December 23rd, 2013
11:51 AM ET

From Brian: 5 takeaways from Dec. 22 show

Almost 9,000 words were spoken during "Reliable Sources" on Sunday. 9,000! If you didn't hear them all, here are five of the moments that really stood out to me:

1. On the subject of John Miller's "60 Minutes" report about the NSA, I particularly liked this exchange between the CNN commentator/New Yorker correspondent Ryan Lizza and the former NPR ombudsman Alicia Shepard:

LIZZA: Look at what happened this last week. We had three different reports about the NSA. We had "60 Minutes," we had a federal judge, and we had a White House panel, right? So three of the four branches of government told you something about the NSA and, unfortunately, the one that was the most pro-NSA and least criticism was the one by "60 Minutes."

SHEPARD: Right, which is what we would expect would have the harshest criticism. It did seem like who deputized CBS to say, we've heard all the negative criticism. So, we're going to give you the other side of the story.

2. Speaking of "60 Minutes:" is John Miller — formerly of the New York Police Department, ABC, the Los Angeles Police Department, the FBI, the office of the Director of National Intelligence, and currently of CBS News — about to rejoin the New York Police Department, as The New York Post and other outlets have reported? "There's been story after story saying that he's likely to get this job," Michael Calderone of The Huffington Post pointed out. I said: "My sense is we could have a deal by Christmas. I don't think [Miller] wants to go into the New Year and not have this resolved."

3. There are, as Michael Calderone put it in a recent article, "heightened concerns about the ability of U.S. news outlets to report independently" in China. It's a complex issue and I was really happy with the content of our "D block" about it. Calderone, the New America Foundation's Emily Parker and CNN's chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto all discussed it in detail — here's the video.

4. When the "Duck Dynasty" star Phil Robertson was suspended last week, politicians like Bobby Jindal quickly spoke up on his behalf. Matea Gold of The Washington Post articulated the reasons why:

I think what we're seeing is politicians increasingly becoming even more savvy about pouncing on these cultural moments, to communicate to key voting blocs. We saw this with Chick-fil-A issue last year in which everyone tried to pile on on both sides, to try to take ownership of the issue. In this case, Bobby Jindal, as you mentioned, and also Ted Cruz and Sarah Palin all wanted to get in early and make it clear to evangelical conservative Christian voters that they thought this was outrageous.

And I think what they recognize is for those voters, this isn't just a flack about reality TV star pushed aside on his show. This goes to something much deeper for those voters, which is the sense that if you hold kind of a biblically-based point of view that homosexual behavior is wrong, you are being asked to keep your views silent.

And as particularly gay marriage has gained steam legislatively across the country, a lot of those viewers are - or those voters, rather — are becoming increasingly anxious about where they stand in the culture.

5. In my taped interview with the Politico chief executive Jim VandeHei, he talked about wanting to bolster news coverage of state capitals. "These places are dying," he said. "You walk into a state Capitol, there's nobody there." I interjected: "There's lots of stories but no people to cover them." VandeHei concurred: "Lots of stories but nobody covering them. What happens when politicians don't have people covering them? The answer is not good." More of the interview is online at CNNMoney.com.

Coming up this Sunday: a media year-in-review. Join us at 11 a.m. Eastern time and right back here on the blog.


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'The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug' scorches 'Anchorman 2' opening
December 23rd, 2013
11:50 AM ET

'The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug' scorches 'Anchorman 2' opening

(EW.com) - This just in: Ron Burgundy is no match for a fire-breathing dragon at the box office.

"Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues" (CinemaScore: B) beat out "The Hobbit" sequel on Friday, but updated totals show the Will Ferrell-starrer trailing Peter Jackson's fantasy pic for the three-day weekend.

In first place, "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" fell about 60 percent and brought in an estimated $31.5 million from 3,903 screens in its second weekend in theaters — spot on with Grady Smith's prediction.

Its domestic take now stands at a healthy $127.5 million. But that total lags behind the first "Hobbit" film by a significant margin. In 2012, "An Unexpected Journey" dropped 56.4 percent in its second weekend, earning nearly $36.9 million and bumping its domestic total to $150 million. That film played in about 200 more theaters and had a stronger opening weekend.

Meanwhile, Paramount's heavily marketed "Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues" opened in second place with a weekend estimate of $26.8 million. The PG-13 rated sequel opened in 3,507 locations Wednesday and is expected to net about $40 million for its first five days, much lower than EW's prediction. The first "Anchorman" opened in July 2004 to $28.4 million and went on to gross $85.3 million domestically.

Read more of this article online here.

Filed under: Anchorman • Anchorman 2 • The Hobbit