Following up on the announcement last week that Current TV was up for sale, USA Today ran an article on Nov. 5 highlighting some of the failures of the short-lived cable channel founded by former vice president Al Gore.
Vanity Fair’s Michael Wolff, writing for USA Today, aptly described Current TV as “quite a disaster area.” He pointed out that it has never been able to “clarify its mission, style or business reason for being. With a history of management quarrels, it often wasn’t even clear who was running the place.” As an example of the problems overwhelming the network, Wolff recapped Current TV’s hiring of Keith Olbermann, which “shortly ended in acrimony and recrimination.” The vitriolic Olbermann, had previously anchored a show on MSNBC -- which had ended abruptly in early 2011. Current hired him the same year, but fired him in March 2012, due to an apparent conflict of interest.
Another entry in my semi-regular series of Saturday night humor postings for NewsBusters drawn from the clips Bret Baier runs at the end of FNC’s Special Report which he and his staff usually select from video montages picked up off the late night comedy shows.
With few to draw on from the past week since Iowa coverage meant Baier only ran a humor clip on a couple of nights, for this one a jump back to mid-July for a clip which got a lot of Web play at the time, but if you didn’t see it then here’s your chance to watch a TV anchor dealing with putting the wrong guest on air.
Liberals have had a thrill up their leg over the Rolling Stone report that Fox News boss Roger Ailes is paranoid about Muslim and gay enemies and insisted on bomb-proof glass in his office. Ailes responded to Howard Kurtz of Newsweek: “Ailes can still get riled by personal criticism, dismissing as ‘fantasy’ and ‘fiction’ a Rolling Stone report that he travels with a large security detail and has blast-resistant office windows. He invited me to throw a rock at the glass—and promised security would arrest me.”
In AdWeek, liberal author Michael Wolff asserts both Rolling Stone and New York magazine profiles of Ailes failed to nick their target. Wolff said Ailes is an "epochal figure" in TV, a network news legend:
Let's say, hypothetically, someone was to make a disparaging statement about Fox News and conclude as a news outlet it is way outside of mainstream political thought. Well, then the follow-up appropriate question could be where does that put Fox News' competitors who get just a fraction of the cable news juggernaut's ratings?
Michael Wolff, a contributing editor and columnist Vanity Fair and CNBC regular, told MSNBC's "Hardball" host Chris Matthews on his Oct. 26 program the White House strategy was to marginalize Fox News the same way conservatives once did to liberals, making "liberal" a word with negative connotations. However, he also made the bizarre conclusion that Fox News, which dominates cable news on a regular basis, is "not very popular."
If you want to argue that Rush Limbaugh the radio sensation will soon crumble and fail, that he's headed for a "last hurrah," would you sign up as your expert....an Air America executive? That’s what media critic Michael Wolff did in a Vanity Fair article on Limbaugh, "the man who ate the GOP." Rush has power now, but soon he won’t:
Arguably no message apparatus like it exists in the nation, except, perhaps, at the White House (or in Oprah—whose position with American women is curiously analogous to Rush’s position with American conservatives). It is concentrated and extraordinary power.
Except that this power ought to be ending. It ought to all be on the wane. It is not just the Obama victory and the magnitude of his approval ratings. It is not just that the gravity of the economic crisis, with historic unemployment rates, means it’s a lot harder to get people excited about Reagan-and-Rush-esque hands-off government.
It is, rather, a crueler demographic point. The dirty little secret of conservative talk radio is that the average age of listeners is 67 and rising, according to [former Air America guru Jon] Sinton—the Fox News audience, likewise, is in its mid-60s: "What sort of continuing power do you have as your audience strokes out?"
Newspaper companies as an investment are less lucrative than they once were. Alan D. Mutter, a Silicon Valley CEO, pointed out on his blog that newspaper companies took a hit in 2008 in terms of share value to the tune of $64 billion.
"In the worst year in history for publishers, newspaper shares dropped an average of 83.3% in 2008, wiping out $64.5 billion in market value in just 12 months," Mutter wrote on Jan. 1. "Although things were tough for all sorts of businesses in the face of the worst economic slump since the 1930s, the decline among the newspaper shares last year was more than twice as deep as the 38.5% drop suffered by the Standard and Poor's average of 500 stocks."
Get your popcorn ready - that is if you like seeing the rich portrayed as bad guys and getting punished for their indiscretions.
According to CNBC contributor Michael Wolff, a Vanity Fair contributing editor, that's what's in store for movie fans in the upcoming year. On the Dec. 29 "CNBC Reports," Wolff told CNBC Business News managing editor Tyler Mathisen that Hollywood is greenlighting a spate of films featuring Wall Street heavies, and these projects are coming sooner than later.
"I think as fast as possible," Wolff said. "Every script in the business is now recasting itself - rich people are bad people."
How about Sean Hannity as editor of the New York Times op-ed page? Maybe O'Reilly and Cavuto in place of Dowd and Krugman as Times columnists? It might not be as far-fetched as it sounds. At least, not if Michael Wolff is right. The Vanity Fair media maven, appearing on CNBC this afternoon, not only said that Rupert Murdoch wants the Gray Lady, but predicted he would get her. [H/t Gat.]
MICHAEL WOLFF: I think that everybody is looking at [the NYT] and waiting for it to kind of go over a brink, to run out of cash, which they're in the process of doing. Or to find itself in a situation where actually, and this is really the key thing, they go looking for a buyer.
A bit later, Wolff, author of a book on Murdoch, mentioned his name as a likely buyer . . .
As Fox News prepares to interview Barack Obama tomorrow night, during prime time, TV journalist Michael Wolff details a meeting between Barack Obama, Fox News president Roger Ailes, and News Corporation president Rupert Murdoch in which the Fox execs promised to lay off the Democratic presidential candidate.
According to Wolff's telling, this was more than a mere tete-à-tete, this was a full-on diplomatic meeting (initiated at Murdoch's request), conducted only after preparation and with preconditions from the Obama campaign.
The apparent purpose? To smooth things over in the event that Obama defeats John McCain:
Journalists far and wide are still crying about Rupert Murdoch possibly owning the Wall Street Journal. Vanity Fair's Michael Wolff said a Murdoch-owned WSJ would suffer "the loss of a few points of I.Q., a quickened pace, a higher sense of drama, less accurate, perhaps, but less tedious too, and, likely, a keener instinct for following the money." So for all of you psych majors who thought IQ scores were static; you've apparently never met a journalist who was told to be fair. By the way, isn't the most precious tenet of journalism "following the money"?
LA Times' Tim Rutten shocks us with the real reason the NY Times and Baltimore Sun reject forced embargoes and try to wreck your Harry Potter night with pre-dawn spoilers; "...it's about money." Harry Potter spoilers, classified information spoilers, apparently Pinch Sulzberger has a different take on "follow the money."