Editor's Notes at EditorsNotes.com

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Court TV Host Target of Controversy

"An absolute lie" is what Court TV's Lisa Bloom calls allegations that she relayed a settlement offer to O'Reilly's camp. Bloom, in turn, accuses Fox, notorious for unprofessional behavior toward those they don't like, of trashing her because her analysis isn't kind to O'Reilly. And indeed, an anonymous source identified as a "Fox insider" was trashing Bloom to TVNewser as early as Tuesday. But Fox News spokesman Brian Lewis says, "It's ironic that Lisa is accusing Fox of doing the same thing she's doing on a nightly basis to Bill and the network." What Bloom is accusing Fox of, however, is malicious lying. Lewis continues, "By not disclosing her conflict of interest, Lisa is just adding to her credibility problem."
Boston Herald Sorry for Controversial Cover

A photo of a young woman who was killed in a Red Sox celebration appeared on the cover of Friday's Boston Herald. The photo showed the woman lying on the ground, bleeding, and provoked a vocal negative response from readers. The paper is apologizing.

(Cit.: Lost Remote)
Air America Lands in Seattle

Seattle's 1090 KYCW will become 1090 KTPK "Progressive Talk Radio" on Monday, an Air America affiliate. 1090 is the former frequency of the legendary KING calls, a 50,000-watt blowtorch, and marks Infinity Radio's first foray into the liberal talk format.

From an Infinity memo, the schedule will be:

3-6a: Morning Sedition
6-9a: Unfiltered
9-Noon: Al Franken
Noon-3p: Ed Schutlz
3-7p: Randi Rhodes
7-10p: Majority Report

Left, Right Agree: Sinclair Caved

Early reaction from liberals and conservatives to Sinclair's pre-election special is that Sinclair was more than fair to Kerry. Commenters at Free Republic, a conservative site, remark that "It looks more like a Kerry campaign ad about half the time," "I hoping for some 'steak' and all we're getting is hamburger," and, "More attention was given to Kerry's movie and it's director, George Butler, etc. than any of the Stolen Honor movie."

The folks over at Daily Kos, a liberal site, seem to agree. One commenter posted a long description of the piece and summarized, "I think if it has any impact it will help Kerry. I'm a bit stunned!"

I'm sure someone's processing it into QuickTime as we type.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Breaking FalafelGate News: Sources Say Settlement 'Imminent'

Celebrity Justice:

Multiple sources directly connected to the Mackris case told "CJ" on Friday that lawyers for the talk show host and the TV producer were in serious talks and that a settlement appeared "imminent."

"CJ" has also learned there apparently was a settlement offer early on. A source close to Mackris claims that before the lawsuits were launched, O'Reilly offered Mackris $4 million out of his own pocket to keep quiet.
FalafelGate: Making Up for Lost Time Edition

So what if I've been gone a while. I bring you falafel.

It appears Mackris is still hoping to settle out of court. NYDN, which has had by far the best coverage of this case, cites a source close to O'Reilly as saying Mackris' attorney used Court TV's Lisa Bloom as a go-between to notify O'Reilly investigator Bo Dietl that they're "willing to settle."

Mackris' side has maintained they always wanted to settle privately, that they never demanded $60M but simply stated $60M was O'Reilly's worth to Fox, and that it was O'Reilly's side that broke off negotiations by filing the first lawsuit.

This might explain why any supposed tapes haven't yet been made public: They're being used as a bargaining chip. If the case is settled, they don't become public. Just a theory.

And a side note: The law firm defending O'Reilly generously donates to Democrats, a charge he made of Mackris' lawyer as evidence of a partisan motive against him.

Update: AP and Reuters bring word of ongoing talks between the parties.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Antonin Scalia Frightens Photogs


Scalia turned churlish, however, when a photographer began taking pictures during the session.

"That's enough," Scalia snapped at a photographer for The Associated Press, Manuel Balce Ceneta, who was shooting pictures of another panelist, former FBI Director Louis Freeh.


Another photographer ventured to the front to take pictures, but scurried away in the face of angry looks from Scalia - dropping some of his camera equipment, which he left behind.
FalafelGate: Tapes Will Prove Set-Up Job - O'Reilly

In what appears to be a tacit admission that O'Reilly said at least some of the things Mackris alleges, O'Reilly's attorneys have filed a new affidavit demanding Mackris hand over whatever tapes she has, claiming they will prove O'Reilly was set up.

But in an interview with NYDN, Mackris asks, "How is it my fault, what has happened here? I could have stood naked in front of him and there was still no way he should be allowed to get away with what he did."

Mackris still refuses O'Reilly's demand, however, asking, "Why should we tell what evidence we have? [...] They've forced our hand enough. Now they're going on my timetable, and we want this trial to be in court."

Mackris maintains that O'Reilly's team ended negotiations by leveling the first lawsuit, and accuses O'Reilly of "trying to destroy me" ever since.
Conan Repeats May Kill CNBC's McEnroe

Stephen Battaglio, TV Guide:

Struggling NBC-owned cable network CNBC is currently in talks to get second runs of Late Night with Conan O'Brien. CNBC wants to air Late Night a day after it airs on NBC, most likely at 10 pm, starting next month. Sources tell The Biz that the channel is just waiting for O'Brien to sign off on the deal.

Moving Late Night into prime time would likely mean the mercy killing of McEnroe, the train wreck of a talk show with former tennis star John McEnroe. Ratings for McEnroe have occasionally been too low for Nielsen to measure. CNBC will also have an opening at 7 pm when the Washington-based talk show Capital Report goes away, but we're betting on 10 pm.
Sen. Landrieu Goes All Jon Stewart on Hannity

Sean Hannity interviewed Dick Cheney in the first half-hour of Hannity & Colmes tonight, and afterward, Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu was invited on as the "first Democrat to respond" to the interview. Hannity asked Landrieu about Kerry's reference to Cheney's lesbian daughter, and Landrieu responded:

First I want to say, I wouldn't call what just happened with the vice president an interview, it was an infomercial for the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign.

Hannity was furious about this, calling Landrieu a "lousy senator," saying, "If you don't like it, I don't really care," and referring to Landrieu's comments as an "insult" and "cheap shot." Landrieu denied it was an insult, that it was her sincere judgement of the interview. When Hannity interrupted her, Landrieu ojected that he didn't interrupt the vice president. Hannity shot back, "Well, you're not the vice president and I doubt you ever will be."

While Colmes had his time with the Senator, Hannity jumped in with a finger-pointing retort ("It's a lie and you know it!") in response to Landrieu talking about privatization of Social Security. Colmes chided Hannity: "It's my turn to talk."

At the end of the interview, Landrieu talked about Republicans accusing Democrats of "giving aid and comfort to Osama bin Laden." Hannity asserted that she couldn't prove what she had just said, and invited Landrieu back on the show tomorrow to give the quotes.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Sinclair Stock Rebounds

Sinclair stock rebounded from its steep declines this week, up 79 cents to $7.05, though that was still down 54 cents from its opening last Monday. This, after Sinclair annonuced its pre-election plans.

Sinclair had always mantained that it would not air Stolen Honor in its entirety, but its announcement that it will split the film into segments and intersperse it with a panel discussion seems to have satisfied most of its protesters, though one group is still keeping up pressure. I suppose things depend on what the panel has to say.
Just In: Controversy Boosts Ratings

On Friday, Crossfire's ratings were up 58% from their Q3 average, and were up 24% on Monday. O'Reilly's much higher ratings have been up nearly 35% over Q3.
FalafelGate: More Details, Disputes Emerge

From NYDN we learn that Mackris' lawyer says he was never seeking $60M, he maintains that he was only valuing O'Reilly as worth $60M to Fox. Lawyers for Fox say they offered a $2M settlement, but both O'Reilly's and Mackris' attorneys dispute that. Also, a source close to Mackris has supposedly given to CourtTV's Lisa Bloom the manuscript of a book that was previously characterized as some sort of tell-all. Bloom says the book is in fact a work of fiction that doesn't mention O'Reilly or Fox at all. In addition, regarding the incident in which Mackris supposedly "went nuts" with other customers in a hotel bar, it turns out the bar evicted the other patrons and offered Mackris a gift to make amends.

Mackris has now updated her lawsuit, accusing Fox of retribution for a story published the also-Murdoch-owned NY Post, and we're guessing it's this one.

The Post is now reporting on a lawsuit Mackris' attorney filed a couple years ago, which is called "eerily similar" to the current suit.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Media Mogul/Messiah Returns to U.S.

After declaring a self-imposed exile from the US until 2012 -- due to "homo marriage" -- Rev. Sun Myung Moon, self-proclaimed messiah and owner of UPI and the Washington Times, has returned a bit early. Welcome back, Father. We hope you'll provide us as much entertainment as has Bill O'Reilly.
Shareholders Plan to Sue Sinclair

Shareholders are planning multiple lawsuits against Sinclair, alleging insider trading and damage from the decision to air their pre-election program, as well as demanding equal time.
FalafelGate: O'Reilly Scraps Kids' Book Interviews

There will be no more appearances on Live! with Regis and Kelly for O'Reilly to defend himself from sexual harrassment allegations and tell kids how to live moral, upstanding lives.

FalafelGate: O'Reilly Attacks Mackris' Credibility

O'Reilly's lawyer is putting forward a Manhattan restaurant owner to challenge Mackris' credibility. The restaurateur, Matthew Paratore, says Mackris told him she wanted to take down O'Reilly to write a book, says she once dined with Al Franken, and says she was banned from the bar for drunken sexual rants and come-ons.

Mackris' lawyer dismissed the claims:

"Andrea never wrote a book, she never went to a publisher," he said. "And what would a book have to have in it to bring down a company as big as Fox?

"This is ridiculous. They have got nothing and they are grasping at straws," Morelli said. "They can find witnesses to say anything about anybody, but unless they have proof it's worthless."
CNN More Newyorkified

Atlanta loses two more hours of the CNN schedule to the land of media elites as Carol Costello and her early AM "Daybreak" show pack up and move out. That leaves just four hours of programming from Atlanta: Live From and Live Today with two hours each.
Sinclair Announces New Pre-Election Plans

After a late-session rally, shares of Sinclair stock fell 23 cents for the day to $6.26, down $1.32, or 17.4%, since last Monday, the first trading day after Sinclair's anti-Kerry film plans became public.

The late-day rally is due to word that Sinclair will only show part of "Stolen Honor," and will do so on 40 stations, not all 62, this Friday. It's unclear how this plan will affect the protests against Sinclair.
Sinclair's Top Political Reporter Fired

In response to his harsh criticism of Sinclair's anti-Kerry film plans, Sinclair has fired their top political reporter.

Howard Kurtz, WP:

Jon Lieberman, who also was the lead political reporter for the 62-station television chain, told CNN last night that he was terminated for his criticism, which was quoted in yesterday's Baltimore Sun. He spoke out, he said, because "I feel so strongly that our credibility is at issue here. . . . I feel our company is trying to sway this election."


Sinclair Vice President Mark Hyman said in a statement: "Everyone is entitled to their personal opinion, including Jon Lieberman. We are disappointed that Jon's political views caused him to speak to the press about company business." The statement called him a "disgruntled employee."

Lieberman, 29, called that characterization "completely unfair," telling CNN's Paula Zahn that Sinclair had promoted him twice and treated him well until he criticized plans to have the news division handle the upcoming hour-long special at a meeting Sunday.


Lieberman acknowledged that he was violating Sinclair policy by giving an unauthorized interview and revealing part of what happened at a company meeting, but said he felt he had no choice but to speak out. "I knew I had nothing to gain by doing it and everything to lose," he said. "I need to be able to sleep at night."

(I believe the name is Leiberman.)

Update: The CNN transcript is online.
Over 500,000 Watch Stewart/Crossfire Clash on iFilm

iFilm reports 505,948 views of its Jon Stewart/Crossfire clip as of this hour. Whose side do you think those visitors are on?

Monday, October 18, 2004

Jon Stewart Cares

In response to Crossfire calling Jon Stewart an unfunny, uninformed pompous ass, Stewart today wanted Paul Begala, James Carville and Robert Novak not to feel left out.

"They're all dicks," he assured his viewers.

More to come.
Sinclair's Top Political Reporter Slams Network

David Folkenflik, BaltSun:

"It's biased political propaganda, with clear intentions to sway this election," said Jon Leiberman, Sinclair's lead political reporter for more than a year. "For me, it's not about right or left -- it's about what's right or wrong in news coverage this close to an election."


Leiberman said he was anguished by his decision to speak out. But, he said, the influence of commentator Mark Hyman and Chief Executive David D. Smith has been devastating. "There is going to be a concerted effort on the part of my colleagues to make this as balanced a program as they can," Leiberman said. "But the selection of the material -- dumping it on the news department, and giving them four days, and running it this close to the election -- it's indefensible, in my opinion."

Leiberman said he told Sinclair's vice president for news, Joseph DeFeo, that he would not contribute to the program and that DeFeo suggested the reporter could lose his job.
Assorted Falafel Filling

Bill O'Reilly is having quite the hard time in the media lately. The story's latest eight headlines on Google News are:

O'Reilly May Need Top Spin This Time
Report: Fox May Fire Producer Who Sued O'Reilly
Fox News Covers for Bill O'Reilly
O'Reilly at the Whipping Post
O'Reilly's Turn at the Whipping Post
Sexual Harassment Factor

Yikes. You'd think he had a lot of enemies or something.

Fox News is attempting to fire O'Reilly's accuser, but wants a court to first rule that this would not be considered retribution. In the mean time, Mackris is barred from going to work, and hasn't been to her office or picked up her paycheck since she and O'Reilly traded lawsuits Wednesday. I realize she couldn't effectively work under O'Reilly now, but News Corp. is a pretty big company -- couldn't she just be transferred somewhere?

Predictably, O'Reilly's ratings surged on Thursday. Laura Ingraham thinks it's CNN's fault, but I somehow doubt CNN's 31 minutes of coverage has much to do with it. It's a celebrity scandal, Laura. People are interested.

Several readers have tipped me to an online forum message written by O'Reilly accuser Andrea Mackris in 2003, to which people are now posting all kinds of fascinating responses. I suggest, however, if you want to waste your time having O'Reilly-related fun, you try The Falafel Game.
Sinclair Stock Tanks

Sinclair stock dropped 7.8% today on fears of advertiser pullouts in response to the company's controversial decision to air an anti-Kerry film in the run-up to the election, according to Jon Friedman of CBS Marketwatch. At $6.49, the stock is down over 13% from last Monday's opening of $7.58 a share.
Novak/Carville: Stewart an Unfunny, Uninformed Pompous Ass

There was zero applause as James Carville welcomed Robert Novak back to Crossfire today after weeks of leave due to a hip injury. At the end of the show, however, Crossfire gave viewers what they really wanted to see: a reaction to Jon Stewart's extraordinary appearance on Friday's show.

They picked one positive and one negative reaction from their mailbag, with one man going so far as to call Stewart "the most overrated, overhyped comedian in the world today," protesting that he could see through the talking points put forth on the show just fine. The viewer didn't explain, however, why he would then bother to watch the show.

Not surprisingly, Novak had even stronger words for the comedian who has dubbed him a "douchebag of liberty." Novak said, "I don't think he's funny and I know he's uninformed." Carville did Novak one better, calling Stewart a "pompous ass" -- not for anything he said on the show, but for debating with Ted Koppel, who is apparently beyond reproach. (See item two of Tuesday's Lloyd Grove.)

Simplistic name calling. Stewart clearly elevated the dialogue.

Update: The transcript is up.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

FalafelGate: FNC Silent

MediaMatters does the math: While CNN devoted 31 minutes of its live news day to FalafelGate, and 82 minutes of MSNBC air time went to the story, Fox News was silent, save for 36 seconds of O'Reilly's Talking Points Memo.

CBS talked about its scandal.
Fmr FCC Chair Slams Powell's Sinclair Statements

Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo posts a letter from former FCC chair Reed Hundt:

Chairman Powell instead pretends that he has been asked to bar the showing of the propaganda -- which no one has asked him to do. His remarks are so far off the point, and he is so intelligent, that one must conclude that he knows what he is doing and intends the result -- tacit and plain encouragement of the use of the Sinclair airwaves to pursue a smear campaign. No broadcast group in the history of America has ever committed an hour to smearing a presidential candidate, and no FCC chairman before this one would have reacted with equanimity to this radical step down in broadcasting ethics.