7 insightful thoughts from a busy week in the media
Weekend. We created it. But it has been another anxious week, especially with new concerns about COVID-19. So today a little something different for The Poynter Report. Here are some random but hopefully relevant thoughts that came to mind during this busy and stressful week.
Looks like CNN is just going to take its tracks and hope that the controversy involving prime-time anchor Chris Cuomo eventually goes away. To make up for it in case you missed it totally: Chris helped his brother, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, in strategy sessions on how to fight accusations by several women that the governor sexually harassed them . And now, as Andrew faces possible impeachment and calls for his resignation, Chris has pulled out of history.
To CNN’s credit, the rest of the network is not turning away from it. This week, as soon as Don Lemon took over after the end of Chris’ show, he plunged into controversy. But from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. EST every night – top notch real estate on TV – CNN has had to avoid one of the biggest stories in the news.
Chris covering the story is no longer an option, but maybe the best option this week was for CNN to say, “Sorry Chris Cuomo has an obvious conflict of interest about this story and because this story is too big not to be covered, Chris will not be this week. And then they could have had a replacement host, or had Anderson Cooper or Lemon take an extra hour.
Viewers would understand, Chris would avoid the conflict. And CNN could still cover the story. Maybe something to think about if Andrew ultimately resigns or faces impeachment.
Who is going to have the first interview with Andrew Cuomo? Will he make one? Is he ever going to have a press conference with questions?
Speaking of Andrew Cuomo, here’s an interesting piece. Isaac Chotiner of the New Yorker chats with Casey Seiler, editor of The Times Union in Albany, New York, in “How Andrew Cuomo Holds On To Power.”
There have been a lot of people on Fox News whose message is “it’s your choice” when it comes to COVID-19 vaccines. Or they say things like “talk to your doctor, get information, find out what works for you”. And while it’s not the same as’ don’t get shot ‘, it’s also not the same as’ get the shot. This bland approach sends the message that it’s okay if you don’t want to take the picture. Brian Kilmeade of Fox News is one such person. Others have expressed doubts about the vaccine, such as Laura Ingraham.
Or take Sean Hannity, who said on air, “I believe in science and I believe in vaccinations.” But then he went on to, “Talk to your doctor.”
But Steve Doocy, one of the co-hosts of “Fox & Friends,” always told viewers to get the shot, and he did it again on Thursday, saying, “… a lot of people watched the show for 25 years to see what we think of different things. I think if you get a chance just pull it off.
Unsurprisingly, Kilmeade stuck with the entire “talk to your doctor” message, which created an uncomfortable segment. Washington Post Media Editor Paul Farhi tweeted, “Kilmeade wasn’t so careful last year in pushing Fauci to say hydroxychloroquine might be a good idea.” (And Farhi related to that story.)
But credit Doocy for trying to send the right message to viewers. It should also be noted that Doocy and Fox News presenter Harris Faulkner made a public service announcement encouraging people to get vaccinated, Faulkner saying, “If you can, get the vaccine.”
Too bad more Fox News personalities aren’t like Doocy when it comes to vaccine messaging. And that can make the difference. A Morning Consult poll this week showed that the share of Fox News viewers who said they likely won’t or definitely won’t get the vaccine fell to 27% this week, an all-time low in the Morning Consult tracking.
Here is the kind of title that is not surprising and yet incredibly tragic. From Justin Rohrlich of The Daily Beast: “A Texas GOP official laughed at COVID five days before he died of the virus. “
You see a lot of these stories – of people who refused to be vaccinated and / or wear a mask who then died from COVID. Or those who would not have received the vaccine regretting that decision as they clung to life in an intensive care unit. To verify that hard-to-watch CNN piece.
On Thursday’s “NBC Nightly News,” Moderna chairman Dr. Stephen Hoge made some pretty gloomy comments.
Hoge said: “I think we’re pretty worried now. If you look at the Delta variant, it took a surprising step. I don’t think any of us three or four months ago was going to predict something so contagious. “
Regarding his vaccine update, Hoge told NBC News’s Miguel Almaguer, “One of the most important things we need to do is get the delta variant into the vaccine.”
You have to admit, Tucker Carlson hosting his Fox News show this week from Hungary was… strange. Not only is he performing there, but he has met with authoritarian Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and will speak at a government-backed conference in Budapest on Saturday.
Zack Beauchamp of Vox writes: “Make no mistake: Fox’s renowned host aligns himself with a leader who has spent the past 11 years systematically dismantling Hungary’s free political system.
Beauchamp adds: “Despite growing evidence that Hungary has abandoned democracy, many conservative intellectuals in America have come to view the Orban regime as a model for America.
Carlson is apparently among them. And it is disturbing.
In an opinion piece for CNN, Nicole Hemmer, author and associate researcher at Columbia University with the Obama Presidency Oral History Project, writes: Look at what’s going on in Hungary. That’s true, but not as he understands it: if you care about democracy, the plan for its destruction is laid out there, and right-wing propagandists like Carlson are taking careful notes.
The Tokyo Olympics end on Sunday with the closing ceremonies. Reviews of NBC’s coverage have been all over the map and I’ll write more about it next week. Ratings, at least for conventional TV, have gone down, but streaming numbers are up. And, ultimately, an interesting number (if we ever see it) is the number of subscribers NBC has secured for Peacock over the past two weeks.
Speaking of Peacock, NBC has announced that the Notre Dame football team’s home opener against Toledo on September 11 will be broadcast exclusively on Peacock. I have a feeling this won’t appeal to Fighting Irish fans, but it shows NBC’s commitment to generating interest in Peacock.
- CNN fired three employees who entered the office unvaccinated. In a note to staff obtained by Michael M. Grynbaum of the New York Times, CNN boss Jeff Zucker said, “Be clear: we have a zero tolerance policy on this. Zucker’s memo stated that CNN was working on the honor system, but had been made aware of unvaccinated people working in the building. CNN had predicted a full return to power by September 7, but that date has been pushed back, for now, to at least mid-October.
- Fox News has named Jacqui Heinrich as White House correspondent. She will work alongside Fox News White House correspondent Peter Doocy. Heinrich had been Fox News correspondent in Congress. Fox News also announced that Aishah Hasnie has been promoted to Congressional Correspondent and that Alexandria Hoff will join FNC as a Washington-based general assignment reporter. Hoff joins Fox News from CBS affiliate KYW-TV in Philadelphia.
- Sewell Chan – a well-respected journalist who worked for the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, and Washington Post – has been named the new editor of the Texas Tribune. Chan is currently the editor of the Los Angeles Times editorial page. The announcement comes four months after Editorial Director Stacy-Marie Ishmael and Product Manager Millie Tran resigned in a joint announcement after one year of service. Both spoke of how difficult the past year had been and the difficulty of separating work and personal life, especially because of the pandemic. Chan, a former member of Poynter’s National Advisory Board, will take over on October 18.
- For the Washington Post, Paul Farhi said, “The daily clashes between Peter Doocy and Jen Psaki have become a White House briefing room ritual.
Do you have any comments or advice? Email Tom Jones, Poynter Media Editor, at [email protected]
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