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Al Jazeera America Weighing More Layoffs

Al-Jazeera-America304During a meeting last week, Al Jazeera America CEO Ehab Al Shihabi announced the network is considering additional layoffs.

“Like any television network we make decisions based on our programming schedule,” a network spokesperson tells TVNewser. “We’re always looking at our staffing levels. We have a staff of over 800.”

We’re hearing that 20 positions may be cut. In April, AJAM laid off dozens of staffers, mostly from its sports and business units.

Last week, the network said it saw a 30 percent spike in ratings over the previous two weeks as the Gaza conflict waged. AJAM marks its one-year anniversary on August 20.

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David Gregory Issues ‘End Note’ to Clarify Unverified Video From Gaza

GregoryOn “Meet the Press” Sunday, a guest called out David Gregory for being “unfair” in his line of questioning.

While speaking to UN Relief spokesperson Chris Gunness, Gregory showed video which was posted Sunday morning by the Israeli government, claiming that rockets had been fired by Hamas from a UN school earlier in the week.

Gregory said that NBC hadn’t yet verified the video, but asked Gunness, “is this accurate; could this be happening without the UN’s knowledge?”

“To be fair to me, to bring me on a live program and expect me to comment live on air on pictures I haven’t actually seen, I think anyone looking at this program would agree that’s really unfair,” Gunness said. “I mean, if I can see it, I’ll happily comment on it.”

Later in the show, Gregory clarified: “The UN has reviewed it, tells us that they have confirmed in their view the video does not show rockets being fired from a UN administrative school in Gaza. So this is a back and forth that we’re not able to settle at this point.”

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‘Sharknado 2:’ Watch for Sharks, ‘Today’ Show Cameos, and also Sharks

RokerLauerSharknadoWe know your DVRs are probably already set for Wednesday night, but here’s what you should really look out when Syfy debuts “Sharknado 2:” lots of “Today” show cameos. As the Orlando Sentinel‘s Hal Boedeker looks at the increasingly blurry line between news and entertainment :

NBC’s “Today” gets a half dozen scenes in “Sharknado 2.” Purists may carp, with reason, that participating in such a cheesy movie diminishes the “Today” news brand. Matt Lauer and Al Roker pop in frequently to update viewers on the “sharknado” crisis sweeping New York City. Roker warns of “weather you’ve never seen before,” and Lauer adds, “All you can do is just shake your head.”

That storm even materializes on the “Today” anchor desk, and Lauer has to take matters into his own hands. It’s more gruesome than Ann Curry‘s exit.

The Morning Ticker: Palin, Carney, Auerbach

  • The Sarah Palin Channel, part of TAPP network of personality-driven online networks, has launched. “Are you tired of the media filters?, Well, I am,” Palin says in a launch video. This is the first channel from TAPP founders Jon Klein, former president of CNN/U.S. and Jeff Gaspin, former chairman of NBCU TV.

  • Former White House Press Secretary Jay Carney makes his first visit to the “Late Show with David Letterman” tonight. Carney, a former reporter for TIME, stepped down in May.

  • Jon Auerbach is the new EP of CNN’s “Reliable Sources.” Auerbach has been with CNN for the last four years, working on Jon King‘s show. Before that, he was managing editor at WCBS, editor for Metro and an editor at Star magazine and the New York Post.

Fusion’s Pot Reporter Predicts when Marijuana Will be Legal Nationwide

NerzPotFollowing the New York Times Editorial Board decision calling for the repeal of the prohibition of pot, we wanted to know the possibility of it really happening. So we reached out to network TV’s only Chief Cannabis Correspondent, Fusion’s Ryan Nerz. He says, it’s high time:

TVNewser: How big of a deal is it that the Times editorial board came to this decision?

Nerz: Pretty damn big. The country’s most authoritative newspaper is saying that the United States federal government should repeal its 40-year-long ban on marijuana. And yet, you could make the case that they are actually late to the party. For me, the real tidal shift happened last year, when a Gallup poll said that a majority of Americans favored legalization for the first time. But this is still pretty huge.

TVNewser: The Times says marijuana should be legal only for people 21 and over because of “legitimate concerns about marijuana on the development of adolescent brains.” Do you agree with this or should the legal age be younger, say 18?

Nerz: I agree wholeheartedly with this age limit. The human brain doesn’t stop developing until at least the mid-20s, and there are credible studies that correlate marijuana use during the years of brain development to a 6-8 point drop in IQ.

TVNewser: The editorial board says the criminalization of marijuana is racist, “falling disproportionately on young black men, ruining their lives and creating new generations of career criminals.” Is this what your reporting has found?

Nerz: The wording of their statement seems a little melodramatic, but the underpinnings are spot on. My reporting shows that the people making the big bucks off weed are disproportionately white, and yet the people getting busted are disproportionately black and Latino.

TVNewser: Do you expect the editorial boards of other media organizations to follow suit?

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From the Rio Grande to the Canyon of Heroes

ClintonRamosJust days after swimming the Rio Grande, Fusion anchor Jorge Ramos was glancing up at the World Trade Center, along with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

In the continuation of a series of interviews about her new memoir, Clinton and Ramos chose lower Manhattan for their interview, which will air Tuesday night on Fusion. The conversation touches on current global crises, the political climate leading up to the midterm and 2016 presidential elections, and immigration reform.

It’s Fox Fan Weekend at Yankee Stadium

FoxFanNightThis weekend is Fox Fan Weekend at Yankee Stadium. More than 1,000 Fox fans are attending one of two Yankee games against the Blue Jays: one last night and the other today, as part of a 3-game series against Toronto. Also in attendance, Fox News talent including: Steve Doocy, Brian Kilmeade, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, Heather Childers, Ainsley Earhardt, Anna Kooiman, Peter Johnson Jr., Clayton Morris, Heather Nauert, Rick Reichmuth, and Dr. Marc Siegel.

Erin Burnett Fact-Checks Israeli Official’s Allegations that CNN Coverage is Biased

DermerCNNOn her show last night, Erin Burnett followed up on a segment from Thursday’s “OutFront,” where Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer called out CNN for biased coverage of the war in Gaza. Burnett invited Dermer to come for Friday’s show to, in part to disprove some of his assertions, but he couldn’t come on. So Burnett fact-checked his comments.

At one point, Dermer says, ”I’ve been listening to two hours of reports on CNN. I have seen split screens, horrible pictures that any decent human being would be horrified by. I think that that does a disservice to your viewers to not give them the context they need to make these judgments.”

Burnett then played a clip from part of that prior two hours during which Wolf Blitzer did report on how the U.N. demanded that Hamas stop endangering civilians “by placing weapons in U.N. schools.”

The fact-checking continued…

Who Makes Fareed Zakaria Nervous?

He hosts his own CNN show, but it was an interview with Jon Stewart that gave Fareed Zakaria jitters.

“I’m a little nervous because I realize I might be speaking to my future boss,” Zakaria jokingly said to Stewart at the beginning of an interview Thursday night. He was referring to Stewart’s “Let’s Buy CNN” campaign. “I hope that you end up getting CNN. I think it would be a fascinating challenge for you,” he continued.  And how would Stewart fill the remaining airtime left after “The Daily Show’s” two hours per week. “I’ll just let Wolf Blitzer fill in.”

The Ticker: Merger, Marquardt, Movie Marathon

  • FBN is presenting a “Money Movie Marathon” on sister network FXM this weekend. Maria Baritromo, Charles Payne and Neil Cavuto will provide commentary on the movies — “The Social Network,” “Moneyball” and “Wall Street Never Sleeps,” which Bartiromo had a part in (watch her talk about her experience on the set, after the jump).

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