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!