Thursday, February 12, 2015

While You Weren't Looking (unless you're a Viacom stockholder)

While the world was arguing and debating the merit of Brian Williams six month suspension, without pay, from the NBC Nightly News, Jon Stewart and Comedy Central decided to rattle the cages of television viewers even further with the surprise announcement that Stewart would not be returning to the Daily Show  after the current season.  Since replacing Craig Kilborn in 1999, Stewart is the only host most viewers of the show have ever known. Their shock and dismay comes as no surprise nor should anyone be surprised to learn that stock in Comedy Central's parent company, Viacom, took a hit too on the heels of Stewart's surprise revelation. According to some Wall Street observers, Viacom's shareholders took that massive hit to the tune of somewhere around 350 million dollars.  That's a lot of bank for a newsman, who is not really a newsman.  There's no doubt that's a huge amount for a company to lose on a fake newscast.  While it's true that Stewart is a huge ratings and revenue cash cow for Comedy Central, the network is only a small part of the Viacom stable and this announcement should not have had that kind of impact on the company overall. But it did.  It is also also a huge indicator where the lines between entertainment and journalism are becoming more and more blurred every day. And going in the other direction, much like the lines between journalism and entertainment are becoming more and more blurred as evidenced with the recent Brian Williams scandal. 

Who will they get to replace Jon Stewart?  I'm not sure and I don't think the big cheeses at Viacom  have a clue either.  One thing is for sure though......they had better look and act a lot like Jon Stewart OR Brian Williams and be damn funny too or it might take Viacom  a long time to recover that 350 million in lost stock value!

Til Next Time............

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Brian Williams: Has The Fat Lady Sung Her Song?

Photo Credit: David Shankbone

It's a real shame he felt the need to embellish a story and in turn, damage his career this way. Brian Williams was probably the only reporter/anchor at NBC (on either cable or broadcast) that seemed to even attempt to show any sort of objectivity in his reporting. He didn't always succeed, but more often than not he did. Now we learn this. Disappointed? Yes. Surprised? Not really. I believe there are several factors that led to the scenario where something like this could happen. It's not the first time something like this has happened and I'm sure it won't be the last. But it is the first time someone with the stature of Brian Williams has gotten caught and called out on it. As for this particular situation, NBC thinks a 6 month suspension without pay is appropriate punishment. For Williams, that amounts to a loss of up of $4,000,000 to HIS bottom line. I think Brian Williams done at NBC, at least as far as the Nightly News broadcast goes. NBC typically wins 3 or 4 of the 5 nightly news battles each week on the "broadcast networks." If his "temporary" replacement, Lester Holt, can come in and sustain that or even improve those numbers, the end result is a foregone conclusion. There's no way NBC/Comcast takes a highly visible, much respected, and successful African American out of the anchor chair. It just isn't going to happen. That said, can Williams salvage his career? Maybe. Will he ever anchor a nightly newscast again? Who knows. Time will tell. Maybe Brian Williams can find a spot on MSNBC or at FOX? I certainly hope so, but there's a lot of trust to re-earned and regained before he can do that. Either way, it's a real shame to see an otherwise stellar career take this kind of hit. The fat lady has sung her song for Williams just yet, but at the end of the day and regardless of the how or why, he has no one to blame his current situation on but himself. A cautionary tale indeed.

Til Next Time..................