WSJ: Couric on the Way Out
The Wall Street Journal reports that Couric won’t complete her contract term:
After two years of record-low ratings, both CBS News executives and people close to Katie Couric say that the “CBS Evening News” anchor is likely to leave the network well before her contract expires in 2011 — possibly soon after the presidential inauguration early next year.
|Katie Couric and CBS are prepared for her early exit from the network.|
Ms. Couric isn’t even halfway through her five-year contract with CBS, which began in June 2006 and pays an annual salary of around $15 million. But CBS executives are under pressure to cut costs and improve ratings for the broadcast, which trails rival newscasts on ABC and NBC by wide margins.
Her departure would cap a difficult episode for CBS, which brought Ms. Couric to the network with considerable fanfare in a bid to catapult “Evening News” back into first place. Excluding several weeks of her tenure, Ms. Couric never bested the ratings of interim anchor Bob Schieffer, who was named to host the broadcast temporarily after “Evening News” anchor Dan Rather left the newscast in the wake of a discredited report on George W. Bush’s National Guard service.
Air America Updates
Randi Rhodes quits:
Last week Air America suspended Randi Rhodes for abusive, obscene language at a recent public appearance in San Francisco which was sponsored by an Air America affiliate station.
Air America Media was informed last night by Ms. Rhodes that she has chosen to terminate her employment with the company.
We wish her well and thank her for past services to Air America. We will soon announce exciting new talent and programming that will accelerate Air America’s growth in the future.
And in other news, a possible deal that would have MSNBC simulcast one hour of David Gregory’s “Race to the White House” on Air America:
Maddow is currently listed as the anchor of the Rachel Maddow Show on Air America from 6-9pm. But Maddow has frequently been a guest on the new David Gregory-anchored Race for the White House, which airs at 6pmET.
Insiders say MSNBC and Air America are in talks to put the 6pmET show on Air America, but nothing is confirmed yet.
David Brock’s $40MM Plan to Attack McCain
Ben Smith reports:
The planned campaign is the product of a shakeup in the top ranks of the struggling independent Democratic groups. Brock, now best known as the ex-conservative founder of the liberal group Media Matters, last month quietly assumed the chairmanship of what’s expected to be the main vehicle for independent Democratic attacks on McCain, now called Progressive Media USA.
The move comes after the groups that had been expected to spearhead attacks on McCain — the Fund for America and Progressive Media USA’s previous incarnation, the Campaign to Defend America — failed to raise the money needed to dent McCain’s armor.
“We’re a little behind where we need to be,” he said.
But after a dinner Tuesday night at the Manhattan apartment of liberal megadonor George Soros, at which Brock and consultant Paul Begala laid out the group’s plans, Brock said his group now has commitments worth $7.5 million — almost twice what the Fund for America is expected to report raising in the first quarter of this year. He said the group would begin running ads before it meets its $40 million goal.
Brock suggested that the group could do the work of a press corps that, he says, has “fallen down on the job” when it comes to McCain.
CBS Should Have Talked to Kathryn First
Somebody, somewhere thought having George Takei sing country would be a crowd pleaser:
The secret talents of celebrities will remain hidden. CBS is axing its new reality show “Secret Talents of the Stars” after only one episode.
The first airing Wednesday had former “Star Trek” actor George Takei singing “On the Road Again.” Only 4.6 million people tuned in — and thousands tuned away as the hour continued.
The reality show also had Clint Black doing standup comedy and Mya tap-dancing. Danny Bonaduce is among the celebrities whose secret talents will be kept to himself.
CBS officials say news programming is expected as a temporary replacement.
Great Fox Headline
Here’s a headline up on Fox News right now calling it as they see it:
State Department blasts former president’s plan to meet with Hamas officials as ‘not in the interest of peace’
And the author? NR alumus and WPITW winner Joe Abrams.
Update on the Dan Rather Lawsuit
TV Newser reports:
TVNewser has learned most of issues of the lawsuit have been dismissed. What remains is the contract dispute: whether Rather was utilized appropriately in the remaining months of his deal as a correspondent on 60 Minutes. Jim Quinn, lead counsel for CBS tells TVNewser, “We’re thrilled with the results. The core of the allegations of fraud and fair dealing have been thrown out. What’s left is a garden variety contract dispute.”
In the meantime, the contract dispute part of the case continues, perhaps for the next several months. “At the end of discovery, we’ll move again for a summary judgment” to dismiss, says Quinn.
Who Writes ABC’s Captions?
I’m not sure I’ve ever heard the adjective “resourceful” to describe the behavior below…
ABCNews.com: (NOTE: this link forwards to a slide-show with a “viewer discretion advised” warning) A resourceful student drinks beer from a funnel and a hose, center, during a party at a hotel pool in Acapulco.
(Eduardo Verdugo/AP Photo)
Al-Hayat: Jimmy Carter to meet Hamas leader in Damascus
In what would be the highest-level meeting ever granted to the Islamic terror group that the free world is trying to isolate, former President Jimmy Carter is planning to meet the head of Hamas later this month in Syria, according to a report in the London-based, Arab daily Al-Hayat.
When asked about the Al-Hayat report last night on Fox News, Carter’s press secretary, Deanna Congileo, did not deny that Carter would meet Hamas terror mastermind Khaled Meshal, possibly as early as next week. Meshal resides under the protection of the Syrian dictatorship in Damascus.
Meshal is responsible for coordinating the various parts of Hamas and for ordering many of its major terror attacks. Hamas is classified by the U.S. State Department as a terrorist organization. It is responsible for dozens of deadly suicide bombings, and thousands of shooting and rocket attacks against civilians.
In case anyone needs reminding, Carter is the disastrous former American president whose misguided policies in the Middle East, specifically his abandonment of the shah of Iran, led to the Iranian Islamic revolution in 1979, predictably sparking off worldwide Iranian-backed Shia terrorism and in response, rival Saudi-backed Sunni terrorism, the results of which are continuing to be felt around the world today.
Olbermann to NYT: Matthews “Annoys” Him
That Matthews profile Greg mentioned earlier is up now. This bit from Keith Olbermann was surprisingly candid:
But Olbermann does acknowledge that their on-air marriage has been rocky. Stylistically, Olbermann is scripted and disciplined while Matthews is free-form. While Olbermann is a natural anchor, Matthews struggles with its basic mechanics — staying on time, not talking into breaks. “There is a sense at times that we are always joining Chris Matthews already in progress,” Olbermann told me. Matthews has been on 10 years, he went on to say, “and he has no idea when it stops and starts. My responsibility sometimes is to grab the wheel when he doesn’t hold it.” Matthews has also called their joint appearances “Hardball,” which annoys Olbermann and which he has not been shy about correcting on the air. “No, this is not ‘Hardball,’ I will say, and in those instances, a correction is appropriate.”
Sometimes during commercial breaks, Matthews will boast to Olbermann of having restrained himself during the prior segment. “And I reward him with a grape,” Olbermann says.
That Olbermann. What a classy guy. I guess his fondness for comparing other journalists to monkeys applies to journalists at his own network.
On an unrelated note, the last sentence in this paragraph made me laugh out loud:
Tim — as in Russert, the inquisitive jackhammer host of “Meet the Press” — is a particular obsession of Matthews’s. Matthews craves Russert’s approval like that of an older brother. He is often solicitous. On the morning of the Cleveland debate, Matthews was standing in the lobby of the Ritz when Russert walked through, straight from a workout, wearing a sweat-drenched Buffalo Bills sweatshirt, long shorts and black rubber-soled shoes with tube socks. “Here he is; here he is, the man,” Matthews said to Russert, who smiled and chatted for a few minutes before returning to his room. (An MSNBC spokesman, Jeremy Gaines, tried, after the fact, to declare Russert’s outfit “off the record.”)
I find it so irritating when flacks for news organizations ask reporters for other news organizations to do things that no reporter at any news organization would do. Of all the people in the PR universe, they should know better.
Wow O Wow
Want to check out the girl’s table at Michael’s, the Manhattan media hang-out? Well, you can get the same experience, without ordering the pricey Cobb Salad, on the web by logging on to www.wowowow.com , a site that launched about a month ago. Its founders include ex-editor and William Morris agent Joni Evans, columnist Liz Smith, CBS’s Lesley Stahl and former advertising exec Mary Wells, along with a number of their media and celebrity girlfriends. The site’s official name is Women On the Web and they say they had to buy the domain name from a porn site.
Although Peggy Noonan is one of the founders, the site is definitely limousine liberal. The other day Mary Wells in a post shared who were the doctors you could trust in St. Jean Cap Ferrat and Beaulieu Sur Mer and the best limousine drivers in Monaco, Barcelona, St. Tropez , Portofino and the Amalfi Coast. (No, I am not making this up.) Mary also complained in an earlier post about how the Russian billionaires were ruining the Cote d’Azur. It seems you can’t take a decent run around the top of Cap Ferrat anymore. The Russians’ damn dogs get in the way. Today Lis Smith is eulogizing former Texas governor Ann Richards and quoting from one of her “prescient letters” in which Ann wrote, “
We cannot offend all the world to the point where they don’t eat our Fritos or drive our John Deeres… we look like a bunch of inept nincompoops at the UN, with the inability to muster a paltry majority on the Security Council.” She also is sharing her photo album of pictures of the two of them together.
What seems to be drawing the most responses is a poll about which woman has the toughest skin? The choice is Hillary, Condi, Kathy Lee, Martha or Katie. A tough choice, indeed but Martha is in the lead and Hillary and Katie, kind of like the way they are doing everywhere else, are the losers.
One Really Indecisive Citizen
The Washington Blade offers up this breathtaking story about indecision piling upon indecision:
Trans activist switches to Obama’s camp
A prominent Maryland transgender activist has left Sen. Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and begun stumping for Sen. Barack Obama.
Dana Beyer, an Equality Maryland board member who is transgender, announced last week she was leaving Clinton’s gay steering committee to join Obama’s gay leadership council.
“It’s time to stop squabbling amongst ourselves, pull together and take back the presidency,” she wrote in a letter explaining her decision.
Beyer gives “squabbling amongst ourselves” a whole new dimension. If the media wasn’t so bound by political correctness, this would be a light anecdote for someone who covers politics.
A New Daily Broadsheet Coming ...
… to Abu Dhabi, and will be edited by British journalist Martin Newland. This is a fascinating and complex project. On the one hand, it’s always great to see a new daily launching. On the other, newspapers that are owned even in part by a government are inherently problematic.
Either way, if this brings a dose of independent-minded reporting and commentary to the area, it is to be celebrated:
Abu Dhabi newspaper will launch on 20 April
The UAE’s new national newspaper, The National, will publish its first issue on 20 April.
The broadsheet newspaper will be the largest English-language newspaper launch in the region.
Abu Dhabi Media Company, which is owned by the Abu Dhabi Executive Council, last year appointed former Daily Telegraph editor Martin Newland to launch The National (MEED 29:08:07).
Newland has said the newspaper will target high-income, English-speaking expatriats, as well as people from South Asia, Europe and the Americas.
The National will have far more resources at its disposal than most other newspapers in the world. Newland has hired 175 journalists, including 40 home news reporters and 25 foreign correspondents.
The National will be available in the UAE and on flights throughout the region from 20 April, but Newland has yet to say when it will be published in the other Gulf countries (MEED 07:09:07).
New Book Fight
Of course the problem with New Jersey’s public schools is that they are being inundated with conservative ideology. Who doesn’t know that?
From today’s Associated Press report, we learn that a student in the Garden State is complaining about the use of a James Q. Wilson book in his Advanced Placement government course:
Those experts say “American Government” by conservatives James Wilson and John Dilulio presents a skewed view of topics such as global warming and separation of church and state. The publisher now says it will review the book, as will the College Board, which oversees college-level Advanced Placement courses used in high schools.
Naturally, the complaint is that the book includes views on global warming other than the approved orthodoxy.
It’s pleasing to know that students in New Jersey are reading Mr. Wilson and Mr. Dilulio’s book. It says something about our education system that a book that is probably one of the most intelligent pieces of non-fiction these students will encounter in the course of their high-school education is under attack. The spirit of the Vandals is alive and well.
I’m actually looking forward to the Sunday NY Times
It looks like this Sunday’s NY Times Magazine will feature Chris Matthews on the cover and Fishbowl DC got their hands on an early copy of the piece. Excerpts:
As we approached the airport gate, Matthews mentioned that he and his wife, Kathleen, have been contemplating a trip to Damascus. It’s something they have wanted to do for a long time. But he worries that he might make an inviting target for a kidnapper. “I can imagine getting some big-name media figure would be a big propaganda catch for them,” Matthews said. “You can imagine what the neocons would say if I were kidnapped. They’d be like, ‘See, Matthews, terrorism isn’t so funny now, is it?’”
A number of people I spoke with at NBC said that Russert can be disdainful of Matthews, whose act he often sees as clownish. They also told me that Russert believes Matthews is something of a loose cannon who brings him undue headaches in his capacity as NBC’s Washington bureau chief.
And here’s another:
Friends say Matthews is wary of another up-and-comer, David Gregory, who last month was given a show at 6 o’clock, between airings of “Hardball.” It is a common view around NBC that Gregory is trying out as a possible replacement for Matthews.
Like I said, I can’t wait to read the entire thing.
The “Where was Chelsea on 9/11” Story
Media Matters and Keith Olbermann have been on a tear against anyone who repeats the claim that Chelsea was jogging around the WTC on 9/11. Background here. Media Matters actually had a new post on the subject today. An excerpt:
Summary: On Fox News’ America’s Election HQ, radio host Tammy Bruce suggested that Sen. Hillary Clinton suffers from “mythomania … part of a larger psychiatric scheme of people who make up fantastic stories to bolster their own image.” As purported evidence, Bruce asserted that Clinton had said her daughter, Chelsea Clinton, was “at the World Trade Center on September 11th.” In fact, Hillary Clinton made no such claim.
If she “made no such claim,” why is a Clinton staffer emailing Mike Allen at the Politico and basically confirming what she said?
That pattern appeared to repeat itself when Clinton told NBC’s “Dateline” that Chelsea had been jogging near the World Trade Center, out for a cup of coffee, when the first plane hit.
Chelsea, writing a first-hand account in the defunct Talk magazine, later revealed that she was watching TV in a pal’s apartment on Park Avenue South.
But it turns out that one of the two daughters of Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Jessica, actually was at high school on Sept. 11 – in the shadow of the World Trade Center.
One Clinton aide was furious about coverage of that one. “Her daughter was in lower Manhattan,” the aide e-mailed. “Put yourself in her shoes. She was a mother worried sick about her daughter, who couldn’t connect with her for hours, knew she had gone running, knew people who were in the buildings and likely died. She made these comments only days later, and she had been worried and scared.”