Monkey See…or…If You Can’t Beat ‘Em…Steal ‘Em…

Posted in CNN on October 3, 2016 by icn2

Let’s see…Jeff Zucker said Buzzfeed isn’t a legitimate news organization. So of course he goes and hires away a bunch of those “poseurs”…as the Huffinton Post’s Michael Calderone scooped today…

BuzzFeed’s Andrew Kaczynski and his scoop-driven political research team are joining CNN during the final, frenetic stretch of the 2016 election and beyond.

Kaczynski, 26, has been one of the standout reporters of the campaign season as his K-File team has consistently broken news through deeply mining candidates’ past statements and actions. Three other members of the team ― BuzzFeed deputy politics editor Kyle Blaine and reporters Nate McDermott and Christopher Massie ― are making the jump with him.

The hiring of Kaczynski and company is a major coup for CNN and follows a recent spat between network chief Jeff Zucker and BuzzFeed editor Ben Smith. In August, Zucker said BuzzFeed wasn’t a “legitimate” news organization, prompting Smith to criticize the network for boosting Trump in the pursuit of ratings. The mini-exodus also comes amid questions about BuzzFeed’s commitment to original reporting following a recent reorganization.

No, It’s Not Settled Andy…

Posted in MSNBC on September 28, 2016 by icn2

The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple gets NBC News Topper Andrew Lack to comment, tangentially, on the Brian Williams fiasco…

The shyness has shielded Williams from having to confront again his scandal of 2015. NBC News suspended him for six months after learning about a series of exaggerations/embellishments/lies concerning his past as a reporter — a tour of shame with stopovers in Iraq, the Berlin Wall, Israel and elsewhere. As he prepared to return to work as a breaking news anchor on MSNBC, Williams sat for an interview with NBC News’s Matt Lauer, but he did not individually address all the episodes on his besmirched record. “I would like to take this opportunity to say that what has happened in the past has been identified and torn apart by me and has been fixed, has been dealt with,” said Williams, who lost his job as anchor of “NBC Nightly News.”

Monday, Lack sounded a note of accord. When asked whether Williams had left behind some unfinished business in that Lauer interview, Lack responded, “Ancient history to me.”

Not to me and not to a lot of other people and NBC can blame itself for our prolonged interest. It chose to bury the story rather than do what CBS did with the Thornburgh report which did a complete and very public number on Rathergate. The Lauer interview only compounded things.

We have not had closure. NBC ensured we did not get closure. So Andrew Lack can try and gloss it over…just as Rachel Maddow tried to gloss it over but for us it’s always going to be an issue until we understand what exactly happened and why.

FNC = Trump News Network?

Posted in FNC on September 27, 2016 by icn2

For decades CNN was derisively referred to as the Clinton News Network. The moniker stuck not so much because the charge packed much validity but because the acronym for Clinton News Network matched the acronym for Cable News Network.

I have resisted getting too immersed in the goings on with cable news and campaign 2016. I have a long held beef with all of cable news for overdoing it on the politics side and the horse race nature of its coverage of elections. I hate the campaigns and I hate the coverage of the campaigns. I cannot wait for the next two months to pass by as quickly as possible. Cue up a CNN countdown clock, if you please…

That said, there are some things I just can’t ignore.

I’ve watched for a while now and groaned about Corey Lewandowski’s dubious conflict of interest ridden hiring by Jeff Zucker and CNN, who continue to maintain a straight face while defending said hiring while more and more evidence drips out strongly pointing to the notion that the network just plain fucked up in hiring the guy. Hearing Jake Tapper go to bat for Zucker last week at a Town Hall meeting made my stomach churn…

CNN host Jake Tapper, who moderated Tuesday’s employee town hall, also emphasized that many of the network’s stable of conservative pundits were Trump critics and that it’s important to have people on air representing the views of the tens of millions of Americans expected to vote for the Republican nominee.

Tapper pointed out that CNN is in a unique position when it comes to providing balance, as opposed to Fox News and MSNBC, cable channels with partisan leanings, and broadcast networks that aren’t covering news round-the-clock on television.

Yeah…ok Jake. But so what? None of that goes to the suitability of Lewandowski nor CNN’s weaselly defense of retaining someone on two payrolls which are in direct conflict with one another. Everything Tapper said may be true but it’s also a total non-sequitur to the reason people are sill talking about this.

So I just can’t ignore it. It’s a blight on CNN.

Likewise, what FNC is doing recently with Donald Trump is a blight on its news operation. For starters there was last night’s post debate interview with Sean Hannity. In the middle of FNC’s news division’s post debate analysis…the news division had to stand down so that the opinion side can take over and give Hannity air time he should have absolutely no business being anywhere near.

You expect serious questions from Hannity to Trump? Hell no. You’ll get Hannity lobbing whatever softball will work to prop up the guy he is completely (and admittedly) 100% in the tank for.

You don’t think this spectacle grated on the news wing? It sure as hell grated on Megyn Kelly

Kelly said, “”We’ve got Trump speaking to our own Sean Hannity. We’ll see whether he speaks to the journalists in this room after that interview.”

And now today comes this article on…

When Trump pushed back on Holt, saying “I was against the war in Iraq,” Holt countered: “The record does not show that.”

Then Trump laid out his case.

“The record shows that I’m right,” he said. “When I did an interview with Howard Stern, very lightly, first time anyone’s asked me that, I said, very lightly, ‘I don’t know, maybe, who knows?’ essentially. I then did an interview with Neil Cavuto. We talked about the economy is more important [than going to war].”

Holt repeated that his reference was to 2002 and then tried to move the discussion along.

But Cavuto himself picked up the thread post-debate on Fox Business Network, unearthing the clip Trump referenced, from January 28, 2003 – Nearly two months before the Iraq War began on March 20. In the video, Cavuto asks Trump how much time President Bush should spend on the economy vs. on Iraq.

“Well, I’m starting to think that people are much more focused now on the economy,” Trump said. “They’re getting a little bit tired of hearing ‘We’re going in, we’re not going in.’ Whatever happened to the days of Douglas MacArthur? Either do it or don’t do it.”

Trump continued: “Perhaps he shouldn’t be doing it yet. And perhaps we should be waiting for the United Nations.”

Buzzfeed’s Andrew Kaczsynski went on a Tweet rampage over that article…

This is, for lack of a better word, complete bullshit from Fox News.

1.) Trump does NOT say he opposes Iraq in the clip. Says maybe wait for U.N. approval and either attack or don’t. Doesn’t “back up” anything

2.) Neil Cavuto did not “uncover” this last night. All fact checkers, @PolitiFact, @GlennKesslerWP, me, had this interview for months.

3.) It’s embarrassing Fox News would categorize this way when Cavuto has clip on his show of Trump calling it success he’s yet to air on TV.

4.) I personally asked multiple Fox people for the clip of Trump Iraq invasion success in 2003 before I had to get if from college archive.

5.) Congrats to Fox News on finding a clip fact checkers had in February and framing exactly how Trump wanted you to.

I won’t go so far as to use Kaczynski’s “complete bullshit” characterization but this article is definitely fundamentally flawed…

I don’t need to rehash the article hyping Neil Cavuto’s “miraculous” finding of this clip months after everyone else already noted it except to say if Cavuto wasn’t involved in any way with this article he should sue for defamation because it really makes him look bad.

No, instead I’m going to attack the article directly for using supplementary evidence which is actually 180 degrees opposite of what the article states is the case…

Yet despite the Cavuto clip, and the ambivalence of Trump’s own on-the-fence answer during the 2002 Stern interview, post-debate fact-checkers nearly universally wrote that Trump had lied during the exchange with Holt.

Politifact rated the claim “False.” The website even noted the Cavuto exchange, while remarking “At most he suggested waiting for the United Nations to do something.”

Politico blared: “Trump [again] says he opposed the Iraq War. That’s still false.”

The article makes it look like the Cavuto clip refutes the fact-checkers, and by extension Lester Holt, when the reality is the Cavuto clip refutes Trump. Here’s Politifact’s own words in context…context which the FNC article did not include…

Our ruling

Trump said, “I did not support the war in Iraq … The record shows that I’m right.”

The record does not support Trump’s repeated assertions that he opposed the war prior to the 2003 invasion. Around the time of the invasion, Trump’s comments were few and far between, not to mention vague.

In 2002, asked if America should go to war, he said, “I guess so.” Less than three months before the invasion, Trump said the president should be more focused on the economy, but he didn’t specifically speak against launching an attack. He didn’t voice full-throated opposition until almost a year and a half after the invasion.

We rate this claim False.

I bolded the part that’s central to this. There has been no…zero…none…nada…zippo public evidence that Trump was publicly against the war from the get go. Unverifiable private conversations with vocal supporters who are in the tank for you don’t count.

Politifact doesn’t have to show that Trump was 100% for the war. It only has to show that Trump wasn’t 100% against it to give validity to the claim that Trump is lying about his record. And the evidence, which the article itself notes, is ambiguous at best in showing what Trump was thinking or feeling publicly before the invasion.

This doesn’t work to Trump’s benefit. It only makes his claim that he was always against the war more tenuous.

Yet to read the article you’d think the Cavuto clip totally settles the matter when the reality is it just throws more confusion when what is needed is clarity.

So the question needs to be asked, what was the purpose of this article? It clearly doesn’t settle the matter in Trump’s favor and it clearly doesn’t refute Holt or the fact checkers and it clearly doesn’t break any new ground given that the overhyped Cavuto clip had already been noted by everyone else and wasn’t the brass ring the article made it out to be.

So what’s the point? Is it just to help Trump? It doesn’t read like a news article. It reads like an opinion piece designed to score points while ignoring inconvenient contrary evidence…the kind of article you’d find on NewsBusters or Media Matters.

Is it propaganda? That’s a strong word. It does share more commonality with propaganda pieces than journalism pieces but there’s no direct evidence this article was ordered from on high and I have yet to hear about this story’s subject getting much play on FNC TV’s dayside news operation.

That said, the websites do seem to operate to a different more muddled standard than the TV news dayside operation does.

But add this article to last night’s Hannity post debate interview, which happened almost immediately after the debate ended, and you have to ask yourself the question: Is FNC turning into the Trump News Network? And how does FNC’s journalism wing feel about that?

The Hazards of Live TV: #25,149

Posted in Hazards of Live TV on September 27, 2016 by icn2

Man who is running things over at 30 Rock these days? How the hell could MSNBC possibly get a CNN branded graphic into its library of video backgrounds and not have someone pick up on it.

This is beyond embarrassing…

Inside the Roger Ailes Crisis…

Posted in FNC on September 22, 2016 by icn2

In your must read of the year, Vanity Fair’s Sarah Ellison dives deep behind the curtain of the Roger Ailes saga. How deep? This deep…

With Paul, Weiss on board, Zweifach told its lawyers to act fast. There was no time to “get everything off the hard drives, texts, and e-mails,” as one of the executives close to the investigation recalls. The company “wanted to move quickly to preserve the business and do something about the women who may have been victimized.” Moving quickly also had the consequence of limiting the scope of the investigation. This was not to be an open-ended inquiry like the one on Bill Clinton that had produced the Starr Report. It would not look into whether employees at Fox News were regularly spied on and intimidated by superiors; whether demeaning comments about women were something that female employees at Fox News simply had to accept; or whether Rupert Murdoch himself had known anything about Ailes’s behavior. Certain as the Murdoch brothers were that they had to conduct an internal investigation, they were equally certain that they wanted to protect the company they had spent most of their lives learning how to inherit. Their greatest uncertainty may have related to their ability to maintain Ailes’s business success at Fox News.

Not convinced? How about this…

Two days later, on July 13, Ailes held a strategy session with his key advisers. Beth Ailes announced that she had reached out to Megyn Kelly twice, to see if she would be willing to issue a statement of support for Roger. Other anchors had spoken out in defense of Ailes against the Carlson allegations, but Kelly had been conspicuously silent. Now she had just sent a text message. Beth Ailes read it aloud, according to a person who was in the room: Kelly was sorry, but she had been advised by the company not to speak publicly about the matter during the investigation, and she could not, therefore, speak out against Carlson. “I hope you understand,” Beth Ailes read, adding that Kelly was being “cold” after all Ailes had done for her. By that time, according to a person familiar with what occurred, Kelly had already spoken to Lachlan Murdoch to report the general dismay among some staff, which she shared, about the pressure to come to Ailes’s aid and paint him as a white knight—pressure she felt was being exerted by Fox stars such as Kimberly Guilfoyle, Bret Baier, and Greta van Susteren.

Still not convinced? Well…

The lawyers from Paul, Weiss briefed Zweifach at least once a day on the results of what they were hearing. Zweifach, in turn, briefed the Murdochs. A 21st Century Fox executive recalls Rupert saying late that week, after he had heard multiple reports from the investigation, “I think we know where this is going.” Meanwhile, Roger Ailes was increasingly stung by Megyn Kelly’s continuing public silence. According to an executive familiar with the matter, after reporters asked Fox News’s spokesperson, Irena Briganti, why Kelly had not said a word in support of Ailes, Ailes wanted Briganti to issue a pointed, nasty comment: “Everyone has the right to remain silent.” Briganti never put out such a statement and advised that no response was the best response. According to the executive, Beth Ailes, who was in the office daily, advocated attacking Kelly through friendly media outlets, such as Breitbart News. She also asked Todd Starnes, a conservative columnist and Fox News radio host, to write a blog post about Kelly’s public silence. (He never did.) Roger Ailes told his core group of advisers several times that week that there needed to be more negative stories about Carlson. (Ailes’s lawyer Susan Estrich strongly disputed this narrative but provided no specific factual correction.)

21st Century Fox Signs FNC’s Shine and Abernethy To Longterm Deals

Posted in FNC on September 14, 2016 by icn2

TVNewser’s Chris Ariens writes about 21st Century Fox signing FNC’s top two executives to long term deals…

Rupert Murdoch has signed the two co-presidents of Fox News and Fox Business to longterm contracts.

Last month, Jack Abernethy and Bill Shine were named co-presidents in the wake of Roger Ailes resignation in July. Today’s news gives those moves more permanence, even as Murdoch remains executive chairman of FNC and FBN.

“Jack and Bill have been instrumental in FOX News’ continued dominance in the ratings and historic earnings performance,” said Murdoch in a statement. “I am delighted they’ve each signed new deals, ensuring stability and leadership to help guide the network for years to come.”

Bill O’Reilly’s Revisionist History…

Posted in FNC on September 13, 2016 by icn2

Politico’s Alex Weprin writes about Bill O’Reilly’s appearance on the Today Show this morning…

O’Reilly, appearing on NBC’s “Today” show to promote his new book “Killing the Rising Sun,” was asked by co-anchor Savannah Guthrie about Ailes’ departure from the channel, and Gretchen Carlson’s sexual harassment claims.

“I don’t know anything about the case, nothing,” O’Reilly said. “So, he was a great boss. Best boss I ever had, and that’s what I said to [NBC late night host] Seth Meyers, that’s all I’ve said. And I’m not going to say anything else because I work for this company. And I don’t really have any insight into anything. So for once in my life, I’m going to keep my big mouth shut.”

If you are a close follower of cable news you no doubt started choking as you read that last paragraph.

I have refrained from writing anything on the FNC talent that commented on Gretchen Carlson’s lawsuit after it was filed save for when Jeanine Pirro made news accidentally and Greta Van Susteren’s rather innocuous commentary to Lloyd Grove.

I didn’t write about Neil Cavuto’s op-ed or Geraldo Rivera and Sean Hannity’s Twitter ramblings or anyone else’s commentary about the lawsuit before alleged victims started coming out of the woodwork and before the eventual settlement.

I certainly didn’t write about Bill O’Reilly’s commentary.

Oh…you didn’t know about Bill O’Reilly’s commentary? Apparently neither does Bill.

At the risk of provoking Johnny Dollar’s wrath by citing the liberal activist Think Progress, Think Progress’ Judd Legum takes O’Reilly to task for his revisionist history (note: Legum called it “Amnesia”)

Back in July, a week after Carlson’s suit was filed, O’Reilly declared on NBC’s Late Show with Seth Myers that Ailes was the victim of a frivolous lawsuit. O’Reilly told Myers that “[i]n this country, every famous, powerful or wealthy person is a target.”

He suggested that Carlson’s lawsuit against Ailes, which Fox News ended up settling for $20 million, was “a frivolous lawsuit.” He suggested that America adopt “the English system of civil law whereby if you file a frivolous lawsuit and you lose, the judge has a right to make you pay all court costs.”

He called the entire situation a product of an “out-of-control tabloid society that is tremendously destructive.”

“I stand behind Roger 100 percent,” he concluded.

It’s one thing to re-assess the available public evidence and decide to totally reverse course and fall on your sword as Geraldo Rivera did very publicly on Facebook. Sure some of Rivera’s most cynical critics will question the timing of his U-turn because Rivera lost his book deal with Harper Collins just two days earlier…and regardless of whether there’s any merit to that line of questioning…the timing automatically puts that question into play regardless of whether it is deserved or not.

But at least Rivera looked at the evidence and decided his original position could no longer be supported.

That’s more than O’Reilly has ever done. O’Reilly has basically denied that he offered any defense or show of support to begin with. That should not be any surprise to anyone who has followed O’Reilly’s M.O. which is to rationalize and re-parse everything rather than admit to any weakness or error in his original argument.

To listen to O’Reilly this morning is to listen to someone deny his past. Pathetic, Bill. Really pathetic.

Update: I incurred Johnny Dollar’s wrath

This kind of slippery, inaccurate rewording is why I dinged @ErikWemple & @InsideCableNews for citing ThinkProgress.

Fine. Here’s the verbatim quote of the relevant section offered by O’Reilly on Seth Meyer’s show courtesy of Tommy Christopher at Mediaite

In this country, every famous, powerful, or wealthy person is a target. You’re a target, I’m a target. Anytime, somebody could come out and sue us, attack us, go to the press, or anything like that. Until Amer — and that’s a deplorable situation because I have to have bodyguards. I have to hire bodyguards, physical bodyguards, all right? Until the United States adopts the British system of civil law, whereby if you file a frivolous lawsuit and you lose, the judge has a right to make you pay all court costs. Until we adopt that very fair proposition, we’re going to have this out of control tabloid society that is tremendously destructive. I stand behind Roger 100 percent.

The bolding is mine but I bolded it because this is the part that where O’Reilly tries to cast Carlson’s suit as somehow not legitimate. Otherwise why bring it up at all? It’s a total non-sequitur to the rest of O’Reilly’s answer. A complete tangent.

O’Reilly doesn’t do tangents. Everything O’Reilly says is related to a point he’s trying to make.

This adoption of the British legal system O’Reilly called for is something he’s been hot about for well over a decade. Consider this Jack Shafer article in Slate from 12 years ago…

Bill O’Reilly came alive last night (July 14) on his highly rated Fox News Channel show, The O’Reilly Factor, during a discussion with Keith Graves, a reporter for the United Kingdom’s Sky News. In his opening, O’Reilly asked Graves, “What should be done with people … who continue to continue to accuse Prime Minister Blair and President Bush of deliberately lying about WMD?”

Graves didn’t adequately respond, so O’Reilly rephrased the question:

Now if somebody calls a prime minister a liar in print or on television in Britain, can they get in trouble? Because here you can call your president or anybody else a liar, even when the evidence that there is no lie is overwhelming, and simply walk away and not get anything to happen to you. Is it the same in England?

Yes, Graves replied, the prime minister would have grounds for a libel action if somebody called him a liar without evidence. And with that O’Reilly got to what was really on his mind. The subject wasn’t the failings of the CIA and MI6. And it wasn’t Tony Blair’s damaged reputation. It’s the damage being done to Bill O’Reilly’s reputation by Al Franken’s book, Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them!

Said O’Reilly:

Some of those smear books that are written here are being sold in London. Can I go over there and sue those people over there? Because I can’t win here. Can I go over there and sue? Because I’ll go.

So, O’Reilly in typical O’Reilly fashion did, at the very least indirectly, de-legitimized Carlson’s lawsuit and did back Roger Ailes’ version of events. Here’s the smoking gun…

I stand behind Roger 100%

You don’t “stand behind” someone in a controversial case unless you are backing their version of events.

O’Reilly could have offered support to Ailes based on Bill’s history with him. That would be both understandable and fair. Others did take that route.

That’s actually the direction Bill started out at with Meyers but then he veered off in another direction. Bill backed Ailes…stood behind him “100%” in the very next sentence after going on a rant about frivolous lawsuits. You would have to be in complete denial to not automatically arrive at a conclusion that the two are linked together and linked on purpose.

I will give the benefit of the doubt to O’Reilly in one area. O’Reilly could have just fumbled in his original response to Meyers. The problem is the Today Show interview would have been his opportunity to clean up any inadvertent mess me made on Meyers’ show.

Instead of cleaning it up, he ignored it entirely. Worse, he lied…

Well, first of all, my comments were made to Seth Meyers about what kind of a boss Roger Ailes was, not about the case. I don’t know anything about the case, OK? Nothing. So he was a good boss, best boss I’ve ever had, and that’s what I said to Seth Meyers. That’s all I’ve said.

No that’s not all you said Bill. You went off on a rant about frivolous lawsuits.

Again, this a classic O’Reilly tactic. Double down in denial while ignoring critical contrary evidence. Malmedy, anyone?