Tag Archives: David Gregory

Media Nation’s top 10 posts of 2012

be02f758328311e2b55612313804a1b1_7Work-force reductions at The Boston Globe. The end of WFNX as an over-the-air radio station. “Local” news from the Philippines. Possible bankruptcy at GateHouse Media.

These were a few of the top 10 Media Nation posts of 2012 as determined by Google Analytics and WordPress’ own internal statistics.

Most people who read Media Nation come in via the home page, which means that any notion of a “top 10” is dubious. Usually it means that a particular post got retweeted a lot on Twitter or was linked to by a popular media website such as JimRomenesko.com.

But the list isn’t entirely without meaning — and one takeaway for me is that Media Nation’s role as an aggregator and a curator may be its most important. I’ll keep that in mind in the year ahead.

Here is my top 10 for 2012.

1. The Boston Globe keeps on shrinking (July 23). Despite some encouraging signs in the form of rising digital-subscription numbers and a continued commitment to first-rate journalism, The Boston Globe, like nearly all daily newspapers, continues to struggle financially. Last summer Media Nation obtained a memo from Globe publisher Christopher Mayer announcing another wave of downsizing at the Globe and its sister paper, the Telegram & Gazette of Worcester.

2. Donna Halper on the future of radio (May 17). Friend of Media Nation Donna Halper was kind enough to write a guest commentary, and her post turned out to be the second most popular of 2012. Halper wrote following an announcement by the Phoenix Media/Communications Group that it would sell WFNX’s broadcast frequency, 101.7 FM, to Clear Channel. Fortunately for local music fans, by the end of 2012 WFNX and the Globe’s RadioBDC were engaged in a spirited competition of online-only local music stations — the real future of radio.

3. Long-distance “local” journalism (July 5). The public radio program “This American Life” and the journalist Anna Tarkov reported extensively on Journatic, which helps community newspapers cuts costs by outsourcing some of their local coverage. At its worst, news was being compiled by underpaid Filipino workers writing under fake bylines. Dubbed “pink slime” journalism by one former practitioner, Journatic underscored what debt-ridden corporate chains will do to survive — and thus demonstrated the importance of independent local journalism.

4. And Joe Scarborough thinks “Morning Joe” is awesome (Jan. 1). A full-page ad in The New York Times for the wretched MSNBC program “Morning Joe” started the gears whirring when I noticed one of its celebrity endorsers was Tom Brokaw. Who, uh, appears on “Morning Joe.” I got to work, and soon found that Politico, which was quoted as praising the program, had an undisclosed partnership. The ad even stooped to using seemingly positive quotes from two reviewers who actually didn’t like it much at all. Disingenuous, to say the least.

5. More bad news for GateHouse Media (March 19). By now it’s not exactly news when executives at GateHouse Media, struggling with $1.2 billion in debt, pay themselves handsome bonuses. (Nor is that unusual at newspaper companies.) In 2012, though, there was a wrinkle at the chain, which owns some 100 community newspapers in Eastern Massachusetts. Jack Sullivan of CommonWealth Magazine paged through the company’s financial disclosures and discovered that officials were openly raising the possibility of a bankruptcy filing.

6. David Gregory debates himself (Oct. 1). The host of “Meet the Press” was brought in to moderate the second televised debate between Republican Sen. Scott Brown and his Democratic opponent, Elizabeth Warren. Unfortunately, it was all about David Gregory. Good thing the candidates were forced to weigh in on whether Bobby Valentine deserved a second year as Red Sox manager. Warren blew the question but won the election.

7. From Newtown, a plea for media restraint (Dec. 17). I republished an open letter from John Voket, associate editor of The Newtown Bee, to his colleagues at the New England Newspaper & Press Association following the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Voket wrote about “reporters and media crews invading the yards and space of grieving survivors, school staff and responders,” and asked editors “to remind your correspondents that most are still requesting to be left alone.” A heartfelt message from ground zero.

8. Calling foul on politicians who lie (Aug. 30). It would be hard to come up with a more falsehood-laden performance than U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan’s speech at the Republican National Convention. Ryan’s lies prompted me to wonder how far the balance-obsessed media would be willing to go in labeling them for what they were.

9. At CNN, getting it first and getting it wrong (June 28). My instant reaction to CNN’s false report that the U.S. Supreme Court had overturned the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act. At least CNN executives flogged themselves in the public square. As we later learned, Fox News made the same mistake — and refused to apologize.

10. An unconscionable vote against the disabled (Dec. 5). My reaction to Senate Republicans’ rejection of a United Nations treaty on the rights of the disabled — a treaty modeled after the Americans with Disabilities Act, championed by President George H.W. Bush, a Republican.

Ghosts of 2011. Oddly enough, the single most popular post of 2012 was one I wrote in 2011 — a fairly terse item on Jay Severin’s return to the Boston airwaves, a comeback that proved to be brief. As I wrote last year, I’ve put up several Severin posts that have generated huge traffic, and I have no idea why.

Worst debate ever?

David Gregory

The second Senate debate between Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren ended a little while ago. And though I thought they both had their moments, with Brown a bit better than he was in the first debate, the entire affair was overwhelmed by the ego-driven, substance-free performance of moderator David Gregory.

He opened with the Native American thing because, you know, we haven’t heard it before. Near the end, he asked if the candidates thought the Red Sox should bring back Bobby Valentine. He preened about Simpson-Bowles like the Beltway insider that he is (Paul Krugman explains). And he turned what should have been a substantive discussion about real issues into a fiasco.

All in all, a miserable performance.

Update: Some smart instant analysis by Adam Reilly of WGBH.

Photo (cc) by Peter Bond and republished under a Creative Commons license. Some rights reserved.

A solid debut by Christiane Amanpour

Christiane Amanpour

Not long after Tim Russert’s death, I realized that my aversion to George Stephanopoulos was not nearly as deep-seated as my aversion to David Gregory. So I switched from “Meet the Press” to “This Week” and haven’t looked back. Among other things, “This Week” regular George Will is a great entertainer, and where else other than the New York Times can you get a regular dose of Paul Krugman?

Stephanopoulos, of course, decamped for morning television months ago, never to be seen again — at least not by me. Today, at long last, marked the much-anticipated debut of his permanent replacement, former CNN foreign correspondent Christiane Amanpour. I don’t think the occasion warrants a lot of analysis. But surely a little is in order. A few points.

1. I don’t watch “This Week”; rather, I listen to the podcast. So if there were any changes to the set, I wouldn’t know. For what it’s worth, I thought Amanpour, her guests and her panelists all sounded fine.

2. It was a good first week for Amanpour. She had two major gets, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. If Amanpour’s questions failed to elicit any major news, neither did she embarrass herself. In any event, with rare exceptions, top government officials are going to say what they’re going to say regardless of what they are asked.

3. Though “This Week” seemed pretty much the same as it always has, Amanpour did shake things up a bit, as Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid joined the roundtable from Spain. Over time, I’m hoping that Amanpour turns the entire format upside-down, eschewing political chit-chat for real substance. Perhaps this was one small step in that direction.

4. Jake Tapper deserves kudos for the way he handled “This Week” as a fill-in host the past several months. By taking a few chances (especially by embracing of New York University journalism professor Jay Rosen’s suggestion that he add fact-checking to the show), Tapper demonstrated that there’s still some life left in the old format.

If, for some reason, Amanpour doesn’t work out, or if ABC News decides to use her elsewhere, then Tapper would be a natural — and I think viewers would accept him far more readily than they would have before his stint as a substitute.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

Ted Koppel may anchor ABC’s “This Week”

Ted Koppel

My “Beat the Press” colleague Callie Crossley has the best idea for George Stephanopoulos’ replacement on ABC’s “This Week”: Gwen Ifill, who would have been a far better choice to succeed the late Tim Russert on “Meet the Press” than David Gregory — predictably — has proved to be.

But if an Ifill hire isn’t in the works, we might get the next best thing. The Politico’s Mike Allen reports that ABC is negotiating with legendary “Nightline” anchor Ted Koppel, now in busy semi-retirement, to moderate “This Week” three Sundays a month.

Koppel was one of the finest broadcast journalists of his generation — the successor to Murrow and Cronkite to a far greater extent than any of the folks who have anchored the network evening newscasts in the post-Cronkite era. He’s a tough interviewer and would bring unparalleled gravitas to the job. Ducking a question from Ted Koppel is not the same as ducking a question from Jake Tapper, Terry Moran or anyone else.

I do have one reservation. After Russert’s death in 2008, I thought retired anchor Tom Brokaw was an excellent choice to fill the moderator’s slot on an interim basis. Instead, Brokaw seemed cranky, sour and bored.

The Brokaw lesson is that it would be great to have Koppel back — but only if he’s prepared to bring his “A” game.

Photo (cc) by Tim Brauhn and republished here under a Creative Commons license. Some rights reserved.

David Gregory grooves one for Rice

Could David Gregory have possibly done a worse job in his interview with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on “Meet the Press” Sunday? More than anything, what stood out was the moment when he made her own false point for her, sparing her the trouble of having to do it herself:

GREGORY: Let’s talk about Iraq. The president’s final visit there as president happening just a week ago today, and what became, obviously, the most noticed image of that trip was this press conference with the prime minister and a member of the press throwing his shoes. As the president pointed out, as you’ve pointed out, certainly a sign of freedom in Iraq.

RICE: Yes.

GREGORY: You got a press corps that can speak its mind and act the way it wants to act.

Notice that the Gregory quotes contain several English-like phrases, but that he is not actually speaking English. But to my point: Gregory cites the shoe-throwing incident as “a sign of freedom in Iraq,” following up with: “You got [sic] a press corps that can speak its mind and act the way it wants to act.”

Well, yes, for those members of the press who are willing to pay the consequences. The reporter who threw his shoes at Bush, Muntadhar al-Zeidi, was reportedly beaten so badly after the incident that there was blood on the floor.

Al-Zeidi was then hauled off to jail, where he sits to this day. He is scheduled to go on trial on Dec. 31, and could face as much as 15 years in prison, although such a harsh sentence is reportedly not likely.

Now, please don’t misunderstand me. You can’t assault the head of state from another country, standing next to your prime minister, and face no consequences. For that matter, if an American reporter had stood up at a White House news conference and thrown his shoes at the president, he’d be in trouble, too.

But Gregory, rather than make those common-sense observations, chose instead to say something completely untrue, making the interview even easier for Rice than it otherwise would have been.

Then again, Gregory had scored the first major interview with the secretary of state since Vice President Dick Cheney publicly bragged about his role in promoting torture and in going to war regardless of whether Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. And Gregory didn’t ask Rice about Cheney’s statements, either.

Gregory is not off to a good start in his new role.

David Gregory to host “Meet the Press”

I could snark away, but I’d prefer to give David Gregory a chance to prove himself as the new host of “Meet the Press.” The announcement should come soon, according to the Huffington Post.

Of the Politico’s list of people who didn’t get the job, I’d have preferred almost any one of them — Gwen Ifill, Chuck Todd, John King, Katie Couric or Ted Koppel, though not Andrea Mitchell. But Gregory always appeared to be the leading contender, so the pending announcement is no surprise.

Gregory’s got the chops. My main problem with him is that he seems as though he’d rather be boiled in oil than be accused of liberal bias, which occasionally leads to his tying himself in knots to avoid acknowledging reality.

The late Tim Russert was not perfect. He was tough on Republicans but tougher on Democrats, and his prosecutorial style of questioning — “You said this in 1987, so why are you saying that now?” — often devolved into self-parody. But his enthusiasm, respect for his guests and engaging personality overcame his shortcomings, and I miss him. It looks like I’m going to keep missing him, though Gregory could grow into the job. If not, there’s always Bob Schieffer. (Sorry, but Media Nation is a Stephanopoulos-free zone.)

So now Tom Brokaw retires once again. I thought he was an ideal placeholder after Russert’s death, someone with the stature to maintain the “Meet the Press” brand while holding the infighting at bay until after the election.

Instead, Brokaw too often projected laziness, lack of interest and — in moderating the second presidential debate — even petulance. Brokaw was a fine anchor and he’s got a record he can be proud of. But he can’t go back to being an elder statesman soon enough.

After Russert, the deluge

How thin is the NBC News bench? The Los Angeles Times reports that the top three contenders for Tim Russert’s “Meet the Press” perch are David Gregory, Chris Matthews and Joe Scarborough. Good grief. I’m adding “Face the Nation” to my podcast subscriptions right now. (Via Romenesko.)

Media Nation’s top two (and extremely unlikely) contenders: Gwen Ifill and Aaron Brown.