At least it’s a turbulent time in the media world
It’s time to tell and taunt the absurd comeback and creepy accusations.
Some of the biggest names in the media are rediscovering themselves, or resigning, or just plain compromising.
The most talked-about story out there is that of Katie Couric, in whose memoirs of garbage-everyone leaked in daily mail. While the entire book may read differently than these excerpts, it’s fair to say that her stiletto-sharp attacks on a lot of people have much to do with her spirited on-air personality.
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Couric gets points for candor in admitting that she singled out potential female rivals when she was flying high on NBC’s “Today” show. To befriend them would be “self-sabotaging,” she writes, citing Ashley Banfield as an example: “There was always someone younger and around the corner.” (Banfield told NewsNation, “It hurt my feelings deeply. … It makes me sad that we couldn’t cooperate. … Why do women think there’s no place at the top?)
But why take a shot at Deborah Norville, whom she turned to on the NBC morning show, saying that audiences didn’t like her “relentless perfection”?
Couric engages in some blame-shifting as to why her stint as a “CBS Evening News” anchor ended with low ratings and disappointment. She says she faced “militancy” at CBS, embroiled, defensive, misunderstood “like Hillary Clinton.”
I interviewed Couric extensively during that period for my book “The Reality Show,” and he is a talented journalist who tried to make too much of a change in the broadcast once run by Walter Cronkite. She’d blow the news and do a nine-minute interview with Michael J. Granthshala that was better for the morning fare. She also faced ridiculous expectations because of her $15 million annual salary and some sexist coverage.
Couric admits to some “unforeseen errors” and says that he should not have done the glamorous renovation of his office.
In controversial excerpts published Thursday, Couric revealed that she supported her co-host Matt Lauer after she was fired by NBC in 2017 over allegations of serial sexual assault.
“I am crushed,” she wrote to Lauer. “I love you and care about you very much. I am here. If you want to talk please let me know. There will be better days ahead.”
Couric says “my heart sank” when he read about the “horrible things” done by Lauer, but felt “heartless to abandon him”. He is sure to draw criticism from those who believe he is not kind to the female employees who complained that Lauer misbehaved with them.
After CBS he hosted a daytime talk show and had a gig with Yahoo, among other ventures. She has every right to tell her story as she sees it. But why erase ex-lovers, including one “textbook narcissist”? That trait is (ahem) definitely unknown in TV news.
Jon Stewart Returns
Meanwhile, Jon Stewart launched his Apple TV Show on Thursday, and it’s fair to say it’s not a “Daily Show” — nor is it intended to.
While there are some jokes and jokes, “The Problem With Jon Stewart” is more like his incarnation for 9/11 first responders as a laudable fighter for federal benefit. It gets quite serious along the lines of his former disciple John Oliver.
The first episode begins with a staff meeting that is taped, and as was the “Daily Show”, is driven by Stewart’s sense of displeasure. The 40-minute show has a lengthy setup of how many military service men were exposed to toxic chemicals from burn pits, then brings to the fore a panel of people who have suffered ill effects—keys to the new approach.
Stewart went to the Department of Veterans Affairs and politely but firmly pressed Secretary Denise McDonough on what he was going to do about the problem.
The comedian closes by saying that most people won’t watch the show, just clips online — he jokes that people don’t even know how to subscribe to an Apple TV — and he’s probably right. This kind of immersion won’t appeal to mass audiences, and Stewart knows it. He intends to make a difference more than just making people laugh.
Ozy. problems in
And there are huge problems at Ozzy Media, which lost the services of longtime BBC anchor Katy Kay. She resigned over the allegations, which she called “serious and deeply disturbing”.
The company founded by one-time anchor Carlos Watson of MSNBC has been rocked by Revelations from the New York Times Columnist Ben Smith. During a conference call with Goldman Sachs, which weighed in at $40 million, he explained, the Watson co-founder impersonated a YouTube executive — apparently with a digitally altered voice — and went about talked about how well Ozzy’s videos were doing online.
Watson tried to brush it off by saying that his partner had mental health issues. But a major investor has bailed out OG, co-founder Samir Rao is on leave and the company’s board is hiring a law firm to investigate its business activities.
Watson told The Wrap that the Times piece was a “bull—ed hominem attack”. But misleading a Wall Street bank through impersonation is hardly a minor violation. Watson has apologized to Goldman Sachs and YouTube owner Google has alerted the FBI.
It is a turbulent time in the media world, to say the least.