NBCU and Microsoft “are holding high-level talks about changing” msnbc.com’s name. The move is “unusual and potentially risky” since it’s “the third most popular news Web site” in the U.S.
“I have a soft spot for her, because I was at the vice presidential debate, and, you know, she winked at me.”WH sr. adviser David Axelrod, on whether ex-AK Gov. Sarah Palin will run for WH ‘12, “Late Show,” CBS, 10/6
No name has been chosen yet but according to internal memos “obtained by The New York Times this week,” the two companies conclude “that the brand known as msnbc.com, a strictly objective news site, is widely confused with MSNBC,” the channel “that has taken a strongly liberal bent.”
MSNBC.com pres. Charlie Tillinghast, wrote: “Both strategies are fine, but naming them the same thing is brand insanity.” Currently, “the channel and Web site are already separate companies.” The plan is to use “the msnbc.com Web address” as “an independent site to promote its TV programs.” And then the existing site, called the “blue site” internally, “would move to a new and as-yet-undetermined Web address.” One name under discussion is “NBCNews.com — something that NBC would seem to favor.”
Ex-CBS pres. Andrew Heyward, on the potential name-change: “It’s incredibly important in this media cacophony for brands to be consistent, for brands to stand for something. And those two brands, each strong in their respective areas, are increasingly standing for different things.”
NBCU and Microsoft have “been conducting research about potential new names for the last few months.” Tillinghast, wrote in a memo on the research: “Consensus in this case is a tall order.” A meeting “to talk about the change” has been scheduled for “mid-November.”
Tillinghast, on the new MSNBC “Lean Forward” campaign: it “only exacerbates the brand misalignment problem.” And he “envisions a ‘brand family,’ with the to-be-renamed Web site positioned at the head of the table, joined by two existing spinoff sites.”
MSNBC.com is currently clocking in “50 million Internet users each month” (Stelter, New York Times, 10/6).
This Morning On TV
“Today,” “GMA” and “Early Show” lead with the tornadoes that hit AZ.
Thurzzzday Ratingzzz Buzzz
For the week of 10/3/10, ABC’s “This Week” finished first with a 2.1 Rating/6 Share with 2.890M viewers. CBS’ “Face the Nation” came in second with a 2.0 Rating/5 Share with 2.840M viewers, while “Fox News Sunday” rounded out the group with a 1.0 Rating/3 Share with 1.371M viewers (Hotline sources, 10/7).
Meanwhile, the replays of “Fox News Sunday” on FNC drew 1.466M viewers, giving the show a total of 2.837M viewers on broadcast and cable (Nielsen Media Research, 10/7).
Getting Better Day By Day
Day one ratings for CNN’s new show “Parker Spitzer,” put the new program on a “rocky start.” But day two “showed noticeable ratings improvement,” averaging 513K viewers, up from 454K 10/4, which “is a respectable improvement” of 13%. And to add on the ratings bump, the show “demonstrated a gain in the audience the network sells to advertisers: viewers between the ages of 25 and 54.” And even “managed to build on the audience” of “John King, USA” (Carter, New York Times, 10/6).
The New York Post reports “Eliot Spitzer isn’t ready for live TV” and the show “is pretaped and edited” because he and Kathleen Parker “can’t take cues or stick to timing.” A CNN spokesperson denies “the show is pretaped to edit flubs.” Post sources claim Rick Sanchez was driven “over the edge” after “watching the inexperienced duo bumble during rehearsals,” which lead “to his charge that CNN is run by bigots.”
A source claims: “Timing was a big factor in Sanchez’s blowup. He was frustrated that he was constantly being overlooked, he thought his race had something to do with it” (10/6).
I’m Not A Perfect Man
Ex-CNNer Rick Sanchez released a “formal apology” 10/6 p.m., speaking for the first time since his controversial comments about Jon Stewart that ultimately got him fired. Sanchez said “inartful comments” should “never have been made.”
Released through a South FL “publicist,” Sanchez wrote: “I am very much opposed to hate and intolerance, in any form, and I have frequently spoken out against prejudice. … Despite what my tired and mangled words may have implied, they were never intended to suggest any sort of narrow-mindedness and should never have been made.”
Sanchez went on writing “I sincerely extend this apology to anyone else whom I may have offended.” He called his time at CNN “six wonderful years,” and said he had “tremendous respect for everyone there, and I know that they feel the same about me. There are no hard feelings - just excitement about a new future of opportunities” (New York Post, 10/6).
CoCo Gets “Hot”
In an ad for his new TBS late-night show, Conan O’Brien “channels Paris Hilton’s infamously x-rated Carl’s Jr. car wash ad”
The ad, keeps with CoCo’s theme of “Legally Prohibited From Being Funny on Television,” Coco can be seen washing “his desk to the tune of Def Leppard’s ‘Pour Some Sugar On Me.’” He then “host emerges from his driveway and proceeds to saucily wash down his desk, crawling on top of it, spraying the hose into his mouth and wiping a yellow sponge on his chest.” He then ends the ad by taking a bite out of a sponge and drenches himself with water.
“Conan” premieres 11/8 (Benigno, New York Daily News, 10/6).
What Do You Think About That Regis?
“Today“‘s third hour beat “Live With Regis & Kelly” for the “first time ever in total viewers.” “Today” averaged 3.348M viewers “nationally to ‘Live’s‘ 3.248M viewers” for the ‘09-‘10 TV season. The third hour of “Today” was added in ‘00 and this is “first time” that it has “beaten” “Live.”
The two show go “head-to-head” at 9am “in most major markets, including New York, LA, Chicago, Atlanta, Philadelphia and San Francisco” (Starr, New York Post, 10/6).
Umm Does He Know What Network He Showed Up On?
Time Warner CEO Jeffrey Bewkes appeared on FNC’s “Your World,” 10/6 p.m. and had a few things to say about CNN and the future of TV.
Bewkes on the future of TV: “Think of CNN, HBO, TNT. What we are saying is that those networks are going to be available on demand on your TV set. That big set in the living room that you think that you have got to go at 9:00 and watch the show at 9:00, that is going to be available any time of day you want.”
Bewkes, on the future of TV: “A lot of attention goes to Internet TV. And I think it is a big story. But a bigger story is taking the TV networks and the TV shows and putting it on your net — your living room TV. I think reason that all the attention goes to Internet TV is because it is on demand. You can get something on YouTube. You search for a show on Hulu, and you find the show that you’re trying to look for.”
Bewkes, on the Rick Sanchez firing and if he’d hire him again: “I wish him well. I think that he is a talented guy. He’s going to have a lot of interest in different channels. And who knows. Maybe, some day, the right place for him would be one of ours. I don’t think we should be doing that now. And I am sure Rick would like to try something new.”
Bewkes, on firing Jon Klein: “But Jon did a very good job. And a lot of what Jon did was done with the real support and agreement of Jim Walton, that runs CNN, and me as well, and Phil Kent, who runs Turner. I think we got to the point where we needed to make a change. And that is why we make this structural change. And I think that Jon, who understood that that was probably — somewhere around here, we were going to get to that point. I don’t think it surprised him.”
Bewkes, on if there is room for CNN in the market: “We really think that there’s a — by the way, there’s plenty of room for all of us. You know, I think CNN can continue to deepen the coverage that it is bringing to these issues. We’re very strong on breaking news, whether it’s wars, big events in the world, and elections, where we had our peak ratings when we had the elections a couple of years ago.”
Bewkes, on the start of “Parker Spitzer”: “Well, it started out a little — let’s say it started out in a way that leaves it room for improvement in terms of ratings” (FNC, 10/6).
I’m Sorry, Come Back Please
MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell, host of “Last Word” apologized 10/6 to RNC Chair Michael Steele for using some “choice” words during their interview 10/5.
O’Donnell: “I called him back immediately and apologized for using the word that he found offensive. Those of us who are not descendants from slaves can never know the full impact of the word master in the ears of an African-American man. Michael Steele told me, quote, ‘it sort of stung.’ He could not have been more gracious and forgiving. He also told me, quote, ‘the interview was a lot of fun, I loved our give and take, I will be back on the show.’”
O’Donnell, on trying to get Steele to come back so he could apologize on-air: “I invited him on the show tonight, so that I could apologize to him directly, in front of everyone who had seen the interview. He said that wasn’t necessary and that the apology on the phone was more than anyone else had done who had slighted him in the past” (MSNBC, 10/6).
Jay Leno: “Well, it’s getting very testy out there on the campaign trail. Former Vice President and Presidential candidate Walter Mondale has criticized President Obama for using a teleprompter. He called them idiot boards. Of course, well, Democrats were stunned. They said, ‘What? Walter Mondale is still alive?’ … Man, when the cards go against you. President Obama, this guy can’t get a break now. Even the dog whisperer, Cesar Millan, you know that guy? He’s criticizing the President. This is real. Milan says the President lets the dog lead him on walks when the dog should follow him. You know, give the guy a break, Obama can’t even get Democrats to follow him. Forget the dog. Give the guy a break! Man! And Bob Woodward told CNN yesterday, an Obama/Hillary ticket is on the table for 2012. Though some insiders say Obama doesn’t feel he needs Hillary on the ticket. At this point, I don’t think Hillary feels she needs Obama on the ticket. Oh, but listen to this, we could have a savior. You know who may run for President? Donald Trump. Oh, wouldn’t that be exciting? Don’t you think? Come on. We haven’t had a President who wore a powdered wig since John Quincy Adams. That’d be fantastic. … And in Delaware, the Republican anti-masturbation witch-dabbling Senate candidate, what’s her name? Oh, Christine O’Donnell. Have you seen her ad? She has an ad in which she tells voters, ‘I’m you. I’m just like you’ Of course, a lot of people are going, ‘Really? You’re me? Well, I don’t belong in the US Senate either. Okay? I want somebody smarter than me! And that’s not you.’… Oh, listen to this, the latest Gallup poll gives Congressional Republicans the best poll numbers they’ve ever had. They say this could be the biggest Republican year since 1894. So for the second time, John McCain could be swept to victory. … . Well, the big story here in California, Meg Whitman candidate for Governor, is under fire for allegedly having an illegal worker in her home. You know this story? It seems she got the maid through a legitimate employment industry, the maid had phony papers. Meg Whitman was paying her $23 an hour. And now Gloria Allred, she’s defending the housekeeper, is hang trouble with her maid. She’s not illegal. She just found out Meg Whitman’s maid was making $23 an hour” (“Tonight Show,” NBC, 10/6).
David Letterman: “Oh, you know who’s running for President, Donald Trump? And he’s already got a short list of Presidential running mates, Vice Presidential candidates. He’s thinking about Cyndi Lauper, Hulk Hogan, Melissa Rivers, Sharon Osbourne. He’s ready to go. Trump refers to the White House as a 200 year old tear down. Ah, tear it down. When Trump goes into the booth to vote, he lets that thing on his head pull the lever. … Did you see this? Talk about a blooper. Yesterday, President Obama’s giving a fairly significant speech, and the Presidential seal, which identifies him as the President, and it goes with him everywhere, right there on the front of the podium, it fell off. … But, when they got to looking around, you know what they found behind the Presidential seal? His birth certificate. That’s right. And you know, President Obama is going essentially door to door, and he’ll come to your house and knock on the door and say, ‘Is it okay if I have a little meet and greet?’ And they televise them and they’re like town meetings except when the weather is nice, they have them in the backyard. He’s seen so many bad lawns. But if you think about it, that’s not a problem because he’s used to looking at Biden’s head. … Hillary Clinton, they’re saying, might run for Vice President with Obama in 2012. Powerful woman, Hillary Clinton, powerful woman. And when you’re that powerful, man or woman, people are afraid of you, and you know what they refer to Hillary Clinton as in Washington, DC? Kim Jong Hill” (“Late Night,” CBS, 10/6).
Jon Stewart: “Let’s begin tonight with our continuing coverage of Indecision 2010, Mid-Term Madness. It seems inevitable that Republicans in this season of voter anger and change will reclaim the House of Representatives. But what of the Senate, the world’s most deliberative body, the saucer that cools the House’s hot tea and, of course, kills most of its legislation? Could the Democrats also lose the Senate as well as the underground secret third House of Congress .. whoops. I’ve said too much. So how bad is it for the Dems in the Senate? … 13 Democratic seats are in danger. So that’s what Lassie was trying to tell me. Woof, woof, woof. Trouble for the Democrats at the old mill? … So how much trouble are the Democrats in? Even Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, that exciting and charismatic leader, is facing a tough challenge for his seat in Nevada. … She wants to abolish the Department of Weights and Measures. From now on just do business like this. She wants to dissolve the Post Office and send all her messages through angels. They’re everywhere. So here’s the thing, Reid is tied with her. Which can only mean one thing, Nevadans must really hate the EPA or Harry Reid. So if Republicans regain the Senate, who could be the new majority leader? Perhaps conservative power broker, current South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint would then be counted on to rein in ideological mustangs like Angle. Oh, my god, did Jim DeMint just outlaw glee clubs? Not to be rude to South Carolina, but if you rule out gays and unwed mothers from teaching you down there, you’re really only left with creepy out-of-touch basement dwellers who seem a little off, you know, DeMint’s opponent. 40 points behind. In this climate, is there any extreme a Republican can go to that will hurt their chances in November? … I know this game. I know this game. I am not a centaur. Your turn. … You’re me? Because I don’t recall the last time I had to deny I was a witch. That’s Christine O’Donnell, the Republican candidate for senator in Delaware. She’s currently about 16 points down in the polls, probably because she exhibits the type of judgment that has her denying she is a witch while standing in front of what appears to be steam from a bubbling cauldron. Hey, where we going to shoot Christine O’Donnell’s commercial where she denies she’s a witch? Hey, Elvira’s set is available. It’s a peculiar election season where once again Americans are being told just how divided we are from a nation, and now we must pick from one of two doctrinaire choices” (“Daily Show,” Comedy Central, 10/6).
Jimmy Fallon: “Hey, did you guys see this? Last night, President Obama was giving a big speech, and the Presidential seal fell off his podium. They tried to put it back on, but Hillary had already grabbed it and run away. She was like, ‘It’s mine!’ Yep, after the Presidential seal fell off, Obama actually said, ‘That’s okay, you all know who I am.’ And then Tea Partiers were like, ‘Do we though?’” (“Late Night,” NBC, 10/7).TOP TEN SIGNS THERE’S TROUBLE AT FOX NEWS 10.Accidentally said something positive about a Democrat. 9.News ticker reads “Bosses crazy, send help.” 8.Today’s top story: Is there anything more delicious than bacon? 7.Been criticizing Obama for not doing enough to prevent World War I. 6.Bill O’Reilly inviting guests to enter the “No Pants Zone.” 5.Crime stories eerily similar to plot of most recent “Hawaii Five-O.” 4.Spent five hours today breaking down the Mets playoff chances. 3.Thinking about hiring Rick Sanchez. 2.Since June, Glenn Beck has been doing this nonstop. 1.They’re thinking of giving the 10pm slot to Leno. (CBS, 10/6).
The votes of Virginia’s two Democratic senators to overturn a landmark air-pollution rule offer a glimpse into the influence of one region in the commonwealth and a portentous sign for the national political fight over environmental regulation and the economy.
Virginia’s 9th Congressional District, covering the state’s southwest corner, is known for its blue-collar voters, coal mines, and conservative bent compared with the rest of the state — especially Northern Virginia. It’s a long way from here to there: The state’s far western edge is closer to the Mississippi River than to the Potomac.
But last week, the voices of that region’s state officials and industry lobbyists resonated with Virginia Democratic Sens. Mark Warner and Jim Webb more than anyone closer to Capitol Hill.
Warner and Webb voted on June 20 to support a disapproval resolution sponsored by Senate Environment and Public Works ranking member James Inhofe, R-Okla., that would have nullified the Environmental Protection Agency’s recently finalized rule controlling mercury and other airborne toxins from power plants. The resolution failed, but the votes of Warner and Webb to support it surprised Washington insiders on both sides of the fight.
“I asked Senators Webb and Warner to consider supporting the resolution because it just gives us some sense of balance in what we think is an industry very important to not just Virginia but to the entire country,” said Phillip Puckett, a veteran Democratic Virginia state senator who represents the southwest part of the commonwealth.
Another person key to persuading the two senators — and especially Warner — to support Inhofe’s resolution was Kevin Crutchfield, CEO of Alpha Natural Resources, which bills itself as the third-largest coal producer in the United States and fifth largest in the world. Alpha is based in Bristol, deep in southwestern Virginia.
According to several industry and Hill sources, Crutchfield called the senators in the hours before the vote and was pivotal in their decision to support the resolution.
Voting to overturn the EPA rule “represented an opportunity to send a clear signal to this administration that it is overreaching in the regulatory arena, and the costs of that overreach will equate to lost jobs and higher energy prices for Virginians and American families,” said Ted Pile, vice president for corporate communications at Alpha.
Environmental and public-health groups have successfully lobbied most coal-state Democrats to support the EPA rule by describing the vote to overturn it as imperiling children and babies with mercury pollution. The votes of Webb and Warner caught environmentalists off guard.
“Warner has often been there for us, and this was really a shock on this issue to see him go south — or southwest, as they say,” said Navin Nayak, senior vice president for campaigns with the League of Conservation Voters.
Environmentalists were surprised in part because neither Webb nor Warner is up for reelection, so attention was more focused on Democrats from coal-dependent states who are running this cycle, including Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Robert Casey of Pennsylvania. Webb is retiring, and Warner isn’t up until 2014.
Still, the Virginia Democrats’ votes to overturn one of President Obama’s most significant clean-air rules are emblematic of politics that transcend the commonwealth.
“Virginia is a bellwether state in the sense that it is a demographic microcosm of the country,” Webb told National Journal Daily after his vote. Indeed, Virginia isn’t even known for being a major coal-producing state. It ranks 12th in the country after Colorado and ahead of New Mexico, according to the National Mining Association.
“It’s coal, but Virginia has also lost a tremendous amount of manufacturing jobs,” Webb said. “The issues that are going to be relevant in the national campaign show up in different demographic pockets here.”
And that’s why the votes cast by Webb and Warner are also a portentous sign both for Obama’s bid to win the state and for former Democratic Gov. Tim Kaine’s efforts to beat his likely Republican opponent, former Sen. George Allen, in the race for the seat Webb is vacating.
“This issue is about a regulation that was put forward by a federal agency that’s under the administration of President Obama, and so to some extent I’d expect there would be a conversation about that regulation within the context of his campaign,” said former Rep. Rick Boucher, D-Va., who lost his seat representing the 9th District in 2010 partly because of his critical role negotiating the 2009 cap-and-trade bill to control carbon emissions.
In other words, these votes put Obama in an awkward position if he tries to tout his environmental record in Virginia when both the state’s Democratic senators don’t support one of the biggest pillars of that record.
“As a Democratic state senator out here, I’ve not appreciated the position that the president has taken because I think it puts the coal industry in jeopardy,” Puckett said. “It’s a difficult spot to be in. We’d like to be able to support a Democratic president.”
It’s unclear what Kaine thinks about this particular EPA rule controlling mercury pollution from power plants. On his campaign website, Kaine says he will “resist ongoing efforts to weaken environmental regulations that are needed to protect public health.”
Puckett said that while Kaine was governor from 2006 to 2010, he had been supportive of the industry. “He is one who understands how important coal is to Virginia,” Puckett said. “I don’t want to speak for him, but I believe if you asked him directly, he’d say he’s looking for a balance.”
Likely reluctant to go out on a limb over a controversial EPA rule just months before November, the Obama campaign declined to comment for this column and the Kaine campaign also did not respond to requests for comment.
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