Good morning. Here's our morning roundup of all the media news you need to know. Want to get this briefing in your inbox every morning? Subscribe here.
After a languorous 50 minutes or so, Bill O'Reilly last night teased a grand finale for his show.
"Up next: I go on the record about my mistreatment of the women here at Fox, and why we've paid at least $13 million in sexual harassment settlements."
Well, not really. It was my wishful thinking, especially after the infatuation with the story displayed by his far bigger broadcast competitors, who clearly relish O'Reilly's current ignominy and produced similar stories on evening newscasts at CBS, NBC and ABC.
No, alas, O'Reilly teased his "Tip of the day: Where to find honest news." Which, of course, still raised the vaguest of possibilities that he might respond to the growing sexual harassment scandal that has enveloped Fox News.
One then endured second-rate ads that will now get better play since more than 20 advertisers, including the likes of Hyundai and Heartland favorite Allstate, have fled O'Reilly’s show, if not Fox in its entirety. (Yahoo)
There's a superficial sense of a tsunami hitting the Fox shores. It's especially rampant among navel-gazing media and may be naive. Among other matters, O'Reilly recently signed a mega contract with the Murdoch clan, which controls the Fox empire.
Nobody put a gun to their head to shell out more than $20 million a year in a long-term deal. And they did so just as their lawyers were negotiating apparently unsuccessful non-disclosure provisions with plaintiffs in return for fat checks from Fox's liability insurer.
Anyway, we were left with O'Reilly's Tip of the Day. And the winner? It was neither Mother Jones nor the London Review of Books, No, it was the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal.
That Journal, after all, is owned by the the clan and has its own show on Fox on Saturdays. So it's left to the Journal's news pages to cover the scandal surrounding O'Reilly, which they did rather well.
"The list of advertisers withdrawing from Mr. O’Reilly’s show is expected to grow. One ad buyer said that some of its clients have pulled their advertising but declined to disclose the brands."
Then there was its telling characterization of his new deal by the home team's favorite paper. "The media company recently renewed his contract, which was due to expire at the end of this year, after taking that review into consideration, according to people familiar with the matter." (The Wall Street Journal)
Ah, yes, "people familiar with the matter."
That's probably higher up than hotdog vendors on the street outside Fox headquarters in Manhattan, who may in some sense be familiar with the matter, too.
O'Reilly may be safer than presumed. Unlike with Allstate, he's in good hands with the Murdochs.
The NFL and Amazon
It seems inevitable that Amazon cuts deals for live sports. So what's the seeming upshot of its $50 million investment to get the rights to livestream Thursday night NFL games, especially given the league's initial livestream relationship with Twitter last year?
"An Amazon-NFL partnership is a more logical fit than one with Twitter, and it could portend more dramatic deals in the future. Unlike Twitter, Amazon is already a destination for television content, thanks to its Prime streaming service and its video rental store. Its video app has been a set-top-box staple for years; Twitter’s just launched in September. And Amazon Prime customers love buying things so much they actually put physical buttons around their houses to fulfill their consumer impulses. They’re probably a receptive audience for more commercials and ads, right?" (The Ringer)
The Politico story gained minimal attention with the Neil Gorsuch court nomination largely focused on whether the Republicans use the "nuclear option" by changing Senate rules to fend off a Democratic filibuster with a simple majority. But there is this:
"Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch copied the structure and language used by several authors and failed to cite source material in his book and an academic article, according to documents provided to POLITICO."
"The documents show that several passages from the tenth chapter of his 2006 book, 'The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia,' read nearly verbatim to a 1984 article in the Indiana Law Journal. In several other instances in that book and an academic article published in 2000, Gorsuch borrowed from the ideas, quotes and structures of scholarly and legal works without citing them."
Like with the sexual harassment mess of O'Reilly, this is the sort of thing that might get a normal journalist or academic in trouble. But the train is out of the station, it appears, for the very likely successor to Antonin Scalia.
The morning babble
"Fox & Friends" continues to be all over what it deems an intelligence scandal the "mainstream press" is ducking, namely Obama national security adviser Susan Rice "unmasking" the identities of Trump campaign folks mentioned in foreign intelligence reports.
As had the network yesterday, it made much of her double negative to MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell (herself referred to with seeming condescension by O'Reilly last night as only "the interviewer"), namely, "I leaked nothing to nobody and never would," as if it were at least a Freudian concession that she did leak bolstering its frequent thesis that she's somehow broken a law.
CNN's "New Day" and MSNBC's "Morning Joe" both went foreign, largely with the conundrum of what to do as North Korea launches another ballistic missile on the eve of Trump meeting his Chinese counterpart shortly at Mar-a-Lago. And with the mess in Syria that again has provoked one of occasional spasms of interest among the media in Syria, now prompted by the use of chemical weapons by Bashar al-Assad.
"I thought it was cowardly" for Trump to blame the Obama administration for the Syria mess, said former Ambassador Nicholas Burns of Harvard's Kennedy School, a left-leaning cable favorite, on CNN. But there wasn't much conceding by anybody, either, that Assad has essentially won the civil war there, which is why one might check out journalist Charles Glass' piece in The New York Review of Books two months ago.
Taking a pass on the O'Reilly hoopla
"Vice News Tonight" on HBO did Syria, the gender pay gap, The Defense Department position on climate change, the new bill that lets internet service providers sell your customer data, the issue of Confederate monuments in New Orleans and elsewhere in the South, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions' very different take on the utility of consent decrees with police departments to deal with major problems, such as racism. No O'Reilly. Interesting call.
CNN and Zucker
Jonathan Mahler crafts a terrific look in The New York Times at how Jeff Zucker has revived CNN. It's not the first tale of its ilk but it's the best.
His changes may not be to everyone's tastes. But if you want to get a bird's-eye view of a hands-on (feet-on, nose-on, ears-on, you name it) guy who is obviously brilliant at television — television, not a daily newspaper, not an academic journal, not C-SPAN, not NASA but high-stakes, competitive commercial television — check this out, especially the look at him in a control room making lightning-fast decisions for live shows.
Parenthetically, it tells you more than you want to know about Zucker's much-discussed friendship with Donald Trump, making very clear that Trump's claim of getting Zucker the CNN job is utter baloney. It's been an interesting balancing act for Zucker and, judging by Trump's frustrations with the network, he's pulled it off.
Jobs on the left coast, right coast, not in between
It's been obvious for some time that the "hot" digital news start-ups tend to be in New York City, a few in Washington, and not much elsewhere. Closer look suggests that media jobs are increasingly concentrated on both coasts. The ramifications for local news in between are also obvious, at least for now. (Nieman Lab)
A Tucker Carlson profile in the April 10 New Yorker might have more popular appeal. But, if your time is limited, check out the work of Ben Taub, a young journalism phenom, who chronicles Blessing, a teen female from Benin City, Nigeria caught in a harrowing trail of abuse, forced labor and sex work as she seeks freedom and money in Europe.
It's a saga of crooked travel brokers, drug smugglers and Mafia that brings scant liberation for those who live to make it to Italy — and reminds one that there's no substitute for being on the ground, even in dark places.
In one crowded Palermo neighborhood, Taub meets with a onetime Mali drug dealer "at an outdoor bar that smelled like sweat, weed, and vomit. Sex workers walked past in red fish-nets and six-inch stilettos. On the corner, two men grilled meat over a trash fire. Italians and Africans exchanged cash and drugs, unbothered by the presence of witnesses. 'This is the power of the Nigerian mafia,' the Malian said. “It gives work to those people who don’t have papers.'” (The New Yorker)
There's far, far more from 20-something Taub, who's done fabulous work in Syria for the magazine. As with his Syria work, this is financially assisted by the Washington-based Pulitzer Center. If you don't know of it, you should. Here's a profile of a little-known group funding lots of terrific overseas journalism.
Meanwhile, in Lagos
"The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has advised journalists to be bold and practice the profession in line with the ethics of the job. Director-General of NBC, Mallam Is’had Modibo, who made this call during the closing ceremony of National Broadcast Academy (NBA), Batch ‘A’, 2017 session in Lagos, enjoined the graduating students to be creative and focused in order to make impact in the broadcast industry." (The Guardian)
Well, as the latest New Yorker underscores, there's sure not a lack of stuff to cover in Nigeria.
What to do with Snap's stock?
Buy or sell? Cheddar asked BTIG's Richard Greenfield, a media tech analyst, about his giving his "neutral" rating of Snap even though his company was an underwriter for Snap's IPO.
Yes, he said, its "core demo is hooked," looking at it more than 18 times a day for more than a total of 25 minutes. I don't think the current super-users are going anywhere." But, "How do they keep growing more users when there is so much competition with similar features. That the far harder question. It's what gives us pause..." (Cheddar)
Showtime for Ailes
What might one care that "Blumhouse Television has set up shop with ITV Studios, which has bought a 45 percent stake in Jason Blum’s growing TV production arm?" (Variety)
That perhaps would be because, "Among Blumhouse’s high-profile projects is the limited series 'Secure and Hold: The Last Days of Roger Ailes' about the downfall of Roger Ailes at Fox News, based on Gabriel Sherman’s biography 'The Loudest Voice in the Room.' Blumhouse said the project shepherded by filmmaker Tom McCarthy and Sherman is in development at Showtime."
Graduation season beckons
Not long ago, poets, novelists, priests and UN officials might get invited to address college graduation. Then came the parade of celebrities and TV anchors. The evolution of those providing life insights proceeds apace.
"Social justice champion and CNN political contributor Van Jones will soon be making headlines of a different sort as he takes the podium this spring at Loyola University New Orleans Commencement 2017. Jones will receive an honorary doctor of humane letters degree from Loyola New Orleans and deliver the commencement speech to more than 750 graduates at Commencement, to be held at 9:45 a.m. on Saturday, May 13, at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome." (Loyola)
And so who is Bill O'Reilly?
Who is Bill O'Reilly? A comprehensive profile says he's:
"A longtime commentator within the cable news sphere who distinguished himself by being a loud, angry White host of a public opinion show."
How did he rise in the business? "Decades of patiently working his way up harassing women at smaller, regional news outlets."
His audience? "Nielsen estimates more than 70 percent of O'Reilly Factor' viewers are 85-year-old men whose bodies have yet to be discovered."
There's much more that you won't find in this video precis in The New Yorker, ah, scratch that, The Onion.