Archive for the Miscellaneous Subjects Category

Megyn Kelly to CNN Would Be A Risk For Both

Posted in Miscellaneous Subjects on December 3, 2016 by icn2

This post comes a little late but my mom is in the hospital with a coronary condition so I have not had the time to write. 

A couple of days ago Drudge posted a story that Jeff Zucker was going all out to poach Megyn Kelly from FNC. The motivation behind the leaking of this to Drudge would be juicy indeed. Which camp did the deed and why?

But I am instead going to write about why this would probably be a bad deal for both, but for vastly different reasons.

For CNN the risks and unknowns are greater than they are for Kelly. In order…

  • According to Drudge, Zucker can’t afford to outbid Fox so instead he is trying to entice Kelly by offering a very wide greater than CNN networks platform and a huge promotion campaign. CNN has a decidedly mixed record on this score. The network threw oodles of money behind a campaign to promote Anderson Cooper; a campaign which failed to deliver the ratings the network hoped for and drew much ridicule for the alleged cost.
  • Zucker is taking a bigger risk than necessary if he does things this way. Despite all the glamour shots, all the glowing articles, all the off network promotional appearances, all the hype (Some of it deserved. Some not)…the fact is it is a huge unknown whether Megyn Kelly’s FNC star power transfers off that network. Given the lackluster ratings her Fox broadcast prime time special turned in, this is also a question Fox may be asking itself. The stigma of partisan cable news is very powerful and makes it tough to broaden one’s profile to other less ideological platforms (see: Maddow, Rachel).
  • But even if it did transfer, the chances CNN could come anywhere close to getting the ratings FNC gets with Kelly are almost nil. CNN will almost certainly be overpaying for Kelly and not getting the payoff FNC gets.
  • Zucker’s  instincts regarding talent is checkered at best. For every winning move he has made, there have been two or three which have detonated spectacularly in his face. Alexis Glick being forced down the Today Show’s throat. Going all in on Kate Bolduan and Chris Cuomo because of their on air chemistry only to quietly sever that tie when it was obvious he was very very wrong.
  • Some could see this as a move to weaken FNC. It is true that Kelly is the prime time heir apparent to O’Reilly who has maybe a couple of TV years left in him so losing both could cause trouble. But this is predicated on the notion that FNC can’t adjust. As we have seen with Tucker Carlson positively flourishing in Greta Van Susteren’s  old timeslot, an apparent loss is not necessarily a loss.
  • If CNN comes within a half of FNC’s offer, that will put more than a few CNN telents’ noses out of joint.With justification.

For Kelly the risks are potentially just as high as CNN but for vastly different reasons.

  • She will not make as much money as she could at FNC. Exposure is nice but salary is the biggest barometer of stature in this industry.
  • No matter how much cross platform exposure Zucker throws Kelly’s way, the unavoidable fact is Zucker has made the network one where there is no leader. No star. No anchor. Instead it is a team of rotating cogs that can be swiped in and out as needed. There is no true pecking order among the top talent. Anyone can dominate at any time given the situation. It isn’t Anderson Cooper’s network. Nor is it Wolf Blitzer’s, Don Lemon’s, Jake Tapper’s, or anyone else’s. That especially includes Megyn Kelly who as the new kid on the block would have to prove herself all over again to justify the prominence Zucker would force down the viewer’s throat. At FNC she could become the face of the  network once O’Reilly is gone. At CNN she will always be one of a crowd.

Kelly would be better off at a broadcast network than she would at CNN, though not do as well as she would staying at FNC. CNN will likely never get the intended payoff it hopes for by luring her over. This is not a great deal for either.

Tent Shooting 101…

Posted in Miscellaneous Subjects on October 6, 2016 by icn2

The Hill’s Joe Concha pens an article I think is wrong in almost every way…save one.

It starts with what appears to be a non-sequitur…

Before addressing this spat, here’s a personal note from somebody who can say he’s both on the inside and outside when it comes to the world of cable news.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my years of meeting those who work on-air in cable news regardless of network — and I’ve been on them all many times — it’s this:
A majority are phonies. Absolute phonies.

The reason? A potent brew of ego, self-importance, a lack of self-awareness, more ego, and a constant need for attention.

Yeah…ok…they’re phonies. I get it. What on earth does that have to do with the propriety of the spat between Hannity and Kelly? Nothing.

Oh sure Concha takes a long and windy road from “they’re phonies” to the Howard Stern Show and somehow comes to the conclusion that because that dysfunctional family, which only succeeds because its sum is greater than its parts, is able to toss dirty laundry about that this is something everyone should emulate because it’s “more real” and “less phony”…

That may work for shock radio. It’s death for cable news.

The Stern show can get away with that because that’s where the bar is lowered to. It’s expected. It’s kind of like watching NASCAR for the crashes. You know there’s going to be shit flying around at some point and that’s why you tune in.

This is where we start getting into that “elitist” “high horse” territory of cable news has to aspire for higher than the Howard Stern Show. There need to be standards. The Stern Show basically has no standards (that don’t involve not breaking the law).

Tent shooting is anathema in cable news and journalism in general. Roger Ailes…you know the guy who used to run the network Hannity and Kelly call home…absolutely abhored tent shooting. Just ask Chris Wallace. MSNBC has had its occasional on air shenanigans but they have mostly been few and far between. Over at CNN, they run such a tight ship over there that anyone who dared take a shot at someone else would probably get fired…if they weren’t top flight talent that is.

Networks hate tent shooting. It means they no longer control the story and, worse, they don’t know where it’s headed. A news organization is hundreds if not thousands of people. It’s not the size of the tiny crew of the Stern show. There are just too many moving parts to allow those parts to start teeing off on one another.

And usually, when they do start teeing off on one another, even if it’s just passive aggressively, it’s sign of a real problem with the talent. No network wants to telegraph that it has talent issues in its shop.

It’s a distraction. No network likes distractions. On the Stern show they can get away with that crap because people have come to expect the lowest common denominator there. Then again, when the beefs get really bad it’s a problem even on the Stern show as you can tell from the turnover that show has had with its cast of characters.

So that’s why networks don’t want tent shooting. Tent shooting produces articles about the tent shooting and questions start swirling. Some of those questions linger for a long time, especially when it appears there’s genuine friction under the surface.

Just a few weeks ago everyone was aghast at the Washington Post’s Editorial board basically taking a dump on The Post’s Journalism wing over its Snowden coverage.

I actually don’t read Kelly’s comment as an attack at Hannity. It really reads as an attack at Trump to me. But Hannity’s response was definitely an attack on Megyn and, of the two, the one that crossed a few lines. But this shouldn’t be too much of a surprise because Hannity is so in the tank for Trump that’s his commentary has taken on an apoplectic take no prisoners scorched earth bent to anything negative about Trump no matter how legitimate it is. And Kelly’s comment was definitely legitimate because Trump has retreated to nothing but safe zones…even worse than Hillary.

Disagreement between co-workers isn’t a bad thing.

Why?

It shows authenticity — a concept all the phonies in this business can’t seem to grasp.

You want to know what helps make Fox so popular as it enters its 15th year of being No. 1? It’s editorial talent.

And what that talent does best? They speak their minds, even when it means (gasp) disagreeing with the way a co-worker runs his or her shop. The media bubble thinks it’s bad for the network, the end of harmony at Fox.

Guess what? Harmony is boring. Disagreement is much more engaging.

This is stupid. The propriety of the behind the scenes spat which breaks out into the open is bad not just because it’s an unnecessary distraction for the network but also because it also does absolutely nothing to help the shows.

What does the viewer get out of Hannity and Kelly publicly fighting each other? Nothing. The two don’t interact with each other on air almost ever so any hostility can’t drive a “What happens when they next come face to face” narrative ala Pro Wrestling. The Kelly File and Hannity shows are islands unto themselves. So any hostility off screen isn’t going to do anything on screen. Engaging? There’s nothing for the viewer to engage in when the spat happens off air and there’s no interaction on air.

It’s bad for the network. There is no upside for the network. The “media bubble” is 100% right about that. But the idea of “network harmony” is a straw man. It’s a myth. It has never existed. Concha is right about that. There has never been network harmony. There never will be network harmony.

But, while it might be fun to consider that there is no such thing as network harmony and extrapolate from that networks should embrace their employees showing that there is no such thing as network harmony, the reality is any network that goes this route would surely implode fast. No corporation could survive long by having its dirty laundry aired publicly by its employees engaging in tent shooting exercises and score settling while the network flounders about in the slippery slope world of what attacks are kosher and what attacks are going too far.

This is why we had PR people to begin with…to protect the corporation from its own employees by making one group of people the focal point between the public and the employees.

Social Media has blown up that model to some extent by creating multiple avenues for the talent to communicate with the public (and vice verse). Which is why networks have social media policies with very specific terms about what’s allowed and what’s not allowed. Some are more draconian than others obviously but it would not be unreasonable to conclude that Hannity’s tweet violated FNC’s social media policy.

For those of us who are process junkies (like me) or media navel gazers (like a bunch of others including Concha) spats that erupt are manna from heaven. We love it when we have same shop talent on talent violence. That’s even better than network on network violence.

But we’re not normal. We aren’t the casual viewer who doesn’t benefit from it. And our agenda totally differs from the networks we cover. We want openness because we learn more. Networks don’t want openness because it will lead to only one place; anarchy.

The 2016 Campaign Coverage Mess…

Posted in Miscellaneous Subjects on October 5, 2016 by icn2

Politico’s Jack Shafer scores a home run today writing about how screwed up campaign journalism has become in 2016…

But in campaign 2016 these disinformation efforts have become rampant, and they are gaining currency as never before thanks to the pick-up they’re getting from traditional media. Traditional media once shied from repeating stories they hadn’t confirmed, or that hadn’t been confirmed by their peers. But as so much of cable television has devolved from news to discussion about what people read in the news, that’s changed. It’s not that the old news gatekeepers aren’t doing their jobs. Most are. It’s just that the fences have been breached.

I was going to quote Shafer citing an example but they’re all so good that instead I’ll just say read the dang article…

As 2016 shapes up to be the disinformation campaign, there may be no easy and elegant way to stem the flow of fallacious TV stories, Web pieces, Trump speeches and Twitter blasts in these digital times. The dirty tricks of disinformation have always been part of politics and won’t be banished by decree. Nor will calls for a news quarantine of suspected disinformation work. Besides, news quarantines are antithetical to journalism. Good journalists have traditionally combated disinformation with real information, always knowing that in taking down the phony you run the risk of inadvertently giving it a boost. It’s a paradox we must live with, because the alternative of just letting candidate and information outlets to do their thing unchallenged is much worse.

Megyn Kelly Should Not Be Disqualified From The Presidential Debates…

Posted in Miscellaneous Subjects on August 16, 2016 by icn2

The Hill’s Joe Concha has a story about the process of picking debate moderators got the upcoming Presidential debates (which may or may not happen still).

Fox News’s Megyn Kelly is one obvious possibility, and several people contacted by the The Hill raised her name. Others dismissed the chance she could be selected given her history with Trump, who skipped two primary debates that she hosted.

“I think she’s a solid moderator based on what we saw in the primaries. She’s tough, measured and prepared. But there’s just too much history with Trump,” one prominent media writer told The Hill. “She’ll end up being the story if he publicly objects to her being chosen, which he almost undoubtedly would. It may even lead to him boycotting the debate and that’s the last thing anybody wants.”

This is completely wrong headed thinking. Megyn Kelly should not be punished because of Donald Trump. Kelly has done nothing wrong since the start of the election. It was Trump who made this an issue because he didn’t like tough questions. Trump has made Kelly the issue not because she had it in for him or because her questioning was out of bounds. He made Kelly an issue out of ego.

If he objects, so what? Like debate dates and times, this stuff isn’t up for negotiation. It’s take it or leave it. Trump would have a choice, to show up or not show up. I’d lay serious money that even Trump wouldn’t balk because of the optical damage it would do to him with undecideds that Hillary Clinton, his opponent, would show up for a debate but he wouldn’t.

What? Are you afraid Trump might argue that this is rigged? He’s been throwing that meme out since the primaries. He’ll throw it out whenever he thinks it will work for him. You can’t let that be a factor in your decision making process. It’s not like this would be a walk in the park for Hillary Clinton either. She has avoided press conferences and tough interviews even more than Trump has. You think she wants to subject herself to close scrutiny after Benghazi, the Dept of State email fiasco, and the Clinton Foundation bruhaha?

Both candidates don’t want this. So why make special allowances for Trump to essentially dictate who gets to ask him questions?

The idea that candidates can guard against unfair questions through moderator cherry picking is ridiculous. You think Mike Dukakis had a problem with Bernard Shaw before that debate in ’88?

Unless the prospective moderator has some kind of fundamental disqualifying characteristic…and nothing Kelly has done this year would fall into that category…they should be considered for the role.

If the candidate goes bonkers…it’s on them. These people are running for the top job in the country. If they can’t set aside ego and personal issues to submit to a few questions from someone they’d prefer to not be around, how can they possibly handle dealing with foreign leaders and international incidents which may require a President to bite back hard?

Not that I think Kelly will be picked. The Debate Commission has a track record of going off the reservation when selecting moderators and Kelly is too obvious a choice. But if you aren’t going to pick her, do it for that reason. Don’t do it because you’re afraid of how Donald Trump may react. Who is running this show? You or him?

DirecTV Drops Newsmax TV?

Posted in Miscellaneous Subjects on August 15, 2016 by icn2

Newsmax TV is no longer airing on DirecTV. I don’t know exactly when it happened but the dearth of news when I searched Google suggests it happened either today or within the past few days.

When you try to tune in you get a message saying “This channel is currently unavailable. Please visit directvpromise.com for more information. That site is a generic site that has this at the top…

You come first.

DIRECTV is committed to bringing you the best TV experience at the most reasonable value. When disputes arise with programmers over their rising prices, this site will keep you up to date with clear and direct information.

This strongly indicates that DirecTV is in the middle of a carriage dispute with Newsmax. Given what happened between Dish and Newsmax TV, it would not be unreasonable to assume that something similar is going on here. The rumors were Newsmax wanted Dish to lower or eliminate the amount of money the network was paying Dish to carry it.

Related: I’m hearing that Newsmax TV has cancelled the Ed Berliner show…though it won’t officially exit the airways until Friday.

Roger Ailes Resigns…

Posted in FNC, Miscellaneous Subjects on July 21, 2016 by icn2

Here’s 21st Century FOX’s statement

Roger Ailes Resigns as Chairman and CEO of Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network, and Chairman Fox Television Stations

Rupert Murdoch to Assume Role of Chairman and Acting CEO of Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network

New York, NY – July 21, 2016 – 21st Century Fox today announced that Roger Ailes, Chairman and CEO of Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network, and Chairman of Fox Television Stations, has resigned from his role effective immediately.

Rupert Murdoch will assume the role of Chairman and acting CEO of Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network.

Rupert Murdoch, Executive Chairman, 21st Century Fox, said:

“Roger Ailes has made a remarkable contribution to our company and our country. Roger shared my vision of a great and independent television organization and executed it brilliantly over 20 great years.

Fox News has given voice to those who were ignored by the traditional networks and has been one of the great commercial success stories of modern media.

It is always difficult to create a channel or a publication from the ground up and against seemingly entrenched monopolies. To lead a flourishing news channel, and to build Fox Business, Roger has defied the odds.

His grasp of policy and his ability to make profoundly important issues accessible to a broader audience stand in stark contrast to the self-serving elitism that characterizes far too much of the media.

I am personally committed to ensuring that Fox News remains a distinctive, powerful voice. Our nation needs a robust Fox News to resonate from every corner of the country.

To ensure continuity of all that is best about Fox News and what it stands for, I will take over as Chairman and acting CEO, with the support of our existing management team under Bill Shine, Jay Wallace and Mark Kranz.”

Lachlan Murdoch and James Murdoch, 21st Century Fox’s Executive Chairman, and CEO, respectively, said:

“We join our father in recognizing Roger’s remarkable contributions to our company. Our talented Fox News and Fox Business colleagues, up and down the organization and on both sides of the camera, have built something that continues to redefine the cable news experience for millions of viewers. We are enormously proud of their accomplishments. For them, as well as for our colleagues across our entire organization, we continue our commitment to maintaining a work environment based on trust and respect. We take seriously our responsibility to uphold these traditional, long-standing values of our company.”

Dish vs. Newsmax TV: Newsmax responds…

Posted in Miscellaneous Subjects on June 6, 2016 by icn2

Newsmax TV presents its version of the Dish network carriage dropping story…

In less than two years, Newsmax TV has become a popular cable news channel – drawing close to 5 million monthly viewers, up from fewer than 500,000 when we launched.

In the past DISH has been forced to remove channels that charge excessive fees that must be passed on to their customers.

We applaud DISH for standing up for their customers – but it is important to remember that Newsmax TV does not charge DISH!

In fact, we financially benefit them and their customers so there are NO pass-along costs!

When DISH launched Newsmax TV, we were placed among a suite of shopping channels, unrelated to our news content.

Due to this unfair and inappropriate placement, DISH has made it difficult for their subscribers to find Newsmax TV.

Not addressed is whether Newsmax was trying to get the amount of money it paid Dish lowered or eliminated altogether…