of shows and talent paraded on and off HLN’s airwaves.

The most recent news revamp just launched barely 2 years ago when CNN started sending talent over in the forms of Ashleigh Banfield, Michaela Pereira, and (last year) Carol Costello.

When Costello’s move was announced I said it was a risk.
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NBC’s Bungled Response to the Tom Brokaw Allegations

Posted in Miscellaneous Subjects on May 4, 2018 by icn2

I haven’t blogged in four months. But this story has brought me out because this story is begging for my attention.

I don’t know if Tom Brokaw did what Linda Vester claims he did. I can never know. Brokaw has a long pedigree of distinction both in and out of journalism, but then so did Charlie Rose and Matt Lauer. So did Roger Ailes. Vester has been out of the public eye for over a decade so why would she invite the kind of spotlight and all the negative crap that was guaranteed to come her way if there wasn’t maybe something to this. Vester isn’t an opportunist. She has more to lose than to gain by coming forward at this point in her life. Or so the conventional wisdom would go.

But, this is all idle speculation and extrapolation, not grounded in fact. The only two people who can weigh in to clear this up already have and, lacking another person coming forward on the record, this story isn’t going anywhere from a resolution standpoint.

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Jeff Zucker to ESPN?

Posted in CNN on January 19, 2018 by icn2

Deadline’s Nellie Andreeva writes that Jeff Zucker has been in talks with Disney about possibly taking over ESPN…

Reps at Disney could not be reached for comment, but multiple sources close to Zucker confirmed to Deadline that he has had conversations for the top job at the sports giant. I hear he met with Disney chairman and chief executive officer Bob Iger last week in New York.


Zucker, whose current CNN contract I hear is up at the end of the year, is an intriguing proposition. He has a higher profile than any of the other potential candidates. He was able to reverse CNN’s linear ratings declines even before the Donald Trump-fueled political coverage ratings bonanza. He also successfully built the cable news network’s digital brand, overseeing a big online expansion.

Those are things Disney wants to see ESPN achieve. The network’s ratings woes have been dragging down Disney’s stock price as the sports net has been shedding linear subscribers. Disney also has been looking to better monetize ESPN and its programming in a multi-platform universe, including via a recently announced ESPN-branded OTT service.

I agree with part of Andreeva’s retrospective of Zucker’s “accomplishments”. He did make a huge push into digital for CNN…the success of which is still to ultimately be judged. But don’t give him too many props for “fixing” CNN’s ratings. He never got CNN close to striking distance of FNC and though he did push CNN above MSNBC…that had as much, if not more, to do with MSNBC’s crashing and burning on its own than it did with anything Zucker did…a point reinforced by the NBC cable network’s rebound in the ratings.

I would also be remiss in not noting one of the things Zucker did over the air was basically kill CNN’s news brand. He pushed (exiled?) the bulk of the news, even major world news, to the digital platform. Under Jeff Zucker, CNN stopped being the cable network to turn to for straight news and became the network for watercooler news.

All of which makes his hiring by ESPN all the more questionable because ESPN’s problem is eroding viewership. Driving people to digital for sports won’t solve that problem. You don’t want to move your biggest sports assets to digital…right now you’ll lose out on that deal because there aren’t enough out there to make up for what you lose by cutting off cable distribution. Ultimately at some point that will change and digital will become to dominant distribution channel. But we are still years from that point.

In addition to spearheading CNN’s ratings resurgence, Zucker has been able to grow a slew of media stars, turning Don Lemon, Jake Tapper and Chris Cuomo into household names.

Oh please. None of these guys are household names. I love me some Tapper but even he isn’t a household name. And Zucker didn’t “grow” any of these guys. Lemon became “famous”, if you want to use that term, all on his own because of his gaffes. Tapper had a rep before he even got to CNN and that hasn’t changed since he’s been there. I see very little of Zucker’s imprint on Cuomo. And as long as we’re talking about profiles, what the hell has happened to Anderson Cooper since Zucker arrived? He went from being CNN’s go to, bounce around the country/world, news star to being a low profile desk jockey. Maybe that’s partly Cooper’s own doing/choice…but you can draw a dividing line between Anderson Cooper pre-Jeff Zucker and Anderson Cooper post-Jeff Zucker.

Update: CNN’s Brian Stelter, completely and irrevocably entangled in conflict of interest mode for this story for as long as it plays out, along with the similarly ensnared Dylan Byers note that CNN is denying the that Zucker is interested.

In response to questions, CNN spokeswoman Allison Gollust said, “Jeff loves his job at CNN, and has no interest in running ESPN.”

They also note that Andreeva updated her original story to remove the Iger sentence…

Deadline’s story, written by Nellie Andreeva, initially said “I hear that he met with Disney chairman and chief executive officer Bob Iger last week.” But that sentence was later cut from the story. Multiple sources denied to CNN that there’s been any in-person meeting between Zucker and Iger.

CBS is about to make a mistake…

Posted in Miscellaneous Subjects on November 27, 2017 by icn2

Broadcast TV usually falls outside of my coverage area but every once in a while something comes along that I just can’t ignore. Today it is the idea that Vladimir Duthiers is the front runner to get the CBS This Morning seat vacated by the departed in disgrace Charlie Rose. Said news comes from today’s Page Six

Sources told Page Six last week that the network was “begging” new “60 Minutes” correspondent Oprah Winfrey to fill in and team up with best friend King. But a network source says, “Oprah will continue doing work for ‘60 Minutes,’ but has no interest in getting up at 4 a.m. every day.” The source added of Duthiers, “Vlad is a front-runner at this point … Like Charlie, Vlad’s strength is as an interviewer.”

Duthiers is a Peabody and Emmy winner, and got high marks for covering the Black Lives Matter protests in Ferguson, Mo. He was also CNN’s West Africa correspondent.

This would be a mistake. Not because it would be Duthiers. This has nothing to do with Duthiers or his abilities at all.

It would be a mistake because it ignores the obvious; CBS doesn’t have a bench with anyone capable of replacing Rose and to try to replace Rose from the CBS bench would mean CBS has forgotten the very reasons for putting Rose there in the first place.

CBS This Morning started out as a Charlie Rose vehicle. Sure, it had Erica Hill at Rose’s side (for a while anyways) and Gayle King was there too. But King didn’t start out as a full co-anchor. She would appear starting at the 8am hour.

CBS This Morning was always a Charlie Rose vehicle. Rose was hired because of the pedigree he had cultivated over decades at PBS. Rose was the lynchpin…the glue that held the show together. Even as Norah O’Donnell replaced Hill and King was allowed on the air at the beginning of the show and that triumvirate gelled into the cohesive unit that drove the CBS morning show to ratings gains while its competitors lost views, it was still Charlie Rose’s show because he still had the most gravitas.

This is why picking a relative no-name off the CBS bench breaks everything CBS had built up to this point. Doesn’t matter if it was Druthiers or Jeff Glor or Anthony Mason…nobody on CBS’ bench has the gravitas to fill the gap that Rose’s exit created and which the CBS morning show depended on.

It’s not like there isn’t gravitas remaining on the show. In the intervening years both O’Donnell and King have carved out their own spaces on the show. The smart play here would be to turn the show into a tandem and build off of what they created. They have earned the right to go it alone.

By bringing in a new third wheel, but one lacking in Rose’s gravitas and stature, the dynamic CBS had created gets destroyed. The only way that dynamic continues is with O’Donnell and King going it alone.

By not going that route, by essentially throwing up their hands and saying, “well, let’s kind of start over” and bringing on someone who doesn’t have the profile or background to lead the show the way Rose did, and only be able to follow in O’Donnell and King’s wake, CBS is saying that not only does it not understand the dynamic that made the show work, it would rather set things back with an on set chemistry disruption that is going to happen as the three hosts figure out their roles all over again but it is also a big time no-confidence vote in both O’Donnell and King that they aren’t good enough to go forward on their own.

Believe me, that is exactly what CBS would be saying, for without a Rose replacement capable of keeping the existing dynamic going, the best option in preserving the CBS This Morning dynamic is not to replace Rose with someone who can’t fill the role he played but to go forward with the two who are best placed to preserve that dynamic.

Roberts Out, Gura In…

Posted in MSNBC on November 19, 2017 by icn2

Mediaite’s Justin Baragona writes, with some palace intrigue tossed in, that Thomas Roberts is out at MSNBC and Justin Gura is in. I knew about Gura because he tweeted it yesterday but the Roberts news I didn’t catch until today.

Yes, it’s been a long time since I’ve written anything here but I’ve been bored out of my skull at the lack of interesting cable news angles that don’t involve Trump or Clinton. Which makes Baragona’s article whet my appetite…

Per an MSNBC Spokesperson: “Thomas Roberts has decided to leave MSNBC for other endeavors. He’s been a valued member of the NBC News and MSNBC family since 2010, and we’re thankful for his contributions and Emmy Award-winning coverage for the news division. We wish him success in his new adventure.”

This version of events runs counter to what Mediaite has heard which is that Roberts was made many unfulfilled promises and that MSNBC staffers are upset that Roberts, a very highly regarded colleague at MSNBC, has been forced out.

I do not find it surprising that Roberts may be feeling like the victim of unfulfilled promises. Network history is replete with the bodies of talent who got run over after being promised all kinds of stuff. I find it a bit more surprising that anyone would be shocked that he has been (allegedly) forced out. He lost his M-Fr gig and wound up on weekends. That’s a demotion, pure and simple. Banishment, at that point, becomes a much more realistic outcome.

Another thing to notice with this move is that it is just a weekend anchor job and yet we are told it was made by Lack directly not MSNBC president Phil Griffin, something that an official MSNBC source disputes.</blockquote.

This doesn't surprise me. Lack has his fingerprints all over MSNBC as he continues to bring NBC News and its cable offshoot tighter together.

There is heightened sensitivity surrounding Lack’s role since many inside the network believe Griffin will soon be replaced by his “number two,” former CNN showrunner Jonathan Wald. Wald, who was also hired directly by Lack, left CNN earlier this year to become the SVP of Programming and Development at MSNBC.

This would surprise me, mostly because NBC just renewed Griffin so it would look very odd to move him off after just having re-signed him. Why rehire a guy you really didn’t want to keep around? But NBC could try to disguise the switch as a “promotion” though it’s kind of difficult to promote someone from being a network head to a higher position precisely because there aren’t really any viable higher positions at NBC than network head.

FNC Finally Finalizes Dayside…

Posted in FNC on September 26, 2017 by icn2

TVNewser’s Chris Ariens notes that FNC is finally setting its dayside lineup in stone. Dayside has been in a partial state of flux since Gretchen Carlson left the network…and that was over a year ago. With these moves FNC’s lineup will be complete.

– Harris Faulkner will get her own show at 1pm called…uh…Outnumbered Overtime. Question: If it’s her show how can she “outnumber” anyone? Just wondering. This does mean John Scott loses an hour since 1pm was his shift.

– Dana Perino will get her own show at 2pm called The Daily Briefing.

– Sandra Smith will get the permanent co-anchor gig with Bill Hemmer in America’s Newsroom at 9am.

This comes on the heels of the announcement that Shannon Bream is getting an 11pm show to go up against Brian Williams on MSNBC and Don Lemon at CNN.