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Cable News Wars

Cable News Wars: Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl Edition

O'Reilly Hayes

The prisoner exchange bringing Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl home for five Taliban members has dominated cable news all week, and last night, it sparked a new round in the cable news wars.

“Ms. Costello [Carol] has an absolute responsibility to know what she’s talking about when she does an interview…she obviously doesn’t know what she’s talking about,” Bill O’Reilly said after airing parts of CNN’s Costello interviewing Rolling Stone writer Matthew Farwell. “Bill O’Reilly, the most dangerous thing that guy has ever done is walk across the street in New York to buy a burger,” Farwell said in response to a question about O’Reilly’s criticism of Bergdahl’s father, Bob.

“That guy is either uninformed, or a liar,” O’Reilly responded, adding his reporting career speaks for itself. On Costello, O’Reilly added: “She has an ethical obligation as a journalist to challenge that kind of stuff.”

Meanwhile, O’Reilly’s 8pmET counterpart Chris Hayes, took issue with his coverage: “Blatant Islamophobia here is eclipsed only by the sheer ridiculousness of the argument,” Hayes said after airing clips of O’Reilly criticizing Bob Bergdahl for appearing at the White House in a full beard, looking like a Muslim.

Hayes then sarcastically asked if we should be worried about other full-bearded men, rolling a montage that included the cast of Duck Dynasty, ZZ Top, Forrest Gump, Abraham Lincoln, and Jesus. On the latter two, Hayes suggested: “Someone needs to look into the guy [O'Reilly] who wrote two sympathetic books about them.”

“I’ll be waiting for the Factor investigation,” Hayes concluded.


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Cable Hosts Up Criticism of Competitors’ MH370 Coverage


The coverage of missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 has become a story of its own, with news and opinion hosts and producers slamming or defending networks for the nonstop coverage.

Take MSNBC host Chris Hayes. He has not covered the story anywhere near as much as his 8pm CNN competitor Anderson Cooper. (It’s worth nothing that Hayes, normally No. 2 in the hour, has lost to Cooper in the ratings every day since MH370 went missing. Friday March 7 was the last time Hayes beat Cooper).

Last night on his show, Hayes criticized CNN’s coverage, specifically Don Lemon who asked a guest whether a black hole could have sucked in the plane. Hayes also criticized News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch for tweeting speculation that the plane might have been stolen and hidden in northern Pakistan.

“Do not use mystery and its presence as an excuse to further whatever boogeyman you choose to make your audience scared of,” Hayes castigated. “That is the grown-up versions of monsters underneath the bed. And our job is not to fill the air by telling bedtime stories.”

Meanwhile, on “Fox and Friends” this morning, Peter Johnson Jr. criticized the nightly newscasts for leading with the missing plane story for the last 11 days, while ignoring other stories. “Fox is successful, and number one, because it carries the news that people want… on Obamacare, on Fast and Furious, on IRS scandals,” Johnson said.

And NBC/MSNBC’s Chuck Todd took to Twitter this morning to bemoan another day of “breaking news.” And in response, a CNN producer red flagged Todd for using the same tactics on his show:

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Santa Claus Joins Cable News Wars

The cable news wars between Fox News and MSNBC escalated this week, with Fox News and MSNBC taking shots at each other over everything from deceptive editing to Santa Claus.

On “The O’Reilly Factor” Tuesday, Bill O’Reilly called Al Sharpton a “flat out deceiver” after Sharpton aired a clip of O’Reilly calling Nelson Mandela a “communist” but left out the part where he also called him a “great man”:

Last night, O’Reilly’s 8pm counterpart Chris Hayes offered some holiday jeer for Megyn Kelly, calling her comments that Santa and Jesus were white “bizarre” in an interview with the author of the Slate article that prompted Kelly’s segment: Read more

The Iraq War: 10 Years Later

10 years ago, “Shock and Awe” kicked off the Iraq War. It was a made-for-TV war, with explosions rocking the skies above Baghdad, and correspondents reporting live on cable news from their hotel balconies.

TV news not only covered the war, but promoted it as well, regularly featuring guests who beat the war drum, and ignoring those that had opposing views. Sometimes, as The Huffington Post’s Jack Mirkinson notes, it was a vicious circle:

Perhaps the most notorious example of the Washington-media nexus over Iraq came when Dick Cheney appeared on “Meet the Press” in September of 2002. He cited the lead story in that morning’s Times as he talked to Tim Russert (“I want to attribute it to the Times,” he memorably said). The story, by Miller and her colleague Michael Gordon, said that Hussein was busy using aluminum tubes to help build nuclear weapons. The Bush administration had leaked that story to Miller. The circle was complete.

The war has not been forgotten. With the President making his first mideast trip of his second term, cable news is finding time to look back at Iraq. Throughout the week a number of segments about the war are on tap at the “big three” cable news channels, nestled in between the other day’s coverage.

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Roger Ailes Becomes the News

Typically, when cable news anchors or hosts talk about their competition, they are talking about other anchors or hosts on competing networks. Over the last 24 hours however, Fox News CEO Roger Ailes has been the subject of a number of segments, mostly on CNN, with at least one on MSNBC as well.

The basis for the segments was the excerpt from the upcoming biography about the Fox News CEO , written with his cooperation. Among other things, Ailes commented about President Obama, Newt Gingrich and other prominent figures. On CNN, no fewer than five different shows had segments on Ailes, including “CNN Newsroom,” “The Situation Room,” “Erin Burnett Outfront,” “Piers Morgan Tonight” and “Starting Point.” On MSNBC his comments were mentioned on “First look.”

It is an insidery topic, to be sure, which made all the coverage seem somewhat out of place. Piers Morgan asked boxing promoter Don King what Ailes’ legacy was:

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The New Battleground of Cable News: 5 AM

The Hollywood Reporter‘s Michael O’Connell reports that Fox News Channel will be expanding “Fox & Friends” by one hour, starting at 5 AM instead of 6 AM. A number of rotating personalities will fill-in on the hour, which is being called “Fox & Friends First.”

Over the last year or so, the 5-6 AM hour has become a new battleground for cable news. Once the home of reruns and infomercials, now CNN, MSNBC and Fox News will all have live, original programming daily during that hour.

MSNBC has “First Look” at 5 AM and “Way Too Early” with Willie Geist at 5:30 AM leading into “Morning Joe,” while CNN has “Early Start” running from 5-7 AM. Now “Fox & Friends” will be joining the fray.

The move into the early hours was actually spurred on by local newscasts.

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Cablers Head to Iowa for Straw Poll Coverage

Yesterday we told you what the network Sunday morning shows were up to this weekend, now it is the cablers turn to put their focus on Iowa. With the Iowa Straw Poll slated for Saturday, the cable channels are sending some of their top talent to the state, and planning special coverage on Saturday.

Details after the jump.

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As Markets Open, Cable News Turns to Wall Street

When the markets opened at 9:30 AM ET, all of the cable news channels turned to Wall Street, where they were greeted with a Dow that was down more than 200 points.

The three business news channels were joined by the three general news channels in their coverage:

Which Cable Networks Will Be Carrying Murdoch Testimony Before Parliament?

Tomorrow morning Rupert Murdoch, James Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks will appear before Parliament in London and testify on the hacking scandal there. Nearly all of the cable news channels will be carrying at least parts of the testimony, which start after 9 AM ET.

Fox News Channel will be carrying the hearings live, while CNN will be simulcasting CNN International’s coverage. MSNBC will be carrying portions of the testimony, while C-SPAN will be televising it live on C-SPAN3. As we reported over the weekend, even Current TV is getting into the game, with Keith Olbermann anchoring special coverage.

Among the business channels, Fox Business Network  and CNBC will be carrying it live, as will Bloomberg TV

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Anderson Cooper, Jeff Zucker Talk Partisan Cable News

The state of cable news was one of the topics of discussion at the Promax/BDA conference in New York Wednesday. Former NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker talked with CNN anchor and business correspondent Ali Velshi about the origins of MSNBC’s partisan primetime slant, whether viewers get it, and whether it hurts the NBC News brand. Later, CNN’s Anderson Cooper spoke to “The Early Show’”‘s Erica Hill about his thoughts on Fox News and MSNBC.

“There was not a secret meeting that happened where we said ‘hey let’s go left!’ at MSNBC,” Zucker quipped. “I am sorry to disappoint. What happened, and I think this is pretty well documented now, is that Keith Olbermann emerged, principally with his anti-war viewpoint, and we couldn’t help but notice that. We put a program behind it, and we said ‘wow, flow still works.’ And it all started to work. It was a business decision.”

Zucker said that MSNBC’s primetime lineup does not have any effect on the NBC News brand as a whole, which includes the top broadcast morning show, evening newscast and Sunday show.

“My argument to that is, if it was hurting the brand “Today” wouldn’t continue to be in first place in its 15th year, Brian Williams wouldn’t continue to be in first place, “Meet the Press” would not continue to be the number one Sunday morning program,” Zucker said.

He went on to say that viewers, as a whole “get it,” and know what is news and what is commentary:

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