January 27th, 2014
06:29 PM ET

From Brian: 6 takeaways from Jan. 26 show

If you weren't able to tune in on Sunday, here were some of the moments that really stood out to me:

1. Amy Wallace powerfully summarized what she, my other guest Amanda Hess, and a number of other writers have been saying in an ongoing online discussion about online harassment: "I think journalists should take heat. They should be scrutinized for the quality of their reporting, for the originality of their voices, for their accuracy. But they should not be taken to task for what their bodies happen to be shaped like or their potential sexuality or their race or any number of other factors. And that's becoming the way we criticize in this country sometimes. And I think that's of concern."

Here's video of the conversation with Wallace and Hess.

2. In the wake of this widely-criticized Grantland story about a mysterious investor who was a transgender woman, GLAAD's Tiq Milan said, "I think what journalists can take away from this is exactly what Bill Simmons said in his letter: consult with LGBT organizations like GLAAD or like the National Center for Trans Equality, to see... the best practices to deal with situations like this."

ESPN.com's Christina Kahrl concurred: "It's also immensely helpful to be able to talk to a trans person and say, like, 'Should we go there, should we not go there?' This would have been an automatic where it's like, 'No, you really shouldn't go there.' "

3. Actor and environmentalist Robert Redford had a lot to say when I asked him if the mainstream media had failed to educate the public about climate change. "You have to be really the most narrow-minded person in the world to still deny climate change," he said.

For the most part, "the media has fallen short," Redford said, though he acknowledged some bright spots of coverage. Overall, he concluded, "They're coming in late to the game." Here are some other excerpts from the interview.

4. On the subject of Justin Bieber's arrest in Florida, Dorsey Shaw of BuzzFeed, whose job involves watching cable news all day, said CNN covered the story more than Fox News or MSNBC. And yet:

SHAW: ...I was actually expecting more coverage from CNN. You know, when you look—

STELTER: You mean more than there actually was?
SHAW: Yes. 
So you think there was some restraint on the part of the press!
SHAW: I thought there was some restraint on CNN's part and on cable news's part. But it's a big story. You know, he's a big celebrity. People either love him or hate him. And if you're a producer for a TV show, front page editor for a website or social media editor, you have to know that people are going to be interested in this story either way.

5. I commented that this tweet published by CNN's popular breaking news Twitter account felt inappropriate to me:

I e-mailed a spokesman to ask if CNN's social media team stood by the message, and I was told, "CNN strives to be tasteful while navigating the social news environment." 

6. During the B List segment, I read an excerpt from a Pope Francis message about media and technology. Here's the whole text.

Hope you'll tune in next Sunday at 11 a.m. Eastern! I'll be in New York City with a look at the media circus surrounding the Super Bowl.


Filed under: Reliable Sources
Grammy Awards attracted 28.5 million
January 27th, 2014
06:00 PM ET

Grammy Awards attracted 28.5 million

By Brian Stelter, CNN

Maybe it was Beyonce, or maybe it was the Beatles. (Actually, it was probably both.) The Grammy Awards attracted 28.5 million viewers to CBS on Sunday night, which is essentially a modern-day record for the annual music awards show.

CBS described it in a press release as "the second largest audience for the awards broadcast since 1993." Awards shows in general have been on a ratings upswing in recent years. One oft-cited reason is that, since they're big live events, they stand out in an increasingly on-demand television world.

Sunday's telecast would have been the biggest since 1993, period, were it not for the tragic circumstances of the 2012 Grammys. That year, Whitney Houston died less than 24 hours before the awards telecast, causing a dramatic surge in viewership the next day. (The average viewership was about 40 million.)

The Grammys are typically the second most popular awards show of the year behind the Academy Awards. This year's average viewership was just a smidge higher than last year's average of 28.4 million. (CBS pointed out that a more apples-to-apples comparison was between this year and 2010, the last time the Grammys were scheduled in January instead of February to avoid the Winter Olympics. In 2010, 25.9 million viewers tuned in.)

Read more of Brian's article here.

Posted by
Filed under: Blog • CBS • Grammys • Media • Reliable Sources
January 27th, 2014
01:34 PM ET

Andrea Mitchell on Bieber coverage video clip: "Luck of the draw"

Opinions about last Thursday's cable news coverage of Justin Bieber's arrest were crystallized by these 26 seconds on MSNBC.

In the video clip, MSNBC anchor Andrea Mitchell, who doubles as the chief foreign affairs correspondent for NBC News, interrupts a conversation with former congresswoman Jane Harman about government surveillance programs in order to show viewers live video of Bieber's arraignment hearing. Once the clip was uploaded to YouTube, bloggers and commentators took turns mocking it.

  • Mediaite: "MSNBC Cuts Away From Some Silly NSA Thing to Breaking Bieber News"

  • Slate: "Watch MSNBC Interrupt a Former Congresswoman For BREAKING Bieber News"

  • Yahoo: "Who's responsible for the tabloid-ification of America?"

Since Thursday, the video clip has been viewed 5.2 million times - nearly ten times as many people who actually watched "Andrea Mitchell Reports" in real time that day. I included it in a montage on "Reliable Sources" as well.

"We would LOVE to know what was going on in Andrea Mitchell's head," The Huffington Post's summation of the video clip stated.

So I called her up and asked.

"I have more foreign policy coverage five days a week on my program than any other program on television," Mitchell told me Saturday, "so you can imagine that this was unusual."

And maybe a little uncomfortable for her, judging from the sound of her voice.

"It was obviously awkward and unplanned," she said of the sudden toss to a Florida courtroom. "All I can say is, so be it. It's the luck of the draw." She called this "a virtue of cable news" — never knowing when one news story will suddenly interrupt another.

In this case, she said, she began her 1 p.m. newscast knowing that the Bieber arraignment would probably take place at some point in her hour.

"We had no idea what time the arraignment would actually hit," she said. "I was trying to get as much news on as I could, both about Syria and the report of the government's privacy panel." Harman was on to discuss the privacy panel's report.

If Mitchell has any qualms about her producers' decision to cut away to the Bieber video, she isn't saying.

"I got back to the interview with Harman as soon as we could," she said.

Mitchell also pointed out that CNN devoted more time to Bieber coverage than MSNBC — "it is CNN leading the saturation coverage," she said — while "we were on it for minutes."

Separately, I interviewed CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker on stage at a television industry conference on Monday morning, and he said he was "incredibly comfortable with the way CNN covered the Justin Bieber story."

Filed under: Reliable Sources
The business behind Ezra Klein's 'Project X'
January 27th, 2014
12:00 PM ET

The business behind Ezra Klein's 'Project X'

By Brian Stelter, CNN

Ezra Klein's announcement last week that he was leaving The Washington Post sparked a flurry of speculation about where he'd set up shop. On Sunday night he answered the question in a blog post: "Vox is our next."

The idea is a modern news site - heavy on context and explanation - and he's partnering with Vox Media, which runs a portfolio of digital publishers, including the Verge and SB Nation.

"Today, we are better than ever at telling people what's happening, but not nearly good enough at giving them the crucial contextual information necessary to understand what's happened," Klein wrote. "Our mission is to create a site that's as good at explaining the world as it is at reporting on it."

To better understand the game plan of the venture, codenamed "Project X," I reached out to Vox CEO Jim Bankoff.

Read more of Brian's article here.

Posted by
Filed under: Blog • Ezra Klein • Reliable Sources • Washington Post