Spot The Anonymouse: The Sequel…
Mediaite’s Joe Concha writes about the latest leak to allegedly come out of NBC News…
The big two questions are: Would this have worked if NBC News President Deborah Turness could have pulled it off? And why/how do these kind of leaks continue to occur under Ms. Turness?
At least one of these questions is the wrong one to be asking. But I’ll circle back to that in a moment…
Then there’s the disturbing (to NBC brass) pattern of leaks during the Turness tenure. David Gregory’s exit was a clinic on how not to handle something in the media business (or any business for that matter). Note: Gregory had been with the network for two decades, handling anchoring/hosting roles from morning show to evening newscast. A few months before firing him, someone in a high place at NBC willfully leaked that a “psychological consultant” was hired to interview Gregory’s friends and family (which didn’t make him look bad or anything). And before NBC could announce his actual termination in August, again the network is caught flat-footed when the press breaks the not-so-surprising news first.
So who’s talking and why? Today, the New York Post features a blaring headline: Are Deborah Turness’ days at NBC News numbered? Three big reasons why the question is being asked:
I’m not going to argue that there haven’t been some damaging leaks to come out of NBC and I’m especially not going to argue that NBC’s handling of the Gregory termination was not a Charlie Foxtrot.
But damaging leaks sprung up all over NBC during the Ann Curry fiasco, another personel change that NBC botched badly, but I don’t recall Concha calling Steve Capus’ tenure “tumultuous”.
More to the point, this last leak can’t be laid at NBC’s doorstep. It came from elsewhere. So NBC News didn’t shoot itself in the foot by leaking the Stewart story just weeks after Todd took over MTP. NBC was shot at by someone from outside the network.
The evidence for an outside shot fired at 30 Rock was right there for all to see, if you knew what to look for.
Exhibit A: The author of the story was Gabriel Sherman.
Exhibit B: What major story did Sherman just write about just a few days earlier? CNN and Jeff Zucker.
Timing is everything. In this case two stories on Zucker back to back, stories that were done with Zucker’s co-operation, followed immediately by a story on Meet The Press, occurred too closely together to be dismissed as a mere coincidence. It’s a mistake that even seasoned media writers sometimes make thinking they’ve covered their tracks without realizing that some of us are on the lookout for red flags like that.
Jeff Zucker is plugged in. He knows everyone in the biz, associations built up over decades rising up NBC’s corporate ranks. Agents talk…they talk a lot more than the outsiders looking in on this industry realize.
The biggest secret about the news business is how much of it has never been publicly disclosed. The amount of history that’s been publicly disseminated by media writers is eclipsed by the amount of history that they know but have never revealed for one reason or another.
The leaker of the Stewart story definitely has ties to NBC. He just doesn’t work there any more.
The question Concha should be asking is why Jeff Zucker decided to leak the Stewart story to Sherman. What was his motivation? What does he gain?