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CyberAlert -- 05/08/2002 -- Bryant Gumbel Forced Out by CBS?

Bryant Gumbel Forced Out by CBS?; New York Times Admitted Its Photos Distorted Reality; Geraldo Pleaded with Arafat; Walters "Impressed" by "Terrific" Sen. Clinton; CNN Going for Glitz?

1) Bryant Gumbel forced out by CBS? USA Today's Peter Johnson reported on Tuesday that only after learning that CBS went behind his back to ask Jim Nantz of CBS Sports to replace him did Gumbel announce his departure from the Early Show. Since Nantz and Meredith Viera turned CBS down, Johnson speculated that the network is working on "Plan C": Tom Bergeron.

2) Hundreds of thousands of people marked Israel's 54th anniversary with a Manhattan parade, but the front page of Monday's New York Times plugged an inside story by featuring a big photo of one of a few hundred anti-Israel protesters holding up an "End Israeli Occupation of Palestine" poster. Inside, the paper ran two photos: One of a marcher and one of a protester's sign equating Zionism with racism. But in an "Editors' Note" on Tuesday the paper conceded a misjudgment in photo selection.

3) FNC's Geraldo Rivera first buttered up Yasser Arafat by telling him how his people "love" him and then begged the terrorist leader to denounce suicide bombing: "Just say it for me. No more, no more, even if you love Palestine don't do this, don't do this suicide bombing, don't do this terrorism. Say that now, say that now!" Arafat wouldn't and Benjamin Netanyahu soon scolded Rivera for "fawning over" and "pleading with" a "mass killer."

4) Barbara Walters seems in awe of Hillary Clinton. On Tuesday's The View Walters interjected how she attended an event the day before at which Senator Clinton spoke. Walters gushed: "She was simply terrific. She was so well informed, she speaks without any written material...I was impressed."

5) The firing of Major Garrett suggests CNN is putting style over substance, the New York Times and the American Prowler Web site suggested. Times reporter Jim Rutenberg revealed that AOL Time Warner executives "question whether Mr. Garrett had the breakout quality the network was seeking."

6) Al Hunt assumes Bill Clinton really is "brilliant." Hunt argued that a TV show for Bill Clinton is a bad idea, and then wondered: "Which raises the question: Who does this brilliant man listen to, and how do such matters even get on his radar screen?"

7) Tonight on NBC's The West Wing: "Toby plays hardball with network executives over future political convention TV coverage."


1

Bryant Gumbel forced out by CBS? USA Today's Peter Johnson reported on Tuesday that CBS News approached Jim Nantz of CBS Sports about replacing Gumbel as co-host of the Early Show, and only after Gumbel learned of that offer, which Nantz rejected, did Gumbel announce that he planned to leave the show. As Johnson relayed, "insulted that CBS had acted behind his back, he said: I'm outta here." Next Friday, May 17, is expected to be Gumbel's last day.

Sounds like the CBS brass has some common sense and realized the show's future growth was being inhibited by Gumbel's presence.

As Jim Rutenberg recounted in the April 17 New York Times, the Early Show attracts 2.7 million viewers, far fewer than the 6.4 million who tune in NBC's Today or the 4.8 million who prefer ABC's Good Morning America. Then again, the cable news networks dream of the day when they could get as many as 2.7 million viewers.

After Meredith Viera also turned them down, Johnson speculated that CBS is now on what he dubbed "Plan C": Convince game show host Tom Bergeron, who is a regular substitute on the Early Show, to take the slot.

An excerpt from Johnson's May 7 "Media Mix" story:

If you listen to insiders at CBS News, Plan A was to have Jim Nantz of CBS Sports replace Bryant Gumbel on The Early Show.

Executives were so confident about Nantz that they sloughed off Gumbel, who probably would've been inclined to re-up for a few more years. Then Nantz, who had told CBS he was game, pulled out.

By then Gumbel -- who hosts HBO's Real Sports, whose brother, Greg, is a CBS sportscaster, and who has tons of contacts in the sports world -- had learned about it. Insulted that CBS had acted behind his back, he said: I'm outta here.

So CBS went to Plan B: Meredith Vieira, the host of ABC's The View, whose deal is set to expire....

Now, it looks as if the former 60 Minutes correspondent, whom CBS News unceremoniously shuffled out the door in the early '90s, is on the cusp of a new deal with ABC, one that'll have her hosting the syndicated Who Wants to Be a Millionaire....

Which brings us to Plan C. Plan C, you ask? With Gumbel set to depart Early on May 17 -- a week from Friday -- and with networks set to unveil their fall schedules Monday, you can bet that lots of Early Show conversations are taking place....

How about reapproaching Tom Bergeron, the host of Hollywood Squares, who had been on the short list?...

This much is clear: Bergeron is set to guest-host Early with Jane Clayson later this month.

END of Excerpt

For the entirety of the story: http://www.usatoday.com/usatonline/20020507/4088712s.htm

For a picture of Tom Bergeron: http://www.hollywoodsquares.com/whoswho/tomsbio.asp

As we all enjoy Gumbel's last days on the air on CBS (he'll continue to host HBO's monthly Real Sports), you can now re-live his most obnoxious bias from his years at NBC and CBS. The MRC's Tim Jones, with help of the MRC Web staff, has put together a collection of Gumbel's bias, much of it based on the NBC collection compiled by the MRC's Liz Swasey when Gumbel launched the Early Show in late 1999. It's now featured on the MRC home page pegged to our "Gumbel Countdown Calendar" which is counting down to May 17. Go to the MRC home page (http://www.mediaresearch.org) and scroll down to the middle of the page.

2

New York Times admitted its distorted skew. Hundreds of thousands of people commemorated Israel's 54th anniversary on Sunday with a parade in Manhattan, but the front page of Monday's New York Times plugged an inside story on the event by featuring a big photo of one of a few hundred anti-Israel protesters holding up an "End Israeli Occupation of Palestine" poster. Inside, the paper ran two side-by-side photos of equal size: One of a marcher and one of a protester's sign equating Zionism with racism.

The distortion was so great, however, that as James Taranto highlighted in his opinionjournal.com's "Best of the Web" column, Tuesday's New York Times carried an "Editors' Note" which conceded the paper gave "disproportionate" space to the few hundred compared to the several hundred thousand. The "note" on page two of the May 7 edition:

An article yesterday about a parade in Manhattan marking Israel's 54th anniversary reported that 100,000 people had registered to march and hundreds of thousands more lined Fifth Avenue in support. The article also said that anti-Israel protesters numbered in the hundreds.

A front-page photograph, however, showed the parade in the background, with anti-Israel protesters prominent in the foreground, holding a placard that read, "End Israeli Occupation of Palestine." Inside the newspaper, a photo of a pro-Israel marcher was outweighed by a larger picture of protesters, one waving a sign that likened Zionism to Nazism.

Although the editors' intent in each case was to note the presence of opposing sides, the effect was disproportionate. In fairness the total picture presentation should have better reflected The Times's reporting on the scope of the event, including the disparity in the turnouts.

END of Excerpt

The item is online at: http://www.nytimes.com/2002/05/07/pageoneplus/corrections.html

It is refreshing for a newspaper to concede they made an error in news judgment, but will they learn from it?

3

Another embarrassing lapse into advocacy journalism for Geraldo Rivera as he first buttered up Yasser Arafat by telling him how his people "love" him and then begged and pleaded with the terrorist leader to denounce suicide bombing: "Just say, just say it for me. No more, no more, even if you love Palestine don't do this, don't do this suicide bombing, don't do this terrorism. Say that now, say that now!"

Arafat failed to go along with Rivera in the taped interview which aired Saturday night on FNC's 9pm EDT War Zone with Geraldo Rivera, but NBC's David Bloom, I noticed, without any of Rivera's theatrics, in a piece run on Tuesday's NBC Nightly News, got Arafat to say bombing contradicts the Muslim teachings.

In the FNC interview aired on May 4, Rivera pleaded with Arafat, the MRC's Geoffrey Dickens observed. Rivera's self-centered questions:

-- "You know, but Mr. President you know, you know how I feel about you, you know how I feel about you and the Palestinian people, but the same night and I was in Beirut and I felt so optimistic the same night they said, 'We recognize Israel if Israel recognizes Palestine,' that awful Passover massacre happened."

-- "I walk the streets with you today and I know the Palestinian people love you. Now, even more than, even before when they still love you then, now they, now you can take control of all of this. Now you can keep the peace on this side. If you keep the peace on this side then let the other side be the aggressor..."

-- "I have a new slogan, I don't want to take too much time, 'Palestine is not Israel and Israel is not Palestine.' Would you agree to that? Two separate states with the guarantee..."

-- "Just say, just say it for me. No more, no more, even if you love Palestine don't do this, don't do this suicide bombing, don't do this terrorism. Say that now, say that now! No of course not, no of course not, but say this to the people, say this to the young who might be misguided."

-- As Arafat offered excuses about what Israel has done, Rivera begged: "I understand, say it now."

-- Rivera got close in to Arafat and patted him on the shoulder: "Mr. President you know I understand. You know I understand. I understand the crime, I saw it with my eyes. But I saw it with my eyes. Now say it to the children, say, now say it to the children, say it for our children."

Rivera got scolded in the next segment, which Rivera introduced: "He [Arafat] got nine minutes and now the once and probably future Prime Minister of Israel gets nine minutes. Welcome Benjamin Netanyahu to the program. He joins us from Los Angeles. Mr. Prime Minister, your general response to a man you, you once negotiated face to face with and the odds are you will be doing it again."
Netanyahu upbraided Rivera: "Well first of all I have to say that I hope the press stop fawning over, over this mass killer. And I don't think you should be pleading with him."

4

Barbara Walters seems in awe of Hillary Clinton. In the midst of a discussion on Tuesday's The View on ABC about how secure teen boys have sex with insecure teen girls, a discussion which prompted Joy Behar to joke that Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky epitomized the trend, Walters interjected how she attended an event the day before at which Senator Clinton spoke. Walters gushed: "She was simply terrific. She was so well informed, she speaks without any written material...I was impressed."

On the May 7 edition of the ABC daytime show which features Meredith Viera, Joy Behar, Star Jones, Lisa Ling, and on some mornings, Barbra Walters, Walters interjected:
"I went to a luncheon yesterday and Hillary Clinton was there. And I don't get to see Hilary Clinton very much and she was talking about the problems of New York and the problems of safety. [gently pounding fist for emphasis] She was simply terrific. She was so well informed, she speaks without any-"
Behar asserted over Walters: "She's a smart lady."
Walters continued: "-written material, you know. We do a lot of kidding around, but boy, I was impressed."

5

CNN putting style and glitz over substance? In a surprise move last week CNN fired Major Garrett, its number two White House correspondent, and replaced him with MSNBC's Suzanne Malveaux. With the retirement of Washington Bureau Chief Frank Sesno, both the New York Times and the AmericanProwler.com Web site suggested AOL Time Warner executives are now making moves to jazz up the on-air presentation.

As for Garrett, New York Times reporter Jim Rutenberg revealed that the new executives "question whether Mr. Garrett had the breakout quality the network was seeking." In other words, not glitzy enough. The AmericanProwler.com site speculated that Bob Novak is so upset by the changes to Crossfire that he may quit the show.

An excerpt from Rutenberg's May 6 New York Times story:

The announcement last week that Major Garrett, the CNN White House correspondent, would be leaving the network came as a surprise to his colleagues in Washington. It also was a shock to Mr. Garrett -- and the manner of his dismissal has roiled the bureau, CNN staff members said....

The apparent harshness in the way the dismissal was handled sent a chill through the Washington offices of CNN, a subsidiary of AOL Time Warner.

It has also added to a sense of unease at the bureau that is growing as CNN executives continue to make changes....

CNN executives said the dissatisfaction among those on the Washington staff was regrettable, but perhaps to be expected. Mr. Garrett's departure, they said, was just one of the changes at CNN since the completion of the merger of its former parent company, Time Warner, and America Online last year.

The new CNN management -- led by Jamie Kellner, the Turner Broadcasting System chief executive, and Walter Isaacson, the CNN chairman -- was said to question whether Mr. Garrett had the breakout quality the network was seeking.

"The whole strategy is to keep our programming focused on our top correspondents," said an executive at CNN. The executive added that the network was being a lot more selective about whom it puts on the screen and was "really trying to draw out the top anchors like Jonathan Karl or John King or Kate Snow or Kelly Wallace" -- the Washington correspondents currently in favor....

END of Excerpt.

For the entire story: http://www.nytimes.com/2002/05/06/business/media/06CNN.html

The AmericanProwler Web site examined the changes at CNN in a piece posted on Tuesday. An excerpt:

....Part of the problem with the sudden exits, say CNN insiders, was the retirement last year of longtime bureau chief Frank Sesno, who targeted print reporters such as John King (former AP reporter) and Garrett and turned them into TV reporters. Sesno is credited with building up an esprit de corps in a bureau that was best known as the D.C. perch for talkmeister Larry King.

"All we were known for was Larry King and the shoutfests on 'Crossfire,'" says the researcher. "Frank really made us into a topflight network news bureau that competed with broadcast networks. He made us legitimate and he defended the bureau from the suits in [corporate headquarters] Atlanta."

And once Sesno walked, the bureau became the plaything of AOL-Time Warner executives like Walter Isaacson, who lately has been spending increasing amounts of time in Washington. "We're all a little nervous now," the researcher says. "Every time he shows up, another head gets lopped off."

With sudden departures from CNN becoming seemingly the norm, additional rumors are beginning to spread, including one that has longtime CNN talent Robert Novak considering an exit. One of the founding hosts of "Crossfire" and the creator of "The Capital Gang," Novak is said to be disenchanted with the newly formatted "Crossfire" show and at the very least would like out of that show.

"Everyone here thinks it's funny that conservatives won't go on the show because they think Carville and Begala are unfair to them," says the CNN news producer. "When the real reason they shouldn't want to go on is because it's just not very good."

END of Excerpt

For the piece in full: http://www.americanprowler.com/article.asp?art_id=2002_5_7_2_45_19

And talk about putting glitz over substance, at 8pm EDT on Tuesday night CNN devoted an hour to "Live from Skywalker Ranch: Countdown to the Clones" with Connie Chung at George Lucas' ranch in California.

6

Maybe he's not so "brilliant." The "Outrage of the Week," on CNN's May 4 Capital Gang, from Wall Street Journal Executive Washington Editor Al Hunt:
"Bill Clinton is still considering offers to be a TV talk show host. Now, that certainly would give him the money and visibility he apparently craves, but he can forget about the respect and standing that he also desires. It would reinforce the charge of Clinton critics that he's not a serious political figure. It also wouldn't help Senator Clinton. Which raises the question, who does this brilliant man listen to, and how do such matters even get on his radar screen?"

If he makes such bad judgments why do journalists still assume he's "brilliant"?

7

A real-life media-political controversy on tonight's The West Wing, a plot line summarized on NBC's Web page for the show:
"Toby (Richard Schiff) plays hardball with network executives over future political convention TV coverage."

The West Wing airs on NBC at 9pm EDT/PDT, 8pm CDT/MDT.

Ironically, on a Wednesday night in July or August 2004 it will be the West Wing that NBC viewers see instead of convention coverage. -- Brent Baker


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