Nowhere is the mess we find ourselves in more unstable than the media war on its justification for economic survival. As broadcast television gives way to cable and now subscription television, news networks are caught in a stock market crash. Trump’s election defeat and social excommunication made it very difficult for the top 3 cable news channels to make a living. In turn, this spilled over into the information economy and put pressure on the difference between the old nightly news hosts and the new landscape.
Cell phones have made it easier to wait for breaking news notifications than to climb the hourly analytics model that over and over again recycles the same talking heads we have already given up on. Many of these pundits have turned into Trump books, where old news from January 6 and the 2020 election is chopped into sound bites and graphics and then debated by roundtables. Fox remains the leader in audiences as MSNBC overtakes CNN, but overall audiences are dropping dramatically. MSNBC star Rachel Maddow recently made the news when negotiating with the network to downgrade her daily show to a weekly show and focus more on long-running programming with podcasts and books or even events. While his new contract appears to continue his daily shows for at least the next year, the writing is on the wall for the entire structure of hosts and anchors.
So it was no coincidence when Brian Williams announced he was leaving NBC for greener or perhaps more technical pastures. We talked about the restructuring of the news on the Gillmor Gang, so Frank Radice and I took the opportunity to record a Clubhouse conversation about Williams and his move. Frank has known and worked with Brian for about 30 years, first at WCBS and then at NBC, where Williams was the host of the half-hour NBC Nightly News show. After a scandal involving his description of being under fire from a helicopter that turned out to be an exaggeration at best, he was taken off the show for six months of unpaid leave.
Eventually, he resurrected his career as a breaking news anchor on MSNBC and started an 11-hour nighttime show just outside prime time that garnered good ratings and grandfather protection. very well paid from her multi-million dollar salary. : 00 in the middle of a dinner on the West Coast, “observes Radice,” there was a huge financial problem for MSNBC, especially under a new type of leader with clenched fists. Something had to give. Maddow’s negotiations took massive sums of money off the table, and Williams’ ratings appeared to be less of a top priority for the network. I guess Williams didn’t have much of a choice; he thought he might be able to do better in the current climate of streaming and the tech platform that Maddow is exploring.
âWhat I would do if I were Brian,â says Radice, âbecause he’s not old, but he is in terms of what people buy online, on TV and on the air. these days. Seems like they’re not buying experience, they’re buying some kind of cultural thing. It must remain culturally relevant. I would go to CNN Plus and go back to work with Jeff Zucker and own some news online.
âThe point is, when you lose in the news, certainly the kind of old boys club, of which Brian may be the last vestige, is gone. And you are in that kind of atmosphere. The idea that someone would be your sponsor is what would be a strong mentor today. And the two people who were there for him left – company president Andy Lack and MSNBC president Phil Griffin, âFrank continues. And his contract expires at the end of the year. And he has a high salary. And there is a movement going on to change the antenna, if not the look and feel and feel, but the structure and content from prime time until late at night. So all of these factors add up at the same time. From my point of view, if you’re going to come out, you’ve gone from being on top to being down to sort of come back up, sort of come out on top instead of the other. The other argument, by the way, against switching to CNN is why would it switch from Network # 2 to Network # 3? I do not believe that. It’s just looking at the numbers and not really looking at the sustainable importance of CNN on a global scale. “
We reflect on Williams’ ability to add a wry sense of humor to the mix, the mix of news and late-night talk show stories he’s had trouble with. Frank pushes back and leads CBS flagpole work once again: “I can see he makes a deal with a CBS to replace Norah O’Donnell and get 4 one-hour specials a year to do it.” . And it could be invaluable for CBS. It comes with a built-in audience, it’s over a million people, so you know it’s valuable. Tom Snyder? It can do it, but I don’t think something like it will work today. Look, that could beâ¦ it’s kind of like what we’re doing right now, except one of us is famous and maybe smarter.
I suggest that the only thing I’ve seen in the press about a CBS decision is that it doesn’t care. Frank: When someone tells you they’re not inclined to want to do something, that’s probably exactly what they are inclined to do.
the last Gillmor Gang Newsletter
The Gillmor Gang – Frank Radice, Michael Markman, Keith Teare, Denis Pombriant, Brent Leary and Steve Gillmor. Recorded live on Friday, November 12, 2021.
Produced and directed by Tina Chase Gillmor @tinagillmor
@fradice, @mickeleh, @denispombriant, @kteare, @brentleary, @stevegillmor, @gillmorgang