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
December 22nd, 2013
01:15 PM ET

The fall of “Duck Dynasty"?

Matea Gold, Lola Ogunnaike, Matt Lewis and Brian Stelter discuss the furor surrounding the suspension of rural reality show star Phil Robertson for controversial comments he made to GQ magazine.

Filed under: A&E • Duck Dynasty • reality tv
December 22nd, 2013
01:14 PM ET

Trial by social media

Michael Calderone, Ryan Lizza, Alicia Shepard and Brian Stelter weigh in on the social media mob reaction to one (former) PR executive’s offensive Tweet.

Filed under: Justine Sacco • Twitter
December 22nd, 2013
01:13 PM ET

Credibility crisis for “60 Minutes”?

After another 60 Minutes report gets panned, Michael Calderone, Ryan Lizza, Alicia Shepard and Brian Stelter look at what’s going wrong at the venerable CBS news magazine.

Filed under: 60 Minutes • CBS
December 22nd, 2013
01:12 PM ET

POLITICO expands past the Beltway

In the video above, Brian Stelter talks to POLITICO CEO Jim VandeHei about his company’s new media venture, Capital New York.

Politico, which has transformed coverage of Washington, D.C. personalities and policy-making, is now finding out if it can clone itself.

In the three months since acquiring a start-up news website in New York, called Capital, Politico has tripled the site's staff and focused in on three city- and state-size topics: City Hall, state government and the media. At the beginning of December, Capital formally relaunched with a new website design and a preview of a paid subscription service that is modeled after Politico's paid service.

Now Politico owner Allbritton Communications - and many competitors in Washington and New York - are watching to see whether readers and advertisers flock to the Empire State spin-off.

There could be more clones to come. "If it works [in New York], think about all the avenues that would open up for Politico," Jim VandeHei, the new chief executive of both Politico and Capital, said in an interview with CNN. "There's so many other areas that look a lot like New York or look a lot like a state that could be very attractive to Politico, and have a need for journalism."

VandeHei, like any careful CEO, declined to name any. But when asked if he had a third market in mind, he said "we have markets three, four and five in mind." Read more...

Filed under: Jim VandeHei • Politico
December 22nd, 2013
01:12 PM ET

China cracks down on foreign press

Jim Sciutto, Michael Calderone, Emily Parker, and Brian Stelter assess the reasons for the Chinese government’s recent harsh treatment of Western journalists.

Filed under: Censorship • China • Reliable Sources
December 22nd, 2013
01:11 PM ET

Funny Media Moment of the Week

Host Brian Stelter shares one of the funny media moments you might have missed this week.

Filed under: Comedy • Conan O'Brien • Media
Western journalists' China visa dramas: Don't shoot the messenger
December 22nd, 2013
09:45 AM ET

Western journalists' China visa dramas: Don't shoot the messenger

 By Jaime A. FlorCruz, CNN

Editor's note: Jaime's China is a column about Chinese society and politics. Jaime FlorCruz has lived and worked in China since 1971. Now CNN's Beijing bureau chief, he studied Chinese history at Peking University (1977-81) and was TIME Magazine's Beijing correspondent (1982-2000).

Beijing (CNN) - Every December, foreign correspondents in China go through the rigmarole of renewing press cards and visas, which typically run out at the end of the year.

This time around, Chinese authorities held up renewing the credentials of roughly two dozen Bloomberg and New York Times reporters after the two American news outfits published muckraking stories about the wealth of the families of top Chinese leaders.

READ: China blocks website after report on Wen Jiabao's wealth

Without renewed press cards, they could not renew their Chinese visas. Without the visas, reporters and their families would be forced to leave China.

"5 Days Till Visa Expiry," New York Times reporter Andrew Jacobs, tweeted on Tuesday.

"Do you think hauling all my stuff to gates of the Foreign Ministry holding a tag sale will get their attention?"

Read more of the article here.

Filed under: Censorship • China • Media • Media Criticism
December 21st, 2013
11:20 AM ET

'PR exec's AIDS in Africa tweet upsets Internet'

By Brian Stelter, CNN

(CNN) - Before Justine Sacco took off for Cape Town, South Africa, on Friday, she tweeted: "Going to Africa. Hope I don't get AIDS. Just kidding. I'm white!"

By the time she landed 12 hours later, the message had been magnified by a social media mob and Sacco's employer, IAC/InterActiveCorp, had distanced itself from her. On Saturday her Twitter account disappeared and neither Sacco nor IAC had anything more to say — perhaps disappointing the many angry Twitter users who were expecting her to be fired on the spot.

The incident — Boing Boing called it "the tweet heard round the world" — was a glaring reminder that every word uttered on the Internet can be heard by seemingly everyone on the Internet, sometimes with serious consequences.

Read more of Brian's article online here.

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