Archive for the FNC Category

Get Well Neil…

Posted in FBN, FNC on June 21, 2016 by icn2

TV Newser’s Chris Ariens reported this morning that Neil Cavuto had open heart surgery. Hope to see Cavuto back on the air soon…

Fox News and Fox Business anchor Neil Cavuto is on the mend following open heart surgery. Cavuto, 57, who has been off the air since May 31, underwent the procedure yesterday.

“Neil Cavuto had open heart surgery yesterday and came through it with flying colors,” a Fox News spokesperson said. “Knowing Neil, he’ll be back as soon as he can, but he is slated to return to hosting his three programs on Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network later this year. Everyone here is wishing him a speedy recovery.”

Gabriel Sherman’s Unhealthy FNC Obsession…

Posted in FNC on May 20, 2016 by icn2

What’s happened to Gabriel Sherman? There was a time when I considered him one of the most dangerous media writers in America for articles like this. Back then nobody complained about Sherman’s writing being inaccurate or biased. They just marveled at all details.

But ever since Sherman’s FNC book on Roger Ailes came out (some would argue that it really began before that point) his writing has taken on more of a negative slant. How much of that slant is actual real negative dirt and how much of it is BS is hard to quantify. If you listen to people like Joe Concha it’s all mostly BS. But I’ve tried to give the benefit of the doubt when feasible.

But Sherman’s latest article has me non-plussed to say the least. It takes what can only be described as a very negative slant on Megyn Kelly’s special and what it means for her.

Megyn Kelly’s much-publicized broadcast special with Donald Trump was supposed to launch the Fox News star into the stratosphere of television anchordom. Instead, the widely panned show seems to have achieved the opposite result: It exposed the extent of her limited mainstream appeal. Kelly drew just 4.8 million viewers on Tuesday night, a number television executives say is a disappointment by any measure. Three senior executives I spoke with say an audience of 9 million would have been a success. “Not good for her at all,” was how one insider put it.

In the days since, Kelly has been working to contain the fallout. She took aim at critics on her cable show Wednesday night by deploying an age-old Fox News tactic: claiming the backlash was a result of liberal media bias. But behind the scenes, she is said to be worried about the response. “She’s very upset with the show reaction, and in hindsight with how it was produced,” one Fox veteran told me.


The question for Kelly and her agents at CAA is where to go from here. Before the special, she had maneuvered herself into a position of significant leverage over her boss Roger Ailes and seemed poised to land either a new deal from Fox with a salary in the $25 million range or a plum job at another network. Industry sources said Ailes couldn’t afford to lose Kelly. Now her advantage looks smaller — a turn of events that surely pleases Ailes. According to one Fox insider, Ailes was heard “snickering” in a meeting yesterday when the topic of Kelly’s special came up in conversation. (Ailes’s spokesperson Irena Briganti did not respond to a request for comment.)

There’s just so much that’s demonstrably wrong about Sherman’s piece, regardless of what his sources are saying.

For starters one special, whether it hit it out of the park ratings wise or not…and there are valid arguments to be had on both sides of that issue…isn’t going to decide Kelly’s fate for more specials nor is it going to materially impact Kelly’s shot at getting a mega deal from FNC. You don’t achieve Barbara Walters status based on a single special. It would take multiple specials over years to either get there or not get there.

Second, Kelly and FNC would be playing a long game. Unless the special was an out and out total disaster…and say what you will about the quality of the special and the guests and the interviews…it didn’t come close to that level of failure…there was little need to worry about the reaction from a single special. Kelly can only be judged on a body of work and you don’t get there based on a solitary special.

Third, you don’t build up a brand on another network on the back of just one special so any talk about having a sup-par ratings special (regardless of whether that’s what happened or not) expose “the extent of her limited mainstream appeal” is assinine. Maybe Kelly really does have limited mainstream appeal? Sure, it’s possible. But the sample size is way too small to make such a pronouncement and have it be viewed as anything other than negative spin.

Fourth, Kelly taking on her critics is not only fair but probably expected because this kind of instant reaction short game “you’re a failure if you don’t succeed overwhelmingly on the first try” TV world we exist in belies the fact that this is a long play. Some of the criticism leveled at Kelly, particularly over the Trump interview, shows a complete lack of understanding for what this special was supposed to be in the first place. It was never going to be the “hard hitting” style the Kelly File format is known for nor was it going to be a repeat of the first debate. That’s not why you do these kinds of specials.

People say that Kelly is angling for Oprah/Barbara territory. Uh…news flash…that territory is the territory of the softball interview. It’s about thoughtful semi-probing questions. It’s rarely about going for the jugular. People forget that both Walters and Oprah had built up reputations for big gets but mostly puffy banal interviews in their specials.

So when I see a Sherman article like this I roll my eyes. This article puts what can only be described as an un-charitable negative spin on a story that doesn’t justify it at all.

For their part, Kelly’s team doesn’t seem eager to talk about the program. When I called her CAA agent Matt DelPiano to ask him about the special, he hung up.

Maybe they didn’t want to talk to someone who was going to over negatively spin a story. Reading this article, I’d say they were probably justified.

Andrea Tantaros off FNC due to vague “contract issues”…

Posted in FNC on April 27, 2016 by icn2

TVNewser’s Chris Ariens reports that Andrea Tantaros has been taken off FNC’s air due to some deliberately vague “contract issues”…

TVNewser got a tip earlier today regarding Tantaros. When we reached out to FNC, they sent us this statement: “Issues have arisen regarding Andrea’s contract, and Fox News Channel has determined it best that she take some time off. She is still under contract with the network.”

What makes this newsworty isn’t that Tantaros is off the air…it’s the reasons FNC gave. They raise more questions than they answer…

Changes in FNC Executive Ranks…

Posted in FNC on April 21, 2016 by icn2

TVNewser’s A.J. Katz writes that FNC’s Michael Clemente is being moved from Executive Vice President of News Editorial to a new unit inside FNC. Clemente will be EVP of News Specials.

In the shift, Jay Wallace (pictured) has been upped to evp, news and editorial overseeing all daytime weekday and weekend news shows. Wallace has been with the network from the beginning, starting as Shepard Smith‘s ep. Bill Sammon, vp and managing editor of the D.C. bureau, will now report to Wallace.

This kind of move naturally will spark a bunch of “What’s it all mean?” kibitzing. One of the first out of the gate is New York Magazine’s Gabriel Sherman who takes a familiar path…

This afternoon, Fox announced that Clemente is being moved to a new “longform unit” at the network. Veteran Fox executive Jay Wallace will replace him as executive VP of news. For Fox, the shake-up has wide-ranging implications. Until today, Clemente was seen inside and outside the network as a leading contender to replace Ailes, who turns 76 next month. “He’s out,” a Fox host told me. “He’s been kneecapped.”

While the suddenness of Clemente’s ouster stunned Fox hosts and producers, Ailes’s very public backing of Clemente in front of his colleagues might have been seen as an omen. “Roger is very needy and insecure,” one Fox veteran said. He’s often nicest to you when you’re on the way out.

One Fox anchor told me that Ailes suspected Clemente of leaking to the press over the past year. Inside Fox, where executives use burner phones because they fear their corporate lines are monitored, there’s not much worse than being labeled a leaker. Another mark against Clemente is that he had a relationship with Rupert Murdoch. Ailes is said to dislike executives who build up independent power bases, and talking to Murdoch, Ailes’s boss, would be seen as a threat. Lastly, Clemente, a former ABC News executive, never fully shed the stigma that he was an outsider. (Politically, he’s a centrist). His replacement, Jay Wallace, is a longtime Fox executive, who’s risen up through the ranks over the past decade.

Upcoming: Joe Concha’s “Sherman is lying again” rebuttal in 3…2…1…

Shots Fired…

Posted in CNN, FNC on April 1, 2016 by icn2

The AP’s David Bauder writes up some of the things Megyn Kelly says in an interview with Charlie Rose to air Sunday Morning on CBS.

Kelly takes another (more than deserved) shot at O’Reilly but expands her reach to include CNN…

“There should have been a moment of solidarity among journalists that night to say, ‘We will not allow ourselves to be bullied by a presidential front runner, even one as powerful and as ahead in the polls at that point as Trump was,'” Kelly said. “‘This is about journalism and the First Amendment, and we will put the debate moderator out on the stage that we think is appropriate.’ And I think it’s a slippery slope when we don’t stand shoulder to shoulder in those moments.”

CNN declined to comment on her remarks.

I’ll bet. This is, after all, the same network that couldn’t say no to the RNC after it emerged that other networks were trying to get the NBC debate.

Shots Fired…

Posted in FNC on March 17, 2016 by icn2

More Magazine’s Allison Glock interviews Megyn Kelly. Everyone is going to zero in on the part you can’t read online but Page Six got dumped in its lap…(via J$)

While Kelly’s had widespread support during the media war, she admits in More of her colleague Bill O’Reilly, “I do wish that O’Reilly had defended me more in his interview with Trump. I would have defended him more.” The host of “The Kelly File” also says of the Trump conflict: “Honestly? People think I’m fearless. But I’m human.”

And so we see the first real public schism, however small it may be, between Kelly and O’Reilly. In the past we’ve only had 3rd party anonymous anecdotes and inferences drawn from what’s appeared on their respective shows to tell us there was friction, mostly from the O’Reilly side.

This is something else entirely. It’s public and its deliberate. Kelly is big enough and O’Reilly’s remaining shelf life is short enough that even if Roger Ailes doesn’t like tent shooting, he has to tolerate it in this case. Kelly is the future. O’Reilly is the past. If O’Reilly didn’t already know it, he’s going to know it now. Get in line son, this is the new program.

Amount of Sleep Deprivation ≠ % Chances of Landing Flagship Morning Show

Posted in FNC on February 17, 2016 by icn2

Mediate’s Joe Concha pens an article about why Ainsley Earhardt deserved the Fox and Friends Morning Show gig. Obviously, I disagree otherwise there’d be no point in writing…

But first we must pause to note the completely gratuitous, non-sequitur, bordering on obsessive, shot taken at Gabe Sherman by Concha…

In the end — and this is just a guess since conjuring up Casper sources who don’t actually exist in the building just ain’t my thing

Now back to the story at hand…

First of all, this isn’t about Earhardt and her suitability for FNC’s morning show. I think FNC made the only choice it could have made, given the structure of the show, the rapport with the hosts, and its history of who has occupied the middle seat. There was no better suited internal candidate available than Earhardt. If not her, FNC would have needed to go outside to find someone better.

No, this is about Concha’s reasoning why she got the gig…

But here’s why Earhardt’s promotion deserves a column: She would later attend the University of South Carolina, where she was inducted into four honor societies, graduating with a broadcast journalism degree in 1999. Earhardt would go on to work at local news stations in Columbia, SC and San Antonio before being hired by Fox News in 2007. And those nine years weren’t what one would call easy, glamorous or necessarily fun, as Fox assigned her primarily to do what are called overnight cut-ins… a shift that really takes its toll on both body and spirit.

Having first done for overnights/early mornings in college (radio), Time Warner (NY-1) and FNC a long time ago in hosting, producing and news writing roles, respectively, it can be safely said working overnights means a schedule of doing cut-ins each hour on the half hour starting in the 10:00 PM hour, which consists of presenting a 1-minute news/breaking news update to keep the content fresh after the network goes to tape (repeats of prior programming) from live programming. And if big news does break, it’s you and a skeleton crew left to handle matters until the regular, much larger staff starts comes in at 4:00 AM.

But the toll-body-spirit part comes with being idle for 59 minutes, only to have to turn yourself back on for one minute each hour. Know this: It would almost be better to be on the air during the entire 8-hour shift than waiting around, periodically coordinating with a producer or writer, tweaking scripts, and reading up on whatever you’re covering because during the down times, the urge to sleep can be, at times, overwhelming. And once that shift is done, it’s time to go home and attempt to rest during the day, which is usually an exercise in futility if getting a clean 6-7 hours is the goal (maxing out at 4 was almost always the case). It’s especially tough when one is in a relationship with someone working standard hours and wants to grab dinner out once in awhile after their version of work. And try motivating a lifeless body to get to a gym…

This is basically what Earhardt endured for the better part of the past nine years: A thankless shift and no real sign of the big reward she’s been aiming for all along: A shot at hosting Fox & Friends on weekdays permanently. Earhardt would fill in on F&F Weekend, sure. And she was rewarded the one-hour Fox & Friends First (5:00 AM EST) a few years ago along with Childers. But here’s the thing about being on-air and moving up the ladder to better timeslots, more exposure, more money: It’s always a race against time, against aging… particularly for women. On one hand, the average programming exec wants someone (preferably attractive regardless of channel or network, local or national) with poise, experience, energy and presence who brings chemistry to the set. On the other hand, it takes time to build a brand and establish the right contacts and trust internally. And if you’re stuck behind what is your channel or network’s version of a Today Show version of Katie Couric (in their own eyes), you’re basically screwed.

Look, I did graveyard…not in the media…but I did it. For 7 years. I know what that does to your life. So I’m not minimizing in any way what Earhardt went through.

But it really has nothing at all to do with her suitability for a promotion of this level. Indeed, usually when you’ve been doing that shift on TV for that long it means one of two things:

1) You aren’t viewed too favorably by your superiors but you aren’t bad enough to fire outright.

2) You like it there.

Cable news overnights is not ABC’s World News Now. One is a place for those consigned to the equivalent of TV news limbo, the other has a reputation for being a breeding ground for up and coming talent for over 20 years. Guess which is which.

You can get fired easily for screwing up during an overnight breaking news event in cable news. This has happened. There’s at least one talent working at one network who got summarily dismissed with a “do not admit” sign posted at security at another network for having a bad breaking news overnight.

While FNC prizes loyalty, there’s loyalty and then there’s loyalty. One type of loyalty is pitching in under tough conditions (i.e. Thomas Roberts, working still as a free lancer, filling in when Olbermann got suspended when no one else wanted to do it…basically landed him a full time gig at MSNBC). Anchoring overnights that long is not that kind of loyalty. It’s commendable from a “willing to take the pain” point of view. But it’s not the kind of thing that gets network execs thinking “We have a future morning show host”. It takes more than that. A lot more.

And, honestly, if you want to look at it purely from Concha’s “paying your dues” standpoint, Patti Ann Browne deserves a promotion more. That she hasn’t gotten a regular weekday daytime gig by now remains one of the biggest mysteries (and mistakes) in FNC’s history…provided it wasn’t her choice.

But here’s likely (and hopefully) more the reason behind the Earhardt decision: Fox brass appreciated her sacrifices that came with doing overnight cut-ins and a 5:00 AM show. She paid her dues for nearly a decade. She showed in fill-in opportunities she can perform the job and do it well. It was simply her turn. Fairness, loyalty and pragmatism actually won the day.

No they didn’t. Her sacrifices didn’t hurt her chances. But they were not the difference maker. Other factors were far more important like on set chemistry with Kilmeade and Doocy, personality, and…yes, we can’t ignore the elephant…looks. It’s a visual and audio medium after all. All the loyalty and sacrifice in the world won’t amount to a hill of beans if those other factors aren’t there.

Reward by loyalty is the exception and not the rule now. This business is just too cutthroat and brutal to tolerate sentimentality based on loyalty anymore. You could make an impressive list of talent, national and local, who were loyal, paid their dues, and still wound up getting shafted by their bosses. Granted, at FNC loyalty is a bigger deal than at other networks. But not to the point that you’re going to be handed the keys to the network’s flaghship morning show based on your loyalty.

Earhardt paid her dues. But so have plenty of people at FNC. It takes more than that to land on Fox and Friends permanently. Earhardt didn’t “earn” her spot based on dues and loyalty. They just didn’t do anything to jeopardize her consideration. Which was all that was required.


This part I need to highlight separately because it raises all kinds of questions…

A thankless shift and no real sign of the big reward she’s been aiming for all along: A shot at hosting Fox & Friends on weekdays permanently.

“the big reward she’s been aiming for all along”?????????????

How does Concha know that? There are two possibilities…

1) He doesn’t know that. He’s just guessing but phrased it badly so it looks definitive when it’s nothing more than idle speculation. And it’s something he should correct because it will cause negative fallout to Earhardt left up that way as it ascribes a level of intent and sense of entitlement to her that doesn’t play well publicly.

2) He does know that. But that means he was told that, either by Earhardt herself or by “sources close to Earhardt” which still leads back to Earhardt. It also means he burned his source if it was Earhardt…hell he burned her even if his source wasn’t her.

If I were to guess, I’m going with Option #1. FNC has a history of talent looking to take over on Fox and Friends and that history didn’t play out well for the instigator. That alone makes the idea that she was angling publicly for the gig before Hasselbeck left unlikely.


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