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CNN Getting Huge Ratings with its Flight 370 Coverage



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Have you watched CNN’s coverage of the missing Malaysian 777? It is inane. But, you can’t argue with the ratings. New York Times:

On CNN, the plane rises from misty clouds accompanied by an eerie background score while anchors offer intriguing details — some new, some days old — of the disappearance of Flight 370. The reports, broadcast continually, often are augmented by speculation — sometimes fevered, sometimes tempered — about where the flight might have come to rest. And viewers are eating it up.

The story of the vanished Boeing 777 jet has been exhaustively covered across every form of news media, with television generally leading the way. Each of the broadcast networks began its evening newscast with stories on the plane every night last week, a consensus that happens “once a year at most,” according to Andrew Tyndall, who publishes a weekly report monitoring newscasts.

But it is CNN, the cable network that has been scrambling to find a sustainable business model against its main competitors, Fox News and MSNBC, that has perhaps invested most heavily in the mystery of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.

“It is a tremendous story that is completely in our wheelhouse,” said a senior CNN executive, who asked not to be identified defining the network’s strategy for its coverage. CNN’s ratings soared last week and over the weekend, rising by almost 100 percent in prime time. The network even managed the rare feat of edging past Fox News for leadership in several hours.

Last Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, the CNN 8 p.m. program, hosted by Anderson Cooper, beat Fox’s perennial ratings giant, Bill O’Reilly, in the audience that attracts the most revenue for news channels, viewers between the ages of 25 and 54. It was the first time Mr. Cooper has ever topped Mr. O’Reilly in the group for three straight days. (Mr. O’Reilly still won the week in that category.)

CNN also won the 25-to-54 age group from 2 p.m. through 10 p.m. on Saturday, and initial numbers from Sunday indicate the network again led across many of the hours of the day. This is only the case among the specific demographic group preferred by news advertisers; Fox News, as it always does, dominated in terms of total viewers.

The rest here.

Jay Carney Now Giving Stock Tips from the White House Podium



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From yesterday’s press briefing, via the WSJ:

The White House on Tuesday defended U.S. sanctions against Russia amid criticism that they weren’t effective, and made a rare foray into personal investment decisions.

“I wouldn’t, if I were you, invest in Russian equities right now—unless you’re going short,” President Barack Obama’s chief spokesman, Jay Carney, said Tuesday when pressed whether Russia was shrugging off U.S. sanctions.

The U.S. sanctions, enacted Monday, froze the assets of seven Russians and four Ukrainians and prohibits Americans from doing business with any of those named. The Russian ruble and stock markets in Russia and Europe, which had been weighed down by the Ukrainian crisis, rallied over the past several days as investors determined the U.S. and European Union sanctions against Russia were more mild than expected and as Russian President Vladimir Putin said he didn’t want further confrontation with Ukraine.

The White House usually declines to comment about swings in the financial markets, and tries to avoid saying anything to spook investors. But Mr. Carney said he thinks the U.S. and European Sanctions, combined with Russia’s own actions in Ukraine, will harm Russia’s economy.

“I think the ruble has lost value. And I think that the long-term effect of actions taken by the Russian government, in clear violation of the United Nations charter, in clear violation of its treaty commitments, that are destabilizing and illegal, will have an impact on their economy all by themselves,” Mr. Carney said.

It’s legal for him to do this? The rest here.

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Chris Hayes vs. Dick Cheney



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MSDNC’s Chris Hayes took some shots at former vice president Dick Cheney last night for comments he made on the Sunday shows regarding President Obama’s reaction to the crisis in Ukraine. Hayes went as far as to say Cheney’s ideas “make as much sense as you’d expect from the architect of the Iraq war and torture regime.”

But the Cheney plan isn’t that controversial. He suggested reinstating ballistic-missile defense in Poland, joint military exercises with our NATO allies, equipment and training for the Ukrainian military, and a renewed focus — again with our NATO allies — to show Russia that America keeps its commitments.

Video here.

Obama’s already sent a warship into the Black Sea and fighters and airmen to Poland and Lithuania. That’s what you call the start of the Cheney plan.

Hayes might find fault that Cheney called the president’s policy with Russia “feckless,” but the editors of the Washington Post were just as harsh: “President Obama’s foreign policy is based on fantasy.” 

As far as the gratuitous swipe at Cheney as the architect of America’s “torture regime,” let’s count the bodies: Americans ordered assassinated without a trail by Dick Cheney? Zero. Americans ordered assassinated without a trial by President Obama? Four.

But, hey, if Hayes wants to continue to cheerlead for the “architect of America’s assassination of Americans program,” so be it. 

Ratings for the Cosmos Reboot Are In



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The much talked about Seth MacFarlane reboot of Cosmos aired last night  to less than “stellar” ratings.

You can watch the episode here.

Maybe the ratings stunk because the show broke no new ground. For example, here’s a list of “7 Things We Learned” from the premier compiled by Space.com. I highly doubt anybody at Space.com didn’t know any of this:

1. Jupiter has hurricane three times the size of Earth
2. Our solar system has a huge shell that no one can see
3. Our universe may be part of a multiverse
4. Our cosmic perspective is relatively new
5. In the cosmic calendar, Jesus was born just 5 seconds ago
6. Carl Sagan and new “Cosmos” host Neil deGrasse Tyson go way back
7. We are made of star stuff

Well, No. 6 I didn’t know. But even my kids knew the other six, including my seven-year-old daughter who argued with her kindergarten class last year that ”star stuff” created the Earth, not God.

And next week’s episode doesn’t seem all that exciting — or, again, groundbreaking. via TVGuide.com:

A look at canine breeds and how they’re related to wolves; an examination of the human eye. Also: a visit to the Hall of Extinction.

The dog/wolf connection was a story in January and what’s new about the human eye or extinct animals? I think we have a real dud of a show in the making.

 

 

NBC Denies Report that Botox Caused Bob Costas’s Pink-Eye in Sochi?



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Page Six:

Bob Costas got his infamous case of Olympic pink eye from botched Botox, a source claims to Page Six.

NBC’s prime-time Olympics host, who had to take a six-day absence after coming down with viral conjunctivitis in both eyes, contracted the infection after a Botox procedure to smooth out wrinkles prior to the Olympics. Our source said, “Bob’s eye infection was due to botched Botox. This isn’t the first time he’s had it.”

NBC strongly denies that Costas — who arrived to host the games in Sochi with a forehead smoother than the Olympic luge track — developed the infection from a Botox procedure.

A spokesperson from NBC Sports insisted to us, “This has zero truth to this. Zero.”

The rest here.

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Joy Reid vs. John Bolton



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MSNBC’s Joy Reid is not happy with former ambassador John Bolton, who said at CPAC earlier today, “Under Barack Obama, you can murder his personal representative and get away scot-free.”

Reid called that ”too despicable to comprehend.”

What’s so hard to comprehend? Our ambassador to Libya was murdered and the United States has done nothing about it. 

Video: Jim DeMint on The Daily Show



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Enjoy:

CNN’s Jeff Zucker: ‘A New Lineup Will Evolve over Time’



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Actually, CNN should try devolution for its new lineup. People really liked the Geico caveman, for example. Maybe have a host dressed as a Neanderthal host at 9 p.m.? If this “Neanchorthal” doesn’t like what a guest says, he can just hit him over the head with a giant inflatable club. I’d watch that. 

Via TV Newser.

 

Dave Weigel: ‘Why Obama Got Russia Wrong (and Romney Got It Right)’



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No only does Weigel say President Obama was wrong on Russia in 2012, but he comes as close to calling the president a liar as you can get: (emphasis mine)

To peer into the conservative media and blogosphere as it covers Russa’s invasion of Crimea is to risk a fatal dose of schadenfreude. There are reports about how Sarah Palin totally called that Putin would invade Ukraine (she will be on Fox News tonight to remind us), about how Mitt Romney was unfairly mocked for calling Russia the greatest “geopolitical threat” to the United States, about Hillary Clinton’s “reset button” gaffe. Even the Liberal New Republic ™ has admitted that Mitt Romney was right about the Russians and their ambitions.

And he was. Why did Barack Obama blow it? Let’s revisit the final 2012 presidential debate, the moment Romney explained himself and the president went for the lulz. Here’s Obama.

Governor Romney, I’m glad that you recognize that Al Qaida is a threat, because a few months ago when you were asked what’s the biggest geopolitical threat facing America, you said Russia, not Al Qaida; you said Russia, in the 1980s, they’re now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because, you know, the Cold War’s been over for 20 years.

But Governor, when it comes to our foreign policy, you seem to want to import the foreign policies of the 1980s, just like the social policies of the 1950s and the economic policies of the 1920s.

And here’s Romney:

Russia I indicated is a geopolitical foe… and I said in the same — in the same paragraph I said, and Iran is the greatest national security threat we face. Russia does continue to battle us in the U.N. time and time again. I have clear eyes on this. I’m not going to wear rose-colored glasses when it comes to Russia, or Mr. Putin. And I’m certainly not going to say to him, I’ll give you more flexibility after the election. After the election, he’ll get more backbone.

Romney was right. Why was Obama wrong? Because, I think, he was willfully blurring the distinction between “geopolitical” and other sorts of threats. He was playing to the cheap seats. Voters do not fear Russia, or particularly care about its movements in its sad, cold sphere of influence. They do care a lot about terrorism. And Obama would use any chance he had, in 2012, to remind voters that he was president when Osama Bin Laden was killed.

The rest here.

Bill Kristol Fact-Checks Bill Maher on the Tea Party



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Bill Maher made the claim on his show Friday night that the origins of the Tea Party are related to President Obama’s skin color. Bill Kristol quickly countered with “That’s bulls**t” and “Even you don’t believe that. You’re just saying that.”

Good stuff. Video here:

 

 

Piers Morgan: ‘I Want To Do Big Interviews’



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Here’s video of Piers Morgan talking to a reporter from TMZ about the cancelation of his CNN show. Stick around until the end where he talks about his future. He wants to do, “less shows, more big interviews.” Morgan then lists some of his favorites from the past: the Dali Lama, Bill Clinton, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and . . . Oprah Winfrey.

And do watch the video to see how much Morgan loves, as I wrote the other day, being in the celebrity spotlight. He really does see himself as the celebrity who interviews celebrities.

New Blue Eyes: ‘I Didn’t Order Restrictions On Reporters’



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The Los Angeles Times reports in a follow-up to this Page Six story from yesterday:

MSNBC host Ronan Farrow says reporters can ask him anything, because he doesn’t put restrictions on interviews.

The 26-year-old son of Mia Farrow and Woody Allen is denying that he and his team were behind a “tip sheet” designed to bar reporters from asking him any personal questions at a Wednesday benefit for Reach the World, a nonprofit educational organization. The story first appeared in the New York Post.

The tip sheet warned journalists to stay “on message” or be immediately bounced from the event.

And what else could be on reporters’ minds? Well, Farrow, whose afternoon show “Ronan Farrow Daily” premiered this week, has been at the center of a controversy involving his sister, Dylan Farrow, who has accused Allen of child molestation more than two decades ago. Allen has denied the allegations, but Ronan has publicly supported his sister.

“I’d never demand anyone not ask me anything, obviously,” Farrow tweeted to his 236,000 followers, adding: “(Doesn’t mean I have to answer though).”

MSNBC is blaming the gaffe on an outside PR consultant hired by Reach the World.

Well then, let’s ask him some questions.

The rest here.

Seth Rogen Angry Senators Ditched his ‘Expert’ Testimony on Alzheimer’s



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And throwing a temper-tantrum on Twitter is the best way to fix the problem? Fox News:

The celebrity didn’t get the audience he wanted? How sad. On a positive note, although the Senators ignored Rogen, he did have some fans in the gallery:

What’s sad though is that the media only really pays attention because a celebrity is involved. I guarantee if George Clooney showed up to talk about Darfur, the major media outlets would all have big stories on it.

But why should Clooney or Rogen get to determine what’s important?

Fired Newspaper Editor Stabbed in Hong Kong



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The Los Angeles Times:

A recently dismissed Hong Kong newspaper editor was hospitalized in critical condition Wednesday after assailants stabbed him in the back and leg and fled on a motorbike.

The assault on Kevin Lau, whose removal as editor of the Ming Pao daily last month helped spark demonstrations over erosion of media freedoms, shocked a wide swath of the former British territory, which reverted to Chinese rule in 1997.

Under an arrangement known as “one country, two systems,” Hong Kong is supposed to enjoy greater freedom of speech and the press, along with other liberties, than the mainland.

It was unclear who was behind Wednesday’s attack. The Hong Kong Journalists Assn. called on authorities to “pursue his attackers and those malignant forces behind them without fear or favor. The attackers must be brought to justice as quickly as possible to allay public fears.”

“The growing number of attacks against members of the press in Hong Kong needs to be taken seriously by the local administration,” the Hong Kong Foreign Correspondents’ Club said in a separate statement. “Hong Kong’s reputation as a free and international city will suffer if such crimes go unsolved and unpunished.”

Oddly, we haven’t heard yet from Tom Friedman on this development. Maybe the next time Friedman is on the Acela, bitching about its wi-fi and writing about the awesomeness of China’s infrastructure spending, he can hold forth on the case of Mr. Lau?

The rest from the Times here.

New Blue Eyes Won’t Talk About His Family Issues



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Page Six reports:

Ronan Farrow’s team is trying to protect the precious new MSNBC host from probing questions about his dysfunctional family. Reporters are being ordered to sign a form pledging they will not ask Farrow, the son of Mia Farrow and Woody Allen (or possibly Frank Sinatra), personal questions if they want to attend a benefit where he will be honored Wednesday night.

Farrow — who has publicly stood behind his sister Dylan’s accusations that she was sexually abused by Allen when she was 7, and tweeted about the abuse allegations during the Golden Globes — is receiving the Cronkite Award for Excellence in Exploration and Journalism at Reach the World’s 14th annual benefit at the Princeton Club. Reporters have been issued a tip sheet that includes stern “conditions” not to ask anything about Allen.

The rest here.

 

House GOP vs. the FCC



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Fox News:

Lawmaker vows bill to get FCC newsroom study ‘eradicated’

House Republicans plan to introduce legislation to bar the Federal Communications Commission from ever conducting the kind of intrusive newsroom study they claim the agency was poised to launch, before officials pulled back last week. 

Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., head of the House Communications and Technology Subcommittee, said Tuesday that he’ll bring forward a bill, and hold a hearing, aimed at completely stopping this and any similar studies in the future. 

“The potential for violation of the First Amendment is exceptionally egregious,” he said in a statement. 

He was referring to the FCC’s proposed “critical information needs” study, which in its initial form would have sent researchers into newsrooms across the country to ask them questions about editorial decisions. Critics, including at least one member of the FCC itself, complained that the study could have the effect of intimidating journalists and editors. 

On Friday, the FCC said that Chairman Tom Wheeler agreed that some of the study’s proposed questions “overstepped the bounds of what is required.” The agency announced that a proposed pilot study in South Carolina would be shelved, at least until a “new study design” is finalized. 

The agency also made clear that this and any future studies would not involve interviews with “media owners, news directors or reporters.” 

But Walden said he wants to go further, and make sure the study comes off the books entirely. 

The rest here.

Piers Morgan out at CNN



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David Carr of the New York Times reports:

Piers Morgan and CNN Plan End to His Prime-Time Show

And here’s why: he’s not American. . .

It’s been an unhappy collision between a British television personality who refuses to assimilate — the only football he cares about is round and his lectures on guns were rife with contempt — and a CNN audience that is intrinsically provincial. After all, the people who tune into a cable news network are, by their nature, deeply interested in America.

. . .Or it’s slow-news days. . .

“It’s been a painful period and lately we have taken a bath in the ratings,” he said, adding that although there had been times when the show connected in terms of audience, slow news days were problematic.

. . .Nah, it’s guns. . .

“Look, I am a British guy debating American cultural issues, including guns, which has been very polarizing, and there is no doubt that there are many in the audience who are tired of me banging on about it,” he said. “That’s run its course and Jeff and I have been talking for some time about different ways of using me.”

. . .More? Piers feels he’s better with celebrities. . .

I’d like to do work — interviews with big celebrities and powerful people — that is better suited to what I do well and fit with what Jeff is trying to do with the network.”

. . .Oh, wait. It’s his accent. . .

Old hands in the television news business suggest that there are two things a presenter cannot have: an accent or a beard. Mr. Morgan is clean shaven and handsome enough, but there are tells in his speech — the way he says the president’s name for one thing (Ob-AA-ma) — that suggest that he is not from around here.

Carr returns to guns, however, as the main reason for the disconnect in his conclusion:

In the current media age, no one is expected to be a eunuch, without values or beliefs, but Mr. Morgan’s lecturing on the evils of guns have clanked hard against the CNN brand, which, for good or ill, is built on the middle way.

We don’t look for moral leadership from CNN, or from a British host on a rampage. Guns, along with many other great and horrible things, are knit into the fabric of this country. There are folkways peculiar to America that Mr. Morgan is just learning, including the fact that if you want to stick out, you first have to work on fitting in.

If the gun issue was the driver of Morgan’s departure, it’s his own fault. Morgan would shift to cupcake-mode when he was talking guns with a celebrity like Rob Lowe (a gun-owner), and go into bananas-mode when talking guns with his “regular” guests, like Breitbart’s Ben Shapiro. Morgan never understood his own hypocrisy, too, of living in a house protected by armed guards or working in a building protected by armed guards and the idea that Americans who can’t afford such a lifestyle might want the same sort of protection for themselves and their families.

So, looking back over the list Carr gives of reasons why Morgan failed in America, it’s best to focus on Morgan’s love of celebrity. Morgan feels that 1., this group is something special, and 2., he is part of this group.

One thing Carr didn;t mention: I’m not sure any host will do well at CNN in the 9 p.m. slot unless CNN radically changes the format. Larry King and Piers Morgan are old and tired’; viewers want a Jon Stewart or Greg Gutfeld type. CNN, while searching for a replacement, should look to bring the success of the late-night hosts into a time slot more people can enjoy.

 

Ta-Nehisi Coates: Juries Are Not Beyond Reproach



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Here’s the latest from Coates on the Michael Dunn trial. Now they jury is at fault:

Either way, the view that the jury believed Dunn was “not acting in lawful self-defense” is not consistent with the recollection of one of the jurors who sat down to talk to Nightline:

Nightline: You all first took your first poll of guilt or innocence on the murder of Jordan Davis, what was the vote?

Juror No. 4: 10-2.

Nightline: Ten people thinking he was guilty.

Juror No. 4: Yes, sir.

Nightline: And two people saying what?

Juror No. 4: Self-Defense.

The juror later says, “We took a poll. There were two of us undecided. Two for was justified and the rest not justified.”

[. . .] As it stands, the facts hold that three jurors believed that the killing of Jordan Davis was just, and nine did not. My contention is that that belief is inseparable from our racist heritage, which dictates African-American life is of lesser value.

Put modestly, from the mid-17th century until the mid-20th century, the policy of our ancestral colonies and the policy of this country proceeded from this assumption. Perhaps the most amazing feature of our current era is the belief that 300 years of such policy gives no tell on our daily lives. The second most amazing feature is the belief that juries are somehow beyond reproach and capable of cleaning up our s**t. 

A hung-jury 10-2 means African-American life is of lesser value? Also, do click on the Nightline link above as Coates has omitted much of what Juror No. 4 had to say. Some excerpts:

According to Valerie, the jurors who believed Dunn was guilty were split between first-degree, second-degree and manslaughter – but because they were unable to unanimously overcome the issue of self-defense, the jury was deadlocked. The jurors yelled and screamed at each other at one point, but all were respectful of each other’s position. [. . .]

Despite the disagreement over whether shooting Davis was justified, all the jurors agreed that Dunn escalated the situation by then shooting at the others inside the car, she said.

Coates ends with:

A very wise man wrote me the other day and said he would have been happier if Dunn had been convicted of first-degree murder, gotten 15 years, and then was released to try to pick up the pieces of his life. And I think that really gets to the point. This is not about the ruination of white people—individual or collective. This is about coping with a heritage of regarding black people as subhuman. 

Well, for starters, this “very wise man” doesn’t know Florida law. First-degree murder in Florida carries a sentence of death or life in prison, Dunn was facing the later. Secondly, 15 years for murdering a person?  Dunn will be incarcerated for at least 60 years; 20 years for each attempted murder charge and 15 on the charge of firing the gun into the car. 

It seems to me that the jury — the entire jury — put a higher value on Davis’s life than Coates and his “very wise man.” 

Eugene Robinson: ‘I’m Black, Don’t Shoot Me’



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The Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson is afraid of getting shot by a white person in the wake of the Michael Dunn and George Zimmerman verdicts:

Sometimes, when I’m in my car, I crank up the music pretty loud. All you Michael Dunns out there, please don’t shoot me.

Please don’t shoot my sons, either, or my brothers-in-law, nephews, nephews-in-law or other male relatives. I have quite a few friends and acquaintances who also happen to be black men, and I’d appreciate your not shooting them as well, even if the value you place on their lives is approximately zero.

I know I shouldn’t have to ask, but nothing else has worked. The criminal justice system has a mixed record — Dunn was at least partly held accountable for the burst of mayhem in which he fatally shot Jordan Davis, while George Zimmerman got off scot-free for killing Trayvon Martin. But whatever the final outcome, prosecutors and juries never get involved until after the fact. When mothers have already cried over the caskets of their dead sons. When it’s too late.

[. . .]

I’m not aware of any law that says young black men have to follow orders from every random white man who comes along.

And somebody at the Post took it one step further and added this teaser to Robinson’s piece:

“Out of control”? Hardly. I get the anger over the verdict, but to pretend that a Wild West atmosphere exists where whites are shooting African-Americans willy-nilly fails to account for, well, reality. Here are the actual numbers from the FBI’s 2010 crime statistics:

In summary, in instances where both the race of the offender and victim are known, of the 2,720 blacks killed in 2010, 218 were killed by whites and 2,459 were killed by blacks. That’s 8 percent.

On the other hand, it should be emphasized that there’s not an epidemic of black-on-white murder, either. Of the 3,327 whites killed in 2010, 447 were killed by blacks, or 13.4 percent.

What these numbers do show is that it’s black-on-black violence that is “out of control.” 

I’m all for ending anybody’s wrong-headed opinion that white-Americans are at risk from black-Americans, but Eugene Robinson needs to know it’s a two-way street. 

 

 

Forbes Profiles Bill Maher



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And we find he almost worked for MSNBC:

I ask him with all the changes going on at CNN, which like HBO is owned by Time Warner, if he could take his brand of politically incorrect talk to the all news network. After all he’d often sit in for Larry King, when King was a CNN mainstay.  “Never, going to happen,” says Maher. “A while back I had some extensive talks with MSNBC and ultimately we all looked around the room and we all just knew with advertisers to worry about, we’d never be able to make it work.”

If Maher toned down his HBO show for MSNBC, he’d be the highest-rated host at the network. 

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