Cable news networks continue their stranglehold on the subject of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was captured by the Taliban a year into his tour and held for five years until Saturday’s dramatic announcement that he’d been swapped for five Guantanamo Bay prisoners. CNN‘s Jake Tapper landed the first TV interview with Bergdahl’s squad leader, who was there when Bergdahl disappeared from his camp and says Bergdahl “totally deserted” his comrades. Fox News, meanwhile, reported Bergdahl’s Idaho hometown has canceled its welcome-home ceremony, in the interest of public safety, amid questions about Bergdahl, and the arrival of a convoy of TV trucks and journalists. Fox News reports City Administrator Heather Dawson has explained, “Hailey, a town of 8,000, does not have the infrastructure to support an event of the size this could become.” Watch Tapper’s interview here:
UPDATED: Jane Pauley is taking the last spot on Hillary Clinton’s dance card, on June 15; she’ll interview Clinton on CBS Sunday Morning — about her new book, Hard Choices, the network said this afternoon.
Previous, 8;02 AM: Hillary Clinton‘s “book-promo” dance card is rapidly filling up, as the media is noticing. CNN reported this morning Clinton will participate in a “town hall” meeting, on June 17, at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., moderated by CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, during which Clinton will take questions from the public. Yes, it’s the same day Clinton’s scheduled to undergo a joint interview with Fox News Channel’s Bret Baier and Greta Van Susteren, spanning the two anchors’ respective programs, starting on Special Report at about 6:45 PM ET and wrapping with On The Record at about 7:15 PM. CNN’s Newseum event will bookend that FNC appearance — telecast at 5 PM and repeated at 9 PM.
Clinton will warm up for that very big day on a couple broadcast networks. NBC News this morning told TV Newser its Cynthia McFadden will interview Clinton on June 10. And ABC already had announced Diane Sawyer has snagged Clinton’s “first” interview, on June 9, followed the next morning by a sit-down with Good Morning America’s Robin Roberts. In theory, Clinton’s out promoting her new book, Hard Choices.
Fox News Channel chief Roger Ailes will make a rare appearance on CNN on June 15, when the network premieres 41ON41, a profile of President George H.W. Bush. The gimmick is that 41 people will be seen on screen, talking about Bush – including Ailes, who was a campaign advisor. And yes, the two-hour film, weaving first-person accounts of the policy decisions and personal life experiences that shaped Bush’s life and presidency, is premiering on Father’s Day — and three days after Bush celebrates his 90th birthday. The George Bush Presidential Library Foundation funded the film, which is executive produced by Bush’s former White House speechwriter Mary Kate Cary and Rick Kaplan, formerly of CNN and ABC News. The film team also includes Nancy Stern Winters and Lisa Lax at Lookalike Productions who produced and directed the film.
In addition to former First Lady Barbara Bush, the film’s 41 storytellers include: Read More »
UPDATED, 6:45 PM: Here is a clip from tonight’s CNN broadcast of Anderson Cooper‘s interview of Clippers owner Donald Sterling. The original story continues below the video:
Related: Clippers Game Clocks Big Ratings After NBA Announces Donald Sterling Ban
PREVIOUSLY: Barbara Walters landed the girlfriend and the wife involved in the hottest story right now, but CNN’s Anderson Cooper scored the sit-down today with the big fish – disgraced LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling, who was caught last month making racist comments about African-Americans and hoops icon Magic Johnson in a 2013 tape. He was subsequently banned for life from the NBA and fined $2.5M. Sunday’s news battle pitted Sterling vs. Sterling as CNN and ABC News vied to take the lead on the hottest story of the moment. Read More »
Just when you thought that what CNN‘s Missing Malaysian Airliner story really needed to liven things up was a fluid ounce of weed killer scientifically administered to some of the talking heads, the network abruptly brought back Crossfire this evening, as if to signal to the country that its long cable-news nightmare was over. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-WI, and Rep. Karen Bass, D-CA, joined co-hosts Newt Gingrich and Van Jones, who beamed at the camera as if their producer had brought them good news from a distant land. Crossfire had been off the air since March 11, when CNN latched on to the story of the passenger plane that mysteriously vanished somewhere en route to Beijing, and hung on for dear life as ratings soared — well, compared to CNN’s earlier ratings anyway. And, though there had been some speculation CNN chief Jeff Zucker would use the missing plane saga to quietly kill his ratings-challenged Crossfire relaunch, the network seemed to stifle that talk at its April upfront presentation when it unveiled Crossfire Reloaded among the series from its new CNN Digital Studios. At some point CNN needed Crossfire to come back, if only for congressional booking purposes — politicians do like to see themselves on cable news network shows — which, yes, factored into the decision to bring back the show, which happened tonight.
Related: … Read More »
Another day, another media story on the fudging of “reality” and “documentary” for the TV camera – this time it’s CNN’s eight-part series Chicagoland, which never got so much media interest as it did this morning when the Chicago Tribune posted a report on emails between the office of that city’s mayor Rahm Emanuel, and the producers. The emails show Emanuel’s office closely controlled access to their guy, that the producers cajoled his office to get shots they wanted, and a good time was had by all. In the world of politics, and the world of television, this is known as “how it works.”
Related: CNN’s ‘Chicagoland’ Finale Hits Viewer Low
“If it seems as though some scenes of CNN’s documentary series Chicagoland were coordinated by Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s City Hall and the show’s producers, that’s because they were,” the Trib scolded in the report, timed to coincide with the series’ final-episode premiere last night. “City Hall’s frequent correspondence with the producers illustrates how senior aides to a mayor known for shaping his media image managed how their boss would be portrayed on CNN to a prime time national audience,” the Trib marveled.
More than 700 emails reviewed by the Tribune reveal that the production team “worked hand in hand with the mayor’s advisers to develop storylines, arrange specific camera shots and review news releases officially announcing the show.” Among its findings, producers asked the mayor’s office to help them set up key interactions for what CNN has billed as a non-scripted series. Those interactions included Emanuel’s visits with the school principal “who emerged as a star of the show, emails show,” according to the Trib.
The paper seemed most exercised over the emails in which the production team told Emanuel’s staff that particular scenes “would present the mayor in a positive light” including one in which one of the producers said the project would showcase Emanuel “as the star that he really is.” Read More »
TV in general pretty much underperformed Sunday night, but the season premieres of Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown and Morgan Spurlock Inside Man both surged over their previous season bows by double digits. The 9 PM Season 3 opener of Bourdain’s hybrid foodie travelogue — which visited Punjab, India — posted 325,000 persons 25-54, according to Nielsen’s Live+SD numbers, up 34% over last season’s September 15 bow. Parts Unknown was up against competition that included HBO’s Game Of Thrones, which snagged 6.3M viewers, Oscar nominee Spurlock’s episode at 10 PM, which saw him step into the role of paparazzo, drew 244,000 viewers in the demo — topping last year’s series premiere by 11%. The time slot wins are some welcome good news for CNN, which had which just suffered through one of the worst primetime quarters in its history. The network said last week that Parts Unknown and Inside Man are among the docu-type original series that are replacing Piers Morgan in the 9 PM weeknight slot.
Related: ‘SNL’: The CNN Breaking News Pregnancy Test
Tired of CNN’s relentless breaking news alerts? Well, what if the news network got in the pregnancy test business? Instead of receiving numerous updates about the search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, a woman can now rely on CNN as it routinely informs her that it’s still determining her pregnancy. Take a look at the SNL parody:
Two weeks after Piers Morgan signed off CNN with another blast at the NRA, network chief Jeff Zucker announced he would fill Morgan’s timeslot with Anthony Bourdain and Morgan Spurlock, among others, and that he has given former Fox star John Walsh a CNN platform from which to hunt down most-wanted. CNN also unveiled plans to tap into the current fervor for religious programming with The Jesus Code — a forensic and archaeological journey through the Bible. At its upfront presentation to advertisers today in New York, CNN also detailed plans to bring back Dirty Jobs’ Mike Rowe to series TV in Somebody’s Gotta Do It, and Lisa Ling (Our America With Lisa Ling) will also join CNN with an original series.
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Jon Stewart has deconstructed the media’s consternation over Hollywood’s depiction of religion in Noah and Son Of God — particularly Fox News Channel and CNN. Fortunately for Paramount, which distributes Noah, and 20th Century Fox, which distributes Son Of God (a repurposing of History’s hit 10-hour miniseries The Bible), fewer than 3 million people watch Fox News Channel and CNN combined in primetime — leaving about 317 million uninformed people available to buy tickets. This helps explain how Noah topped its opening weekend with nearly $44 million in domestic boxoffice (and $95 million worldwide) despite much hair-tearing over at FNC (and by Glenn Beck, who pronounced it “awful”), and why Son Of God opened with $26 million in domestic boxoffice, though a CNN anchor said it made her feel “kinda dirty and freaky.” Watch Stewart’s takedown here:
Fox News Channel tonight took the unusual step of pre-empting The O’Reilly Factor to continue covering the shooting at Fort Hood. It marked the first time since the network unveiled the Fox News Deck in October that Shep Smith and his Deck took over the entire 8 PM hour for the breaking news in the network’s heavily watched 8 PM ET time slot. In the early days of CNN’s coverage of missing Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, CNN’s Anderson Cooper had beat Bill O’Reilly in the news demo more than once. When the ratings tonight are issued by Nielsen it will determine whether this programming move thwarted another timeslot win in the news demo by CNN, which tends to score bigger than usual ratings when major, catastrophic news breaks.
Related: Malaysia Airlines News Coverage Mania Splits Media Watchers
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The 10 AM ET debut of Fox News Channel‘s Sunday Morning Futures With Maria Bartiromo (1.078 million viewers, 312,000 in the news demo) took the top spot in cable news, beating CNN‘s Fareed Zakaria GPS (643,000, 169,000) and MSNBC ‘s Melissa Harris-Perry (391,000, 168,000) combined in overall audience and nearly doing same in the demo. Sunday Morning Futures’ demo crowd was Fox News’ third-biggest demo audience for the timeslot this year, delivering a strong lead in for FNC’s 11 AM program, MediaBuzz, which delivered its highest demo rating since debuting back in September (1.001 million viewers, 353,000 in the demo), outstripping CNN’s Reliable Sources (674,000 viewers, 189,000 demo viewers).
In anticipation of March cable news Nielsen numbers, which will show CNN much improved March-to-March but finishing second to Fox News Channel in key TV-viewing metrics, CNN Worldwide chief Jeff Zucker sent a memo to staff announcing the news operation’s best month ever for page views, video streams, and mobile web traffic: Read More »
UPDATE, SATURDAY 12:20 PM: Watch the departing Piers Morgan deliver his CNN farewell and gun control speech below.
PREVIOUS, FRIDAY 7:20 PM: Piers Morgan wrapped his three-year CNN run tonight with (gasp!) a full hour of discussion about the missing plane. But in his four-minute final remarks, he couldn’t resist taking a parting shot at the NRA. “I assumed that after 70 people were shot in a movie theater, and then, just a few months later, 20 first-graders were murdered with an assault rifle in an elementary school, the absurd gun laws in this country would change,” he said. “But nothing has happened. The gun lobby in America, led by the NRA, has bullied this nation’s politicians into cowardly, supine silence. Even when 20 young children are blown away in their classrooms. This is a shameful situation that has made me very angry.” He continued to rail and wrapped it with this: “But I’ve made my point. … Now it’s down to you. It’s your country; these are your gun laws. And the senseless slaughter will only end when enough Americans stand together and cry: Enough!” As the camera began to pan out, the British expat delivered his final words on the ratings-challenged Piers Morgan Live: “Goodnight, thank you, and God bless America. Oh, and while I’m at it, God bless Great Britain too.” Here’s the full transcript of Morgan’s “cheerio” to American television:
Related: CNN’s Piers Morgan Says Ta-Ta To ‘Piers Morgan Live’
This is the final episode of Piers Morgan Live. After 3yrs, 2months, 11 days and over 1000 shows, I am departing to spend more time with my cricket bat. I would like to thank my amazing team, led with great skill and tireless enthusiasm by my friend and Executive Producer, Jonathan Wald. And John Ferriter, my irrepressible manager, who landed me this fascinating, unpredictable, challenging but hugely enjoyable job. We won some, we lost some, but we gave it everything we had, and I have loved every minute. Well, almost every minute!
I’d also like to thank you all for watching. Even those who implacably disagreed with me, or just found my funny accent annoying. Regular viewers will know that the issue of gun control has been a consistent and often very controversial part of this show.
And I want to say something more about that before I bow out.
Related: CNN’s ‘Piers Morgan Live’ Ratings Sink To Second Lowest Ever
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