February 18, 2021

To be fair, no one can truly replace Rush Limbaugh, can they? He was beloved by his listeners. Not just anyone can be thrown into that spot and have the same following, loyalty and — what matters most — ratings as Limbaugh.

The first name to jump out is a strong conservative who is beloved by the right and is currently out of work:

Donald Trump.

While Trump’s name might be fun for the rumor mill, it seems highly unlikely that Trump would want that gig. For starters, radio is hard. Part of what made Limbaugh so good was his work ethic. While it often appeared that Limbaugh was just winging it for three hours, it was his preparation that made his program appear so smooth and effortless. Would Trump be willing to put in the time to be good at radio?

While a national radio show would keep Trump in the spotlight and get his message out there, it’s hard to imagine him committing three hours a day, five days a week to hosting a radio show. He probably will have a standing invitation to go on Fox News or Newsmax whenever he feels like talking.

A couple of months ago, a natural choice to replace Limbaugh would have been former Vice President Mike Pence, who has experience as a radio and TV host.

But Pence’s reputation among Trump loyalists is mud, and that eliminates chances he could host Limbaugh’s show, assuming he would even be interested.

More Rush

Here are a few other stories about Limbaugh that are worth your time:

Trump talks

Most of Trump’s first interview on Fox News yesterday was about the death of Limbaugh. In fact, Fox News anchor Bill Hemmer even said, “Mr. President, we probably have 100 questions for you, but so many of them are not appropriate for this venue, so we’ll keep it on this topic for now.”

However, Trump did again lash out about the election, making more false claims by saying, “I think it’s disgraceful, what happened. We were like a third-world country on election night with the closing down of centers. … You don’t know how angry this country is, and people were furious.”

Trump then appeared Wednesday night on Sean Hannity’s show. And OAN. And Newsmax. If you’re so inclined, I’m sure you can track down what he said, but it was more the same. It appears Trump’s self-imposed media silence is now over.

Going on at Gannett

For this item, I turn it over to Poynter media business analyst Rick Edmonds.

While I was absorbed in all things Alden/Tribune, I failed to note a smart and potentially lucrative business move from Gannett. It will begin selling various types of digital advertising across McClatchy’s chain of 30 dailies as well as its own 260 regionals and USA Today’s sites.

Both sides of the deal stand to benefit. Digital national sales have been a strength for Gannett in recent years. With USA Today’s online content still free, traffic volume is huge. Plus geographical reach allows for customization to an advertiser’s pick of target markets. All the better on both scores when you add in McClatchy markets.

Could this lead to bigger and better things, wedding bells even, for the two chains? Maybe. But it makes a whole lot of sense even if not.

Two other Gannett nuggets:

  • As print consolidations and outsourcing continue, Gannett has added the Sarasota Herald-Tribune to its list of print plant closings at the loss of 95 part-time and full-time jobs. The work will be done not at Gannett’s nearby Lakeland facility (which is picking up the Tampa Bay Times’ business) but all the way across the state at its Treasure Coast papers. Moves like these generate substantial savings, as CEO Mike Reed regularly highlights in financial reports to investors and analysts, but at the cost of both jobs and much earlier print deadlines.
  • A Gannett watcher in South Jersey forwarded me a recent introductory paid digital subscription offer at the rate of $1 for six months. Now that’s a bargain, working out to half a penny a day. It is tempting to quip that you get what you pay for with truly local staff-reported news hard to find in small market Gannett papers. However, deep discounting (usually not that deep) is a respected strategy to build up paid digital subscriber numbers if not revenue.  Some convert to full paid subscriptions and, worst case, some email addresses are captured.

CNN revamps schedule

One day after CNN daytime anchor Brooke Baldwin stunned viewers by announcing she was leaving the network in April, CNN announced changes to its morning and daytime weekday lineup. Here’s how it looks:

Laura Jarrett and Christine Romans will continue to anchor “Early Start” from 5 to 6 a.m. Eastern.

“New Day” will air from 6 to 9 a.m. with hosts John Berman and Brianna Keilar, who moves to this slot from the afternoon.

Poppy Harlow and Jim Sciutto will continue to anchor “CNN Newsroom” from 9 to 11 a.m., and Kate Bolduan will continue to anchor “At This Hour” from 11 a.m. to noon.

Also staying the same, “Politics with John King” from noon to 1 p.m.

As far as replacing Baldwin in her 1 to 3 p.m. time slot? Ana Cabrera will anchor “CNN Newsroom” from 1 to 2 p.m. and Alisyn Camerota and Victor Blackwell will now anchor coverage from 2 to 4 p.m.

More Tucker Carlson

Get ready for more Tucker Carlson. Fox News Media announced Wednesday a new deal for the primetime host to produce original content for Fox Nation — Fox News Media’s on-demand subscription-based streaming service.

Beginning in April, Carlson will release at least three new video podcast episodes a week. Fox says it will feature “interviews with newsmakers, as well as a discussion of the issues shaping the country.” The series will be called “The Tucker Carlson Originals.” Here’s the trailer.

The rating game

President Joe Biden participates in a televised town hall Tuesday night in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Joe Biden’s town hall — his first since becoming president — on Tuesday night turned out to be a ratings winner for CNN. The 75-minute town hall hosted by CNN’s Anderson Cooper drew 3.54 million total viewers. That bested MSNBC (2.99 million) and Fox News (2.86 million).

The Widower

From the producers of “Dateline NBC” comes a multi-night true-crime docuseries that starts tonight. “The Widower” looks at a decadelong investigation into Thomas Randolph, a Las Vegas man accused of killing his wife, Sharon. Turns out, Sharon was Randolph’s sixth wife and fourth to die under mysterious circumstances.

The series starts tonight at 10 p.m. Eastern on NBC and continues Friday and Sunday. Check out this creepy trailer.

Politico’s new project

Politico launches a new series today called “Recovery Lab.” As Politico describes it, its purpose is to “inject solutions journalism and thought leadership into the biggest challenges facing Governors and State officials right now as they tackle the COVID-19 crisis and how we recover from it.”

It also said it will be a “deep dive into a policy challenge posed by the pandemic including health care, education, economic redevelopment, infrastructure and others.”

The project will combine Politico reporters from Washington, D.C., and statehouses across the country.

Hosting ‘The Argument’

Jane Coaston of The New York Times. (Illustration courtesy of The New York Times)

Starting Feb. 24, Jane Coaston will be the new host of “The Argument,” The New York Times’ first Opinion podcast. Before joining the Times, Coaston was the senior politics reporter at Vox, with a focus on conservatism and the Republican Party.

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Tom Jones is Poynter’s senior media writer for He was previously part of the Tampa Bay Times family during three stints over some 30…
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