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Posts Tagged ‘Michael Wolff’

Michael Wolff: MSNBC’s Phil Griffin ‘Has Painted Himself Into a Corner’

2009+Winter+TCA+Tour+Day+9+RnrzO9gD_1plIn a column in USA Today, Michael Wolff has described MSNBC boss Phil Griffin as, a man without a clear strategy at a failing network. Describing MSNBC as dated and difficult to watch, Wolff wonders if Griffin can survive. “MSNBC now has a lineup of ever-righteous and often sulky defenders of President Barack Obama, who seem, not just to conservatives but to many liberals, too, bizarrely tone deaf and lost in time.”

Compared to the consistent ratings power of Fox News, MSNBC, Wolff argues, did not rise to the top with President Obama, but has slipped as the president’s popularity has waned. Ratings for the midterm election were down:

Griffin is no Ailes. And MSNBC is not Fox, with its ability to direct as well as portray the political drama. A poor political operative, Griffin has painted himself into a corner like political parties so often do, losing the base, and yet without the philosophical wherewithal to appeal to a larger group. There is the broken clock theory of politics and cable programming, in which, if you just keep doing what you’re doing, the zeitgeist returns to you. But politicians and media executives, swimming against the tide, usually lose their jobs before their hour returns.

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Has the Charismatic, Authoritative TV News Broadcaster Been Lost?

BourdainUSA Today’s Michael Wolff gives his take on whether Jeff Zucker can save CNN at a time TV news audiences are growing more “fetishistic,” and the old-school TV news broadcaster “has been lost.”

Jeff Zucker, CNN’s ambitious chief and as tactical a television mind as exists, seems in many ways to have concluded that there probably isn’t. To an ever and ever greater degree, cable news is about sliver audiences— even Fox News averages only a million viewers a night — targeted to melodramatic or campy political sensibilities. In the case of CNN, which tries to rise above single-bore politics, its specialty is the melodramatic and campy news event— the ever-missing plane —that draws the ever-declining news audience. This reflects a problem with the cable audience — it’s overly fixated, if not fetishistic.
But it may also reflect a problem with cable news talent. The very idea of what we used to call a television broadcaster, charismatic and authoritative, has been lost — with, arguably, Barbara Walters, retiring last month at 84, being the last living example in America.

Wolff also suggests ambitious up-and-comers are looking away from the traditional anchor chair, and turning their eye toward a more globe-trotting platform.

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Is Coverage of Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight Anti-Journalism?

Cuomo planeMichael Wolff writes about the ongoing coverage of the missing Malaysia Airlines flight today in The Guardian, calling it “anti-journalism.”

Wolff notes what journalism is supposed to provide—information—and why the lack of it in this story is satisfying viewers and cable news networks.

Journalism exists to provide information. But what’s really compelling is a lack of information – or what is more particularly being called “an absence of empirical data”.

I am hardly the only stick-in-the-mud to observe that the impending takeover of Crimea, a precise piece of geopolitical logistics and confrontation with a full menu of international implications – journalistic red meat – has been blown away by a story with no evident meaning, other than the likely bleak fate of most onboard.

It is, of course, an ideal story for the current journalism era because it costs nothing. Nobody has to go anywhere. Nobody has to cover the wreckage and the recovery. Not only is the story pretty much all just theories – but theories are cheap.

Buildup for Roger Ailes Book Begins

roger-ailesWith Gabriel Sherman‘s book on Roger Ailes “The Loudest Voice in the Room” being released on January 21, Capital New York reports publisher Random House has launched a wesbite dedicated to the facts.

Advance press copies are presumably starting to circulate among reviewers and media reporters, and today, the book has a brand new website that “will be a source for pushback against misinformation throughout the book’s release,” a source close to the publisher tells Capital.

Capital reports Sherman’s book is based on “hundreds of of interviews with Fox News insiders past and present.”

Rupert Murdoch biographer Michael Wolff is also out with a column about “The unbeatable Roger Ailes,” asking why rival executives Phil Griffin and Jeff Zucker work in a profession where they’re destined to fall short of Ailes. Read more

Perspective: Despite Struggles, CNN And ‘Today’ Remain Cash Cows

The Daily Beast’s Daniel Gross writes about the finances of TV news, and notes that despite the onslaught of negative publicity in recent months, both CNN and NBC’s “Today” remain cash cows for their respective companies.

Only in the media business can two enterprises that, combined, funnel somewhere near $1 billion in profits to their corporate parents, be regarded as sinking ships, failures, and debacles.

Elsewhere, the always acerbic Michael Wolff writes about CNN for The Guardian:
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Rupert Murdoch, Roger Ailes and ‘A Devil’s Bargain’

Roger Ailes and James Murdoch, along with Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer (March 2010).

In the January issue of British GQ, Michael Wolff has a 2,300-word missive titled “Why I Love Fox News.” Don’t judge this story by its title, because it’s hard to glean what it is Wolff loves about Fox News.

The on-again, off-again editor and biographer of Rupert Murdoch, Wolff goes into detail about his on-again, off-again relationship with Fox News founder and CEO Roger Ailes.

Once, he offered to hire me as a Fox business-news commentator, if that’s what I wanted, but counselled that, if I worked for Fox News, I was never likely to be hired by the liberal outlets to which I was more naturally suited. And then we fell out. Or, in a sense, suddenly engaged in News Corp politics, I sold him out.

Wolff goes on to write about how his Murdoch biography, “The Man Who Owns The News,” was a turning point.

One of the reasons I was invited in 2007 – shortly after Murdoch’s takeover of the Wall Street Journal (an enterprise supported by the profits of Fox News) – to write a biography of the mogul with his full co-operation, was, in part, I came to understand, because I was a useful weapon in the increasing war against Ailes.

Wolff then admits he made what he calls “a devil’s bargain” not to talk to Ailes for the Murdoch book. That’s about the most revealing piece of new information. So, what’s Wolff’s motivation for this piece? A where-are-we-know update? An olive branch to Ailes? It’s hard to tell. But there are thoughts inside 1211 Avenue of the Americas that it has fingerprints of Matthew Freud, Murdoch’s son-in-law, who in early 2010, told the New York Times he was “ashamed and sickened” by Ailes’ “sustained disregard” of the journalistic standards of News Corp.

A News Corp. executive tells TVNewser, “Freud’s attacks on the Murdoch family appear to continue. His divisive actions speak for themselves.”

FNC’s Roger Ailes On Success in Cable News: ‘You Have to Love to Win and Hate to Lose’

Fox News Channel’s 15th birthday celebration continues this week with live specials across America  — Neil Cavuto will host his show from Chicago today and Sean Hannity will be in Atlanta Thursday — and a fresh round of press for FNC president Roger Ailes.

The New York Daily News talked with Ailes about the challenge of holding the top-rated cable news slot:

“The toughest part of my job,” he says, “is not only maintaining the intensity but maintaining everybody’s intensity.”

To succeed in journalism, he says, you have to be curious, love the news and have an internal drive to be great. “You have to love to win and hate to lose,” he says.

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Michael Wolff Knows Nothing About Baseball

You may have seen this making the rounds late this week. Rupert Murdoch biographer and AdWeek editor Michael Wolff has a lot to say about News Corp., but he knows nothing about baseball.

Wolff was in a New York studio last week for a BBC interview on the News Corp. matter, but was introduced as Ben Walker, baseball editor for the Associated Press. After being intro’d, there was a pause before Wolff deadpanned, “You know what? It’s even a worse situation than that, because I am not Ben Walker and I know nothing about baseball.”

Wolff will be on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” … for real … tomorrow morning talking about News Corp.

And a bit of advice to all you analysts/guests/talking heads: should this happen to you, don’t say anything when you’re mis-introduced. There’s a much greater chance it won’t go viral. Unless, of course, your goal is that it does.

Video after the jump…

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Nebraska Head Coach Earns Spot In Urban Dictionary

Nebraska football head coach Bo Pelini‘s temper has landed him a spot in the Urban Dictionary.

According to the website, Pelini means the following:

“A violent rage that cannot be controlled, often expressed in Tourette’s-like cursing accompanied with demonic facial contortions. An angry sense of entitlement that will cause you to treat anyone around you with contempt and physical brutality, including game officials, innocent cameramen or possibly your own team.”

I feel sorry for the Nebraska player that brings this up to Pelini during practice.


Wolff: ‘No one has ever successfully been able to compete with FOX’

webnewser_wemedia.gifWebNewser is covering the We Media conference in Miami where author and media critic Michael Wolff took part in a Q&A on the current state and future of media, including the role of cable news.

“No one has ever successfully been able to compete with FOX,” said Wolff. “CNN just lied down and said ‘They’re bad people, we’re good people.’ That’s a bad way to build an audience.”

• WebNewser has more on Wolff’s colorful comments, including his tear into the family that owns The New York Times calling them, “The stupidest people who have ever walked the Earth’