A version of this article first appeared in the “Reliable Sources” newsletter. You can sign up for free right here.
This is an incredibly difficult time for Alex Trebek, his family members, and the extended “Jeopardy!” family that spans the globe.
Trebek showed tremendous courage by recording a candid video message to fans about his stage 4 pancreatic cancer diagnosis. He even managed to work in a joke about being under contract for three more years.
Trebek was diagnosed earlier this week, and his video was released on Wednesday afternoon.
“In a time that is all about what is keeping us apart, we got tough news today about someone who has always brought America together, literally for decades,” CNN’s Chris Cuomo said Wednesday night. “I don’t care what your race, color, creed, gender, or bank account level, you’ve watched Jeopardy. Since 1984 Alex Trebek has been the smartest guy in our living rooms, teaching us, but more importantly, bringing us together.”
Trebek’s show puts “facts first,” Cuomo said, and “we need him, now more than ever. So Mr. Trebek, fight as you have never fought before.”
Trebek says he will keep working
In his video, he said “I’m going to fight this, and I’m going to keep working,” before saying “I plan to beat the low survival rate statistics for this disease.”
FCC commissioner Ajit Pai tweeted to Trebek, “Your determination to #BeatCancer and good spirits in the face of adversity inspire us all.”
Uniting the TV world
“Jeopardy!” is produced by Sony, distributed by CBS and featured on ABC stations across the country.
Sony’s Mike Hopkins said: “If anyone can beat this it’s Alex. He has our full support as he tackles this challenge head-on.”
CBS TV Distribution said: “Our thoughts and prayers of support go out to Alex and his family. We have no doubt that he will fight this with the tenacity and grace for which he is known.”
And Disney’s Bob Iger tweeted: “We admire your courage and determination, and in the words of Winston Churchill: ‘never, never, never, never give up!’”
What makes Trebek so special
Ken Jennings, one of the most famous winners in the show’s history, tweeted out: “I’ve said this before but Alex Trebek is in a way the last Cronkite: authoritative, reassuring TV voice you hear every night, almost to the point of ritual.”
If you missed it at the time, read David Marchese’s conversation with Trebek from last November. Marchese asked, “Do you have a vision for your last show?” Trebek: “All I want on my last show is 30 seconds, and I’ll do what Johnny Carson did: ‘Hey, folks, thank you. Been a good run and all good things must come to an end.’ Then I’ll move on.”
FOR THE RECORD
– Important: NBC’s San Diego station discovered that “the U.S. government created a secret database of activists, journalists, and social media influencers tied to the migrant caravan.” More to come on this… (NBC)
– American freelance journalist Cody Weddle was “reportedly detained by Venezuelan authorities” on Wednesday… Now he’s on the way home… (CNN)
– Daniel Dale found that Trump’s CPAC speech “was by far his most-dishonest single event as president…” (Toronto Star)
– “Five months after its failed token sale, Civil is back with a revised, streamlined process…” (NiemanLab)
Gayle King and Robin Roberts are different people
Yes, Fox’s Jesse Watters really mixed up Robin Roberts and Gayle King on Wednesday. This was the exchange on “The Five:”
WATTERS: Hats off to Gayle King, for totally redeeming herself after the [Jussie] Smollett fiasco.
DANA PERINO: That was not Gayle King.
WATTERS: Oh. I knew that.
PERINO: Robin Roberts did the Smollett interview.
Watters then apologized, and said sorry again later in the hour. The Root’s Anne Branigin said the gaffe revealed “the full, dazzling breadth of his punditry: which is to get things all the way wrong while simultaneously being a touch racist.”
King was praised for her poise
As R. Kelly erupted, King didn’t flinch. She didn’t give an inch. On Wednesday morning, celebs and fans and fellow journalists applauded King “for her journalistic skills and praised her professionalism,” People’s Nicole Sands wrote. Her name was a top Twitter trend in the United States during “CBS This Morning.”
→ Via Lisa Respers France, here’s some of what we learned in the interview. More will air on Thursday morning…
→ King told Jeff Glor on the “Evening News” that Kelly’s camp “said they were pleased with the interview…” Seriously…
A new report about King’s contract talks…
→ Colbert just added King to his Thursday night “Late Show” lineup…
CBS to air Friday night special
Brian Lowry emails: I often wonder why the major networks aren’t more aggressive about doing what CBS News will this Friday – namely, repackage its Gayle King-R. Kelly interview into a one-hour primetime special, complete with footage that didn’t air on the morning show. It seems like an inexpensive way to improve their lineups, while preempting low-rated shows (in this case, the drama “Ransom”) or murder-of-the-week newsmagazines that could easily be rescheduled.
→ In a similar move, Oxygen will repeat a 2017 special, “Michael Jackson: The Jury Speaks,” on Saturday, drafting off all the attention devoted to HBO’s “Leaving Neverland…”
O’Donnell sits down with McSally
At a subcommittee hearing on Wednesday, Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ) revealed that she was raped while she served in the military. She said she did not trust the system enough to report the crime. From CNN.com’s story: “Welling up with emotion, McSally said she almost left the Air Force over her despair.”
Soon after the hearing, Norah O’Donnell sat down with McSally… CBS says it is the lawmaker’s “first and only television interview” about this… And notes that O’Donnell “has reported extensively on sexual assault in the armed services.” The interview will air on Thursday and Friday’s “CBS This Morning…”
Zuckerberg announces “privacy-focused” plans
CNN’s Kaya Yurieff writes: Mark Zuckerberg says he wants to reposition Facebook as a privacy-focused platform. In a FB post on Wednesday, he detailed his overarching vision for how to make the service more secure, including “end-to-end encryption.” And he teased plans to integrate its various services, including WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook…
Is he trying to have it both ways?
In an interview with WIRED’s Nicholas Thompson, Zuckerberg admitted that parts of FB’s current ad-targeting business model will be “harder,” but said FB has to get the consumer experience right, and “if we do that well, the business will be fine.”
And he explained the changes this way: “I mean, Facebook and Instagram and the digital equivalent of the town square will always be important. I actually think that they will continue to grow in importance. At the same time though, the things that we see growing the fastest in terms of what people want to do, are private messaging, stories that are ephemeral and don’t stick around, small groups… So, I think that this idea of the digital living room is under-built out today.”
In other words, he wants FB to be both the public town square AND the private living room. The Verge’s Casey Newton reacted: “This interview explains that Zuckerberg wants to have his cake and eat it too… So less of a companywide pivot and more of a new business line…”