The Trump Conundrum…

Posted in FNC on August 25, 2015 by icn2

Well it didn’t take too long for Donald Trump to renew his baseless (to anyone not named Trump) attacks on Megyn Kelly. So much for Trump-FNC truces, eh? The next question is what does Roger Ailes do now? What do you do about Donald Trump? And here is where I have an argument with myself…

The obvious answer is the gloves have to come off. FNC must crush Trump. So must all of News Corp.’s media properties, especially the Wall St Journal and The New York Post. He wouldn’t listen. He couldn’t leave it alone. And this time it’s inarguable that Megyn Kelly did nothing to deserve this latest set of attacks. How could she? She was on vacation!

It’s time for an FNC full frontal assault. Scorched earth. No more mealy mouthed press releases that leave you wondering if that was an attack or not. It’s time for some good old Brian Lewis style PR.

No more Trump appearances on FNC. He’s blacklisted. Announce it to the world. No more positive Trump coverage. Lots and lots of on the air panel discussions about how Trump’s policies are stupid and how if he’s elected he’ll ruin this country.

Go to the mattresses FNC. It’s time for a street fight; mano a mano with Trump.

And here’s precisely why FNC can’t do any of that…because it plays right into Trump’s hands. He wants that street fight. He wants that battle. It allows him to flourish under a well established narrative where Trump is the outsider looking to upset the apple cart and FNC is on that apple cart. It’s Trump vs everyone and that includes the media. He’ll turn any FNC attack on its head and his followers will eat it up. Trump wants that conflict with FNC the way Keith Olbermann wanted that conflict. FNC never really figured out how to deal with Olbermann. It took O’Reilly years to work it out and his solution (attack G.E.) had limited results.

So don’t fight fire with fire FNC. You’ll lose.

Instead get smart and slow play Trump. Instead of getting aggressive, get passive-aggressive. Trump seeks conflict. He feeds off it. Instead of feeding him conflict, FNC should slowly choke off his oxygen. The best way to do that is to fight him without appearing to fight him. And here’s how you do that…

– Don’t book Trump but don’t make it look like you’re not booking him. Trump won’t be able to prove you’ve blacklisted him (which he could use against you for his own aggrandizement) if you don’t make it look like you have. You can take a page from the Obama playbook with yourselves for a good working example on how to do that.

– Don’t respond to Trump. At all. Not even with mealy mouthed press releases talking about him. Give Trump nothing to hook into and use as a weapon.

– Cut back heavily on Trump based segments and focus on other candidates. You can’t eliminate talking about him on the air completely…that would reveal your strategy (and it doesn’t make any news or business sense either). But you can reduce your coverage of the guy to just basic facts stories (Trump was here and spoke there). Only mention Trump when you have to mention Trump.

Remember, Trump has an insatiable appetite for attention. Good…bad…it doesn’t matter. He can use either to his advantage to sustain the Cult of Trump. What he can’t use is no attention. That’s kryptonite for an egomaniac like that. And reducing coverage of the guy to just bland basic facts stories is anathema. Trump is larger than life and he wants to keep it that way. Making him appear average joe normal sized = death.

FNC cannot defeat Trump. Only Trump can defeat Trump (which should happen by the time of the GOP convention) But FNC can neutralize him to a large extent if it plays it smart.

The Hazards of Live TV: #25,143

Posted in Hazards of Live TV on August 19, 2015 by icn2


Math was never my strong suit. Apparently that’s something I share in common with FBN…

Damage Control…

Posted in CNN on August 13, 2015 by icn2

Forbes’ Mfonobong Nsehe writes about CNNI toppo Tony Maddox travelling to Kenya to fall on his sword for his network calling the African nation a hotbed of terror. Note to those still arguing over who caved in the Trump/FNC mess: THIS is begging…

But the Kenyan government took a more serious approach towards reprimanding CNN. Two weeks ago, the Kenyan Tourism Board, a state agency whose mission is to drive and support the effective marketing of Kenya’s tourism products, said it was withdrawing advertising from the network in reaction to the “misrepresentation of the country’s status.”

But on Thursday, Tony Maddox, CNN’s global Executive Vice President and Managing Director, who oversees CNN’s global editorial policy, flew all the way from Atlanta to Nairobi to personally apologize to President Uhuru Kenyatta and Kenyans.

At a meeting in the State House in Nairobi, Maddox admitted that CNN’s description of Kenya as a “hotbed of terror” was both undeserved and ill-conceived.

“We acknowledge there is a widespread feeling that the report annoyed many, which is why we pulled down the report as soon as we noticed. It wasn’t a deliberate attempt to portray Kenya negatively, it is regrettable and we shouldn’t have done it. There is a world at a war with extremists; we know what a hotbed of terror looks like, and Kenya isn’t one,” Maddox said.

Behind the Scenes in the Trump/FNC Skirmish

Posted in FNC on August 12, 2015 by icn2

In your must read for the day, CNN’s Brian Stelter writes in great detail about the back and forth between the Trump camp and FNC after last Thursday’s debate. Read it for what it is…a very detailed backgrounder…but also read it for what it also is…a rebuttal to Gabriel Sherman’s article on the fracas.

Trump’s assertion, bright and early Monday on “Morning Joe,” that Kelly should apologize made his supporters happy, but made Ailes exceedingly unhappy.

On the ensuing phone call, there was “very blunt” talk from both sides, including Ailes’ warning of war, two of the sources said.

But the talk didn’t last very long. There was an “instant understanding between two titans that this was over,” one of the sources said. Trump wouldn’t apologize, Kelly wouldn’t apologize, but both sides would move on.

Trump tweeted about the phone call right afterward and said he’d been assured that “‘Trump’ will be treated fairly” by Fox.

The sources for this story contradicted New York magazine’s assertion that Ailes called Trump repeatedly and “begged” the candidate to tweet that they’d settled their feud. “Neither of them would beg for anything,” one of the sources said.

Of the two stories, I find Stelter’s the far more likely outcome. I could never believe that Ailes would beg to end this. It’s not in his nature. And, though I have not mentioned this previously, I thought this from Sherman’s story was ridiculous…

Donald Trump, who has the full backing of Fox’s misogynist audience,

There was absolutely no justification for that characterization. You could say many things about FNC’s audience, just as you could about CNN’s and MSNBC’s audiences. But calling it misogynistic was stupid. Even from a purely scientific point of view it was un-prooveable to make such a claim.

For me, Sherman was for years a must read writer for his behind the scenes material. But stuff like this has tainted his work regarding FNC of late. If he keeps going in this direction I fear I’m going to start sliding into this guy’s camp.

The Hazards of Being Eric Bolling: #25,142

Posted in Hazards of Live TV on August 12, 2015 by icn2

Well, leave it to Eric Bolling to figure out a way to skirt FNC’s quasi-ban on talking about Trump’s Megyn Kelly remarks to Don Lemon on CNN by using them as an analogy to something completely different. I must say the reaction shots by Dana Perino and Kimberly Guilfoyle are priceless.

What’s the over/under that Bolling got a talking to?

Press Releases: 08/10/15

Posted in Press Releases on August 10, 2015 by icn2



The Cable News Network Dominates the Digital Media Categories, Winning Three of the Seven Awards

NEW YORK – August 10, 2015 – MSNBC was honored by the National Association of Black Journalists with three 2015 Salute to Excellence Awards for the network’s original reporting from the protests in Ferguson, MO. The cable news network dominated the Digital Media categories, picking up three of the seven awards.

The winning Salute to Excellence segments are listed below:

Digital Media – Single Story: News
“Ferguson Protester Collects Signatures to Keep Police Chief”
Trymaine Lee, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and MSNBC National Reporter
Stefanie Cargill, MSNBC Senior Producer
Bradley J. Rayford, Freelance Photographer, St. Louis Community College
Click here to watch the winning report.

Digital Media – Online Project: News
“Broken City: The Fallout in Ferguson”

Digital Media – Online Project: Feature
“Ferguson, MO: A Resident’s Perspective”
Bradley J. Rayford, Freelance Photographer, St. Louis Community College
Click here to watch the winning report.

MSNBC has significantly increased its original and in-depth reporting through its various digital platforms, including, MSNBC’s digital video experience Shift and online only series such as Geography of Poverty.

Behind The Scenes At the FNC Debate

Posted in FNC on August 9, 2015 by icn2

The LA Times’ Stephen Battalgio writes about some of the things that went on behind the scenes in the run up to FNC’s GOP debate as part of a big profile of Bret Baier…

With the Republican presidential debate less than 10 hours away, Fox News anchors Chris Wallace, Megyn Kelly and Bret Baier sat at a long table with their producers and once again went over the game plan for the big night.

They reviewed not just the questions they would ask, but the structure of every query, keeping in mind the constraints of time and the need to avoid repeating topics. As they sorted and re-sorted questions, the unpredictability of real estate tycoon and reality TV star Donald Trump was never far from their minds.

Baier even had a “nuclear option” at the ready for Trump if he ignored all protocol.

The script — which he didn’t have to use — took a page from Trump’s “Celebrity Apprentice” TV show. It went like this: “Mr. Trump in your business you have rules. You follow rules. We have rules on this stage. We don’t want to have to escort you to the elevator outside this boardroom.”

“We’re hoping we don’t have to use it,” Baier said later. “We’re locked and loaded.”

Embedded with the news team on debate day, it becomes clear that it’s not just the Republican hopefuls who will be on stage this night — it’s also Fox News, widely seen as the network most friendly to conservatives. No one here wants to appear as if they are pitching softballs.

Indeed, when Kelly rehearsed a question for another candidate — delivered in the staccato style that adds to her reputation as a tenacious interrogator — a producer at the table said, “He’ll go berserk.”

And then there’s this…

Baier even anticipated that some Republican Party faithful would agree with Trump that they were too tough and he was right. Sen. Lindsey Graham, one of the lower polling presidential candidates in the afternoon debate, called the evening session “an inquisition.”

The reaction didn’t surprise Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes. “Most of the criticism I get is from the right because they assume I’m going to do a certain thing and I don’t necessarily do what anybody assumes,” Ailes said in an interview Friday. “This is an example of that.”

But Ailes limited his input on the broadcast to how it looked on screen and offering encouragement to his on-air team to be tough and fair. Counter to reports that he’s involved in all things Republican, he said he had no hand in coming up with the challenging questions. He was confident in his on-air moderating team, which he described as “the best we’ve seen in television history.”


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