Andy Rooney dead at 92

Andy Rooney, the “60 Minutes” commentator known to generations for his wry, humorous and contentious television essays – a unique genre he is credited with inventing – died Friday night in a hospital in New York City of complications following minor surgery. He was 92, and had homes in New York City, Rensselaerville, N.Y. and Rowayton, Conn.

“It’s a sad day at ’60 Minutes’ and for everybody here at CBS News,” said Jeff Fager, chairman of CBS News and the executive producer of “60 Minutes.” “It’s hard to imagine not having Andy around. He loved his life and he lived it on his own terms. We will miss him very much.”

Rooney had announced on Oct. 2, 2011 in his 1,097th essay for “60 Minutes” that he would no longer appear regularly.

Rooney wrote for television since its birth, spending more than 60 years at CBS, 30 of them behind the camera as a writer and producer, first for entertainment and then news programming, before becoming a television personality – a role he said he was never comfortable in. He preferred to be known as a writer and was the author of best-selling books and a national newspaper column, in addition to his “60 Minutes” essays.

More info at CBS News.

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CNN revamps “American Morning,” according to NY Times

More change (upheaval?) at CNN.  Brian Stelter of the NY Times reports that Soledad O’Brien, one of its former morning anchors, will start anchoring from 7 to 9 a.m. weekdays. Ashleigh Banfield, until recently a correspondent for ABC News, will start co-anchoring from 5 to 7 a.m.

The plan, described by three people with direct knowledge of it, will effectively dismantle “American Morning,” which has had about 10 co-anchors in its 10 years on CNN. The people spoke on the condition of anonymity because the changes had not been announced. A CNN spokeswoman declined to comment on Sunday.

“American Morning” trails the three broadcast networks, “Fox and Friends” and MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,”  as well as sister network HLN’s “Morning Express” with Robin Meade” in the ratings.  The show never recovered from the loss of John Roberts at the beginning of the year.  Roberts is now a high profile anchor on Fox News.

CNN has not yet officially announced that Ashleigh Banfield, the former high profile NBC reporter and currently a host on TruTV, is joining the network.

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Alan Chertoff leaves CNN to enter PR world

Advertising Age has reported that 10-year veteran CNN correspondent Alan Chertoff is leaving the network to join PR-industry giant Fleishman-Hillard. Chernoff will be based in Fleishman’s New York office and serve as a full-time business media consultant.

It seems many familiar faces on CNN have left the company in the past year.  Is it just me, or is it a major trend?

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L. Brent Bozell: Here Come the Ailes Haters

When I did a Google search for Roger Ailes yesterday, I was struck by the fact that the number two entry was the very unflattering and factually-flawed “Rolling Stone” article from last May about the Fox News chief.

I thought I’d offer this column from L. Brent Bozell, president of the Media Research Center to make the story a bit more “fair and balanced.”

One part of the liberal media’s Obama re-election effort is well under way: trying to destroy the reputation of Fox News and its president, Roger Ailes. Two long new magazine “exposes” have attempted to demonize Ailes and his allegedly brain-dead minions as the antithesis of good journalism.

The funnier one came from Rolling Stone magazine, which ran the title “How Roger Ailes Built the Fox News Fear Factory.” How little does this rag understand good journalism? It took only a few lines before staff writer/fantasist Tim Dickinson fell on his face. After painting a picture of employees loyally cheering the boss at a holiday party, Dickinson entertained comparisons to…Mao Zedong.

“It was as though we were looking at Mao,” said disgruntled ex-employee Charlie Reina. “It’s like the Soviet Union or China: People are always looking over their shoulders,” added “a former executive” with News Corporation. Dickinson also said Ailes runs “the most formidable propaganda machine ever seen outside the communist bloc.”

Put aside that Ailes isn’t responsible for 70 million deaths and mass cannibalism, and that his politics are essentially the philosophical opposite of communism – and OK, he’s Mao. More journalistic idiocy: Rolling Stone vaguely reported this Chairman Roger holiday party took place the year Fox overtook CNN in the cable ratings. That would be…2002. A nine-year-old useless anecdote isn’t “news” – unless you’re Rolling Stone and need to discuss journalism.

Like every other leftist rag, Rolling Stone asserted Ailes wasn’t running a news network, but a permanent campaign. “The network, at its core, is a giant soundstage created to mimic the look and feel of a news operation, cleverly camouflaging political propaganda as independent journalism.”

It’s amusing to see a magazine express tender concern about the state of journalism while its cover story is “Monster Goddess: A Wild Week with Lady Gaga,” with Gaga in a black lace bra on the cover.

So let’s ask if Rolling Stone has the sense of fairness and balance that allows it to denounce Fox News as too political. This is the same magazine that ran two worshipful Obama covers last time, one without any words and the other with a worshipful, glowing aura around Barack (could we reverse the Mao analogies, anyone?).

In the summer of 2008, Rolling Stone founder Jann Wenner ended an interview with Obama — whose campaign he financially supported — by saying, “Good luck. We are following you daily with great hope and admiration.”

Fox News being criticized by Rolling Stone is a little like being mocked as unserious journalists by Tiger Beat.

The other anti-Ailes story came from New York magazine. The cover read “Fox News made a circus out of the Republican Party. And boy, does Roger Ailes regret it now.”

Reporter Gabriel Sherman blamed Fox for ruining the GOP primary field. “So it must have been disturbing to Ailes when the wheels started to come off Fox’s presidential-circus caravan. All he had to do was watch Fox’s May 5 debate in South Carolina to see what a mess the field was – a mess partly created by the loudmouths he’d given airtime to and a tea party he’d nurtured.”

So in two sentences it’s established as empirical truth that a) the GOP will not capture the White House in 2012 because b) its candidates are disasters because c) Fox created them because d) Ailes wants to control the world (or something like that). Two sentences.

The hot quote in the Sherman story was someone claiming Ailes thought Sarah Palin is an “idiot.” Here we go with those anonymous sources again. Ailes is trashed by “a person close to Ailes,” “another Republican close to Ailes,” “a GOPer who knows Ailes well,” “a person familiar with his thinking” and “a former Fox executive.” These sources could all be the same individual, for all the reader knows. Or the author. Or nobody. (Ask Jayson Blair or Janet Cooke how this works.)

Roger Ailes is not the “head of the Republican Party,” as these writers claim. One can question Ailes for hiring a pile of potential presidential candidates as on-air analysts. But it’s downright bizarre that liberal reporters would pretend that Fox is glaringly unique with Clinton press secretary George Stephanopoulos anchoring at ABC, and Eliot Spitzer anchoring at CNN, and Jay Carney moving effortlessly from Time magazine to the Obama-Biden press operation.

Since when has there not been a transparently partisan liberal media elite much larger and more numerous than Fox, “cleverly camouflaging political propaganda as independent journalism”? Did we just imagine all the “historic” promotional hot air and leg-thrill orations that inflated Obama’s balloon in 2008?

The major named sources in Sherman’s story were Obama spinners David Axelrod and Anita Dunn. She insisted Ailes is “great at making the mainstream press feel guilty about their liberal bias.” Okay, so they got one thing right.

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Washington’s new “bad boy” of journalism

Roy Greenslade, the media critic of the UK’s Guardian newspaper, recently profiled Jason Mattera, the 28 year old editor of of Human Events, a conservative magazine and website and his unorthodox questioning of Vice President Joe Biden.  The unabashedly liberal Greenslade lauds Mattera’s aggressive tactics to get to the truth.

Check out the story at:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/greenslade/2011/oct/30/us-press-publishing-joebiden

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TV news veteran Marvin Kalb comments on Sunday morning news shows & Fox News ‘course corrrection’

TVNewser posted an insightful interview with long-time TV journo Marvin Kalb.  Kalb was one of “Murrow’s Boys” at CBS News in the 1950s before heading to NBC and becoming a long-time host of “Meet the Press.”

Some highlights of the interview, which can be seen in full at TVNewser:

TVNewser caught up with Kalb, 81, during a visit to Chicago’s Pritzker Military Library Thursday night, during a speaking tour for a book he co-authored with his daughter Deborah KalbHaunting Legacy: Vietnam and the American Presidency From Ford to Obama addresses how the shadow of the war continues to affect White House decision-making to this day.

TVNewser: In your talk tonight you said that “today’s reporters are better educated about the military than they’ve ever been”. Which current tvnewsers do you think do a good job of covering the Pentagon, the military?

Kalb: Jim Miklaszewski at NBC does a very fine job. At CBS, David Martin is a highly-experienced, skillful, knowledgeable reporter who’s about as solid in covering the Pentagon as anybody you can find.  And there are many others as well, but those are two first-rate TV reporters.

TVNewser: I want to ask you about Andy Rooney, whom you know well and who’s in the hospital right now.  Do you know anything about his condition?

Kalb: No I don’t…Andy is a remarkable example of a reporter who started in World War II, and right up to the present day, was able to observe the nuttiness of life.  And reported with a touch of humor and class.  And he will always be among my favorites.

TVNewserFox News CEO Roger Ailes recently talked about a “course correction” for the network.  As an FNC contributor, what are your thoughts on that?

Kalb: I think that Roger Ailes is one of the most brilliant showmen, one of the most brilliant executives, in the TV business today.  And if Roger senses that the Fox News people have been going too far in one direction, and he’s reigning them in, then that’s probably a very sensible thing to do…

My gut feeling is that Fox is really two Foxes: there’s the evening Fox of highly-opinionated people who are not really journalists but they’re opinion people.  And then there’s during the day, when the journalists are at work.

TVNewser: In 2012, it will be 25 years since you were moderator of NBC’s Meet the Press.  Recently, Bob Schieffer‘s Face the Nation has made some real ratings inroads in the Sunday morning show horse race.  What are your thoughts about that, in this post-Tim Russert era?

Kalb: No one could follow Tim Russert and beat Tim Russert, no matter how good you might be.  So if there is a slippage at Meet the Press, it’s probably inevitable.  Bob Schieffer is first-class, he’s a wonderful interviewer, a highly experienced journalist.

And for a long time, he’s been operating with the disability of doing a thirty-minute program, where Meet the Press is of course an hour.  But Schieffer’s dignity and the capacity he has to ask very good questions in a most gentle way, has always been a great favorite with the American people.  And if [Face the Nation] appears to be bouncing up now, so much the better for Bob.

But as far as Meet the Press slipping a bit, I put that into the category of what is almost inevitable.

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Ailes Apprentice Program graduates 7th class

With little fanfare, the Ailes Apprentice Program at Fox News just graduated its 7th annual class on October 26th.  Fox identifies talented young people, from minority communities, and mentors them into the mainstream of corporate success.

This year’s graduating class includes Bryan Llenas, Amanda Morales, Steven Soto and Georeen Tanner.  Former New York Mayor David Dinkins is one of the patrons of the program.  Attending this year’s graduation were (pictured from left to right) Fox News Correspondent Geraldo Rivera, Mayor Dinkins, former astronaut and California Congressional candidate Jose Hernandez and Fox News chief Roger Ailes.

In addition, Ailes also announced that he was giving two $10,000 scholarships to students at St. Augustine and Hofstra University.

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