Tucker Carlson and President Trump are perfect for each other
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Publicists at Fox News are a media MASH unit.
Given their immersion in bad company news, it's surely a relief to merely see Tucker Carlson trashed in print rather than their having to respond new harassment litigation or the canning of their own executives and show hosts.
"Bill O’Reilly’s world-weary smirk has been replaced by Tucker Carlson’s confused stare in the 8 p.m. slot on Fox News," writes Peter Pomerantsev in the London Review of Books. "O’Reilly, the most popular host on U.S. cable news, was sacked because of a sex scandal, but Carlson is in many ways a more fitting presenter for the age of Trump."
Yes, the London Review of Books, where Pomerantsev tags Carlson as a master of "verbal WWF wrestling bouts with the enemy" amid the cerebral fare of the current issue, including essays on mass incarceration, the nomadic members of the Iraqi Special Operations Forces and, yes, the "disreputable, destructive sex" found in "Les Misérables."
"After awhile you get to know the Carlson’s routine," the essay reads. "For the first few minutes he stares into the camera quizzically, looking a bit like Woody Harrelson’s character in Cheers, confused by a bizarre world."
He will then "try to give the interviewee enough time to say something stupid, and when they do his face breaks into a hysterical laugh, he interrupts and accuses them of being the exact thing they oppose (an anti-fascist is non-democratic; a socialist is elitist), ask them a ridiculous question ('Can you see into Vladimir Putin’s mind?’) or push their ideas towards absurdity."
Well, that's on the mark, as was the case last evening with Carlson having an easy go of it with an ivory tower piñata, namely a rather fumbling liberal academic on the question of a huge gang, MS-13. When the guy stumbled into poorly defending the gang, he was dead meat.
Fox was running at least one ad this morning about the O'Reilly replacement: "Tucker Takes on BuzzFeed!"
That did have a WWF air to it, fitting Pomerantsev's critique that Carlson does a better job of capturing President Trump's modus operandi than O'Reilly. But at times with Carlson, it's just not a fair fight. It's more like shooting fish in a thimble, such as last night on gangs.
It can be hard to nail down Carlson, just as it's tough to figure Trump out. But he's good entertainment, able to ramp up conflict and drama, and at times diverges from orthodoxy (he's been very isolationist on Syria).
The writer claims that using a data analytics tool on Carlson's own Twitter feed, he found that the host generated "58 million impressions between March 14 and March 18."
"People like to fight over whether or not they like him. Those who engage with Carlson are much less interested than the average Twitter user in science and technology, activism or health. People who are interested in Tucker are 50 times more likely than the average user to be interested in Sarah Palin, 42 times more likely to be interested in immigration, eight times more likely to be interested in golf and six times more likely to be interested in Real Housewives."
So far, so good for Fox. And at least he doesn't appear to have forced the Human Resources Department to conduct its trademark belated interviews about aberrant conduct toward female employees.
The Google, Facebook domination
"Google is the largest recipient of global ad revenue, taking in $79 billion in 2016, according to new data from media agency Zenith. That’s three times as much as the No. 2 biggest ad revenue recipient, Facebook, which raked in nearly $27 billion in ad revenue last year." (Recode)
That's 20 percent of global ad revenue.
"Growth in ad revenue is coming mainly from digital ads. And in general, ad spending is consolidating. The top 30 recipients of ad revenue in 2016 accounted for 44 percent of all ad revenue spend, according to Zenith. That’s up from 39 percent in 2015 and 33 percent back in 2012."
ESPN and politics
As ESPN wrestles with dramatic marketplace change, prompting its recent layoffs, do criticisms from the right about a leftward political slant play some, even minor role in its troubles?
Writing in Politico, Ben Strauss takes a hard look at the criticisms and doesn't reflexively dismiss them (he's now writing about the politics of sports for Politico). Honoring Caitlyn Jenner with a courage award and moving a company event from a Trump course did piss off some viewers, among other acts and declarations that weren't universally hailed.
He cites a study by Deep Root, a media analytics firm that does work for Republicans and matched voter files and set-top box data, that ESPN’s viewers in Cincinnati were majority Republican in 2015 but supposedly skewed Democratic a year later. Hmmmm.
So "as ESPN responds to a new era of millennial media habits to shore up its bottom line, it must also wrestle with the relative appetite of its viewers for political debate in a space that often has been considered — mistakenly — as a refuge from the contentious questions that dominate the political realm." (Politico)
Covering Hillary Clinton
"Clinton: 'If the election had been on October 27, I would be your president.'" (CNN)
"Hillary Clinton speaks out at Women for Women International luncheon." (WWD)
"Amanpour Treats Hillary to gooey sit-down ‘eloquently’ blaming Trump, Putin, misogyny." (NewsBusters)
Newsletter headline of the day
From Crain's Chicago Business: "United CEO's apology tour hits D.C."
Remember Scott Walker?
Scott Walker, a onetime fave elite media choice to gain the Republican 2016 presidential nomination, has returned to national obscurity. He's now very much involved with the magazine world.
He's sought to kill "a nearly century-old state magazine that covers the state’s resources and outdoor recreation," Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine, via the state's Department of Natural Resources.
It's got 80,000 paying subscribers, but the government doesn't feel magazines should be a state operation. Critics don't buy it. (CJR)
Bidding for Tribune Media
Tribune's 42 TV stations and related operations are valued at more than $3 billion and have the attention of the Murdoch empire and Sinclair in a seeming "bidding war." (The Wall Street Journal)
But there's also Dallas-based dark horse Nexstar Media Group in that mix, which has been reported and is underscored by a source with knowledge of the goings-on. Who's Nexstar? As a Reuters report explains:
"It's an owner of TV stations and community websites. As of December 31, 2016, it owned, operated, programmed or provided sales and other services to 104 full power television stations in 62 markets in the states of Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin."
Unseemly sexual reality
"The head of computer vision at Facebook’s virtual reality subsidiary, Oculus, has been replaced following his arrest related to an underage sex sting operation, TechCrunch has learned."
"Dov Katz was arrested at an Embassy Suites outside of Seattle in late December after allegedly soliciting sex from an undercover officer who he believed, at the time of meeting, was a 15-year-old girl. Katz allegedly agreed to pay $300 for sex." (TechCrunch)
A bad night in The Hub
"Racist taunts stir up ancient pains in Boston."
Christopher Gasper sure has that right in The Boston Globe in the wake of the slurs hurled at Baltimore Orioles star Adam Jones. And Sports Illustrated's Tom Verducci did a nice job in multiple spots with the MLB Network.
And then there's this unceasing reality:
"While baseball has attracted some of the finest athletic talent from Central and South America by building development programs throughout Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic among other nations, the game’s African-American participation sat at just 7.1 percent in 2016 and hasn’t eclipsed 10 percent since 2004." (Sports Illustrated)
Murdoch and fake news
"Murdoch's News Corp. is introducing a service that it says can ensure online ads don't appear next to fake news or offensive videos, marking the latest salvo in the billionaire media mogul's long battle with the world's biggest search engine," namely Google. (Ad Age)
If you had $250 billion in cash...
What might you buy? Or what might Apple, which has that mountain of cash, do? Here are some guesses from The Street, including one or two operations you might not know, such as "Civil Maps, which develops maps to guide autonomous cars."
The morning babble
MSNBC's "Morning Joe" saw Trump getting rolled by the Democrats on the budget, with even "Fox & Friends" conceding that there's "no draining of the swamp," at least not yet.
Fox chided the Democrats for gloating, though it was harsher frowning on Stephen Colbert's Trump critiques of Trump, with co-host Ainsley Earhardt essentially calling him un-American. "Extremely disrespectful," she bemoaned, though co-host Brian Kilmeade did point out to her that Colbert's recent comments are nothing new.
CNN opted for ample focus on a Hillary Clinton speech post-mortem, including talking to Christiane Amanpour, who conducted the interview Tuesday. David Gregory said flat-out that Clinton was a victim of misogyny.
Stop. A recent major political science gathering in Chicago showed academics (and some journalists) not really buying the notion she was a victim of sexism, including one prominent academic specialist in gender and politics. (Poynter)
And, per usual, cable found its reporting imprimatur in newspapers, not necessarily its own reporting. Scarborough held up The Washington Post and the headline, "GOP health bill on shaky ground" and then showed two separate New York Times headlines, "Patients at risk fear the worst from waiver" and "G.O.P scrambles as crucial voice shuns care bill."
Higher ed dustup
There's some buzzing in journalism education circles as Northwestern's Medill opts out of the once-every-six-years system of academic accreditation. Dean Brad Hamm doesn't think it's especially relevant, places some curricular restraints and that it's an administrative waste of time if you're as well-known and respected as Medill.
Others disagree, including Peter Bhatia, Cincinnati Enquirer editor and president of the accreditation council, who argues to me that Hamm's making a big mistake. But here's my mini-primer on the kerfuffle and the underlying issues about accreditation. (Poynter)
Lost in the Trump media mania
"Gorsuch nervous about showering in front of other Supreme Court justices."
Thank you, American Lawyer. Wait. That's The Onion.