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The Megyn Kelly era at NBC is over
Who ever thought Megyn Kelly’s career at NBC would end like this?
I mean, yes, many observers thought she made a mistake by joining NBC in the first place. Many also thought NBC made a mistake by taking a $69 million risk on her. I hate saying this, but in some ways her 9 a.m. show was destined to fail. Still — all of that said — who thought she’d leave the network without even saying goodbye on the air? Because that’s how this breakup is shaping up…
Here’s the latest:
– Kelly and NBC News execs are negotiating the terms of her departure from the news division.
– Contrary to some news reports, her exit is not official yet. But it will be soon. It’s a foregone conclusion among all the players involved, multiple sources told me.
– The blackface controversy sealed Kelly’s fate, per sources, but her show was already vulnerable to cancellation.
– NBC ran a pre-taped episode of her show on Thursday. That’s the plan for Friday too.
– What’s the plan for the 9 a.m. hour next week? I don’t think anyone knows yet.
– Kelly’s newly hired attorney Bryan Freedman was reportedly flying from L.A. to NYC to meet with NBC execs on Friday. But I’m told that he is no longer making the trip.
– NBC is declining to comment on her fate. And Kelly is staying silent.
– A resolution could be announced on Friday, or it could take several more days.
– Plug: I’ll be on CNN’s “New Day” with analysis in the 7 a.m. hour on Friday.
“Prepare for a few days off”
NYT’s John Koblin and Michael M. Grynbaum report: With another repeat episode “scheduled for Friday, Noah Oppenheim, the president of NBC News, and Jackie Levin, the show’s executive producer, told staff members on Thursday to prepare for a few days off. Mr. Oppenheim and Ms. Levin also informed them that they would be moved into new jobs at the network if the program was canceled, according to two people familiar with the meeting…”
Brian Lowry emails: There are a few mischaracterizations circulating in regard to the Kelly story, beginning with the one that she might lose her morning show — and even leave NBC — because of the blackface comment. That’s obviously a big source of friction, but it clouds the broader issue, which is that Kelly was miscast virtually from the get-go, and that there was ample skepticism from the beginning about her ability to translate her Fox News profile and skill set into something that would work on NBC.
A good example of the naysaying can be found in Caitlin Flanagan’s March 2017 piece in The Atlantic, ’Can Megyn Kelly Escape Her Past?,’ in which she wrote, ‘You can’t become a Katie Couric or a Diane Sawyer or a Barbara Walters at Fox, so Megyn Kelly is off to the big time, which will crush her. She’s a strong, strong woman — but she won’t be one at NBC. She’ll be like everyone else.”
So now has Flanagan’s question been answered?
Back to Fox? Not so fast
Just now a cable news vet emailed me and said “she’ll be back on Fox in two years I predict. Too damaged now, but not forever.” But others think there is no way Fox would hire her. “Still burned by their breakup, Fox doesn’t appear to want to take her back,” VF’s Gabriel Sherman wrote.
Thursday’s guessing game prompted Fox News to respond with a short statement on Thursday: “We are extremely happy with our entire lineup.”
The Pro-Kelly argument
Kelly is being criticized from all directions. But she’s getting support from people who feel like NBC management failed her time and time again. Oppenheim and NBC News chair Andy Lack are under renewed scrutiny as a result of this shakeup.
Important point in Lisa de Moraes and Dominic Patten’s latest for Deadline: Kelly recently “seemed to be setting up a storyline that she might be on the outs at NBC News because of her coverage of the #MeToo movement, telling Us magazine, sphinx-like, ‘I know too much that others don’t know’ about Matt Lauer’s continued employment and then sudden ouster from NBC News, when asked whether Lauer might make a comeback. Today, in what had all the earmarks of a desperate effort to distract from her blackface remarks and cast her ouster from the Today show as another #MeToo moment in NBC News’ history, Kelly’s lawyer reportedly demanded that Ronan Farrow witness Friday’s scheduled meeting between Kelly’s camp and NBC brass to talk about her future.”
“Management has to take some responsibility”
That’s what CNN’s Don Lemon said Thursday evening. Kelly “made some mistakes and now she’s suffering the consequences of those mistakes,” he said. “But I also think that it is partially the fault of the people who hired her… They knew exactly what they were getting when they hired Megyn Kelly…”
FOR THE RECORD, PART ONE
– Alexandra Alper, currently a senior correspondent in Rio for Reuters, is joining the company’s W.H. reporting team…
– Sarah Frier reports: “Condé Nast is shutting down its Wired, GQ and Vogue channels on Snapchat, cutting some employees who worked on them. (They’ve still got Self and Teen Vogue channels on Snapchat)…”
– Ryan Pauley is Vox’s new chief revenue officer…
– Dan Abrams is adding a weekday show on SiriusXM to his plate… He’ll be on after Chris Cuomo’s radio show…
Law enforcement officials are classifying this week’s apparent mail bombs as domestic terrorism, CNN’s Kara Scannell and Evan Perez report.
In news coverage, we need to keep zooming out to show the audience the big story here – a serial bomber or bombers trying to stoke fear and terror by targeting former presidents and other leaders.
Thursday began with a predawn discovery at Robert De Niro’s office in Tribeca. The day ended with a scare at Time Warner Center. Parts of the building (like the mall, but not CNN’s NYC offices) were evacuated after two suspicious packages were found. “The NYPD’s bomb squad declared the scene to be all clear just after 8:30 p.m.,” per Scannell and Perez’s story. “Two small boxes had been left unattended and the packages didn’t match the description” of the apparent bombs…
>> The latest from CNN’s team of reporters: “Missing postmarks add to mystery of bombs sent through the mail”
What it’s like at CNN NYC
Most of the TV news crews have left the streets surrounding CNN’s New York offices. On Thursday, work was mostly back to normal, though employees recounted their evacuation experiences and talked about what they’d do differently next time. (Bring a coat! Bring a charger!)
CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker held an informal town hall for New York employees, to share security updates and answer questions. When he thanked the company’s security team, there was a long round of applause. “Thank you for an incredible job,” he said to the security personnel.
Show of defiance in Tribeca
Chloe Melas emails: After the suspicious package was removed from Tribeca Enterprises, De Niro’s business partner, Jane Rosenthal, told me, “This is not what free speech should look like.” A few hours later she gathered the company’s staff for a photo. De Niro wasn’t there, but the staff gathered around a giant photo of him from a “Little Fockers” movie poster. Rosenthal captioned the pic: “we are safe! We are #TribecaStrong! Vote! #whydoyouvote.”
Let’s get real
I’m borrowing Margaret Sullivan’s words for that headline. “Let’s get real,” she wrote on Thursday. “Everyone targeted by the pipe bombs had been the subject of endless hours of Fox News commentary. The list of targets read like Sean Hannity’s pre-broadcast crib notes: Hillary Clinton, President Barack Obama and former CIA chief John Brennan – and, as the representative of evil mainstream media – CNN. As usual, Trump himself projected blame everywhere but where it belongs.”
RELATED: The targets of the bombs have “all been targeted by President Donald Trump and made into bogeymen for the far-right, often on Fox News by opinion anchors like Sean Hannity,” John Avlon wrote. He brought the receipts for this column…
POTUS or Fox News host?
When Trump posted some fresh anti-media tweets on Thursday morning, I reacted by saying on CNN, “Where’s the president?” Because those tweets weren’t the words of a president, they were the words of a ranting and raving Fox News host…
– Maggie Haberman summed it up this way: “Trump gave a statement in East Room sounding a theme of unity, felt he didn’t [get] credit he deserved for that, resumed faulting media…”
– Obviously Trump and Sarah Sanders are portraying themselves as the victims to change the subject from the serious concerns about their own rhetoric…
Notes and quotes
– Chris Cuomo on Thursday night: “If the President can’t rise above his worst traits even now, the question that… confronts us is ‘Are we doomed to politics that are an ever-accelerating rate to the bottom?”
– Carl Bernstein responding to Sanders’ newest complaints about negative news coverage: The press is reporting on his lying. “That is why the coverage appears so negative. But it’s been factual…”
– More from Bernstein on “AC360:” No president “has ever spewed the kind of consistent hate, disdain and division as this President of the United States has… It is basic to who he is…”
– “The Situation Room” produced an excellent montage: “Trump’s rhetoric on vs off prompter…” Watch it here…
– Trump will be holding another rally on Friday… This time in Charlotte, NC…
AT&T donates $250,000 to CPJ
This is a very timely donation by CNN’s parent company — though it was in the works before Wednesday’s incident. AT&T is donating $250,000 to support the Committee to Protect Journalists’ efforts all around the world…
→ Randall Stephenson’s statement: “Leaders may not like everything that is written about them–I know I don’t. But journalists serve as an indispensable check on power.” So “threats to journalists are, at the very core, threats to freedom and liberty…”
Dobbs’ dreadful behavior
I really don’t want to waste much time on these “false flag” claims. Life is too short. But it’s important to see how these fringe ideas are being mainstreamed by figures like Fox Business host Lou Dobbs. As Oliver Darcy reports here, Dobbs posted and then deleted two tweets on Thursday which he asserted without evidence it was “fake news” that explosive devices were mailed to various targets. “Fake bombs,” Dobbs wrote. Per Darcy, the tweets left several employees at Fox News in dismay. One senior Fox News employee told him, “It’s people like Dobbs who really ran it for all the hard working journalists at Fox.” Read Darcy’s full story here…
I can’t believe I had to deny this…
Here’s a small example of the nonsense that’s spreading: Someone found a one-year-old photo of me and Jamie smiling in our apartment; used Photoshop or some other program to insert a picture of a pipe bomb picture; and posted it on far-right Reddit message boards and Facebook pages. I suppose this was a twist on a “false flag” conspiracy theory. I didn’t know about it until a fact-checker for The Associated Press emailed me. I appreciated their efforts to debunk a despicable lie that was showing up on Facebook… And/but it’s awfully strange to have a headline out there that says “NOT REAL NEWS: Brian Stelter not pictured with pipe bomb…”
FOR THE RECORD, PART TWO
By Julia Waldow:
– In a big new investigation, the NYT reveals that Google gave Android creatorAndy Rubin a $90 million exit package back in 2014 and invested in his next venture “while keeping silent about a misconduct claim.” Daisuke Wakabayashi and Katie Benner report that Rubin “was one of three executives that Google protected over the past decade after they were accused of sexual misconduct…” (NYT)
– YouTube Live is sneaking up on Twitch in terms of live streaming market viewership… (TechCrunch)
– Mark Duplass will play Megyn Kelly’s husband and Alice Eve will play Ainsley Earhardt in Jay Roach’s upcoming film about Roger Ailes… (Deadline)
– The fifth and final season of “Broad City” will premiere January 24 on Comedy Central… (THR)