Fox News bows big, CNN's revolving door and MSNBC bets on Baldwin
Debuts and departures, corrections and a ratings row — it was a wooly week in cable news. Here's a look:
Fox News began the week with the launch of its first primetime schedule switch in over a decade. Megyn Kelly's new 9 p.m. show “The Kelly File” narrowly lost to MSNBC's “Maddow” in the 25-54 demo Monday, only to trounce the timeslot on Tuesday when it more than doubled its demo numbers — a gain so impressive that MSNBC president Phil Griffin called for an investigation into Nielsen's accounting.
Shepard Smith also had a big debut, with his new 3 p.m. “Shepard Smith Reporting” broadcasting live from the Fox News Deck, the channel's massive new breaking news complex. The 55 inch tablet desks Smith promised TheWrap back in September were out in full force, drawing widespread derision from Fox News’ usual haters. Time (and a few breaking news events) will tell if Smith is leading us into the future of news or more show than tell.
CNN's revolving door was out in full force. Contributor Ari Fleischer and longtime correspondent Jessica Yellin are gone, but former “Nightline” co-anchor Bill Weir is in. And Rachel Nichols will finally get her CNN show — after a short delay, “Unguarded with Rachel Nichols” is set to premiere on Oct. 25.
CNN also had a few public relations woes. On Tuesday, CNN reported that the United States was suspending aid to Egypt — which the National Security Council's spokeswoman strongly denied, calling the report “false.” By Wednesday, the government confirmed that it was suspending some of its military aid to the country.
CNN updated its story to reflect the clarification, adding: “In an initial report about the announcement, CNN did not specify that these portions of the aid would continue.” A spokeswoman for the network told TheWrap: “the initial report left the impression that the U.S. was suspending all aid to Egypt. In the updated story, it was made clear that some aid including money for counter-terrorism and democracy promotion would continue.”
And CNN stalwart Wolf Blitzer made some news of his own on Wednesday, when he said Democrats “should accept the advice Republicans are giving them, delay [Obamacare] for a year.” Many — including Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus — assumed Blitzer was calling for Obamacare to be delayed, a seemingly partisan stance on a nonpartisan network.
Blitzer later tweeted that he was only talking about the Obamacare website — not the entire law.
MSNBC got some good press this week when “Morning Joe” host Mika Brzezinski gave a young journalist some career assistance during a talk at the Columbia Journalism School.
When its president wasn't throwing around accusations about rival networks’ ratings, MSNBC was preparing for the debut of Alec Baldwin's new chat show, “Up Late With Alec Baldwin,” airing Friday at 10 p.m. His first guest will be New York City Democratic mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio; two clips of their talk are below: