Archive for the FNC Category

Michael Clemente Out at FNC…

Posted in FNC on July 25, 2016 by icn2

Well this isn’t exactly a surprise though the timing is interesting. TVNewser’s Chris Ariens writes that FNC specials/longform unit head Michael Clemente and his number 2 Peter Boyer are out at the network…

Clemente is the first high-profile executive to be dismissed following Roger Ailes‘s resignation last Thursday, but insiders say his dismissal was not tied to last week’s moves, when Ailes departed and 21st Century Fox chairman Rupert Murdoch named himself interim chairman.

Until April of this year, Clemente was EVP of News Editorial. He was moved to a specials/longform unit and was replaced by Jay Wallace, a longtime Fox Newser who started his career on Shepard Smith‘s show. Bill Shine, who is Senior of programming, remains the internal frontrunner to oversee the channel when Murdoch steps back.

More Ailes Tick, Tock…

Posted in FNC on July 24, 2016 by icn2

In a must read, ABC News’ Josh Margolin (!!!) has some new details of what happened behind the scenes…

Quickly, Ailes assembled a war room at his home in Bergen County, New Jersey. Chief among those advising Ailes was his wife, Beth. In the room or dialed in on all-points conference calls were friends, and, importantly, PR and legal staff from Fox News, who were technically not even involved in the case.

Ailes made it clear to his team that he thought Lachlan and James Murdoch would try to use the Carlson lawsuit as a vehicle to remove him from his perch. After a career of battles -– both in politics and media -– Ailes figured he’d be able to strategize and scrap his way through and stay on top.

“We’re not going to let them win,” Ailes said of the Murdoch heirs.

In keeping with Ailes’ take-no-prisoners style, it was decided that the defense would be a blistering offense. And key to that would be a campaign of public pronouncements of support from Fox employees, to be led by those with the highest profile and best ratings. Quickly, the litany of A-listers coming out in support of their embattled boss would include Van Susteren, O’Reilly, Bartiromo, Jeanine Pirro and Neil Cavuto.

“It was an unbelievable campaign,” one insider told ABC News. “There was enormous pressure.”

And the pressure was most extreme to get Kelly on board. She had taken center stage in public battles this year with Donald Trump and she is perceived to be both a strong woman and an independent thinker. Getting Kelly on board would be a coup and was to send messages both to the wider world and those inside Fox headquarters in Midtown Manhattan that things would be OK for Ailes.

Kelly wouldn’t do what Ailes wanted. (Kelly declined to comment to ABC News.)

More FNC fallout from the Ailes mess…

Posted in FNC on July 23, 2016 by icn2

The New York Times’ Jim Rubenberg, Emily Steel, and John Koblin turn in a must read on…well…

In 2006, after nearly a decade at CNN, Rudi Bakhtiar came to the Fox News Channel’s headquarters in New York with a command of foreign policy, an appealing personality and a delivery that easily switched between light and serious.

After a six-month freelance arrangement, the network signed her to a three-year deal. Pretty quickly, she said, she was spending half her time in Washington, where the network sent her to fill in temporarily as a weekend correspondent, a post she hoped to win permanently.

Her break seemed to come in early 2007, she said, when she met for coffee in the lobby of her Washington hotel with a friend and colleague, Brian Wilson. He told her he would soon become Washington bureau chief and wanted to help her get the weekend job. Then he said, “You know how I feel about you, Rudi.”

Recalling the encounter in a recent phone interview, Ms. Bakhtiar said she was thrilled and told Mr. Wilson she would make him proud. But, she said, he repeated himself, asking, “You know how I feel about you?” When she asked him what he meant, he said, “Well, I’d like to see the inside of your hotel room,” adding that he wanted a friends-with-benefits relationship.

She politely rebuffed him, she said, apologizing for giving him any wrong impression. After that rejection, she felt caught in a whirlwind in which, she said, network executives canceled her Washington appearances, directed her to report her allegations to human resources and, a few weeks later, let her go, with the Fox News chairman, Roger Ailes, telling her that her tenure was ending because of her performance. On Saturday, a senior Fox News executive repeated that assertion.

In a short time, she went from thinking she was in line to land the job she coveted to unemployment. After a mediation process, she reached a settlement in which Fox News paid her an undisclosed amount.

Contacted on Friday, Mr. Wilson, who went on to get the bureau chief job, said of Ms. Bakhtiar’s account: “I take strong exception to the facts of the story as you have relayed it to me, period. Beyond that, I will have no further comment.”

Ms. Bakhtiar concedes that she agreed in her settlement not to speak of her experience. But she said she was emboldened to step forward by the sexual harassment lawsuit that the former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson brought against Mr. Ailes this month, and a subsequent investigation that has brought to light at least 10 other claims of improper behavior involving him. Mr. Ailes resigned from Fox News on Thursday.

Murdoch’s First Day

Posted in FNC on July 22, 2016 by icn2

The Hollywood Reporter’s Marisa Guthrie writes about Rupert Murdoch’s first day minding the FNC store…

Certainly Rupert Murdoch is no stranger to the business of Fox News, which is among the portfolio’s most valuable assets and contributes nearly 25 percent to the company’s bottom line. But his multiple weekly conversations with Ailes were about big-picture topics, not day-to-day operations. And so Murdoch’s task ahead is familiarizing himself with the running of the channel. In this effort, Rupert is said to be leaning heavily on current Fox News executives including Jay Wallace, who in April was promoted to executive vp news and editorial, CFO Mark Kranz, and especially Bill Shine, a longtime Fox News executive who runs primetime programming and also oversees Fox Business Network. Shine is said to be in the running for the permanent CEO job.

In addition, Fox News communications chief Irena Briganti will remain as executive vp of corporate communications of Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network, a move that might surprise some journalists because of Briganti’s years of hard-charging allegiance to Ailes. A spokesperson for 21st Century Fox confirmed that she will stay on and she was at work on Friday.

From Lawsuit Prep to Resignation

Posted in FNC on July 22, 2016 by icn2

The Washington Post’s Manuel Roig-Franzia, Scott Higham, Paul Farhi, and Krissah Thompson turn in a must read on the runup to Gretchen Carlson’s lawsuit and how it brought down Roger Ailes.

One day in early June, an embattled but determined news anchor, a public relations man and a group of attorneys settled into chairs around the conference table on the 35th floor of a law office on Madison Avenue in Manhattan.

Gretchen Carlson’s tenure as an on-air host at Fox News was imperiled, and she knew it. For the previous nine months she’d been quietly meeting with attorneys to craft a sexual-harassment lawsuit against her boss, the all-powerful Fox News chairman, Roger Ailes. Now she was almost ready to go public with her allegation that Ailes had sabotaged her career because she wouldn’t have sex with him. But questions ricocheted around the room.

What would be the fallout? How would this be perceived? How would it play?

“We knew Fox was a high-powered, very potent machine that would go into full attack mode,” recalled Carlson’s public relations agent, Allan Ripp, who was meeting his client for the first time that day. “But she was resolved.”

Within weeks, Carlson would be out of a job, and a cascading series of events, unfolding with dizzying speed, would culminate in the public shaming and resignation this week of Ailes, one of the most influential executives in American television history, as well as a primary architect of the modern-day Republican Party and conservative movement. News of Carlson’s firing, and the lawsuit she filed shortly thereafter, have now prompted 25 women to come forward with what they describe as similar harassment claims against Ailes that stretch across five decades back to his days in the 1960s as a young television producer, according to Carlson’s attorney, Nancy Erika Smith.

Ailes: Tick Tock…

Posted in FNC on July 21, 2016 by icn2

The New York Times John Koblin, Emily Steele, and Jim Rutenberg have new details on what went down and how…including some very pointed commentary from one Kirsten Powers who made a statement after Ailes left that may be the start of something larger internally at FNC…

Mr. Ailes was not there. Mr. Murdoch had barred him from the building starting on Wednesday, according to one person briefed on the matter. The person said Fox News’s parent company, 21st Century Fox, had learned Mr. Ailes was trying to get some of his on-air stars to criticize those who cooperated with investigators looking into accusations of sexual harassment against him.

Murdoch himself barred him? That says a lot to me. An awful lot.

Among those who cooperated with investigators looking into the allegations against Mr. Ailes was one of his on-air stars, Megyn Kelly. She had been among a small group of employees who resisted a campaign to rally support for Mr. Ailes, which came to be viewed as a “loyalty test,” according to several staff members, who declined to be identified.

Ms. Kelly told investigators that she received repeated, unwanted advances from Mr. Ailes, which she rejected, according to two people briefed on her account. The entreaties, which happened in the early part of her career at Fox, bothered Ms. Kelly to the point that she retained a lawyer because she worried that her rejections would jeopardize her job, though they ultimately did not.

(snip)

During the investigation, led by the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, around 10 women have come forward with stories of inappropriate conduct from Mr. Ailes while at Fox News, according to a person briefed on the investigation.

(snip)

The campaign to rally support for Mr. Ailes ultimately became a problem for him. It included declarations casting doubt on Ms. Carlson’s charges from hosts including Greta Van Susteren, Jeanine Pirro and Neil Cavuto, who in an op-ed described the accusations as “sick.”

Several female staff members had said on Wednesday that they feared that campaign was making younger female staff members with their own stories to tell too frightened to speak with investigators — something the investigators feared as well, people briefed on their inquiry said this week.

A friend of Ms. Kelly, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that Ms. Kelly resisted pressure to support Mr. Ailes, and cooperated with the investigation so that those other staff members would “feel more comfortable coming forward to tell the truth.”

And then we get to Powers…

On Thursday night, Kirsten Powers, a Fox contributor for 11 years, said: “While I understand loyalty, I was disappointed that so many senior members of Fox’s on-air team rushed to defend Roger in a way that seemed to prejudge an investigation into sexual harassment. I would hope that in 2016 people would know that just because you weren’t harassed, or didn’t witness harassment by a certain man, that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.”

Rupert Murdoch Displays His Business Smarts…

Posted in FNC on July 21, 2016 by icn2

The news that Rupert Murdoch will take over for Roger Ailes, at least for the time being, is just the latest example of how smart a businessman he is. There were so many ways he could have screwed this up. But he took the smart route. By taking charge it immediately sends a signal of continuity and assurance for the staff of a “steady as she goes” outlook. At least for the near term.

Immediately promoting from within was a risky proposition. As far as Murdoch was concerned FNC has been essentially a black box with one contact point, Ailes. Unlike most of his other media properties, Murdoch has taken an essentially “hands off” attitude to interfering with FNC (one notable outlier would be the force fed O’Reilly/Olbermann truce which only blew up when it was publicly revealed by Brian Stelter).

Because FNC was a black box to Murdoch he needed to understand how things functioned inside before making any seismic decisions…like appointing a permanent replacement. Taking over gives Murdoch that opportunity to see how things work and who does it best. It affords him the time to look and see if there are any internal candidates worthy of the job.

There is a saying “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. This saying is both applicable and no longer applicable in FNC’s case. It’s applicable because Murdoch wants to preserve the cash cow FNC has become.

But it is no longer applicable because with Ailes gone FNC is indeed “broke” in one very critical aspect. FNC was Ailes and Ailes was FNC. Everything that made FNC what it is came directly from the man. Nobody else on the planet is qualified to replicate that vision. Not Murdoch. Not Shine. Nobody. Only Ailes could run FNC that way. So, by removing Ailes, Murdoch did break FNC in as much as the way it was run cannot be continued without Ailes.

So the task at hand is to thread the needle; to try and retain as much of what made FNC the network it is knowing full well it can’t be fully retained. It is going to change to some extent. Because of that and because of the great responsibility such a task requires, Rupert Murdoch was the best and only choice to take it on.

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