Three weeks into the new fall TV season, CBS, a network that “embraces the supposedly dying notion of being a broadcaster,” welcomed “serenity.” CBS has “managed to avoid, on every night, across every hour of prime time, the kind of failure that has visited all of its main competitors.”
CBS, has always held “strong” with “older viewers,” but lacked in the “18 to 49” age group, which advertisers “pay a premium to reach.” Although “CBS has missed out on those premiums in that past,” this “season looks different” since CBS has “won that category each week so far.” And they seem to be “winning everywhere.” According to Nielsen, since, ‘87, CBS has “never before won the first two weeks of a prime-time season in all the big ratings categories.”
So far this season, “all five new CBS series have so far beaten every other new entry in terms of total viewers.” While, Fox and ABC saw “instant rejection” on a few of their new shows. Along with new shows already being picked up for a “full season,” CBS’ “usually high” schedule changes “all worked.”
And the big “eye-opener” involves “the overall picture for CBS, which is finishing last on no night of the week.” And even better news for the net, CBS “is not finishing last in any of the 22 hours that constitute the prime-time week, and is almost always first or second.”
The success is “built around” the nets “steady accumulation of programming assets,” and they have added a “valuable” program every season. CBS is “dominant” in every age group and just “a tenth of a rating point behind NBC and ABC.” Which has made “Wall Street” notice. CBS’ “share price” “hovered recently near its 52-week high of $17.64.”
CBS head Moonves: “Being a broadcaster means even more today than before. We should be even farther away from the cable networks, not trying to get closer to them.” CBS has pilled up “successful shows” and unlike other nets, “CBS does not have a cache of lucrative cable channels to rely on.” However their “consistency has allowed it to introduce new shows only in time periods where they are surrounded by other successes.”
TV analyst Steve Sternberg: “For at least the past decade, CBS has had the most loyal viewers in the sense that they always seem ready, willing and able to check out the network’s new offerings.”
And Moonves concluded: “The philosophy hasn’t changed, and neither has the management” (Carter, New York Times, 10/10).
“Early Show” lead with the trapped Chilean miners. “Today” and “GMA” lead with the controversy surrounding NY GOV’s Carl Paladino (R). All hosted Paladino.
Conservative commentator Ann Coulter was profiled 10/10 in New York Times Magazine. The piece focused largely on her relationship with conservative gays and lesbians. GOProud chair Christopher Barron, on Coulter: “Among gay conservatives, she is an icon. We could not think of anyone who we would want to party with more.”
And friend HBO’s Bill Maher, a libertarian, says “I happen to think that Ann believes everything she says. It is a bunch of show business. You are working in the media. You are in makeup.”
The piece also details, what Ann calls her “greatest achievements,” the “undoing of President Clinton” where she used her “column and television appearances” to “help impeach the president.”
And with her books, columns and TV appearances, Anne does have time to date but says: “It’s a little bit weird how utterly, laughable solitary I am” (Holson, 10/10).
NBC “Tonight Show” host Jay Leno visited Wasilla, AK to “help open an Air Force Reserve recruiting office.” He was to also “perform a show” Sat at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage.
At a ribbon cutting event, Leno “shook hands with fans and inspected several vehicles driven to the event,” but did meet ex-Gov Sarah Palin (R) (AP, New York Post, 10/11).
Ex-CNBC head Jonathan Wald “is in talks to oversee” CNN’s new show hosted by Piers Morgan. Wald, “a TV news heavyweight who left the business network last year,” was “also the boss of the ‘Today’ with Tom Brokaw was host.
CNN is said “to be anxious to close a deal quickly” (Shain, New York Post, 10/11).
And Morgan is looking to pick a fight. Morgan said he is ready to take on MSNBC and FNC. Morgan: “I’ve built a career on that. You’ve got to choose your targets.”
Morgan, on FNC host Bill O’Reilly being liked and hated: “That’s when you know you’re a success — half the people love you and half think you’re a douche bag” (New York Post, 10/11).
Author/journalist Bob Woodward joined “Reliable Sources” on 10/10 and talked about the idea he floated about Sec/State Hillary Clinton becoming VP.
Woodward, on whether saying Clinton as VP was “on the table” means it was “actively discussed”: “No, no. On the table, that book is on the table, right? That doesn’t mean you’re going to read it this week. You know, maybe you’re going to read it sometime, maybe on your summer vacation.”
Woodward, on whether he manufactured the controversy: “No. No, I did nothing except saying what was in the book, and that when we get into the political season of 2012, this is an assessment that Obama and his team are going to have to make.”
Woodward, on whether cable news hosts and pundits are over interpreting what he said: “You know, the news is what it is. You can’t complain that they did too much or too little. They do what they do. What I do worry about is that there’s a kind of trivialization, and that that issue is something that will be important perhaps if somebody decides to act on it in a year or two. But the book is about war, and the book is about truly the most serious matter confronting the President and national security” (CNN, 10/10).
FNC host Glenn Beck announced 10/8 on his radio show that “he has problems with feeling in his hands and feet.” Beck will go “out west” to undergo “tests” and will be absent for a “few days” (Alfano, New York Daily News, 10/8).
Seth Meyers: “Delaware Republican Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell blamed her campaign’s recent troubles on unfair coverage in the liberal media. Yep, the liberal media used two of its favorite tricks on her, record and play. … While speaking at a women’s conference in Washington on Tuesday, President Obama‘s speech was interrupted when the presidential seal on his podium fell off two years early. … Donald Trump confirmed Wednesday that he is seriously considering a run for president in 2012, though I’m not sure that we’re going to solve the unemployment crisis with a guy whose catch phrase is, ‘You’re fired.’ North Carolina state Representative Larry Brown created a controversy this week when he sent an e-mail to other lawmakers referring to homosexuals as queers and froot loops. And Larry Brown gets caught with a male escort countdown begins now” (“SNL,” NBC, 10/11).
Bill Maher: “Remember Lou Dobbs on CNN who was always railing against illegal immigrants and the people who hired them. Turns out Lou Dobbs hires illegal immigrants. I was shocked. Lou Dobbs is married to Meg Whitman? What is it with conservatives? Seriously. I’m not trying to be partisan. But it seems like if they’re anti-illegal aliens. They have illegal aliens working for them. If they’re anti-gay, they turn out to be gay. If they’re super christian, they’re a witch. … You know I love Christine O’Donnell. I love her. But she has an ad. That she finally came out of hiding and put out an ad this week. Did you see this? The first words of the ad, right up front, it says, ‘I am not a witch.’ Which I guess I have to take responsibility for. … This is first time a candidate had to deny being a witch in a campaign ad since, I got go back to the Massachusetts primary of 1692. And it’s funny because you know, political experts say the one thing you’re not supposed to do as a politician ever is say I am not something. Remember Nixon ‘I am not a crook,’ Bill Clinton, ‘I did not have sex with that woman’ and yet they keep doing it. Carly Fiorina has an ad out here, running where she says, ‘I am not that butch gym teacher from Glee.’ Now, of course, Christine O’Donnell is blaming the liberal media, ie me. But you know, what Christine, I just showed clips of you opening your mouth and crazy shit coming out. If you want to blame somebody, honey, look at the reflection in your caldron, that’s all I have to say. She is behind. I don’t think it’s because of her witch thing. I think it’s because of her anti-masturbation stance. She’s very serious about that. And people in Delaware are going, come on, I live in Delaware. What else am I supposed to do? I kid Delaware. Right here in California we also have a bit of a scandal. Jerry Brown, did you hear about this? He was leaving a message on somebody’s phone line. And he thought he hung up. But he didn’t. And then you can hear someone say ‘Meg Whitman is a whore.’ You know some candidates have trouble with the internet or facebook or twitter. Jerry is still getting the hang of the phone. Calling Meg Whitman a whore. Meg was so shocked, she fell off her street corner. What they’re reacting to is that Meg Whitman had promised not to cut the cops’ pension fund and then they gave her $450 grand. If she’s not a whore. She’s whore adjacent, ok? Now here’s the real nut this week. Sharron Angle. Anybody know this person? Anybody from Nevada? Every week this woman gets crazier. Now she says that Sharia Law, you know what Sharia Law is? It’s a strict Islamic law like they have in Saudi Arabia. Is taking hold in American cities in Michigan and Texas. Even Glenn Beck says, where does he get this shit? You know what, we have banks stealing houses they don’t even own in this country. I’m more worried about American law. And Todd Palin, have you heard this story? Ok. In Alaska Joe Miller, he’s the Tea Bagger who’s running for Senate. They got into a big brouhaha. Because apparently Sarah Palin put this guy on the map, then this guy Joe Miller was asked if Sarah Palin could be president. And he kind of, I don’t know. So then Todd Palin all pissed off, wrote him a bunch of emails full of grammatical errors, spelling errors. Don’t fuck with Todd Palin. He will make you an offer he can’t pronounce. I’m serious. You mess with Todd Palin, you could end up with a horse’s ass in your bed, like he does every day. And finally, here’s my favorite note from the campaign trail. This week Republicans in West Virginia had to take down an ad because it revealed that the casting call for campaign they were making against the Democrat asked for actors who could act ‘hicky.’ They were making an ad where these blue collar types were sitting around in a diner in flannel shirts bitching about Obama. Which raises the question. Why get actors? Why not just walk into a waffle house in Texas and press record” (“Real Time,” HBO, 10/8).
Jay Leno: “And some early Halloween news from Delaware. It looks like anti-masturbation candidate Christine O’Donnell will be dressing up as like a US Senator this year, because apparently it’s gonna be her only chance. … Have you seen Christine O’Donnell’s campaign commercial where she says, ‘I am not a witch.’ Well, she has a new ad out. In this one she says, ‘I didn’t go to Yale like my opponent.’ I mean, is that where were in this country now? You’re supposed to be ashamed that you went to Yale? Didn’t that used to be a good thing, being educated? What are we, the Taliban now? ‘You know, I didn’t go to high school, like my opponent.’ … The Obama administration announced this week that they have deported a record 392,000 illegal immigrants in the past year. Most of those were deported on a Friday. This way they got to spend a wonderful weekend in Mexico with their families before returning on Monday. So that worked out very nicely. … Now begin alleged that Lou Dobbs, you know him, Mr. Anti-Immigration. Well they’re now saying he had illegal immigrants working for him. The good news, now qualified to run for Governor of California. … In his defense, Lou Dobbs is saying it’s lie. He said, he never hired any illegal workers. So it looks like we’ve got a Mexican stand off. … Now, Jerry Brown has apologized to Meg Whitman after … a campaign aide rather called her a whore in a phone conversation. Let me tell you that was totally out of line, okay? Politicians don’t become whores until after they’re elected. Okay? … And Eliot Spitzer‘s new show premiered this week on CNN. There’s a switch, somebody paying him for a hour. Boy, that never happens” (“Tonight Show,” NBC, 10/8).
David Letterman: “Happy birthday to Bo, the White House dog. You know how they say dogs start to look like owners and owners start to look like dogs and vice versa. Bo is behaving like his owner. He blames all the country’s problem on President Bush‘s dog. It’s interesting. Bo can fetch, he can beg, he can sit up, he can shake hands, he can role, no wait a minute, that’s Biden. That’s Biden. Here’s the great thing about America. Do you remember we had the Governor of New York named Eliot Spitzer. He got in trouble was he enjoyed whores, and so had to go away. He’s back now with his own show on CNN. Isn’t that crazy. The guy’s got his own show nightly on CNN, like an hour I think every night Monday through Friday. And it’s interesting, out of habit, the first week at the end of each show he would leave a couple grand on the table. It was awful. It was just awful. I feel bad for President Obama because you know everybody’s ganging up on the guy. First you had the economy and then they had the bailouts and then did it get better, nobody’s getting money, nobody’s getting any jobs but they say it’s getting better. No money no jobs. Then he had that horrible thing in the Gulf of Mexico and that was just god awful and then those poor guys in the mine in which in Chile. … See what I’m talking about, just one thing after another. So now what he’s doing, he’s going to your house now and he’ll have a backyard meeting about the economy. It’s like, it’s a great idea but I mean there’s a lot of places to go. And he’s trying to energize people and say it’s going to be okay. I’m coming to your backyard and I’ll answer all your questions. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t work so great, you know what I mean” (“Late Show,” CBS, 10/8).
Jimmy Fallon: “President Obama has decided not to sign a bill that would make it difficult for home owners to fight foreclosure. Man, why is Obama all the sudden so sensitive about people being kicked out of there house? Oh yeah, sorry” (“Late Night,” NBC, 10/8).
This week’s resounding vote in Ohio repudiating a Republican antiunion law should provide a clear warning to the congressional deficit-reduction super committee, especially its GOP members.
The lopsided ballot-initiative result repealing Republican Gov. John Kasich’s prized SB 5 legislation restricting collective-bargaining rights for public employees reaffirms a lesson evident from the past three decades of budget wars in Washington: It is virtually impossible to sell voters on a significant retrenchment of public benefits without bipartisan support and a compelling case that the changes are linked to broadly shared sacrifice.
That message is especially important for Republicans, because one of the biggest hurdles to a comprehensive deficit agreement is the expectation among many in the GOP that after the 2012 election they will hold unified control of Congress and the White House and can simply impose their preferred solutions without compromise or political cost. History — underlined by this week’s Ohio result — suggests that expectation represents a huge gamble.
In many ways, the Ohio legislation that voters overturned this week followed the model that many Republicans envision for 2013 in Washington. With unified control of the governorship and both chambers of the state Legislature, state Republicans passed sweeping legislation limiting the collective-bargaining rights of public employees, including police and firefighters. The bill, which also rolled back pension and health benefits and banned strikes, passed the state Senate narrowly and the state House comfortably, in each case without support from a single Democrat. When Kasich signed the bill last March, he explicitly portrayed it as the sort of economizing that would be required to cut taxes. “Helping local governments reduce their costs so they can begin lightening Ohio’s tax burden helps us compete better against states that are far friendlier to job creators,” he declared.
But unions quickly obtained enough signatures to place a repeal initiative on the ballot. Once they did, they effectively inverted Kasich’s argument: An early ad from the repeal campaign charged that politicians were “blaming public employees” for the state’s budget woes even as they were “funneling over $100 million in tax breaks to their corporate campaign contributors.” Though Kasich barnstormed to defend his legislation, the repeal initiative got more than three-fifths of the vote. And as Steve Rosenthal, cofounder of the Democratic data firm the Atlas Project, noted in an analysis this week, the repeal passed in all but six of the state’s counties, with margins consistently exceeding President Obama’s in 2008.
Kasich’s experience should be a red flag for congressional Republicans because it so closely approximates the strategy many of them envision. Most Republicans understandably like their odds of winning the White House, and majorities in the Senate and House of Representatives, next year. By holding those cards in 2013, they believe they can pass a deficit-slashing budget on a party-line basis that would dramatically shrink entitlement programs — by converting Medicaid into a block grant and Medicare into a voucher system — without including any tax increases (and maybe cutting taxes further). That glimmering possibility is one reason so many in the GOP are reluctant to strike a deal now in which Democrats would accept entitlement cuts in return for Republican acquiescence to tax increases.
But the Ohio vote shows how difficult in practice it would be for Republicans, even if they win unified control in 2013, to hold public support while cutting entitlements and maintaining (or expanding) tax cuts for the wealthy without any bipartisan cover. Since 1980, Republicans have tried three times to retrench federal entitlements on a party-line basis: Social Security under Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, and Medicare under Newt Gingrich in 1995. Each effort failed — and helped precipitate GOP losses in the next election.
That consistent history — and this week’s big uprising against Kasich — underscore the validity of the axiom that Gene Sperling, director of Obama’s National Economic Council, coined in a recent speech: “Nobody likes deficit-reduction plans. Successful deficit-reduction plans are agreements that everybody hates equally in an even and fair way.” Balance and equitably shared sacrifice is precisely what Ohio voters believed SB 5 lacked.
The odd thing about the super committee’s waiting game is that there’s little mystery about what a balanced proposal should contain. The Simpson-Bowles and Domenici-Rivlin deficit-reduction commissions, and the bipartisan Senate Gang of Six, all produced broadly overlapping blueprints. At a time when federal revenue, measured as a share of the economy, has fallen to its lowest point since 1950, and payments to individuals (mostly through entitlement programs) consume more than three-fifths of the federal budget, there’s no secret to the formula for restoring fiscal sustainability.
The questions surrounding the committee — and the larger deficit debate — are entirely political. Neither party alone can pass a response of the magnitude this problem demands. Tax increases and entitlement cuts are each the key to the other. Democrats cannot accept the latter without the former. For Republicans, it’s the reverse. Probably the only way to pass either and live to tell about it is to pass both. This week’s earthquake in Ohio shows what happens when politicians ignore that straightforward lesson.