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The Fox News Channel has more competition for its conservative audience, this time from one of its own employees.

Sarah Palin is launching the Sarah Palin Channel, an online “news channel” that will ”cut through the media’s politically correct filter” and address “the issues that the mainstream media won’t talk about.” Rupert Murdoch launched his Fox News Channel in similar fashion by decrying the alleged liberal bias of the media, and targeting his channel to a disaffected audience.

Palin is a Fox News contributor who has a rocky history with her employer. Earlier this month she called for President Obama’s impeachment in an op-ed for Breitbart News. This came in apparent violation of her Fox contract, which reportedly “guarantees the cable-news leader exclusive rights to her work on television and on the Internet.” If that description of her contract is accurate, it’s unclear how the Sarah Palin Channel could be permitted under the terms of her agreement with Fox.

The Sarah Palin Channel is backed by TAPP, a company building “niche” digital channels and founded by former NBCU executive Jeff Gaspin and former CNN executive Jon Klein.  

Palin’s “news channel” joins an already crowded universe of networks attempting to whittle away at Fox News’ Republican audience.

Glenn Beck launched TheBlaze after his messy 2011 exit from the Fox News Channel. Beck’s network is accessible through Internet subscriptions, and several television operators. The Blaze and Palin’s channel both offer subscription plans for roughly $10 a month or $100 a year.

In June conservative publisher Christopher Ruddy launched Newsmax TV online and on providers like DirecTV and the Dish Network. Bloomberg Businessweek wrote that Ruddy wants Newsmax TV to be “a kinder, gentler Fox” and that Ruddy “doesn’t need to beat Fox News, he just needs to shave off a little of its audience—particularly those conservatives who feel Fox has drifted too far to the right. ‘If we take 10 to 15 percent of the Fox audience,’ he says, ‘and they are making $1 billion a year, then we are going to be hugely profitable.’”

San Diego-based Herring Broadcasting and The Washington Times launched One America News Network in July 2013. It caters to viewers “with self-described independent, conservative & libertarian values.” Charles Herring, president of Herring Broadcasting, “said his network also would provide a platform for a broader spectrum of voices on the right than Fox now offers.” One America has struggled to gain a foothold on cable networks, has a small social media presence (currently less than 4,000 Twitter followers), and lacks well-known conservative personalities.

RightNetwork, a network launched in 2010 by actor Kelsey Grammer and Philadelphia sports owner Ed Snider, failed in its mission to attract a Fox-like audience with programming featuring people like "Joe The Plumber." It went defunct in 2011. 

Other internet video ventures include Pajamas Media’s Next Generation TV, a “multimedia platform” for millennials whose most visible personality is former Daily Caller reporter Michelle Fields. The site gained notoriety when BuzzFeed reported that former Rep. Allen West (also a Fox News contributor) left the site “after an altercation with a female staffer in which he allegedly called her a ‘Jewish American princess.’” Former Republican presidential candidates Ron Paul and Herman Cain (whose subscription model has “withered away”) also have their own video sites. 

H/T: Eric Hananoki at MMFA

CNN and Fox News have largely ignored the news that President Barack Obama plans to sign an executive order prohibiting anti-LGBT employment discrimination by companies that contract with the federal government - an historic measure that will protect up to 28 million workers.

On June 16, a White House official revealed that President Obama would sign an executive order banning federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. The move comes seven months after the U.S. Senate passed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), a measure that has subsequently languished in the House as Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) refused to bring the measure up for a vote.

ENDA’s diminishing prospects led many LGBT activists and Democratic lawmakers to press Obama to sign an executive order prohibiting anti-LGBT employment discrimination by federal contractors. The ACLU’s Ian Thompson hailed an executive order as “the single most important step" Obama could take absent congressional action to combat anti-LGBT employment discrimination. One estimate suggests that Obama’s executive order will protect up to 28 million workers.

In a June 16 segment highlighting the persistent problem of anti-LGBT employment discrimination, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow laid out the context of congressional intransigence that led to Obama’s decision to act unilaterally on the issue:

While Maddow’s network gave the news of the impending executive order 31 minutes of coverage, CNN and Fox News barely covered it at all, with each providing a mere 20 seconds of coverage:

An astonishing 69 percent of Americans think employment discrimination against LGBT people is already illegal; as Maddow’s segment highlighted, that figure even includes the Speaker of the House. But it’s perfectly legal to fire someone for being gay - or for being perceived as gay - in 29 states. Meanwhile, workers can be fired for being transgender in 32 states. CNN and Fox’s failure to cover Obama’s executive order helps keep Americans in the dark about the reality of anti-LGBT workplace discrimination and makes it difficult to build momentum for a measure like ENDA.

In ignoring the executive order, CNN and Fox are repeating a troubling problem witnessed in the run-up to last year’s Senate passage of ENDA. Last summer, as the Senate moved closer to passing that measure for the first time in the legislation’s 20-year history, CNN and Fox both gave ENDA no coverage at all, even as both networks - and CNN particularly - fawned over the yet-to-be-born royal baby.

On Fox, silence is often the norm on LGBT issues, unless the network sees an opportunity to peddle religious liberty horror stories. The silence of CNN is more noteworthy, but it isn’t unprecedented. This spring, CNN joined Fox in completely ignoring the passage of Mississippi’s anti-gay license-to-discriminate law - a measure championed by anti-gay hate groups and which eerily echoed an Arizona bill vetoed by Republican Gov. Jan Brewer. In that instance, CNN’s silence came as the network devoted hours upon hours to obsessive speculation over the fate of a missing Malaysian airplane.

While CNN and Fox have responded to the latest LGBT rights story with deafening silence, they still have the chance to cover the story and inform viewers about the ongoing need to pass ENDA when President Obama actually signs his executive order.


Equality Matters searched news transcripts provided by TV Eyes for the terms “employment discrimination,” “employment nondiscrimination,” “employment non-discrimination,” “workplace discrimination,” “gay,” “lesbian,” “bisexual,” “transgender,” “LGBT,” “sexual orientation,” “gender identity” and “executive order” for June 16-17, 2014. Reruns, teases for upcoming segments, and passing mentions were excluded.

H/T: Luke Brinker at MMFA

Terrible cancellation, MSNBC. 

h/t: Jordan Chariton at TVNewser

In the year since the Supreme Court invalidated the core of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in United States v. Windsor, over a dozen district courts have struck down state laws prohibiting same-sex marriage, marking a historic shift in the legal debate over marriage equality. But coverage of the marriage equality revolution has been largely absent from Fox News, where most of the decisions have received less than a minute of coverage.

In late June of 2013, the Supreme Court struck down Section 3 of DOMA, finding that prohibiting the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages served “no legitimate purpose.” While the Court didn’t establish a constitutional right to same-sex marriage in Windsor, that ruling has proven pivotal in a dozen district courts’ and the New Jersey Superior Court’s subsequent decisions to strike down state bans on same-sex marriage. As a result, four more states now have marriage equality, with a host of other decisions being appealed.

The rash of court rulings - in blue states like Oregon and crimson-red states like Oklahoma - suggest that marriage equality is likely headed back to the Supreme Court, with the potential for a sweeping ruling on the constitutionality of same-sex marriage bans by June 2015. And with a 13-0 record in the courts since Windsor, some experts predict that marriage equality could soon effectively become the law of the land even without the High Court.

But if you’ve been watching Fox News, this legal revolution for marriage equality may well have escaped your notice.

Fox News has spent just over 10 minutes covering the 13 court decisions in favor of marriage equality since Windsor, according to an Equality Matters analysis examining the five-day windows after each decision, during which period these decisions were actual news stories, with the bulk of the network’s coverage devoted to one state, Utah. New Mexico and Michigan’s decisions received no coverage at all, and the majority of the decisions received less than a minute of attention:

For the four states - New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, and Pennsylvania - where same-sex marriage has taken effect as a result of court rulings post-Windsor, Fox News has provided a scant two minutes and 14 seconds of coverage, compared with nearly 16 minutes from CNN and more than an hour from MSNBC:

Fox News is in an awkward position. Anti-equality forces are losing in court ruling after court ruling, and marriage equality supporters have won the battle for public opinion, with surveys showing a growing majority of Americans in favor of the freedom for same-sex couples to marry. Even anti-gay activists like National Organization for Marriage (NOM) co-founder Maggie Gallagher have conceded the inevitability of marriage equality.

At the same time, the network continues to cater to an anti-gay audience that’s been fed a steady diet of horror stories about same-sex marriage in years past.

Rather than further stake a position on the wrong side of history, it appears Fox News has taken to sidestepping the issue altogether. Take Fox’s awkward reaction in the immediate aftermath of the Court’s Windsor ruling. Many hosts seemed at a loss for what to say. Host Jenna Lee opened one segment by instructing her guests not to “start a conversation on the merits of same-sex marriage.”

Though Fox News continues to house a number of right-wing holdouts, the network has withdrawn from its battle against same-sex marriage, uninterested in dwelling on the end of an era when warnings of activist judges and slippery slopes could score the network cheap points without raising many eyebrows. Now, the marriage equality revolution is passing Fox News by largely unnoticed. It’s a kind of eerie silence that’s almost as newsworthy as the legal victories that induced it.


Equality Matters searched Media Matters' internal video archives and TV Eyes for evening news transcripts using the terms and date ranges “New Jersey” (September 27-October 1, 2013 and October 18-25, 2013), “New Mexico” (December 19-23, 2013), “Utah” (December 20-24, 2013), “Oklahoma” (January 14-18, 2014), “Kentucky” (February 12-16, 2014), “Virginia” (February 13-17, 2014), “Texas” (February 27-March 3, 2014), “Michigan” (March 21-25, 2014), “Arkansas” (May 9-13, 2014), “Idaho” (May 13-17, 2014), “Oregon” (May 19-23, 2014), and “Pennsylvania” (May 20-24, 2014). For each respective date range, Equality Matters also searched the terms “gay,” “same-sex,” and “marriage.” “Marriage now” states are those states where marriage equality rulings weren’t appealed and marriage equality took effect - New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, and Pennsylvania. Equality Matters excluded Illinois from the “marriage now” states because its court ruling applied only to Cook County. For New Jersey, Equality Matters searched from September 27-October 1, 2013 to cover the announcement of the state’s marriage equality ruling, and searched from October 18 (when Judge Mary Jacobson refused to stay her ruling) to October 25 (the end of the five-day period after Gov. Chris Christie announced he would not appeal the ruling).

Equality Matters excluded reruns, teases for upcoming segments, and passing mentions during segments about topics other than marriage equality.

Photo via user Maggie Winters

H/T: Luke Brinker at MMFA

h/t: Jack Mirkinson at HuffPost Media

H/T: John Aravosis at AmericaBlog

h/t: Catherine Taibi at HuffPost Media


Oh cry me a frickin’ river, Benny.

This is one of the things that makes me crazy about the conservative punditry is how incredibly thin-skinned they are. They can be as dismissive and mean as they want to be but give them a little bit of their own medicine and suddenly the WATB cries come out.

Ben Ferguson keeps perpetuating the completely unsubstantiated myth of the liberal media by pointing to the singular cable channel of MSNBC. Proof, the hair helmet of conservatism insists, of their hostility to conservatives is that they usually book them at a three (liberals) to one (conservative) ratio, keep interrupting them and aren’t interested in a real debate.

Wait…what? That doesn’t sound like MSNBC’s format, which usually goes with the Left/Right paradigm and invites two guests per segment. That sounds suspiciously like the Sunday show roundtables, if anything. Sally Kohn doesn’t see anything different from that as her experiences as the designated lefty on Fox News, where the ratio got as out of hand as 15 to one.

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Piers Morgan: Planning to end CNN primetime show

Piers Morgan told the New York Times that he and CNN have decided to pull the plug on “Piers Morgan Live,” probably in March. 

“It’s been a painful period and lately we have taken a bath in the ratings,” he said, adding that although there had been times when the show connected in terms of audience, slow news days were problematic.

“Look, I am a British guy debating American cultural issues, including guns, which has been very polarizing, and there is no doubt that there are many in the audience who are tired of me banging on about it,” he said. “That’s run its course and Jeff and I have been talking for some time about different ways of using me.”

Morgan said he and CNN are in discussions about him remaining at the network in a different role. 

Photo: Piers Morgan in 2011. (Chester Higgins Jr./The New York Times)





(via thepoliticalfreakshow)

h/t: NY Daily News


Last year, NPR media reporter David Folkenflik revealed in his book on Rupert Murdoch that the Fox News PR department created an elaborate series of fake commenter accounts to write “pro-Fox rants” in the comments sections of articles other outlets published about the network. 

According to a new biography of Fox News CEO Roger Ailes, the network’s online subterfuge went even further.

In The Loudest Voice in the Room, New York magazine journalist Gabriel Sherman reports that Roger Ailes was behind the creation of a blog called “The Cable Game” (TCG), which was used to attack Fox rivals like CNN and critics like Media Matters founder David Brock. According to Sherman, Ailes tapped Fox News contributor Jim Pinkerton — who worked with Ailes on the 1988 George H.W. Bush presidential campaign and was later chosen to co-author Ailes’ now-abandoned autobiography — to help write the posts.

Media Matters review of TCG — which became defunct more than a year ago but is still partially available through the Internet Archive — finds laughably over-the-top praise of Ailes and other Fox personalities alongside vicious, often petty attacks on Fox rivals and perceived enemies. The blog’s criticism frequently echoed Fox’s own public attacks.

TCG regularly featured inside baseball content about the media that went far beyond what the casual media observer would know, much less care about. The blog cited sources inside Fox News, which it used to rebut criticism of the network. TCG was written under the pseudonym “The Cable Gamer,” and posts claimed the author was a woman.

The site was promoted on Fox News in at least four separate instances: three times by Pinkerton and once by Bill O’Reilly. Pinkerton gratuitously promoted the site on Fox News Watch on July 16, 2005 — a major promotion for an anonymous blog that had launched less than two weeks prior (July 8, 2005, with a post that asked, “is anyone cooler than Brit Hume?”). 

Roger Ailes Set Up Anonymous Blog “The Cable Game”

From Sherman’s book:

Shut out of the partisan cage match, CNN flailed, and Ailes pressed his advantage. He set up an anonymous blog called The Cable Game that took shots at his rivals. Ailes assigned Fox News contributor Jim Pinkerton to write the entries. “The Cable Game was Roger’s creation,” one person close to Ailes said. ”Is CNN on the Side of the Killers and Terrorists in Iraq?” one headline read. “David Brock Gets Caught! (Although Secretly, He Probably Loves Being Naughty and Nasty),” blared another. The item’s text was accompanied by a photo of Brock posing in a skin-tight tank top with Congressman Barney Frank. “Media Matters, of course, is the notoriously left-wing hit group, founded by that flamboyantly self-hating conservative apostate, David Brock,” it said. “Brock has that rare distinction of being accused of being dishonest by both liberals and conservatives alike. But don’t take my word for it: Here’s what you get if you type ‘David Brock liar’ on Google: 168,000 hits.” CNN chief Jon Klein saw Ailes’s hand behind the articles. He called Ailes and blamed Fox for posting anonymous online gossip that outed the sexual orientation of CNN’s prime-time anchor, Anderson Cooper. Ailes denied any role. (Cooper wouldn’t announce he was gay until July 2012.) [The Loudest Voice in the Room, pg 339-340]

Sherman adds in his notes that he interviewed “a person familiar with the matter” about the blog, and “Pinkerton did not respond to requests for comment.” 

h/t: MMFA

In his new biography of Fox News chief Roger Ailes, New York magazine writer Gabriel Sherman reports that Ailes unsuccessfully tried to recruit Rush Limbaugh to host a show on the network.

Sherman explains that when Fox’s ratings dominance started to show signs of slipping in 2006 surrounding the GOP’s drubbing in that year’s midterm elections, Ailes reportedly tried to convince Limbaugh to start his own Fox show: 

For almost a decade, Ailes had played a role in driving the news; now he was captive to it, with few apparent options to reverse the ratings trend, and at Fox there were incipient signs of panic. “We had the concern that the slide could turn into a freefall,” a producer said. Ailes’s plans to turn the ship around were running aground. He made an aggressive bid to convince his old friend Rush Limbaugh to come to Fox. Limbaugh turned him down flat. “Rush was kind of laughing at the whole thing,” a Limbaugh friend who spoke with him during the talks recalled. “He said, ‘Roger is really trying to get me to come back.’ And Rush was like, ‘Why would I do this?’” [The Loudest Voice in the Room, pg 312]

Ailes had previously served as the executive producer of Limbaugh’s syndicated TV show in the 90s.

According to Sherman, Fox wasn’t the only network to pursue Limbaugh in a desperate bid to save flagging ratings. Sherman writes that in 2001, concerned with Fox’s ascendancy, then-CNN chief Walter Isaacson tried to tack the network to the right, including by courting Limbaugh:

Both CNN and MSNBC were under pressure from their corporate parents to catch up to Fox. An obvious strategy was to become more conservative. In the summer of 2001, CNN chief Walter Isaacon courted Republicans. He traveled to Washington for private meetings with Senate majority leader Trent Lott and House speaker Dennis Hastert. He also wooed Rush Limbaugh and offered him a show. [The Loudest Voice in the Room, pg276-277]

h/t: MMFA


…. The big news out of Washington this morning: Ezra Klein, the famous Washington Post columnist and ‘Wonkblog’ editor, is seeking investors for an expanded Wonkblog-like website after failing to win internal support from his own paper, according to a New York Times report: ….

I’m okay as long as he gets that going and stays as a correspondent for MSNBC.

Excerpt between paired sets of four periods.  Click on link embedded in title above for full report.