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Archives: August 2006

Kyra Reading Letterman’s Top Ten Tonight

Kyra Phillips, who called her brother’s wife a “control freak” when her bathroom chatter aired on CNN Tuesday, “has not yet called to apologize,” Rush & Molloy says. (“But for all we know, maybe the sister-in-law IS a control freak, and needs to let up on Kyra’s brother,” this commenter adds.)

Fox & Friends recreated the gaffe on Wednesday, by the way. Here’s the video.

Phillips is presenting the top ten list on The Late Show with David Letterman tonight…

Carlson Keeping Cooper Honest: “It’s About Ratings… Just Admit It”

Wednesday on MSNBC, Tucker Carlson called out Anderson Cooper for his polygamy passion. “So Cooper traveled to New Orleans to, as he put it, keep them honest. Well, the honesty lasted all of seven minutes last night, at which point Cooper moved on to the next thing.

Watch the time on the screen in this next clip. Cooper makes it until 10:07 minutes into his show before the urge to abandon Katrina before Warren Jeffs, the polygamist, overcomes him completely. He doesn’t resume keeping them honest until 10:52 p.m.”

Carlson adds: “Look, it’s about ratings. Let’s be honest… Just admit it. Don’t pretend that your cable news show is some sort of outlet for your religious crusade. You know? It’s a ratings-getting device. Just admit it.”

A Year Of Katrina: Remembering Meserve’s Eye-Opening, Heart-Wrenching Report


“We are sometimes wacky thrill seekers. But when you stand in the dark, and you hear people yelling for help and no one can get to them, it’s a totally different experience.”

In the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, some television reports indicated that New Orleans had dodged a bullet. Information about the levee breaches was almost non-existent. But viewers who heard correspondent Jeanne Meserve‘s report on CNN knew something terrible was unfolding.

“It’s been horrible,” Meserve told viewers of NewsNight on Aug. 29, 2005. “You can hear people yelling for help. You can hear the dogs yelping, all of them stranded, all of them hoping someone will come.”

One viewer called Meserve’s beeper “the riveting, heart-wrenching phone report I’ve ever heard on televsion news.” The next day, NewsNight anchor Aaron Brown said he had received over 600 e-mails praising Meserve’s report. And David Carr said she offered “a prescient look into the week that was to come.”

Meserve said she received many e-mails about the report, too.

“It appears to have been the first time many people have heard what was happening and understood what was happening,” she says.

She adds: “I wish more people had been listening, particularly people in operations centers around the federal government.”

So how did it happen?

Meserve flew into New Orleans with producer Jim Spellman on Saturday, before the storm hit. She covered the evacuation of the city and watched water seep through the streets as Katrina came ashore.

Mid-afternoon on Aug. 29, a CNN producer at the Superdome called in and said she needed a crew. When Meserve arrived at the ‘dome, she saw City Council President Oliver Thomas.

“He was bringing soaking wet elderly people to the dome,” Meserve says. “I turned to him and said, ‘What’s going on?’ And he said ‘My city is dying.’ And I said ‘What are you talking about? Show us.’ And he took us to Interstate 10.”

Two boats were bringing survivors to an I-10 overpass overlooking the eighth ward.

“Not far beyond us, I-10 sank underwater,” she recalls.

Meserve called into The Situation Room around 6pm and told viewers that New Orleans hadn’t dodged a bullet.

Cameraman Mark Biello went out on one of the boats, and Meserve stayed on the interstate and talked to survivors.

As night fell and rescue attempts were abandoned for the evening, she started hearing the screams.

“We couldn’t see anyone. It was dark. But we could hear them,” she says. “I wandered off by myself and just listened, horrified.”

Meserve and her colleagues waited hours for Biello to return.

“I thought we had lost him,” she says. “I thought he might be dead.”

Biello fractured his foot as he helped pull a rescue boat over submerged railroad tracks. But he eventually made it back to the interstate.

After the rescue efforts were suspended, the CNN crew packed up and went back to their hotel. Meserve finally established a landline connection to Atlanta, a few minutes before the end of NewsNight. She didn’t have anything scripted.

“I just wanted to communicate the breadth and the depth of what was going on, and the human tragedy that I had seen unfolding in front of my eyes,” she says.

After several minutes of narration about what she witnessed in the eighth ward, she began to sob. Meserve says she didn’t expect to cry on the air.

“It came spilling out of me that night,” she says. “And I’m not altogether happy that it did. I wasn’t sure at the time that it was as professional as I might have liked it to have been. But ultimately I think that might have gotten the point across.”

Schieffer’s Song

Los Angeles Times: “He was only supposed to fill in for six weeks.

A year and a half later, Bob Schieffer finally wraps up his gig as the interim anchor of ‘CBS Evening News’ this evening when he helms his last broadcast.”

The end of the story includes the lyrics to one of Schieffer’s new songs, titled “There to Here:”

 Don’t let this moment pass

we may not come this way again

don’t know how we got from there to here

but here we are

let’s make it last.

Couric Appearing On Thur. Evening News

Yesterday’s NY Daily News hinted at it, and today’s Philadelphia Inquirer confirms: “New CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric will pop up tonight on Bob Schieffer‘s last broadcast as ‘interim’ anchor.

Couric will appear in the last segment on the as-yet unseen spiffy new newsroom and will do a tribute piece on Schieffer.

Will Schieffer pass a baton to his successor? ‘I don’t have a baton,’ he says, ‘but I’m sure we’ll exchange pleasantries.’”

The Scoreboard: Tuesday, August 29

25-54 demographic: (LS)

Total day: FNC: 315 | CNN: 224 | MSNBC: 92 | HLN: 132 | CNBC: 65

Prime: FNC: 493 | CNN: 339 | MSNBC: 155 | HLN: 246 | CNBC: 83

  5p: 6p: 7p: 8p: 9p: 10p: 11p:
FNC Gibson: Hume: Shep: O’Reilly: H&C: Greta: O’Reilly:
  251 310 290 476 474 528 277
CNN Blitzer: Dobbs: Blitzer: Zahn: King: Cooper: Cooper:
  220 276 373 222 355 440 338
MSNBC Hardball: Tucker: Hardball: Countd.: Scarbo.: Special: Investig.:
  79 92 148 187 137 141 109
HLN HLN: Prime: Beck: Grace: Beck: Grace: Showbiz:
  93 156 275 340 169 228 150

Data by Nielsen Media Research. Live and same day (DVR) data.

Read more

Look for TVNewser on CNBC’s On The Money, tonight at 7pm…

A Year Of Katrina: Reuniting Families, Finding Housing, Feeding Animals

gretaaug201.jpgWhen journalists like Greta Van Susteren weren’t on the air in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, they were working behind the scenes to help survivors of the storm.

“Everyone tried to do two things,” she recalls. “You did your job to get the story out in a dispassionate way, and if you had a second, you couldn’t help but want to help these people.”

Van Susteren returned to the Gulf Coast for the one-year anniversary of Katrina before flying to New York to interview Steve Centanni and Olaf Wiig.

After Katrina came ashore, Van Susteren flew to Houston to cover the evacuees at the Astrodome.

“I must give a shout-out to Houston,” she says. “In a matter of hours, they took the Astrodome and turned it into a city for almost 30,000 people. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

When they weren’t doing live shots, the Fox crews were helping reunite families.

“We were a clearinghouse to help people find their relatives,” she says. “We helped people find housing, find relatives, find doctors. It was almost like social services when we weren’t on the air.”

gretaaug201.jpgIndividuals were attracted to the satellite trucks of news organizations. For example: “Someone came up to me who I assumed was from Houston,” Van Susteren recalls. “She says ‘I know someone who has a house in Fort Collins, Colorado who can take a family. Is there anybody who wants to go to Fort Collins?’”

When Van Susteren left Houston to visit New Orleans on Sept. 6, she blogged: “It is with some regret that I leave Houston since we had met many evacuees and were working — on the side — to get them housing. My colleague Alicia Acuna is still there and will continue to do our housing placement work. What happens is that people come to our live site offering housing — or call us or e-mail us — so we try to match them up with families.”

In Houston, journalists helped point people in the right direction. In New Orleans, they provided more immediate help.

“We were in boats feeding animals,” she recalls. “I remember one day plucking a puppy off a roof with the military.”

Van Susteren emphasized the extraordinary nature of this story.

“This was no routine story where you’re standing in front of a prop,” she says. “This was an emergency. This was the middle of a crisis.”

She described New Orleans as “hell,” adding: “there’s no other way to describe it.”

She says it would have been obscene not to help: “Everybody in the media, everybody — satellite truck operators, print journalists, producers, audio people, bookers, everybody — was working around the clock. And when they weren’t working, they were doing the decent and honorable thing of helping.”

Steve & Olaf: This Is “A Really Good Excuse Not To Do Any More Live Shots”


Above, Steve Centanni and Olaf Wiig hug family members yesterday. has the full transcript of Greta Van Susteren‘s Tuesday night interview with the two kidnapped journalists. Here’s an excerpt:

 WIIG: I tried to call out to Steve… and say, you know, Steve, are you there? And I get no reply, but I get a boot on top of my face just to remind me that…

S. CENTANNI: Shut up!

WIIG: … we’re there and not to talk anymore.

VAN SUSTEREN: So you couldn’t see each other enough even if each other was alive?


S. CENTANNI: No. But after the generator stopped, we knew we were together because I said, Olaf, are you there? And he said, yes — not happy. But he said, I hurt all over, or something like that. But we knew there were guys watching us, so we couldn’t talk too much because they’d go, Shhh, and if we tried to sit up against the concrete wall to ease the tension on the shoulder and wrists, the plastic ties digging into your skin, they would let you sit there for a couple minutes and then push you back down again, face down on the cement floor.

WIIG: I tried to sort of lighten the situation by…


WIIG: … by suggesting to Steve that this was a really good excuse not to do any more live shots that evening.

S. CENTANNI: No more live shots today.

WIIG: Yes, got off of the rest of our rotation.

“Greta should repeat this interview this weekend sometime,” an e-mailer says, calling it an “incredible interview…”

Aug. #’s: O’Reilly No Longer #1 In The Demo; Hannity & Colmes Tops The Factor

hcaug30.jpgFor the first time in recent memory, Hannity & Colmes has bested The O’Reilly Factor in the 25-54 demographic for an entire month. In August, FNC’s 9pm show averaged 508,000 demo viewers, 14,000 more than Bill O’Reilly‘s 494,000 at 8pm. (Greta Van Susteren followed close behind with 492,000 in the demo.)

Among total viewers (some would say “older,” but we’re not going there), O’Reilly still came in first place, with 2,073,000 viewers, compared to 1,696,000 for H&C and 1,499,000 for Greta.

But I hear O’Reilly was none too happy about losing to Sean Hannity and Alan Colmes in the demo. And just look at the recent scoreboards: the trend is holding…