Every time I guest-hosted "Reliable Sources" over the summer, there were a few surprises — facts I learned and guest statements that really stood out. Now that I'm hosting each week, I'm going to highlight a few moments here on the blog after every program.
· During a conversation about Martin Bashir's resignation, American University journalism professor Jane Hall had this to say: "I think that MSNBC, if he had not left, was going to be in an uncomfortable position of seeming not to care as much about a vile depiction of a woman as they did about anti-gay homophobic remarks made by Alec Baldwin." She added: "A lot of women have had a lot of ugly things said about them - and on television and otherwise - and there's…sometimes not the same degree of consequences as there may be for other people."
· NPR television critic Eric Deggans suggested that MSNBC has more questions to answer about Bashir's revolting commentary about Sarah Palin: "Who else made the decision here to allow this to be aired and why haven't they been punished? MSNBC resisted taking any responsibility for what he said and then, finally, he resigns and there's no sense of accountability, what other producers were involved. I think they should have - MSNBC should have admitted he made a mistake. They should have suspended him very publicly. And then, there'd be a sense that there's some procedure for when you cross the line as an anchor - and everybody [would] know where the lines are."
· I asked Paul Farhi, media reporter for The Washington Post, whether there have been any noticeable changes at the newspaper in the four months since Jeff Bezos announced he was acquiring it: "It's almost impossible to find any fingerprint of Jeff Bezos on The Washington Post, other than the fact that he now obviously owns us. But we haven't seen any changes. We know they're coming. We just haven't seen them yet."
· I reported a bit of backstory about why Sam Champion agreed to leave "Good Morning America" for The Weather Channel: "Part of the reason why it was so appealing to Sam Champion is he's not just getting a salary. He's also getting stock in Weather Channel's parent company. That way, he's got an investment in the future of the channel."
· With the one-year anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting fast approaching, Hearst's newspapers in Connecticut on Sunday published excerpts of diaries from Dawn Hochsprung, the school principal who was killed there. They were shared by Hochsprung's husband George. Brian Koonz, the metro editor for the newspaper chain, read a diary excerpt on the show — something I was not expecting — and then explained how the diaries were obtained: "Now, a story like this, you don't get arbitrarily. You don't get from dive-bombing journalism. I think this was a story that came to us through Eileen Fitzgerald, a wonderful reporter, who had established a relationship with George Hochsprung, really a relationship of trust." Here's the segment.
· Later in the program, I described how major news organizations like CNN received advance notice of Nelson Mandela's death: "At around 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, there was a flurry of activity at CNN's newsrooms in Atlanta, New York and here in Washington. South African government sources were privately signaling that Nelson Mandela had died. Anchors were notified and special events producers were called in, but this network and all of its rivals waited until the official announcement at 4:45 before beginning wall-to-wall coverage of Mandela's death, and more importantly, life. Nobody wanted to get it wrong."
· Bill Keller, who wrote The New York Times' obituary of Nelson Mandela, talked about how the more controversial parts of Mandela's past have been glossed over in some coverage of his death: "There is a sort of tendency to sand off the rough edges, which I think is a shame. Because there's no question he's one of the towering figures of the 20th century, and everybody who covered him pretty much came away with a bit of awe of the guy. But he was a complicated human being, and he had rough edges, and he was not universally revered in the early days, the way government regarded him as a terrorist. A lot of blacks who hated the idea of apartheid thought that Mandela was an accommodator, was too soft. He gave away the store, a sellout. And there were a fair number of black who really didn't want to rock the boat at all because they were just afraid of the reprisals that would come. So he was a controversial figure in black South Africa and white South Africa at the time." Here's the entire interview.
· At the end of the program I briefly shared my vision for "Reliable Sources." Here's the video.
Thanks for watching and reading!
Eric Deggans, Paul Farhi, Jane Hall and Brian Stelter assess the fallout from the MSNBC host’s controversial comments, apology and resignation.
By Brian Stelter
Ryan Seacrest has a few big decisions to make.
His contract to host "American Idol," once the biggest television show in the United States and still a linchpin of Fox's lineup, expires when the singing competition's next season ends in May. Another of his contracts, a wide-ranging one with NBCUniversal, comes due around the same time. Both are likely to be renewed in some form; the requisite talks are already underway. But the decisions in front of Seacrest — ones that any broadcaster would be glad to be facing — highlight how he's been able to work for so many competing media companies simultaneously. He recently extended his contract to host "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve" for ABC and he leads two radio shows for Clear Channel.
When I interviewed him for CNN's "Reliable Sources" last Friday and asked how he pulls off this pretty unique juggling act, he joked about making sure to always remember which network he's on at any given time: "When I'm on Fox, I want to remember 'Fox.'"
More seriously, he added, "I really believe that every single one of those partnerships is equally as important."
He carved out time for the interview during the Los Angeles portion of Jingle Ball, Clear Channel's annual concert series in cities across the country. Seacrest's deal with the radio giant, valued at $25 million a year, will come up for renewal in 2015, according to people with direct knowledge of the deal terms. (They insisted on anonymity while discussing private contract details.)
But his business relationships with Fox and NBC require more urgent reconsideration. When I asked him if he'll continue to host "Idol" after this season, which begins in January and ends in May, he said, "I hope to host as long as they want me to host."
Seacrest acknowledged his dissatisfaction with the sharp ratings declines that "Idol" has suffered, particularly in the season that ended last May.
"We obviously did not deliver … the numbers that we wanted to deliver," he said before asserting that he had lost slept over the relative weakness of the ratings.
Looking ahead to this season, which involves an almost entirely new team of producers and judges, he said, "I want people to watch, and I want people who perhaps didn't watch last season to come back and see their 'American Idol' this season because we have put the show back together in a fun way."
I also asked Seacrest about NBC's "Today" show, since his current deal with NBCUniversal includes a special correspondent role on the morning show. Around the time the deal was struck in the spring of 2012, there was informed speculation in the press about Seacrest being in line to someday replace Matt Lauer on "Today." Lauer asked Seacrest about his interest in the "Today" show during an April 2012 interview:
LAUER: Do you see yourself doing a job like this?
SEACREST: You know, I don't know. I see you doing this for as long as you want to, so maybe the question is, how long will you be on the 'Today' show? … Because fans, myself included, think you should be here for years to come.
Subsequently, Seacrest has said that Lauer should host the "Today" show for as long as he wants to. So I asked him if hosting "Today" was still a possibility, and he answered this way: "Look, I mean, as far as I'm concerned, everything is a - I hope everything is a possibility. You know, I like to leave every door open. If it is open, I think that's up to them to decide."
At the moment, the door is not open — Lauer has not telegraphed any plans to leave the show. But NBC executives are dutifully thinking about a "Today" show succession plan anyway. In the interview, I told Seacrest that I thought he might be "too big" for the "Today" show — because he has too many other jobs and business ventures — but he circled back to his interest in the possibility, citing his love for live broadcasting.
"I truly thrive off of being on-air or on-stage in a live environment," he said.
NBC tried to launch a live prime time game show, "Million Second Quiz," with Seacrest as the host earlier this fall. "Quiz" turned in disappointing ratings; postmortems focused on the overly complicated game-play. NBC executives said they were pleased with Seacrest's performance.
Eric Deggans, Paul Farhi, Jane Hall and Brian Stelter discuss President Obama’s swipe at the media and a possible conflict of interest for CNN.
As the first anniversary of the Sandy Hook shooting approaches, Brian Stelter talks with journalist and Newtown resident Brian Koonz about how the media should mark the occasion.
Here are a few examples of people weighing in on the upcoming anniversary and how it should be handled:
Statement by Newtown First Selectman Pat Llodra:
"Our community is choosing to remember and honor those who lost their lives in that awful tragedy in ways that are quiet, personal, and respectful – centered on the themes of kindness, love, and service to others. We are wishing fervently that those many persons who wish us well, and the media, will allow us this time to be alone and quiet with time for personal and communal reflection."
Statements by various media:
"The Newtown Bee is not participating in coverage by outside media of the 12/14 anniversary of the Sandy Hook shootings. There is a point - and I think we had already passed it at the six-month mark - where the continued media fascination with Newtown's psychological state becomes an impediment to the healing process for many people. We, here at The Bee, are keenly aware of that local sentiment, and our main mission has always been to respect and serve the interests of our audience, which is the Newtown community."
– Curtiss Clark, Editor, The Newtown Bee; Thursday
"WFSB thanks CNN for the invitation, but we respectfully decline. It is not our intention to garner publicity for ourselves. This was a decision based on what was right and respectful. There was no imminent news reason to be in town that day, just for the sake of live presence. We've chosen to air a memorial piece about each victim for the 26 days leading up to December 14th. We have also extensively covered the newly released preliminary report as necessary and will continue to do so as developments occur."
– Klarn DePalma, VP/General Manager, WFSB; Statement to CNN, Wednesday
Bill Keller of the New York Times sits down with Brian Stelter to reflect on his experience covering the life of Nelson Mandela.
Brian Stelter shares his feelings about becoming the new host of Reliable Sources and his vision for the future of the show.
In this Reliable Sources web extra, Ryan Seacrest tells Brian Stelter about his investment in a company that manufactures keyboards for iPhones
By: CNN's Brian Stelter
I think it's safe to say that CNN couldn't have picked a better week to introduce a new host on "Reliable Sources!"
I'm Brian Stelter, CNN's Senior Media Correspondent, and I'm busy getting ready for my debut. "Reliable Sources" is one of a kind - a weekly opportunity to analyze the changing media world. It's an honor to be taking the helm.
With the world mourning the death of former South African President Nelson Mandela this week, we'll have an in-depth look at the global media coverage and how it is shaping Mandela's enduring legacy. The New York Times' Bill Keller, author of “Tree Shaker: The Story of Nelson Mandela,” will tell me about his 2007 interview with Mandela, portions of which were published for the first time on Thursday.
We –the top-notch "Reliable" team of producers and I in Washington - have been working all week on a bevy of other segments. From Martin Bashir’s resignation at MSNBC to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announcing his plans for drone delivery on "60 Minutes," we'll tackle the media highs and lows of the week with American University’s Jane Hall, The Washington Post’s Paul Farhi & NPR’s Eric Deggans.
We're reserving one segment for a conversation about coverage of the one-year anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre. We wanted to know how news organizations around Newtown, Connecticut, where the shooting happened, are approaching the ethical issues that the anniversary presents for journalists — for example, whether to publish the 911 tapes that were made public earlier this week. Brian Koonz, who lives in Newtown and is the metro editor for a set of local newspapers owned by Hearst, will join us.
And in an exclusive interview with CNN, a media star who needs no introduction: Ryan Seacrest. I shot the interview late Friday evening in Los Angeles and I was surprised by several of his answers about "American Idol," the "Today" show and the juggling act of his career.
Since we're nearing the end of the year, I'll also reveal the person who 'I Want Media' readers have voted as the media person of the year.
See you in a few hours! "Reliable Sources" starts at 11 a.m. Eastern time Sunday.
By Becky Perlow, CNN
From TMI mirror selfies to basically any Kim Kardashian selfie, cell phone cameras and social media have officially blurred the rules of what's appropriate to share... and what's not. But for one woman in New York, it might have been a case of simply taking a selfie at the wrong time. The New York Post published a picture of the young, blonde woman on the cover of its Monday edition, taking a selfie with a man attempting to commit suicide in the background. Perhaps, however, she didn't notice the suicidal man and was only taking a picture of the Brooklyn Bridge in the background. What do you think?
Bloomberg LP, known for its business-savvy reporting, has tripled its revenues in the 12 years since Michael Bloomberg traded his plushy corporate corner office for the city of New York's mayoral podium, according to Fortune. But while "Bloomberg is on track for record revenues of $8.3 billion in 2013 and profits of about $2.7 billion," the company is battling PR nightmares, including its most recent scandal of censoring its own journalists in China. Check out CNN Money's preview of the story after the jump.
The publication known for inside-the-beltway news is breaking ground in a new city outside of the nation's capital. Politico's parent company recently purchased Capital New York, a small New York-based website, and Politico founder and CEO Jim VandeHei is gearing up for the company's expansion. "When you look at City Hall, when you look at Albany, when you look at media, even when you look at finance, I think there are huge pockets of this city that are under-covered or that could be covered exponentially better," VandeHei told Bloomberg News.
For more on Politico's new venture, tune in later this month for Brian Stelter's interview with VandeHei, and watch for Stelter's debut show this Sunday at 11am ET.