Archives: March 2005
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It’s been a very busy news day. In case you missed anything:
Koppel leaving ABC: Westin’s e-mail; Koppel’s e-mail; Interview highlights; Could he go to CNN or CBS? // Terri Schiavo: Dies; Coverage critiques; CNN hosts “national conversation” // Fox Biz: May launch this year, but Ailes says the decision hasn’t been made
Only on TVNewser: ABC’s Ted Koppel says he wants to continue making great TV (see below). He is “keeping his options open.” While Koppel never passes up a chance to bash cable news, could he find a home at CNN?
That’s what some observers have suggested today. On Thursday evening CNN chief Jon Klein told TVNewser that he wouldn’t pass up a chance to hire Koppel, but added that “there are no concrete conversations” going on about it.
“I’m sure he’ll have no lack of interest from serious news organizations,” Klein said.
I suggested that Koppel could appear in primetime or host documentaries like CNN Presents. “I think a giant like Ted Koppel could fill a whole range of roles,” Klein said.
In 2002, when Koppel was threatened by Letterman, then-prez Walter Issacson said he’d love to hire Ted. “CNN was talking to Ted Koppel when his last contract with ABC News was up for renewal,” a veteran cable newser e-mails. “At the time, CNN decided that Koppel was too expensive.”
But perhaps the high salary would no longer be a sticking point. Several ex-ABCers work at CNN, including Jeff Greenfield, Carol Lin, Anderson Cooper, and Aaron Brown. “I bet Klein does it to try to make his mark there,” the e-mailer suggests.
> Also: Koppel could develop a CNN investigative/newsmagazine unit “that could be broadcast across Anderson’s show, ‘NewsNight’ or maybe a weekend show” like CNN Presents, another e-mailer suggests. “It would add another respected name to CNN’s roster, but keep him from being a regular talent.”
I bet David Westin is “thrilled” that Ted Koppel keeps telling the media that “the first job offer came in at 11:01.” The LA Times reports that “Koppel declined to say what the offer was, but noted that he was keeping his options open. ‘I want to go on making great television,’ he said. ‘I think there’s room for it, I think there’s a market for it, and there are people who still want it.’”
> Koppel and Bettag “will shop themselves as a team,” B&C says.
Salon’s Eric Boelhert describes “how right-wing activists, with heavy-hitter help from Washington, were able to lead the press around, as if on a leash, for nearly two weeks as they pumped up what had been a long-simmering (seven years) family legal dispute and turned it into the most-covered story since a tsunami in Asia three months ago left approximately 300,000 people dead or missing.” And that’s just the fifth paragraph. Boelhert says conservatives not only launched the story “but were able to frame it and, at times, narrate it almost exclusively…”
On Saturday, the “light bulb” went off in CNN chief Jon Klein’s head: The network should present a “national conversation” after Terri Schiavo’s death.
Hosted by Larry King, “Life and Death: America Speaks Out” airs tonight from 8 to 11pm.
“We started thinking about what we could do,” Klein told TVNewser today. “We thought about what CNN’s role in this has been…We’re such a natural forum for a national conversation.”
Klein said the special will discuss religion, politics, medicine, law — some of the issues that have been under-covered as the emotional saga unfolded. CNN hopes to serve as a “meeting place,” where “viewers can come and express all the conflicting emotions that exist” about the case.
Paula Zahn will report live from Terri’s hometown, while Anderson Cooper will host from outside the hospice in Florida. Aaron Brown will be on Pope watch.
More primetime Schiavo coverage:
> MSNBC will be live until 2am with continuing coverage. Dan Abrams will host “Terri Schiavo: The Impact” from 9 to 10pm, then Joe Scarborough will anchor two hours of coverage. Dan will be back live from midnight until 2am…
> FNC has packaged its primetime as a three-hour block of Schiavo coverage. The Fox Fan e-mail and FOXNews.com home page usually list individual shows, but today it just lists primetime as “Terri Schiavo’s Death.”
At 4:36pm, CNN reported that the Pope had been given last rites. Correspondent Alessio Vinci reported from Rome. Wolf Blitzer interrupted Crossfire to cover the breaking news. “CNN stayed with the Pope story, while FNC and MSNBC were in continuous Schiavo coverage,” an e-mailer says. FNC talked about the Pope’s deteriorating health, but didn’t definitively report the last rites news until 5:35pm, according to an insider…
> Update: 11:15pm: The headline has been updated. At 3:46pm, FNC cited Italian news agency reports that the Pope had received last rites, but said it was unconfirmed. The last 15 minutes of Studio B were devoted to the Pope’s health. Greg Palkott reported from Rome during Studio B and Your World…
News Corp. has yet to decide whether a Fox business news channel is viable, Fox News CEO Roger Ailes said today. Here’s the Reuters summary: “Ailes appeared to soften definitive public comments by executives of parent company News Corp. who in January said they were aggressively pushing for a launch in the second half of this year.” A quote from Ailes: “I keep telling Rupert, ‘Quit saying that.’”
More: “Ailes said Fox still needed to learn who the viewers would be, where they lived and why they would watch a third cable business channel. ‘The question is, does an audience for business news really exist, have they gone on the Internet? … Are you playing to the viewers in Indiana who are investing, are you playing to Wall Street?’”
Other quotes from Ailes: “We’ll decide whether or not that’s viable,” he said. “We are committed until we’re not committed.” And: “You don’t pull the trigger until you know you can win.”
> Also: Associated Press: “Ailes said Thursday he’d have no problem hiring Dan Rather – except the former CBS anchorman makes too much money.” More…
Yesterday I noted that Keith Olbermann beat Nancy Grace on Tuesday night. Grace’s ratings continued to decline on Wednesday, when she averaged 398,000 viewers — down from 530,000 in Monday. Last night Grace averaged only 96,000 viewers in the 25-54 demo (and 21,000 viewers in the 18-34, a number that one insider called “CNBC-like.”) The insider referred to Grace as a “flash in the pan” and predicted “she’ll have to start crying again on the air to increase her ratings…”
> Update: 7:48pm: Here are the ratings in the 25-54 demo: O’Reilly: 0.6, 570,000 / Zahn: 0.3, 288,000 / Olbermann: 0.2, 145,000 / Grace: 0.1, 96,000 / CNBC Contender rerun: 0.1,77,000
Quoting the AP: “Koppel said a news release announcing his departure was e-mailed to the world at 10:59 a.m. on Thursday and he got his first job offer at 11:01 (he won’t say from whom). ‘It was sort of lovely,’ he said. ‘I was disappointed that it didn’t come in at 11, of course.’”
And Koppel told the NYT: There are some very interesting prospects out there, let’s put it that way.” A couple suggestions from e-mailers:
> From an e-mailer: “So Ted all of a sudden decides to leave ABC, even though he knows they’ll give him anything he wants…does this have anything to do with the Tiffany network searching for a star anchor?”
> “CNN would be wise to pick up Koppel and Bettag to help develop its documentary/newsmagazine unit,” an e-mailer suggests. His daughter Andrea works at CNN…
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