Reported yesterday by New York Magazine, it sounds like Roger Ailes has decided that Fox News should lick its wounds from Election 2012 just a little longer. Not because of partisan politics or earlier mandates, but mainly as an after-effect of the now-infamous meltdown Rove had on air about Ohio’s electoral voting system and Morris’ own haphazard readings. As it stands, according to NY Mag’s Gabriel Sherman, if producers want to use either talking head must be pre-approved from higher up in the Fox food chain.
Washington, DC’s top dogs cheered Karen Avrich and her new book, “Sasha and Emma: The Anarchist Odyssey of Alexander Berkman and Emma Goldman,” which Karen co-wrote with her father, the historian Paul Avrich. Todd Purdum and DeeDee Myers along with Politico’s Bill and Su-lin Nichols welcomed friends and fans to the Purdums’ Northwest home on Tuesday night. Ms. Avrich, Mark Halperin‘s partner, was feted by Fred Hochberg and Tom Healy at a New York party last week. Click to order on Amazon.
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Guests included Jonathan Martin and Betsy Fischer Martin, Fred Hochberg, James Bennet and Sarah Jessup, John Harris, Mandy Grunwald, Gwen Ifill, Laura Hand, Guy Cecil, Tammy Haddad, and Jack and Susanna Quinn.
It’s the Monday after an otherwise quiet holiday week. Your in-laws are gone, your co-workers clad in formless sweaters and jumpers to hide the turkey and then there’s the question of how to shed these newfound pounds? Why not spend your time fretting over what Chelsea Clinton and NBC News may or may not have done over this election year?
Buzzfeed has the exclusive that NBC News put the kibosh on a planned series of ads featuring Chelsea Clinton, who is a special correspondent with the bureau, lending her voice and possibly likeness to a marriage-equality campaign during the election. The ads, focusing on legislation in Washington state, were questionable but seemed to be online only:
Three people who saw the videos confirmed their existence to BuzzFeed. They were fully prepared, with the script approved in advance, one source said. The video wasn’t intended for TV broadcast, a second source said, suggesting they were instead to be used as web-based videos. The source added that multiple efforts had been intended beneficiaries of the former First Daughter’s support.
So what exactly did these ads seem to say that caused NBC to backtrack? Well, technically Clinton is an employee of the news division and can’t be shown endorsing any specific measure up for the election. Even if she is a “special correspondent,” she’s still under the peacock’s shadow. But does this actually matter? Not especially. It’s the news equivalent of getting a yogurt with your Peppermint Mocha as a “healthy” reward after so little has happened last week.
But give it a day or two! There’ll be more important things to discuss rather than what seems like an attempt by TheFour.com to get their name on Google Trends. Instead, The National Christmas Tree was spotted on a flatbed truck near the Capitol this morning! And as the weeks lead up to the inauguration, the comings and goings of the administration are sure to be the real news instead of a web-only video that someone in corporate deemed too risque.
NBC Universal Press Release:
New York – November 14, 2012 – Veteran “Today” show Senior Broadcast Producer Don Nash has been promoted to Executive Producer of the iconic morning show. The announcement was made today by Steve Capus, President, NBC News.
Effective December 1, Nash succeeds former “Today” Executive Producer Jim Bell who has been appointed Executive Producer of NBCUniversal’s Olympic Coverage.
As Executive Producer, Nash will be responsible for all four hours of “Today” program content and will lead the broadcast’s management team and program staff.
Nash will report to Alexandra Wallace, who has been appointed Executive in Charge of the “Today” show. In that capacity, Wallace will have executive oversight of “Today.” Wallace will continue to report to Capus.
Said Capus: “Don Nash deserves to be at the helm of ‘Today.’ He is a beloved member of the Today family who brings vision, commitment and a deep familiarity to all aspects of the broadcast. The formidable individual talents of Alex, Don and the ‘Today’ leadership are now combined and I’m confident our team is well positioned for success.
I also want to thank and congratulate Jim Bell for seven years of leadership at ‘Today.’ We are grateful for his many contributions to the show and have no doubt he will have continued success in his new role as executive producer of the company’s Olympic coverage.”
Said Bell: “I am thrilled for Don and for ‘Today’. We have spent nearly every weekday morning together for almost eight years, and I know firsthand the show will benefit from Don’s unmatched morning television experience, control room skill and leadership.”
A 23-year veteran of “Today,” Nash previously served as the show’s senior broadcast producer where for the past seven years he orchestrated the live broadcast from the control room each morning and played an integral role in day-to-day programming. He has overseen hundreds of breaking news events including three presidential elections, the capture of Osama Bin Laden, the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, and the devastating Aurora, Colo. shooting. Nash was also responsible for the production of many landmark show events and series including Today’s coverage of the Summer Olympic Games in London, the Royal Wedding, and “Today Goes Viral.” He most recently oversaw the program’s multi-million dollar renovation of its studio exterior and video wall.
Nash began his career at NBC in 1989 as a Page in Burbank, Ca. Following his role with the Page Program, he accepted a production assistant position at “Today’s” Burbank Bureau where he began his remarkable tenure with the show. Over the next 10 years, Nash assumed roles as associate producer and producer, and in 1999, he moved to New York to become a senior producer for the show.
In 2002, Nash was named executive producer of “Weekend Today” where he ran all aspects of the show, including content, marketing, sales and finance, and he garnered all-time ratings highs for the program. In 2005 he returned to the weekday edition of “Today” as senior broadcast producer.
Nash graduated from UCLA with a Bachelor of Arts in Communications Studies. He lives in Connecticut with his wife Gaylen and their two daughters, Cassidy and Alice.
In addition to her Today show responsibilities, Alex Wallace will continue as the Executive Producer of “Rock Center with Brian Williams.” She previously served as Senior Vice President of “NBC News,” and Capus’ chief deputy within the News division. She has also served as Executive Producer of the broadcasts: NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams and Weekend Today.
If Nate Silver won the official election of who’s right, then who took home the popular vote? If you ask Brian Stelter, it was clearly MSNBC.
In a parallel from from years ago, it seems like the 24-hour news channel has bulked up and turned itself around since the last presidential election. The channel’s rough start as “a CNN also-ran to an Anti-Fox” came to a huge change for the 2012 election as channel has morphed into a true counter-brand to Fox News. It required a four-year re-branding message, including a series of ads where notable on-air talent like Chris Matthews, Ed Schultz and Rachel Maddow stand before historic or iconic images–not to mention most were originally shot by Spike Lee.
It could be that the tides are changing, as even Variety has Fox News as a major winner and loser on election night. Buried almost the the end in the lavish praise comes the always tantalizing anonymous sources familiar with all manners of media matter. Supposedly The Washington Post’s Ezra Miller is being eyed for a possible weekend show along with Chris Hayes, or the coveted 8pm slot. But that’s neither how, now or why. What’s important is recognizing that MSNBC is skewing itself to a younger market. Whether they’re accomplishing it by not having real-time debate reactions like CNN or eshewing making everything as “Extreme” as Fox News is still up in the air. There’s a shift to get rid of the old weekend documentaries (the “Lockup” series included) and tune to constant political coverage, or even discussion like The Cycle which kicks off seven hours of specialized talking heads.
Either way, it seems like Fox News may have inadvertently followed the plot of Mean Girls too closely. The only question worth answering in the follow-up must be which network is Lindsey Lohan and which is Rachel McAdams. Maybe we’ll find out at next year’s White House Correspondents Dinner?
CNN Worldwide president Jim Walton announced today that he will step down as chief at the end of the year citing that “CNN needs new thinking.” An statement from Walton came in an email to staff early this morning but he had been discussing this transition with Turner Broadcasting chairman, Phil Kent for quite some time.
Kent released a statement saying :
“Jim is the leader we all aspire to be: Smart and steady, tough and fair, business-savvy and respected by his team, and with a track record of great judgment when it matters most. His vision has modernized and globalized our legacy news brand, enhanced CNN’s journalistic standing, positioned it at the forefront of multi-platform branded news content and challenged the organization to think bigger, reach further and do better. I am honored to work alongside him and proud to call him my friend.”
In a piece by the Huffington Post, by David Bauder, Walton was credited with building “the company into a profitable international news organization in his 10 years as president of CNN Worldwide, and said it is on track for record profits this year. But the U.S. network is the most visible part of the business and is now entrenched in third place behind rivals Fox News Channel and MSNBC in prime time.”
Kent began his career at CNN in 1981 working as a TelePrompter operator and “ripping paper scripts off wire machines” working his way up over 22 years when he came president of CNN worldwide in 2003.
Read his full statement as released by TV Newser below:
After more than 30 years at this company and nearly 10 years as the leader of this great news organization, I have decided to leave my role at CNN on December 31, 2012.
For some time, I’ve been talking with Phil Kent about wanting to make a change, and he supports my decision. I’ve told Phil that I will cooperate with any transition timeline that he and Time Warner want to implement. Phil requested that I work out the year and be available after that if needed, which I’ve agreed to do.
I am proud of what we have accomplished together over these last 10 years – innovative programming, the development of great talent in front of and behind the cameras, expansion in digital and mobile, significant investment and expansion in international coverage, financial success and, most importantly, great and trusted journalism. Thank you for the role you have played in our successes.
CNN needs new thinking. That starts with a new leader who brings a different perspective, different experiences and a new plan, one who will build on our great foundation and will commit to seeing it through. And I’m ready for a change. I have interests to explore and I want to give myself time to do it.
The next few months will be filled with election news and other important events that will require all of our focus to report the news with the quality and expertise the world expects of CNN. I look forward to working alongside each of you, as I have over the past 30-plus years, to do just that.
With the announcement that MSNBC host and bestselling author Dylan Ratigan leaving the cable channel the question is who will veteran executive producer Steve Friedman pick to fill the 3pm hour?
Martin Bashir will move to 4pm, giving MSNBC an unusally rich opportunity for someone to jump into frontline coverage of the 2012 presidential election. Here is TV Newser’s take on the announcement as well as Dylan Ratigan’s memo to his staff. Read more in Mediabistro.
Greedy Bastards met Crooks and Liars as MSNBC’s Dylan Ratigan returned to Washington courtesy of The Week magazine. Politicos and media mavens watched the heated discussion Dylan Ratigan moderated between Senator Bernie Sanders and GOP Rep. David Schweikert. Bill Falk, editor-in-chief of The Week introduced Ratigan to the enthusiastic crowd. Ratigan’s book, Greedy Bastards, is already a New York Times bestseller and Ratigan is fearlessly flacking changes to the American system of elections and the way or economy works.
Check out photos from the event below:
Dear David Carr, Only you could have such great reporting on Keith Olbermann’s battle with Current TV on production matters that make all the difference between success and failure in television not just on election night.
Here is Mr. Carr’s column from Monday’s New York Times:
It was just six months ago that I wrote an article for The New York Times Magazine about the well-traveled anchor’s bold new partnership with Current TV, the low-rated liberal cable channel co-founded by former Vice President Al Gore.
I wondered how Current TV and the hot-headed Mr. Olbermann would get along, but back then, it was all hugs and hopeful rhetoric. At a Yankees game I attended with Mr. Olbermann, he said he was looking forward to working at a place where he would hold the title of chief news officer and where the corporate meddling would be at a minimum. Mr. Gore was similarly upbeat in a phone conversation for the article.
“Yes, he is a piece of work in all that that implies, but I have read all kinds of things about him and the Keith Olbermann I know is a good friend, extremely intelligent and uniformly positive,” Mr. Gore told me, adding, “The relationship is way more textured than owners and an employee. We are partners and friends, and this will be the first time that he has been an equity participant and co-owner of a channel that he works at.”
That didn’t seem to count for much on Tuesday night when Mr. Gore found himself participating in Current TV’s coverage of the Iowa caucuses while Mr. Olbermann was nowhere in sight. Without the star power of Mr. Olbermann and the trappings of a well-financed news outfit, the former vice president looked as if he were trapped in the studio of a midsize public access station.
Meanwhile, Mr. Olbermann refused to participate in any programming outside the parameters of his regularly scheduled “Countdown,” a show where he has all but taken himself hostage by broadcasting against a black backdrop. The motif scans as a running protest against the technical problems at the channel, with a candle lit to mark the start of the vigil. That nice, gooey start-up rhetoric now seems very far away.
Mr. Olbermann did excellent on-air work for CNN, Fox, ESPN, and MSNBC, but that never stopped him from burning bridges faster than they could be built. It rarely ended well in spite of his skills.
As it turned out, past performance was a good predictor of results going forward. Current executives have been reduced to communicating with their biggest talent through his manager and lawyer, with both sides working the media to get their story out. By creating drama in yet another high-profile assignment, Mr. Olbermann could be running out of options, but don’t bet the house on that, given how desperate cable channels are for anyone who can generate ratings, never mind the rough edges.
Having worked for big, moneyed cable outfits in the past, Mr. Olbermann was clearly disappointed in the deep technical problems at Current TV, a cable news start-up that had trouble producing live news programming, including “Countdown,” his 8 p.m. show. He declined to lead the channel’s special political coverage until those problems were resolved, but Current TV officials called his bluff and went ahead without him, pre-empting his show in the process. It was a game of chicken in which everybody ended up with egg on their faces.
The impasse has been remarkable to behold, even if few people are watching. Mr. Olbermann, who is reportedly being paid $50 million over the course of a five-year contract, had more than a million viewers when he left at MSNBC at the start of last year, but in the most recent ratings period, he was reaching just 200,000 people a night at Current TV, according to Nielsen. He’s been very disappointed in those numbers, and the fact that the channel has hired talent and built out capacity on the West Coast without his input. After a summer of production problems that never seemed to be resolved, a power failure darkened his studio last month. He responded by sitting in the dark.
Current TV executives are going through all kinds of gyrations to patch things together, while at the same time expressing surprise that Mr. Olbermann is acting like, well, Mr. Olbermann. When I talked to David Bohrman, president of the channel, he praised the quality of Mr. Olbermann’s show; but when I asked him about coverage of the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday night, all he could say on Friday was, “I hope Keith is part of our political coverage on Tuesday night and beyond,” adding, “That’s up to him.”
(Over the weekend, both sides said that progress had been made, and that although Mr. Olbermann will not be in front of the camera on Tuesday, he will be involved in Current’s election coverage on future nights. He confirmed as much on Twitter late Sunday. Earlier Sunday a spokeswoman for the channel said, “He’s told us he will do upcoming special election coverage, we hope he does and we would love for him to do it.”)
Mr. Olbermann’s contractual rights at Current TV are significant — he has control over the content of his show and his lawyers have argued that the channel has no right to pre-empt it for special election coverage — and management has very little leverage over him. So the channel is left to check his Twitter updates for indications of his mood, which is usually not very good.
Executives at Current TV told me they contacted Mr. Olbermann two months before the Iowa caucuses about being the anchor and executive producer of their coverage, and he declined. Mr. Olbermann thought it was silly to attempt to expand coverage when the channel’s marquee show lacked reliable production. But that didn’t stop him from calling in his staff for a news meeting on the day of the Iowa caucuses as if his show were going to appear, when he clearly knew that no such thing was going to happen, a pretty callous stunt by any measure. It fell to Mr. Bohrman to send a memo to the staff saying there would be no installment of “Countdown” that night. Ugly business, that.
But if Mr. Olbermann is disappointed in the widespread technical failures at Current TV, it should be pointed out that he helped choose the studio, an old building on the far west side of Manhattan that has turned out to be a lemon. He is a part of the management team, and you generally don’t get to rail against the Man if the Man is you.
Executives at the channel say the embarrassing public fight has more to do with his unwillingness to play, let alone play well, with others. Which is kind of a running meme in Mr. Olbermann’s career, but this time was supposed to be different.
By enrolling him at a high level in the remaking of Current TV and keeping the bureaucracy at a minimum at the small, privately held company, Mr. Gore and Joel Hyatt, the founders, hoped that the brilliant but chronically oppressed anchor would find the angel of his better nature. No angel has been forthcoming. Instead Mr. Olbermann has expressed multiple grievances through letters from his lawyers.
(Problems have only deepened since Mark Rosenthal, a chief executive Mr. Olbermann got along with, left in the middle of last summer and Mr. Bohrman, an experienced news executive, was brought in from CNN.) Current TV wants to be a player in the cable news/opinion world and most especially in the 2012 election, but their production capabilities are not ready for prime time and the man who was supposed to take the lead has barricaded himself within the four corners of his show and, so far, he’s not coming out. Mr. Hyatt, who is also the chief executive of Current TV, did not see that coming when we spoke last May.
“We think of Keith as our partner and as our friend,” he said then. “We don’t think of him as our employee, we don’t think of him as we’re a conglomerate and management, he’s the talent or worse, the employee.”
He was right about the last part. If Mr. Olbermann were simply an employee, they could tell him to show up at 7 p.m. Tuesday to anchor coverage of the New Hampshire primary. They can’t, and he won’t.
The only people benefiting as much from the debates as the candidates are the shows and networks who are hosting them. Meet The Press, leaped ahead of the traditional New Hampshire ABC News Saturday night debate by cutting a deal with Facebook and locking in the candidates early. Mediabistro’s Chris Ariens gets an early look at the questions sent into Facebook.
“Now that Iowa is behind us, it’s on to New Hampshire. ABC airs a GOP debate Saturday night and NBC has one Sunday morning — both with one less candidate — as a special “Meet the Press” and inconjunction with Facebook.
MTP goes live at 9amET each Sunday, but airs at various times on NBC affiliates across the country. But this Sunday, the debate will also air live on MSNBC at 9am. At the same time, this page will be up and running for Facebook users to ask questions and share thoughts about the candidates.
For the past few months NBC News and Facebook have been asking voting-age users what they think is the most pressing issue facing them. Here’s the break down:
In New Hampshire:
Federal Budget Deficit: 19%
Health Care: 11%
Illegal Immigration: 6%
Foreign Policy: 5%
Health Care: 12%
Illegal Immigration: 9%
Foreign Policy: 5%
Federal Budget Deficit: 5%.
The NBC News Facebook Debate on “Meet the Press” will also:
• air live and re-air on MSNBC
• air live on New England Cable News (NECN) throughout New Hampshire and New England
• stream live and be available on demand on msnbc.com and on facebook.com/Uspolitics”