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Court Cases

George Stephanopoulos Hosts Town Hall on Race and Justice

GStephWilsonABC’s George Stephanopoulos will moderate a town hall Wednesday as part of the network’s week-long look at race and justice in America. The town hall, on ABC’s Facebook page, will feature a panel of experts discussing the ramifications of the grand jury decisions in Ferguson, MO and Staten Island, NY.

Additional reports will air across the digital platforms as well as on “Good Morning America,” “World News Tonight,” “Nightline,” ABC News Radio, and affiliate service NewsOne.

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16 Million Tune in to Cable News For Ferguson Grand Jury Announcement

CuomoFergusonThe news surrounding the grand jury’s decision in the Darren Wilson case gave cable news channels a ratings surge Monday.

While the decision had been reached by mid-afternoon, news channels had 7 hours to consider the result as it was not announced until the 9pmET hour, when daytime viewership peaked. During that hour, FNC, CNN, MSNBC and HLN drew a combined 16.406 million viewers. For comparison, 15.27 million were watching the night’s No. 1 broadcast show, “Dancing with the Stars,” as well as an ABC News special report on the Wilson case, at 9pm.

Fox Business Network, Al Jazeera America and Fusion also produced special coverage while the big four broadcasters interrupted with special reports.

On cable, Fox News led in total viewers for the hour, averaging 7.256M, while CNN led in the younger demo with 3.155M. On Fox News, Megyn Kelly and Sean Hannity both had all-time ratings highs.

CNN, which devoted the most resources and the most coverage to the run-up to the decision and its riotous result, earned rare ratings wins: for total day and primetime demo viewership. Fox News took total viewership wins in daytime and primetime. Last night, CNN more than doubled its mid-term election night coverage, when it averaged 2.1 million total viewers and 909,000 in the demo.

Coverage continued late into the night with CNN topping its cable competitors in the hours following Pres. Obama’s remarks (approximately 10:19pmET) in both total viewers and the demo.

  • 11/24/14: 7pm–1amET | Total Viewers / A25-54 demo

FNC: 4,385,000 / 1,399,000
CNN: 4,365,000 / 2,332,000
MSNBC: 1,301,000 / 423,000

Grand Jury Decision Leads to Night of Violence in Ferguson

Obama Ferguson PoliceAs Pres. Obama called for calm, angry protestors tried to flip a police cruiser in Ferguson, MO.

The president delivered a brief statement from the press briefing room tonight following the St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney’s announcement that police officer Darren Wilson would not be indicted in the shooting death of Michael Brown.

“There is inevitably going to be some negative reaction and it will make for good TV,” said the president as cable news double boxes showed the damage already being done. “But what we want to do is to make sure that we’re also focusing on those who can offer the kind of real progress that we know is possible.”

“You have a small number of knuckle heads causing the problems,” CNN’s Van Jones explained, just before he and CNN anchors Chris Cuomo and Don Lemon were overcome by tear gas fumes.

Cruiser FergusonIn his remarks about the grand jury’s decision, St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch said the media hasn’t helped the situation. “The most significant challenge encountered in this investigation has been the 24-hour news cycle and its insatiable appetite for something, for anything to talk about. Following closely behind were the nonstop rumors on social media,” said McCulloch.

Less than an hour after the president’s remarks, that police cruiser was on fire. Police told CNN correspondent Jason Carroll and his crew to leave the scene as live rounds in the cruiser started going off.

Update: 10:57pmET: FNC correspondent Steve Harrigan‘s camera was knocked to the ground.

Update: 11:29pmET: A protestor approached the live position of Don Lemon and Chris Cuomo and shouted “Fuck CNN.” “As we said at the top of this broadcast, we don’t know what’s going to happen. So we apologize for that,” Lemon said.

Update: 11:34pmET: MSNBC’s Chris Hayes and his guest Pastor Michael McBride leave their location as the sounds of gunfire are heard nearby. “That’s gunfire…. Alright…. We’re being told to fall back.”

Ferguson Grand Jury Reaches Decision

This afternoon MSNBC and CNN have been in wall-to-wall coverage of the grand jury decision in the Darren Wilson case, even though the decision hasn’t yet been made public. Fox News has been more tempered with its coverage, reporting that there is a decision and that it will be released sometime after 5pmCT.

Broadcast networks are also planning special reports once the decision is handed down. ABC’s George Stephanopoulos will anchor coverage that will feature live reports from Ferguson. Fox will offer a special report to affiliates anchored by Trace Gallagher and Shepard Smith will anchor coverage on FNC. Brian Williams will anchor an NBC News special report to cover the announcement, while CBS will have Scott Pelley live from New York.

Fox Business will be covering the economic impact of the decision with a special edition of “Cavuto” at 8 pm ET. Fusion is on the ground with Mariana Atencio anchoring “Fusion Live” from Ferguson. We’ll let you know about the other broadcasters when we hear from them.

The 12-person grand jury, made up of 7 men (1 black and 6 white) and 5 women (2 black and 3 white), is deciding whether Wilson, a white police officer from Ferguson, MO, should be criminally indicted for the shooting death of black teenager Michael Brown.


ABC’s ’20/20′ Cribbed from CBS’s ’48 Hours’

MicheleWilliams2If you watched last night’s “20/20″ on ABC you also caught a glimpse of CBS’s “48 Hours.”

ABC’s Matt Gutman reported on the case of Michele Williams, a Texas woman accused of murdering her husband. Williams was about to get away with the murder, after agreeing to a plea deal which would have meant pleading guilty to a lesser charge: tampering with evidence.

But after she conducted an interview with “48 Hours’” Peter Van Sant, claiming her innocence in the 2011 murder, the judge withdrew the plea deal and forced her to stand trial for murder.

“20/20″ used the clip, crediting “48 Hours” by name. It had been entered as evidence in the case.

A jury found Williams guilty of murdering her husband, Greg Williams, late last month.


Dateline NBC Produces Web-Only Oscar Pistorius Special

PistoriusOscarAs we reported yesterday, several networks have specials planned for tonight on the Oscar Pistorius verdict. NBC wasn’t one of them.

With a 2-hour “Dateline NBC” already in the can, the network just announced it has produced a full-length original documentary exclusively for the web — its first ever. The Dateline digital documentary, “Oscar Pistorius: The Verdict” will tell the entire story of the murder case against the Olympic sprinter, from the night Reeva Steenkamp was killed to today’s courtroom events.

The original documentary will go live on tonight at 7pmET, and will be available online only.

A Friday Night of Oscar Pistorius on TV


CBS’s “48 Hours” is planning a special Friday edition following the outcome of the Oscar Pistorius trial. The decision, along with an interview with Pistorius’ former girlfriend, Samantha Taylor, will be part of a new primetime special tomorrow at 8pmET. “Blade Runner: The Verdict” features reporting by correspondents Debora Patta, Peter Van Sant and Richard Schlesinger. ABC’s News’ Matt Gutman also spoke with Taylor who says she feels parts of Pistorius’ story did not ring true. Gutman’s interview airs tomorrow on “20/20″ at 10pmET. Also at 10pmET, on CNN, Robyn Curnow hosts “The CNN Spotlight: Oscar Pistorius,” re-airing Saturday night at 7:30pmET. For now, “Dateline NBC” tells us they are sticking with their scheduled 2-hour program called “Deadly Valentine” at 9pmET.

Judge Rules TVEyes is Mostly Okay

tveyesThe TVEyes web service has won a round against Fox News.

Last year, Fox sued TVEyes, a service that monitors and transcribes video from cable, broadcast and radio stations, claiming copyright infringement. But U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein has given a partial victory to the service saying the keyword search function falls under the fair use doctrine.

A Fox News spokesperson says the network will fight on: “The Court expressly said that it required more information to decide whether TVEyes’ other features — including allowing video clips to be archived, downloaded, emailed, and shared via social media — were fair use.”

The Court has called for another hearing on that part of the case on October 3. Mediabistro sites TVNewser and TVSpy use TVEyes extensively.

Gregg Jarrett Pleads Guilty to Disorderly Conduct

gregg jarrettThe AP reports Fox News anchor Gregg Jarrett pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct today for a May incident with police at the Minneapolis airport.

Gregg Jarrett, 59, entered his plea by petition and didn’t appear in Hennepin County District Court. Airport spokesman Patrick Hogan said Jarrett’s plea was put on hold for a year and will be thrown out if he doesn’t commit the same or similar offenses and if he abides by certain conditions. Among them, Jarrett can have no alcohol or drug offenses and he must complete treatment.

In response to the airport incident, where a reportedly intoxicated Jarrett refused to follow police orders, Fox News said, at the time: “He is dealing with serious personal issues at this time. A date at which Gregg might return to air has yet to be determined.” The anchor, who joined FNC from MSNBC in 2002, has been on personal leave since early May.

Bob Beckel Outnumbered During Hobby Lobby Ruling Debate

On its final day of rulings for this session, the Supreme Court delivered a decision tailor-made for cable news. The ruling in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby involves religious freedom, first amendment rights, and Obamacare. Cable news programs have been debating the ruling and its possible lasting effect since it came in, including on CNN’s “Legal View with Ashleigh Banfield,” MSNBC’s “The Reid Report,” and FNC’s “Outnumbered.” Just as its title indicates, that’s where FNC’s Bob Beckel found himself on the issue. The cable news day is still young, so expect more fireworks throughout the day.

(h/t J$P)