Dan Rather on movie about his darkest hour: ‘Paid the price,’ but had the facts right

Poster for the movie "Truth."

Poster for the movie “Truth”

It’s surreal, Dan Rather says, to see Robert Redford on the big screen, portraying him during “the darkest hour of his career.”

And even though he would have much preferred a movie about illustrious moments of his career, such as covering the assassination of President John F. Kennedy or the civil rights movement or Vietnam War, he believes that Redford’s new “Truth” captures a basic truth about the story that led to the ignominious demise of his storied career at CBS News.

He still believes that his corporate bosses were in bed with a political establishment that did him in. He still believes he got the story right even amid the central questions about the authenticity of the documents upon which he and producers relied. Read more


Popemania in full swing for media at White House stop

President Barack Obama and Pope Francis stand at attention during the playing of the national anthems during a state arrival ceremony for the pope, Wednesday on the South Lawn of the White House. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

President Barack Obama and Pope Francis stand at attention during the playing of the national anthems during a state arrival ceremony for the pope, Wednesday on the South Lawn of the White House. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

It was all-pope-all-the-time Wednesday morning as television media ignored virtually any other news to reverently cover Pope Francis’ address at the White House.

Wherever one turned, there he was, acknowledging the perils of climate change and deriding inequality in one of his longest English-language speeches ever: ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, MSNBC, Fox News Channel, even CNBC and Fox Business Network.

Of course, old reliable C-Span was there but without any intrusion from anchors, reporters or academic pundits.

There was as much emoting as cold analysis, even on Fox, where many viewers surely take issue with Francis’ unequivocal views on climate change, if not other matters. Read more


NBC and Brian Williams still have explaining to do

Brian Williams moderates a debate between presidential candidates in 2008 file photo.  (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

Brian Williams moderates a debate between presidential candidates in 2008 file photo. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

I believe in second chances and redemption. But NBC’s decision to move Brian Williams to MSNBC isn’t enough of an endgame move for me.

NBC News has not released the findings of its investigation into inaccurate and embellished statements that Williams made on the news and on other non-news programs. Williams was interviewed by “Today”‘s Matt Lauer, and those segments will air Friday. In a statement sent to NBC employees, Williams is quoted as saying,

I’m sorry. I said things that weren’t true. I let down my NBC colleagues and our viewers, and I’m determined to earn back their trust. I will greatly miss working with the team on Nightly News, but I know the broadcast will be in excellent hands with Lester Holt as anchor.

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C-Span teaming with the networks to cover presidential campaign

C-span's red bus

C-span’s red bus

C-SPAN is teaming with the major news networks to share personnel and other costs while covering even more events in real time along the campaign trail.

Ted Johnson, a political reporter for Variety, walked up the steps of the iconic bright red C-SPAN school bus parked on the floor of the national cable TV convention. He just wanted to say hi.

And why not? After all, if you’re a political journalist, the same just-the-facts network that’s long inspired “Saturday Night Live” skits is very much a key part of your reporting arsenal.

Now, financial necessity appears to be the mother of C-SPAN-bred invention, all probably to the enhanced benefit of reporters and politics junkies gearing up for the 2016 presidential campaign.

And it may be particularly true for the large number of reporters whose outlets can’t afford to have them on the road for appreciable, if even any, time due to budget cuts. Read more


Meet Toya Graham, the Baltimore mother who slapped her rioting son



CBS landed an interview with the most talked about person caught on camera during the Baltimore riots. But Toya Graham was not a rioter — she is a mother who saw her 16-year-old son Michael in the middle of the rock-throwing crowd. “He was coming across the street with a hoodie on and a mask. At that point I just lost it,” she told CBS News.

CNN and CBS called her the “tough love” mom. While the video spread across social media and on the air, it started when WMAR-TV photojournalist Manny Locke spotted Graham as she pushed her way through the crowd to get to her son. The video, which has been played hundreds of thousands of times on YouTube and news websites, shows Graham swearing at and repeatedly slapping her son on the side of the head. Read more


The Hollywood Reporter: How much do morning news shows plug other TV products?

The Hollywood Reporter

Everyone knows that the three major networks’ morning news shows spend an awful lot of time cross-promoting the networks’ sports and entertainment projects, but The Hollywood Reporter decided to calculate exactly how much time. Reviewing the week of March 9-13, Hollywood Reporter staff timed each segment dedicated to “corporate synergy” and have published the results.

The king of self promotions, the Hollywood Reporter claimed, is ABC’s “Good Morning America,” with 36:30 minutes of corporate synergy out of a total of 15 hours of airtime, including commercials. Highlights include a segment on shoes from the movie Cinderella, which was rolled out by ABC’s parent company Disney, as well as a visit to the set from the stars of the latest season of the reality show “The Bachelor.”

CBS took second place, as “This Morning” clocked in 26:12 minutes of cross promotion, including six minutes for actress Patricia Arquette to plug her show “CSI: Cyber” and a segment on the boxing bout between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiano, which the CBS-owned Showtime network will air. Read more

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Brian Williams reportedly lobbied to succeed David Letterman

Good morning! Here are 10 media stories.

  1. More tales of tumult from inside NBC News

    Gabriel Sherman's much-anticipated longread about the turmoil surrounding Brian Williams' suspension from the anchor chair dropped Sunday. Among the juiciest tidbits: Williams asked CBS CEO Les Moonves to be considered as a replacement for David Letterman upon the comedian's retirement from "Late Show," according to "a high-level source"; Four NBC and NBCUniversal officials visited Williams at his apartment to notify him he was being taken off the air; Richard Esposito, the investigative producer at NBC News conducting a review of Williams, "delivered a 45-minute presentation at [NBCUniversal CEO Steve] Burke’s apartment" that unearthed "more issues" with Williams' disputed claims; Williams can't talk to the press under the terms of his suspension and "can’t wait until he can speak" publicly about the situation, according to "a close friend." (New York) | "If Brian Williams proposed to CBS that he take over when Letterman retires, that alone is reason he should not return" (@jayrosen_nyu) | "Last weekend, workers at NBC's Rockefeller Center headquarters briefly wiped away promotional photos of Brian Williams." They went back up the next day.

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CBS’s Bob Simon Killed in Car Crash

Bio-Photo-Simon-60-xlargeOne of CBS News’ most honored journalists, Bob Simon, died in a car accident in New York City Wednesday night. Simon was 73.

Simon’s career spanned five decades from covering the Vietnam War to filing a story last Sunday for 60 Minutes about the movie “Selma.” He is the recipient of what is believed to be an unequaled 27 Emmy Awards for field reporting.

CBS said:

Simon recently reported on the persecution of Coptic Christians caught up in Egypt’s political turmoil and the situation in Fukushima, Japan, three years after it endured the triple tragedy of an earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster. His 2012 story from Central Africa on the world’s only all-black symphony won him his fourth Peabody award and an Emmy. Another story about an orchestra in Paraguay, one whose poor members constructed their instruments from trash, won him his 27th Emmy.

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CBS prepared to play rough with affiliates over money

CBS fired an opening salvo in what could become a disruption for network affiliated television stations.

WISH TV, the LIN Broadcasting owned station in Indianapolis will no longer be the CBS affiliate starting January 1, 2015. CBS is moving from LIN owned WISH-TV to the Tribune owned station WTTV, currently the CW affiliate. Tribune also owns the FOX station in Indy.

The move will cost WISH about half of its revenue, according to one media analyst, who added it will serve as a warning to other network affiliated stations. CBS is sending a signal that it is prepared to play rough when it comes to the percentage of revenue that local stations pass along from the retransmission fees that cable companies pay the local stations. In TV terms, the money that an affiliate pays a network is “network compensation” often called “net-comp.” Side note: A couple of decades ago, networks sent compensation to local stations and it is now the other way around. Read more


Tennis, Obama interview muted CBS’ rollout of Assad exclusive

Associated Press

Charlie Rose’s interview with Syrian President Bashar Assad was ready at an awkward time for CBS, David Bauder reports.

Not only did “CBS Evening News” anchor Scott Pelley have an interview with President Obama, “the evening news was pre-empted on all but the West Coast by CBS Sports’ telecast of the U.S. Open men’s tennis finals.” Read more

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