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Changes at ‘Nightline’ as Dan Abrams Exits, Byron Pitts Steps In

nightline anchorsABC has announced that “Nightline” anchor Dan Abrams will be stepping down from that role to assume an as-yet-unnamed new role at ABC News, and to return his attention to his company, Abrams Media. “Dan has decided to step back from his full-time role as Nightline anchor after tonight, but I’m very happy to report that he will bring us his brilliant insights as chief legal analyst for ABC News for years to come,” said ABC News president James Goldston in an email to the news division Thursday morning.

Goldston also announced ABC chief national correspondent Byron Pitts will join “Nightline” as co-anchor. “Byron is a truly passionate storyteller and deep thinker about the critical issues of our time, as his work from Soweto to Ferguson makes clear,” said Goldston.

Read the full memo, after the jump: Read more

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Megyn Kelly on White House Christmas Party: ‘Boy or Boy Did I See a Lot of MSNBC Anchors’

Two primetime Fox Newsers turned up in late night last night.

In a coincidental booking, Megyn Kelly was on Jimmy Kimmel on ABC, while Bill O’Reilly dropped by “Late Night with Seth Meyers” on NBC. Both Kelly and O’Reilly were first time guests on Kimmel and Meyers, respectively.

Over on CBS, NBC’s Tom Brokaw paid a visit to “Late Show with David Letterman.”

With Meyers, O’Reilly talked politics, specifically Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and O’Reilly declared victory in the war on Christmas. With Letterman, Brokaw talked about his Presidential Medal of Freedom honor, his new NBC Sports Network show and his health: “Things are going along as well as they possibly could be. And I’m at a stage now where I really worry about other cancer patients because I’m on a good track.”

With Kimmel, Kelly talked about her experience at the White House Christmas party Tuesday night. “Is there a separate section for Fox News,” Kimmel joked. “You mean somewhere other than outside in the rain?,” Kelly said, adding, “Boy or boy, did I see a lot of MSNBC anchors. I think they got a few more invitations than we got.” WATCH: Read more

Greta the Diplomat

NYPGretaThe New York Post, which until last year was a corporate sibling of Fox News, says Greta Van Susteren would have been a better Cuban negotiator than Pres. Obama. In an opinion piece, the Post writes:

It’s hard not to note that in another recent case — Mexico’s jailing of Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi — Fox News’ Greta van Susteren helped get this US Marine freed without any of the compromises Obama agreed to in exchange for Alan Gross. Maybe next time the president needs a back-channel negotiation with some thug regime, he should send Greta instead of John Kerry.

The U.S. will be looking for an ambassador to Cuba in due time. Perhaps Greta is ready.

How Scott Pelley Made It to Cuba Just in Time for ‘The CBS Evening News’

Screen Shot 2014-12-17 at 7.24.46 PMThey gambled, and it paid off. On the day President Obama announced he would move forward with talks aimed at normalizing relations with Cuba, “CBS Evening News” anchor Scott Pelley stunned many observers when he appeared–looking crisp in a suit and tie–in Havana, the only evening news anchor on the island Wednesday night. “Everyone is so happy here,” said one CBS News insider about the hectic hours of work by dozens of “Evening News” staffers to make that liveshot happen.

On air, Pelley may have made it look effortless, but it wasn’t. Not at all. The decision to go for it was made shortly after the Cuba story broke. CBS execs decided it was worth the risk of having Pelley absent from the newscast on a major news day–Norah O’Donnell was slated to fill-in on the anchor desk in New York–for the chance to make a bold statement by having Pelley in place in Cuba.

Pelley started the day in Washington, where he attended last night’s White House media holiday party. Once the decision was made, Pelley and his team scrambled and headed directly to the airport.

In New York and Havana, producers, coordinators and fixers worked through the day to make sure that if Pelley’s travel went as hoped–entering the country is hardly without unexpected problems–there would be a live location waiting for him. The best case scenario was that Pelley would land, drive to the camera, mic up and go live.
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CNN’s Patrick Oppmann: ‘My Cuban Friends Reacted With Joy…Some Cried Tears’

9a CNN Aircheck

CNN correspondent Patrick Oppmann used to cover stories like the debut of Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner and Occupy Seattle. But his move from the Pacific Northwest to Havana gave him a truly one-of-a-kind beat–a bureau that dates to 1997, when CNN became the first U.S.-based news organization in nearly 30 years with a bureau in Cuba.

“I have lived in Cuba for the last three years as the only American TV correspondent based here,” Oppmann told TVNewser, not long after President Barack Obama and Cuba’s Raul Castro announced plans to begin talks on normalizing relations. “Despite being 90 miles away from the U.S., it is like covering a country on the other side of the world.”

In November, Oppmann–along with CNN’s Ray Sanchez and Elise Labott–reported that it was not out of the question to think of a possible break in relations between Cuba and the U.S. “Senior administration officials and Cuba observers say reforms on the island and changing attitudes in the United States have created an opening for improved relations.”

That historic process begins now. And what a story to cover. “Many Cubans have had little exposure to Americans,” Oppmann said. “Most of what they read in the Cuban state press is negative and stuck in a Cold War time warp. Still Cubans have treated me, my wife and our two young children with incredible warmth. Today my Cuban friends reacted with joy at the idea of a normalized U.S.-Cuban relationship. Some cried tears. I can only hope – despite their years of struggle – a better future awaits them.” Read more

Neil Cavuto’s Tribute to Producer Who Died of Cancer: ‘You Left Us Speechless’

GoodmanCavutoAnnie Goodman, a former Fox News producer for “Your World” and “Forbes on Fox,” died this morning after a three-year battle with triple negative breast cancer. She was 33.

In a tribute on “Your World” this afternoon, anchor Neil Cavuto described her as “always funny, always blunt, always fighting, never quitting.” (Video after the jump.)

“Annie knew her odds, but she also knew she wasn’t going down without a fight,” Cavuto said. “When I asked her about how it felt to be the face of the disease, leave it to Annie to zing back: ‘I’m just sorry I couldn’t offer a pretty face.’ She was pretty wrong.”

Goodman had worked for Fox News for more than a decade in a variety of positions, most of them on Cavuto’s show. (Annie was a friend and colleague with whom I worked for three years at Fox.) She was diagnosed with stage 2B breast cancer at the age of 30 and underwent several years of chemotherapy and radiation as the disease spread to her ovaries, lungs, and brain. Read more

Flying Home From Cuba to the U.S., Alan Gross Got to Watch a Lot of CNN


Flying home to the United States after five long years as a prisoner in Cuba, Alan Gross caught up with his wife, Judy. He also caught up on the news, and White House photos reveal his first exposure to American news after leaving Cuba was CNN–first “New Day,” and then later, “CNN Newsroom.”

16045383805_c6a487862f_zThe government jet that made the trip from Havana to Joint Base Andrews–complete with the presidential seal–appears to have had cable news on throughout the flight, but only CNN appears in photos. In the past, it’s been said that the president doesn’t watch cable news, and on one occasion he joked with voters in an Ohio bar about changing the TVs away from Fox.

In one White House photo, CNN’s Carol Costello is flat-out ignored by Gross as he spoke by phone with President Obama. So CNN was on, but there’s no guarantee anybody onboard the flight was actually watching.

TV Jobs: Fox News, NBCUniversal, CCTV America

This week, Fox News is hiring a producer for On the Record with Greta Van Susteren, and NBCUniversal needs an assignment editor. Meanwhile, CCTV America is seeking a digital producer and a guest producer. Get the scoop on these openings below, and find additional just-posted gigs on Mediabistro.

Find more great TV jobs on the TVNewser job board. Looking to hire? Tap into our network of talented TVNewser pros and post a risk-free job listing. For real-time openings and employment news, follow @MBJobPost.

How ABC’s Jim Avila Broke the News of the Release of Alan Gross

AvilaJimMore than 20 trips in nearly 20 years of covering Cuba paid off for ABC’s Jim Avila this morning when he broke the news that American contractor Alan Gross would be released from a Cuban prison.

But it didn’t stop there. Gross’s freedom, in exchange for the release of the remaining so-called “Cuban Five” was the key to re-starting diplomatic relations with the island nation just 90 miles from Key West.

“I was told early on that this was not just going to be a prisoner exchange,” Avila told TVNewser from Havana, where he’d just arrived.

“We had information that Gross would be released this week, for about a month,” Avila says. “We held it back at the request of both the White House and the attorney representing Alan Gross for fear that it would cost him his life. That’s why were were able to break it first.”

Avila, a White House correspondent for ABC News, has been closely following Gross’s case. He’s made two trips to Havana in an effort to speak to him. Those requests were denied, but Avila saw something big on the horizon. Read more

The Scoreboard: Tuesday, Dec. 16

25-54 demographic (Live +SD)

  • Total day: FNC: 247 | CNN: 142 | MSNBC: 82 | HLN: 75
  • Primetime: FNC: 389 | CNN: 181 | MSNBC: 126 | HLN: 97

4p: 5p: 6p: 7p: 8p: 9p: 10p: 11p: 12a:








































































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