News & Insights

The Deadline: Two Titans Are Out; And Bluesky Is In?

By Rebecca Epps

The Deadline - Media Intelligence Newsletter.

Two Major News Titans Are Out: What’s Next for FOX News & CNN Following the Ousting of Tucker Carlson and Don Lemon? Plus, Could Bluesky Overtake Twitter? And Hollywood Writers Make Prominent Stance and What it Means for Television

Key Highlights:

  • Shake-Ups Send Shockwaves: The departures of Tucker Carlson at FOX News and Don Lemon at CNN stun many as the network’s sever ties with two key faces and highly popular personalities.
  • Less Focus on Corporations & More Focus on Building the Next Generation: The newly minted editor-in-chief at the WSJ takes a new stance on company suffixes while the founder of POLITICO puts the spotlight on journalism training for young people.
  • Presidential Televised Campaign Runs Begin to Heat Up: Former President Donald Trump agrees to go back on the airwaves at CNN ahead of a 2024 Presidential run.

Industry News

The Fall of Tucker Carlson

In news that sent shockwaves across the larger conservative world and stunned many, Tucker Carlson, the most popular primetime host at Fox News was dismissed. As the New York Times reports, the decision was made by Lachlan Murdoch, the chief executive of Fox Corporation and Suzanne Scott, chief executive of Fox News Media, according to a person briefed on the move. Carlson was exposed as part of a defamation lawsuit by Dominion Voting System as a bully who denigrated colleagues and sources, often in profane and sexist language, and who called for the firing of Fox journalists whose coverage he disliked. As NPR reports, misogyny was blatant on Carlson’s show and across Fox News as a former Senior booker, Abby Grossberg, spoke out about in a lawsuit. Carlson broke his silence on Twitter in the days following his departure thanking his fans for their support and expressing his belief in the importance of free speech. Carlson seemed to have no idea he was hosting his last show on Fox News at the time and his final minutes on-air were of him eating a sausage and pineapple pizza. Viewership in the 8 p.m. hour that Carlson hosted have plummeted in the days following his departure with the Washington Post reporting that Carlson averaged more than 3 million viewers in his final weeks while the substitute host, Brian Kilmeade, drew only 1.65 million viewers.

Don Lemon Ousted from CNN

One of the most recognizable stars is out. Don Lemon, the longtime on-air host for CNN, parted ways with the network as announced in a statement by CNN’s chairman Chris Licht. As the New York Times reports, Lemon said he was stunned and in a scathing message on Twitter he told viewers that his talent agent had abruptly informed him that he had been terminated by CNN. Lemon wrote that “after 17 years at CNN he would have thought that someone in management would have had the decency to tell me directly.” Poppy Harlow and Kaitlan Collins addressed the ouster of Lemon at the start of “CNN This Morning” the day following, then quickly moved on to delivering the news as reported by The Washington Post. Lemon had been under scrutiny since an uproar over on-air remarks he made about women and aging in February. The incident generated a national uproar and a rare public rebuke from Mr. Licht. According to Vanity Fair, Lemon and Tucker Carlson have reportedly exchanged several texts in the last few days leading to speculation that a friendship may have been forged in the fire of their unceremonious dismissals. Vanity Fair also reports that Lemon and Carlson share the same entertainment lawyer.

Top Leader at NBCUniversal Out Over ‘Inappropriate Relationship”

Just hours before Carlson’s and Lemon’s departures were announced, in an unrelated move, NBCUniversal announced that Jeff Shell, the CEO of the company, is leaving, effective immediately. Comcast, NBCUniversal’s parent company, said the move comes after an investigation into inappropriate conduct as reported on the NBC News homepage. Comcast said it conducted an investigation after a complaint. Shell acknowledged the departure in a statement saying, “Today is my last day as CEO of NBCUniversal. I had an inappropriate relationship with a woman in the company, which I deeply regret.” Hadley Gamble, a CNBC news anchor and international correspondent, came forward as the woman that brought the complaint against Shell, which CNBC reported. In 2021, Shell was awarded almost $10 million, the biggest cash bonus received by any Comcast executive, as part of his $21.6 million pay package.

Trump Ends CNN Boycott: Set to Appear on Network’s Town Hall After Years of Boycotting

Former President Donald Trump has agreed to participate in a CNN town hall on May 10th in New Hampshire marking the end of a yearslong boycott and the first time he has appeared on the channel since the 2016 campaign. The event will be moderated by “CNN This Morning” anchor Kaitlin Collins, who previously served as the network’s Chief White House Correspondent and who gained prominence for her no-holds-barred questioning of Trump. The town hall comes as Trump has emerged as the frontrunner in the Republican field for President in 2024, his biggest potential rival is Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Trump has said that he is running for president regardless of the criminal charges he may face. He’s disparaged all of the investigations as politically motivated witch hunts.

Jack Dorsey’s New Social Media Platform Emerges as Challenger to Musk

Bluesky, an independent project that was initially funded by Twitter when Jack Dorsey was chief executive, is rapidly gaining traction among journalists and some famous names as it bills itself as the fresh alternative to the chaos of Elon Musk’s run Twitter. The momentum comes as Musk, who brought Twitter in October, continues to alienate some users over his changes to the platform, including charging $8 for the blue ticks used to denote celebrities. Bluesky looks much like Twitter where users can post short messages and images and build up followings. The platform is still in invite-only and Beta mode, but visits to both the desktop and mobile app rose nearly 1.5 million globally in April.

Hollywood Writers Go to the Picket Line

The board of directors for the Writers Guild of America voted unanimously to call for a walkout saying writers in Hollywood face an “existential crisis.” Thousands of unionized writers who say they are not being paid fairly in the streaming era have gone on strike. The move comes after high-stakes negotiations between a top guild and a trade association representing Hollywood’s marquee studios failed to avert the walkout. It will be the first strike of its kind in more than 15 years. The walkout means production on some of the most watched television series will grind to a halt. Late-night talk shows are set to go dark this week. In other cases, the producers of scripted drama and comedy series may be forced to cut their seasons short or delay filming altogether.

POLITICO Founder Launches News Organization Aimed at Jumpstarting the Careers of Journalists

The founder of POLITICO, Robert Allbritton, is launching a new nonprofit news organization that is promising to help jumpstart the careers of the next generation of Washington journalists. The Allbritton Journalism Institute, as it will be called, is a non-profit educational organization that says it will train aspiring reporters from different backgrounds and who have different views to create “fact-based, non-partisan journalism on government and politics. The institute will launch a yet-to-be named news organization that will publish work from the fellows. Allbritton has already committed $20 million to the launch.

New WSJ Editor-in-Chief, in Big Move, Drops Company Suffixes

Emma Tucker, the first woman to lead the helm at the Wall Street Journal, announced to staffers that the outlet is dropping its style of including company suffixes. New York Times media reporter Ben Mullin reported the move on Twitter which drew widespread reaction. In a note to staffers, Tucker said the WSJ will no longer routinely use corporate designations, as she called “that alphabet soup of Inc., Co., Corp., PLC, Ltd. and the like”, for companies in The Wall Street Journal. Tucker said they decided that their value is outweighed by the clutter that they often create, especially near the top of important news articles. In the statement, Tucker noted that their March 16 article about the rescue of First Republic Bank included five corporate designations in just one paragraph.

Comcast, Owner of NBCUniversal & CNBC, Releases Smashing Earnings Report

Power-house media company Comcast topped analyst expectations with its first-quarter earnings report. Shares of the company closed 10% higher Thursday despite the cable and media giant’s residential broadband business’s slowing growth and mounting Peacock losses. Cable TV customers continued their exodus from the traditional bundle, with Comcast losing 614,000 subscribers during the quarter.  Comcast executives said on the earnings call that the company expects adding subscribers to likely be a challenge in the near term but will focus on average revenue per user to grow revenue for the segment.

BuzzFeed News Closes Its Doors, New Details on Shutter

BuzzFeed News, the Pulitzer Prize-winning digital news website, closed its doors in April. The move was part of broader layoffs across BuzzFeed, CEO Jonah Peretti said in a memo to staffers, with the company moving to slash 15% of its workforce, or 180 employees. BuzzFeed took the internet by storm nearly a decade ago, and inspired jealousy from the likes of CNN and The New Yor Times as it poached top journalists from legacy newsrooms and opened bureaus across the world. The outlet was seen as the “cool kids” of the industry. But the company in recent years has moved away from that approach, dramatically slimming down its newsroom. Ben Smith, the Semafor co-founder who was the founding editor of BuzzFeed and has a book due out about the “billion-dollar race to go viral,” said the shutter makes it clear the relationship between news publishers and social media is pretty much over.

Vice’s Future in Danger, Reports Suggest Bankruptcy Looms

Vice Media is preparing to file for bankruptcy as it struggles to find a buyer. The digital media company has been dealing with financial issues for some time, with its valuation dropping from $5.7 billion in 2017 to just $1.9 billion in 2021. Vice was known for its edgy content and received funding from high-profile investors, including Disney and Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox. However, the company has failed to turn a profit in recent years and has faced criticism over its workplace culture. The company’s future remains uncertain as it looks to navigate the bankruptcy process and find a new owner.

Career Moves

BBC Chairman Resigns After Investigation of Loan Involvement to Former Prime Minister Boris Johnson

Richard Sharp, the chairman of the BBC, resigned after an investigation found that he failed to disclose his involvement in arranging a nearly $1 million loan for Boris Johnson while he was prime minister. In a video statement, Mr. Sharp, a former banker at Goldman Sachs and a major donor to Mr. Johnson’s Conservative Party said that the omission was “inadvertent and not material, but that he had decided to step down from the broadcaster’s board to prioritize the interests of the BBC.” Sharp’s departure puts more spotlight on the BBC who seems to launch from crisis to crisis. The news and the findings around the role Sharp played in shoring up the personal finances of a prime minister has added to the perception of a conflict of interest in the governance of Britain’s most important media institution.

Nate Silver Leaves ABC News Amid Disney Layoffs Impacting News Division

Disney’s second round of layoffs hit ABC News, impacting Nate Silver, founder of the FiveThirtyEight brand. Sometimes rendered as 538, the website focuses on opinion poll analysis, politics, economics and sports blogging.  Founded in 2008 by Nate Silver, FiveThirtyEight became a major player in data-driven journalism, eventually moving to Disney’s ESPN before settling in at ABC News. Silver’s departure marks the end of his involvement with the site since its inception 15 years ago. Despite the challenges, ABC News is committed to keeping the FiveThirtyEight name and streamlining the site for greater efficiency. ABC News, meanwhile, is once again grappling with layoffs after a slew of senior executives were cut last month. By the end of this week, the company expects to have shed about 4,000 positions.

Dana Bash takes over as host of CNN’s ‘Inside Politics’ from John King

John King will be leaving his position as anchor of “Inside Politics” at CNN and will take on a new role at the network. He will be succeeded by Dana Bash, who will take over as the anchor of the popular show later this year. King will shift to a new position at CNN that will focus on voters in swing states for the upcoming 2024 presidential election while still serving as the network’s chief national correspondent. The development marks the latest programming changes to CNN in recent months, as Chris Licht, who took over as chief executive last year, works to put his stamp on the network.


CBS News ramps up Washington coverage with new streaming show ‘America Decides’

CBS News has announced plans to launch “America Decides,” a new streaming service focused on political coverage in Washington, D.C. The service will feature live events, interviews, and analysis, as well as original content and documentaries. CBS News hopes to attract younger viewers and expand its coverage of politics beyond traditional television. The service is set to launch later this year and will be available on CBS All Access and other streaming platforms.

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