A former Fox News anchor, now working for CNN, spills on the differences between the two networks, plus CNN will host another town hall

September 20, 2019
Category: Newsletters

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Good Friday morning. The week ends with blockbuster reports from The Washington Post and The New York Times regarding a whistleblower in the intelligence community who filed a complaint over concerns about communication between President Donald Trump and a foreign leader, as well as other possible issues. This story is still developing and figures to be the topic of conversation on the Sunday shows. I’ll be back Monday to provide the latest on those.

In the meantime, have you ever wanted the inside scoop on the differences between Fox News and CNN? Well, one person qualified to answer that question is featured in today’s lead item.

Fox News vs. CNN

The cable news star of the week is CNN’s Alisyn Camerota, the “New Day” anchor who torched former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski after he quoted the Mueller report and then admitted he never read it.

It also just so happens that The Hollywood Reporter’s Jeremy Barr interviewed her last week for a story that was published Thursday. But while Camerota is now at CNN, her 16 years at Fox News is often the topic of conversation when she is interviewed.

“No, I don’t enjoy talking about it,” Camerota told Barr. “I am very conflicted about talking about it. I wish I didn’t have to talk about it. I still have a lot of friends at Fox. I am very close to some people at Fox. I still socialize with people from Fox. So, I don’t like talking about how they run their operation but the times that I talk about it, it’s when the hypocrisy is so astonishing that I can’t help but to talk about it.”

It’s a compelling interview where Camerota reveals how Fox News goes about its business, how the network helped create President Trump and the relationship between Fox News and Trump.

To be clear, Camerota says she remains close to many at Fox News, even including the primetime pundits who are the network’s most polarizing personalities. But she is now working for the enemy.

“I don’t want to insult my friends,” Camerota said. “I don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings. I really don’t want to. I don’t like being in this mortal combat position.”

As far as working at CNN compared to Fox News?

“It’s just night and day,” Camerota said. “On every level, it is dramatically different. I never, ever have had (CNN boss) Jeff Zucker tell me what I need to say. Never. And with (the late Fox News head) Roger (Ailes) that was a weekly occurrence. … CNN is built on the mechanics of journalism. At Fox, nobody ever asked me for a second source. Nobody ever mentioned it.”

Be sure to check out Barr’s top-notch interview.

CNN’s town hall about LGBTQ issues

CNN’s Don Lemon will be one of the moderators in next month’s town hall on LGBTQ issues. (Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)

Just as it did earlier this month with a town hall on climate, CNN will host another one-topic town hall with Democratic presidential hopefuls. This one, scheduled for Oct. 10 in Los Angeles, will focus on LGBTQ issues. However, not all of the presidential candidates will be there. Bernie Sanders and Andrew Yang both cited scheduling conflicts for declining invitations.

The event starts at 7 p.m. Eastern and will include presidential hopefuls Tom Steyer, Cory Booker, Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg, Beto O’Rourke, Amy Klobuchar and Julian Castro. Moderators will include CNN’s Dana Bash, Anderson Cooper, Chris Cuomo and Don Lemon.

Two legends talking

Andrea Mitchell, along with NBC News colleague Lester Holt, at the 2016 Democratic presidential debate. (Stephen B. Morton/AP)

Two journalism legends spoke earlier this week when NPR’s Terry Gross interviewed NBC News’ Andrea Mitchell for Gross’ show “Fresh Air.” Mitchell will receive a Lifetime Achievement Emmy next week. A person close to Mitchell told me this is the most candid and reflective they had ever seen her in an interview.

Among some of Mitchell’s more revealing (and fun) comments:

  • About preconceptions Mitchell had to face about women in news: “The preconceptions initially were that women could just not do hard news, that they had to do women’s social news, you know, fashion, food, family. And it was defined very rigorously that women couldn’t cover politics. Women couldn’t cover, you know, the military.”
  • About President Trump’s media attacks: “For the president of the United States to call the news media the enemy of the people is to tell his supporters to tell the world that that is his view of the Fourth Estate — is to diminish respect and credibility — respect for the media and the credibility of the media.”
  • About the advantage of being only 5-feet-3 inches tall: “I’ve stood on boxes all over the world. You do what you have to do. I’ve stood on ladders. I’ve stood on tables. I’ve stood on boxes. But the advantage of being short — because there is an advantage — is that if you’re trying to be seen and shout a question at a president of the United States, you can crawl under the tripods of the camera crews, pop up on the other side on the frontline and not get in the way of the camera.”

Journalist or activist? Does it matter?

Is she a “brave, irreverent, truth-seeking missile?” Or is she a “hysterical middle-aged conspiracy theorist” who pushed her stories beyond what her reporting and facts show?

In an excellent piece, The Atlantic’s Ben Judah profiles British journalist and activist Carole Cadwalladr. The headline reads: “Britain’s Most Polarizing Journalist” with a subhead that calls her the most consequential journalist of her age, yet asks if her activism undermines her reporting.

Judah writes, “As Brexit spawns an American-style culture war in Britain, Cadwalladr has become a lightning rod. Her rise also reveals something about the state of British media, where social-media-powered campaigners can become megastars. How did she become the most polarizing reporter in Britain? Is Cadwalladr even a reporter, or more of a campaigner — an activist with policy goals she is pursuing through journalism? Does it matter?”

Don’t talk to me

New York Giants head football coach Pat Shurmur. (Bill Kostroun/AP)

Okay, so this isn’t exactly the White House press secretary going months on end without holding an official White House news conference, but it’s still pretty interesting.

New York Giants football coach Pat Shurmur will no longer appear weekly on the show of New York sports-talk legend Mike Francesa. Apparently Francesa has been ripping the winless Giants pretty good and the Giants are tired of it.

Shurmur gave a diplomatic, yet unsatisfying answer to why he’s no longer doing the show, blaming the organization for the decision. As Deadspin’s Patrick Redford eloquently put it, “The relationship between grouchy radio host and grouchy organization has reached its breaking point.”

By the way, on his show Thursday, Francesa said Shurmur is the fourth coach to cancel a regular appearance on his show. He claims the other three were all fired before the season ended.

In his column Thursday, New York Post sports media critic Andrew Marchand wrote, “Francesa is a bully, and Shurmur — because of the Giants’ record with him as a coach — is an easy target right now. Francesa may be correct in his assessments of the organization, but that’s not the point. Shurmur answers questions every day, so the idea he is dodging anything is silly. Francesa usually doesn’t ask questions anyway.”

Head-scratching column of the day

I debated with myself for a day on whether to link to a column where a male columnist tries to explain baseball’s intricacies to a “female person.” (His phrase, not mine.) I had decided it wasn’t worth even calling attention to it despite the column getting bashed on various websites and social media.

But then the columnist — Carlton Fletcher of the Albany (Ga.) Herald — appended an editor’s note to the top of the column and somehow made it worse.

Fletcher said the column was a “tongue-in-cheek poke at SOME women’s response to the gross habits of men who play sports.” He added, “It was meant to be funny …”

A rule of thumb: If you have to explain that something was funny, it clearly wasn’t funny. Might be better off just to apologize and take the loss instead of trying to defend or explain.

Taking the gloves off

“NBC Nightly News” anchor Lester Holt. (Richard Drew/AP)

“NBC Nightly News” anchor Lester Holt moderated a panel Wednesday night for L.A. Press Freedom Week, which was covered by The Hollywood Reporter.

Holt asked the panel (although the question seemed rhetorical): “I think one of the challenges we’re facing right now is to what extent we defend ourselves as journalists, because it’s not in our nature. At what point do you say, ‘No, that’s not the case’ and take off the gloves?”

Awkward …

Fox Business correspondent Charlie Gasparino was all fired up Thursday about a story in The Wall Street Journal about AT&T entertaining offers for DirecTV. Gasparino was upset because his producer, Lydia Moynihan, broke the story and the WSJ didn’t give Gasparino or Moynihan credit. He thinks it’s because the Journal is mad at him for leaving the paper years ago.

“We broke the story,” Gasparino said on the air to host Neil Cavuto. “I want to say that The Wall Street Journal, the editor there who went to my wedding, Matt Murray, reporters, probably good reporters but they wouldn’t wear my jockstrap as a reporter or hold it, is the term.”

Yikes, if you’re going to break out the word “jockstrap,” you better get the phrase right. And, oh, as Cavuto reminded Gasparino on the air about the WSJ: “You know they’re our corporate partners?”

Hot type

Have feedback or a tip? Email Poynter senior media writer Tom Jones at tjones@poynter.org.

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