CBS has ordered “60 Minutes” correspondent Lara Logan and producer Max McClellan to take leaves of absence after an internal review found major flaws in the way they handled the newsmagazine’s discredited Oct. 27 story on Benghazi, Libya.
The review said “60 Minutes” should have done more to check the bona fides of a security contractor who was a central part of the Benghazi piece, according to the Associated Press. The contractor, Dylan Davies, wove a tale of derring-do on air, saying he scaled a 12-foot wall, struck a terrorist with his rifle, and saw US Ambassador Christopher Stevens lying dead following a raid on the US compound in Benghazi by Islamist extremists.
But that account has come under fire following revelations by other news organizations that Mr. Davies told his employer that he never left his villa and testified to the Federal Bureau of Investigation that he was not on-scene at the fight.
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“ '60 Minutes’ ... fell short by broadcasting a now discredited account of an important story, and did not take full advantage of the reporting abilities of CBS News that might have prevented it from happening,” said Jeff Fager, chairman of CBS News and executive producer of “60 Minutes,” in a memo.
Ms. Logan agreed to the leave of absence, Mr. Fager said. But here’s our question: Is she a scapegoat? The internal report, written by CBS News executive Al Ortiz, raised as many questions about the behavior of “60 Minutes” leadership as about its front-line correspondents. Yet no one in upper management appears to be in trouble – at least, so far.
What about the book? One of the remaining mysteries in this affair concerns a book written by the security contractor that was published by Threshold Editions, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, which is owned by CBS. This went unmentioned in the original Logan story.
“ '60 Minutes' erred in not disclosing that connection in the segment,” the internal report notes.
Duh. That’s a huge error. It makes it look as if CBS had a financial interest in overlooking any questions of Davies’s credibility. And you’ll note that the review lays blame for this on “60 Minutes,” not Logan. Who was at fault?
Furthermore, which came first – the book or the story? CBS does not say in the review. That bears directly on Logan’s culpability. If she snagged the Davies story and steered him to a book deal as well, that’s not good for her. But if Simon & Schuster had the book first and was shopping a story to a corporate partner, does that not take some of the responsibility off her shoulders?
Simon & Schuster has pulled the book in question from store shelves.
What about Fager? In his memo on the report, CBS News chairman Fager noted that since he is also executive producer of “60 Minutes,” he is “responsible for what gets on the air.”
He added, “I pride myself in catching almost everything, but this deception got through and it shouldn’t have.”
Not only does he say he assumes responsibility: He goes on to imply he has an active role in vetting the accuracy of “60 Minutes” stories. If that’s the case, it looks like the reason he’s not in trouble, too, is because he’s the big boss.
Furthermore, when the controversy about the Benghazi report first surfaced, Fager defended its accuracy in the media. He did this after the “60 Minutes” team called up Davies, who denied telling them a different story than he had told the FBI.
This wasn’t true. But why rely only on the primary source in this case? He’s got a pretty big incentive to say he’s not a liar.
“Of all the journalism committed here, this sample was the smelliest,” writes Washington Post media columnist Erik Wemple.
What about Logan's opinions? The internal CBS review noted that Logan, a month before she began work on the Benghazi story, made a speech in Chicago in which the strong position was that the United States was underplaying the Al Qaeda threat and needed to take stronger action in response to the Benghazi attack.
“From a CBS News Standards perspective, there is a conflict in taking a public position on the government’s handling of Benghazi and Al Qaeda, while continuing to report the story,” the internal review noted.
But this speech was not secret. Nor has Logan been shy about stating her opinions about US conduct of foreign policy in the Middle East. As liberal Heather Parton writes on her “Hullabaloo” blog, in a 2011 Press Club appearance Logan skewered what she appeared to believe was timid US actions in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
“Logan has a very distinct worldview and it shows in the stories she covers,” Ms. Parton writes under her blogging pseudonym Digby.
Perhaps this is a journalistic conflict. But the point here is that her opinions were not secret. Her “60 Minutes” bosses must have known she felt this way, and they did not reprimand her until she got in trouble for something else.
None of this is meant to excuse Logan’s alleged mishandling of the Benghazi story. But if she and her producer messed up enough to get put on the shelf, or perhaps lose their jobs, it’s quite possible they’re not alone.
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Former President George W. Bush made a rare late-night talk show appearance on Tuesday when he sat for a chat with Jay Leno of “The Tonight Show." President Bush’s agreement to do the show was, in fact, somewhat unexpected, according to Mr. Leno. He said on-air that while he and his staff had proffered President Bush an invite, they had not really expected “W” to accept.
At this point, Bush showed himself a master of comic timing. He answered “only because of you” to Leno, drawing audience applause. Then Bush waited ... just long enough before saying, “You’re about to head out to pasture. Just wanted to see what you look like before you go out that gate."
Leno’s getting pushed out the door, see. NBC has already announced that Jimmy Fallon will replace him at the end of the 2014 Winter Olympics.
So yes, Bush was pretty funny. Asked whether he was worried about history’s judgment, he noted he’d just finished reading a book about George Washington.
“If they’re still writing biographies of the first guy, the 43rd guy doesn’t need to worry about it,” he said.
When Bush and Leno were chatting about pets, the talk-show host asked why Bush’s cat is named “Bob."
“So I could remember how to spell it when I got older,” Bush said.
Here are three other things we’d say we learned from the appearance:
Ex-presidents have more fun. It’s a truism of Washington that presidents age in office. Their hair goes gray, they stoop a bit, and they often look as if they just came from a depressing briefing. Have you seen President Obama lately?
Bush didn’t look like that. He looked way peppier than he did in his last months in office. He looked healthy (despite the fact that he had a stent inserted in his heart in August).
Leno said he look more relaxed.
“No kidding. Duh,” said Bush.
His paintings aren't bad. Bush discussed his hobby of painting at some length. He said he’d been inspired to pick up oils and brush by an essay on the subject by Winston Churchill, who himself was a decent amateur artist. Leno showed a Bush painting of Barney the Scottish terrier that was pretty good and another of the aforementioned Bob that showed the cat against a mirror, positioned at an angle, that looked not easy technically to pull off.
Bush said he takes painting lessons once a week. He told his teacher, “There’s a Rembrandt inside this body. Your job is to find him.”
He’d painted a portrait of Leno and presented it on-air. It was recognizable but we'd have to say it wasn't the artist's best work.
His dancing needs work. At the end, Leno showed a clip of Bush dancing with locals in Zambia when he and former first lady Laura Bush were in the country for the promotion of their cancer-fighting initiative and the opening of a clinic they’d helped refurbish.
“I’m really sorry you found this,” said Bush prior to the clip.
He was game but appeared mostly to be doing that stiff guy dance move where it looks like you’re dribbling a basketball. At one point, he did a little twist of his, um, former presidential booty that had some uumph and worked from a comic standpoint, if nothing else.
“A little Miley Cyrus action there, yeah!” said Leno.
Did Time magazine call New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, um, rotund? That’s a question rattling around media sites Friday, given that this week’s Time cover features a silhouette of the non-svelte but newly reelected Mr. Christie, and the title “The Elephant in the Room."
Time itself demurs. “He’s obviously a big Republican. But he’s also done a really huge thing here this week,” said Time Executive Editor Michael Duffy on MSNBC Thursday night.
Mr. Duffy went on to say that Christie had now established himself as a serious 2016 presidential contender and a cultural phenomenon on the level of Sarah Palin or maybe even Bill Clinton.
“He’s lifted himself beyond politics,” said Duffy.
Pshaw. Not to the phenomenon part – Christie has indeed vaulted to the front ranks of US politicians by winning big in a blue state. But as to the obese-shaming denial, that’s a crock. Any journalist who has ever been in a page one or cover story meeting would know otherwise. Editors spend huge amounts of time shuffling through photos and asking about their impact, and whether we should crop here, and if maybe this would be improved by a puppy. If you think they didn’t see the “fat” connection, you probably still believe Joe Biden dials his own phone calls.
Look, that’s perfectly legitimate. Christie talks publicly about his struggle with his weight. Generally speaking, political science shows that voters prefer attractive candidates. Think about hair – the last bald person to win a presidential election was Dwight Eisenhower. And he’d won World War II.
Also, using the “elephant in the room” phrase in connection with Christie isn’t new. We did it ourselves, two years ago, writing that if he runs his size will be the “large gray mammal with a trunk” in the etc, etc.
Lots of other media types have said way, way sharper things about Christie’s girth. David Letterman has made it a running gag. It was even the subject of a “Top Ten” list on the ways the nation would be different if Chris Christie were president. (Our favorite: “No. 9: Goodbye, White House vegetable garden.")
But Christie defuses these attacks well. He went on Letterman and stuffed a doughnut in his mouth as Dave was talking to him. Letterman cracked up and hasn’t been as hard on him since.
Voters like candidates who are comfortable with who they are. In that sense, Christie’s weight could be a plus. He’s a big guy, with a big personality, and big ambitions. His size is distinctive, like Ronald Reagan’s hair, or President Obama’s ears. There’s nobody who looks like him in US politics.
In the end, his physical presence will just become one part of the total package voters weigh. (See how hard it is to avoid double entendres?) He’s indeed the elephant in the room. What remains to be seen is if he becomes the elephant in the Oval Office.
The RNC is running an anti-Obamacare ad Tuesday night during "The Daily Show" in the D.C. market, hoping to resonate with the same healthy young people that the Obama administration needs to buy into the new system in order to offset the costs of insuring older and comparatively less healthy Americans.
The ad that the RNC is running during "The Daily Show" is one of four that the committee has produced riffing on the popular Apple "I'm a Mac, I'm a PC" commercials, in which an actor playing a Mac contrasts himself with his PC friend. In the RNC's commercials, two actors portray "Obamacare" and the "Private Sector."
"I'm just down for a little maintenance," says "Obamacare," as the overweight, disheveled actor playing him waves from the floor.
"Down for maintenance?" the trim, preppy "Private Sector" asks in response. "I don't understand. I work all the time. Twenty-four seven. Customers depend on it."
"Hey, look, before you know it, we'll be just like the DMV," responds Obamacare.
“The disastrous rollout of healthcare.gov is just the latest evidence that the massive legislation was poorly conceived and terribly crafted,” said RNC Chairman Reince Priebus in a statement announcing the ad campaign. "These videos help to convey the absurdity of Obamacare and the administration’s careless behavior.”
The RNC and "The Daily Show" may not be your typical pairing – but "The Daily Show" offers the RNC the young demographic it wants (and, in the D.C. market, a politically engaged market of viewers who likely have health insurance through their jobs). In addition, host Jon Stewart has come down hard on the botched Obamacare rollout in recent weeks, at one point comparing Obama to "Gil," the perpetually blundering businessman from "The Simpsons," and asking how the Democrats will "spin this turd."
When will politicians learn that fake news shows can get you in just as much trouble as real ones? Maybe even more trouble, since they tend to have much bigger audiences.
North Carolina Republican Party official Don Yelton is the latest public figure to stumble upon this truism. Or more properly, former Republican Party official Don Yelton, as he resigned after his appearance in a controversial segment on Jon Stewart’s “Daily Show” on Wednesday.
Mr. Yelton – who until Thursday was a precinct chairman in North Carolina’s Buncombe County – talked with “Daily Show” correspondent Aasif Mandvi about a new state law that requires photo identification to vote. Civil rights advocates charge that such laws are intended to suppress minority votes.
Asked if he was a racist, Yelton paused, then said he’d “been called a bigot before.”
“As a matter of fact, one of my best friends is black,” he added.
Things went downhill from there. Yelton told "The Daily Show” correspondent that he’d had a caricature of President Obama dressed as a witch doctor sitting on a stump, but that the drawing made fun of the president’s “white half, not his black half.” (Mr. Obama’s mother was white, his father black.) He complained that blacks could use the N-word, but not whites. Only he didn’t say “N-word”; he said the word itself.
“You know we can hear you, right?” Mr. Mandvi said in the on-camera interview.
Yelton went on to say that the photo ID law would “kick Democrats in the butt.”
“If [the photo ID law] hurts the whites, so be it. If it hurts a bunch of lazy blacks that want the government to give them everything, so be it,” Yelton said.
The comments went viral after "The Daily Show” posted a video clip of the interview on Thursday morning. Yelton defended his remarks to a local publication, but the state party itself began to furiously backpedal.
By Thursday evening, Yelton was out. North Carolina GOP chairman Claude Pope said that the comments were “completely inappropriate and highly offensive” and that Yelton was speaking only for himself, not for the party as a whole.
Mr. Pope said that the Buncombe County GOP chairman had told Yelton the party would take steps to remove him if he didn’t resign.
Of course, more experienced operators than Yelton have run afoul of “Daily Show” questioning this month. Two weeks ago, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius appeared on set for an interview with Mr. Stewart himself, and it was “cringeworthy,” according to The Daily Beast.
Stewart started off by saying they would have a race. Secretary Sebelius could begin to open the Obamacare sign-up website, and he would start downloading “every movie ever made.” They’d see who would be done first.
After that, Sebelius just seemed taken aback by Stewart’s questions. Asked how many people had already signed up for Obamacare, she said, “I don’t know.” He kept asking why businesses had received a delay in the mandate that they provide health insurance to employees, while individuals have not received a delay in the mandate that they purchase health insurance.
“Maybe she’s just lying to me,” Stewart said in a monologue near the end of the show.
Stewart has hammered the Obama administration on its rollout of the Affordable Care Act over a number of shows. That’s a big problem for the president because "The Daily Show” reaches just the kind of person that Obamacare needs – generally healthy young people, who don’t cost insurers much money.
Maybe Obama himself should appear on the show to try to swing him over, suggested Washington Post political expert Chris Cillizza earlier this week.
“What Stewart says matters – a lot,” Mr. Cillizza wrote.
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The president urged Americans to go on living their lives but be prudent, amid a week-long closure of 19 US embassies across the Middle East and North Africa over a threat of terrorism. Americans should check with the State Department website before traveling abroad, Mr. Obama said.
“Find out what kind of precautions you should be taking, then I think it still makes sense for people to take vacations,” Obama told Mr. Leno in his sixth appearance on “The Tonight Show.” “They just have to make sure that they're doing so in a prudent way.”
The odds of people dying in a terrorist attack are still a lot lower than in a car accident, the president added.
Obama called the terror threat "significant enough that we're taking every precaution," and denied he was overreacting, in his first public remarks on the embassy closures. He would not reveal if the US learned of the threat through the controversial National Security Agency surveillance program that was leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
On the issue of Mr. Snowden, Obama said he was “disappointed” that Russia had granted him temporary asylum. He said he will still attend the G-20 economic summit in St. Petersburg, Russia, in September. But Wednesday morning, the Associated Press reported that Obama had canceled his meeting with President Vladimir Putin in Moscow.
Obama and Mr. Putin have had some famously dour-looking public meetings.
“I mean, look at this picture here,” said Leno, showing a photo. “You two don’t look pretty – you look like me and the NBC executives.”
Leno is retiring from “The Tonight Show” next spring.
Obama and Leno also talked domestic issues, some serious, some light-hearted:
Health-care reform. Leno gave Obama wide berth to promote the implementation of Obamacare, including the start of open enrollment for online marketplaces Oct. 1 for those who do not get insurance through work or government health coverage.
“So you can go to healthcare.gov, and right now you can pre-register essentially and start figuring out is this plan right for you,” Obama said.
Trayvon Martin. Leno noted the president’s recent, emotional comments on the case of the black teenager shot and killed by neighborhood watch activist George Zimmerman, and Mr. Zimmerman’s acquittal.
“We were talking offstage – when you were a teenager, especially a teenage boy, you’re going to mess up, and you won’t always have the best judgment,” Obama said.
Young African-American males are disproportionately involved in criminal and violent activities, because of poverty, family disruptions, failing schools, the president noted.
But, he added, “we’re all asking ourselves: Are there some things that we can do to foster better understanding, and to make sure that we don’t have laws in place that encourage the kind of violent encounter that we saw there that resulted in tragedy?”
Sen. John McCain. The Arizona Republican and the president have had a bit of a bromance lately, 4-1/2 years after Obama defeated Senator McCain in the 2008 presidential election. McCain was a key player in getting immigration reform through the Senate.
“That's how a classic romantic comedy goes, right?” Obama said. “Initially you’re not getting along, and then you keep on bumping into each other.”
“John McCain and I have a number of philosophical differences, but he is a person of integrity,” he added. “He is willing to say things regardless of the politics.”
Hillary Rodham Clinton. The former secretary of State and first lady – and Obama’s top Democratic primary opponent in 2008 – had lunch recently, at the president’s invitation.
“We had a great time,” Obama said, noting that they had become “genuinely close” by the end of his first term. “She had that post-administration glow.”
Did she measure the drapes? Leno asked, an allusion to wide speculation that she will run for president in 2016.
“No,” Obama said. “Keep in mind, she’s been there before.”
Broccoli. The president claims it’s his favorite food.
Leno: “Can you put your right hand on a Bible and say, ‘Broccoli’...” (laughter.)
Obama: “Let me say this – I have broccoli a lot” (laughter). “I mean, no, you can ask my staff.”
Obama: “It is one of my staples. Me and broccoli, I don’t know, we’ve got a thing going” (laughter).
Obama: “It goes especially well with burgers and fries.”
Leno: “Right, right” (laughter).
Leno: “And did Michelle make a broccoli cake with broccoli icing?”
Obama: “Well, I won’t go that far.”
Is Gov. Chris Christie running for president? Clearly. And the New Jersey Republican is also clearly using the playbook of a famous Democratic friend.
Like President Obama before him, Governor Christie “slow jammed" the news Wednesday on “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon.” The news in question was Christie’s controversial and expensive decision last week to call his state’s special Senate election for Oct. 16, just three weeks before the already-scheduled gubernatorial election this November.
Christie deadpanned it beautifully – bobbing his head to the R&B rhythms of the "Late Night" house band, The Roots, as he wonkily explained his decision. And he didn’t crack when Mr. Fallon and the band “analyzed” the move with sexually suggestive language.
But alas, if you’re a Christie fan, he may not have done himself any favors. Yes, he probably impressed a few young voters, an important demographic for a Republican Party desperately trying to get out of its old-white-guy ghetto. But he added life to a story that gives fuel to his eventual opponents for the 2016 GOP nomination.
Republicans roundly rejected his decision to call an election for this fall, rather than appoint a Republican to the seat of the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D) until the November 2014 midterm elections, which Christie had the right to do. Last Thursday, Christie appointed the state’s Republican attorney general, Jeff Chiesa, to the seat until the special election.
Now, there’s a strong possibility that a Democrat – Newark Mayor Cory Booker – will retake the seat in October. Critics say Christie opted for the separate special election to avoid being on the same ballot with Mayor Booker, even though Christie has a massive lead over his Democratic opponent, state Sen. Barbara Buono.
So it appears he went for the separate election to protect his point spread. And by calling the special election for Oct. 16, instead of Nov. 5, he is costing the state millions of dollars – an affront to fiscal conservatives.
But maybe his biggest sin on “Late Night” was all the sexual innuendo, which we’ll leave to the imagination (and the video). To win the GOP nomination in 2016, Christie needs a decent number of religious conservatives to back him. But he has done little to reach out to them.
On Friday, the annual Faith & Freedom Coalition conference will take place in Washington, and Christie won’t be there. Instead, he’ll be in Chicago, speaking at another event – one with a Democratic hue: a conference of the Clinton Global Initiative.
That’s the way Mr. Colbert acted on his show Wednesday night in any case, and we have to say it was so convincing there seemed to be truth peeking out from behind his blustering on-screen persona.
“Tonight I am angry, and for once that doesn’t make me happy,” he said. “My sister lost. How could this happen? I was so sure Lulu had won, because CNN called it for Sanford.”
As a result, Colbert said he was renouncing his South Carolina-hood, and becoming a North Carolina Tar Heel, “whatever the [bleep] that means.”
Then he renounced the renunciation after tasting North Carolina barbeque, which he described as a “sauce-less, vinegar-based meat product.”
Yes, Mr. Sanford is a Republican and his sister is a Democrat, and the first district is heavily GOP. But if you remember, Sanford got into trouble with an Argentinian mistress when he was governor. A story about his ex-wife accusing him of trespassing in their former family home broke late in the campaign cycle. The national GOP pulled its cash out of the race.
Colbert said he just did not get where his sister went wrong. Did she not raise enough money? Did she not campaign hard enough?
“Did she hold too few debates against a cardboard Nancy Pelosi?” said Colbert, lampooning a Sanford debate tactic.
The “Colbert Report” host then said the whole thing had shaken him to his core, because it was the first time he’d seen a campaign where he knew one of the candidates before they entered politics.
“I saw firsthand how her opponents smeared her with outrageous accusations I knew to be untrue,” said Colbert. “And that makes me wonder if other campaigns have done this as well.”
OK, let’s stop right there. Sanford would probably disagree as to whether he smeared his opponent. But that brings up a question: is Colbert going to seek revenge?
Perhaps Sanford should be on guard here. He’s just beaten the sister of a man who on Wednesday’s show said he makes a living “attacking people without thought.” Colbert has an audience of around two million people a night.
If you’re Sanford, what could go wrong?
Later on, Colbert got into an interesting bit in which he talked about partisanship, and how voters’ political opinions are as much based on what team they perceive themselves as on whether they actually approve of a policy or not.
This involved breathing helium from balloons and speaking in a squeaky voice. Trust us, it made narrative sense since it involved a congressional vote on national helium reserves. We’re not going to explain it beyond that.
But at one point, Colbert stopped, took a deep breath of helium, turned to the camera, and in his best high-pitch squeak said, “[Bleep] Sanford.” The audience roared.
Look, Colbert is not like other comedians – he’s more dangerous. We’ve written about this before. It’s like he’s a performance artist with a degree in political science.
He’s got no problem going past boundaries at which other funny folk stop. Thus when he was asked to address the White House Correspondents Association dinner in 2006, he roasted both the media and George W. Bush to the point where the audience was visibly uncomfortable.
So we bet the name “Mark Sanford” comes up again on the show, and not in a positive way, even though the Colbert persona on screen is a conservative.
“Folks, I’ve always believed in partisanship, but now that it’s cost my sister a seat in Congress I have my doubts,” said Colbert.
Is Rush Limbaugh’s harsh rhetoric to blame for declining ad revenue at WABC and other big radio stations that carry his show? That’s what the CEO of the firm that owns those stations believes. In particular, Lew Dickey of Cumulus Media has said that Mr. Limbaugh’s 2012 “slut” comment about Georgetown Law student Sandra Fluke cost the firm millions in lost spots last year.
In an investor conference call in March, Mr. Dickey alluded to the controversy again. The firm’s talk radio revenues have “been challenged ... due to some of the issues that happened a year ago," Dickey said, according to an account in Politico.
Limbaugh disputes this, and the whole thing may be as much about the upcoming expiration of his contract with Cumulus as it is about El Rushbo’s past behavior. But first, let’s take a trip down talk radio memory lane, shall we?
Sandra Fluke burst on the political scene as a young woman who spoke about her belief that insurance firms needed to cover contraception during a period when Washington was debating whether government should mandate that very thing. Republicans declined to allow her to testify at a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing. She later spoke publicly to Democratic panel members.
Limbaugh talked about her on his show for three days running. Among other things, he said Fluke “essentially says that she must be paid to have sex – what does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute?”
Then he urged her to make public videos of her intimate acts.
“If we are going to have to pay for this, then we want something in return Ms. Fluke,” Limbaugh said late last February. “And that would be the videos of all this sex posted online so we can see what we’re getting for our money.”
Many Democrats got angry. Some Republicans, such as Carly Fiorina, then a National Republican Senatorial Committee official, groaned that Rush’s words were incendiary and unhelpful to the GOP in an electoral sense.
The left-leaning watchdog group, Media Matters, started a boycott campaign. Within days, it claimed that 46 advertisers had quit Limbaugh’s show, including big national firms such as Sears.
OK, flash forward to today. Media Matters claims the boycott is still effective and is hurting the Cumulus Media stations that carry Limbaugh’s show. Advertisers are still fleeing Limbaugh, the group claims. Some stations are dropping him altogether.
“In some ways, the adaptation is taking place on branding and marketing grounds. When Philadelphia’s WPHT replaced Rush Limbaugh with Michael Smerconish, promotional material for Smerconish that was sent to advertisers declared that the era of ‘angry is over,’ ” wrote Angelo Carusone of Media Matters in an update on the situation this March.
But Rush Limbaugh remains the top-rated talk radio host in America. And he may be getting tired of being blamed for Cumulus Media’s problems.
That’s his side’s take on the controversy, anyway. A source close to Limbaugh told Politico that the host is considering ending his affiliation with the firm at the end of the year.
“Dickey’s talk stations underperform talk stations owned by other operators in generating revenue by a substantial margin,” the source told Politico’s Dylan Byers.
It’s possible the dispute is really about which flagship station will carry Limbaugh in New York City.
Right now, he’s on Cumulus Media’s WABC. But that contract expires at the end of 2013. And the biggest radio ownership group in the country, Clear Channel, recently bought a rival station, cross-town WOR.
“Some industry watchers expect [Limbaugh’s] program will move to WOR in 2014,” wrote the trade publication Talkers on Monday.
Fox News host Bill O’Reilly ripped into radio talker Laura Ingraham on “The O’Reilly Factor” last night, and Ms. Ingraham responded in kind. The subject was gay marriage – specifically, whether it’s offensive for Mr. O’Reilly to say that those on the right who simply “thump the Bible” in opposing same will lose.
It was great TV but it was also an actual interesting debate on an important aspect of a hot national issue. That’s something you don’t always get on cable news shout shows.
We’ll start with the background because it’s kind of convoluted. It begins with O’Reilly in a late March show saying that gay marriage proponents have successfully defined it as a civil rights issue, which he called a “compelling” argument that social conservatives have yet to counter.
“The other side hasn’t been able to do anything but thump the Bible,” he said.
O’Reilly had “marginalized” many religious Fox News viewers with his statement, said Mr. Limbaugh.
Got that? So the stage is now set for last night.
O’Reilly began his Tuesday show with a segment downplaying any feud between him and Limbaugh. He said the left was trying to create an argument where none existed. Then he repeated his “thump” assertion.
“Zealots picked up on my statement that opponents must do more than thump the Bible if they want to win the civil debate. That’s absolutely true,” he said.
Then he turned to guest Ingraham, who sometimes sits in for him and with whom he seems to have a good relationship. He appeared to think she would agree with him on Bible thumping. She didn’t.
“I don’t think you really needed to say that,” she said.
Things went downhill quickly from there. O’Reilly quickly shouted her down and had his say, then let her have two minutes to respond, then jumped in and overwhelmed her with volume while she sat back and looked disgusted.
Her basic point was that opponents of gay marriage have been surprised by the quick turnaround in the national debate and haven’t had time to really articulate their beliefs. But to dismiss the beliefs of social conservatives as somehow irrelevant is insulting, she implied.
“A lot of them do have a very deeply held religious belief about what traditional marriage is,” said Ingraham.
O’Reilly countered that he was not insulting people’s religious belief.
“Why did you use the word ‘thump?’ ” asked Ingraham.
“Because that’s the way you get it across,” said O’Reilly.
By the end, they were pretty much just shouting past each other, though no furniture got thrown. Ingraham insisted that social conservatives would rally and come up with better arguments, and O’Reilly said he was just explaining the political facts of life.
“You and Rush should do a tour,” sighed Ingraham at the end.
Wow! If that happens, perhaps the furniture will need to be bolted down.