16 Media Losers of 2016, From Roger Ailes to Billy Bush (Photos)
TheWrap’s Best & Worst 2016: Who fell beneath its tracks in the media industry this year?
Brian Flood | December 27, 2016 @ 9:23 AM
Last Updated: December 27, 2016 @ 9:26 AM
As 2016 wraps up, it's time to declare the winners and losers of the media industry. The bizarre year featured a wild presidential election, the head of a top cable news network stepping down in disgrace and numerous pundits emerging as household names. Check out 16 losers from 2016.
The disgraced former Fox News CEO was arguably the most powerful man in media until Gretchen Carlson accused him of sexual harassment and numerous women came forward with similar claims. He resigned last summer and Fox news settled with Carlson and publicly apologized.
Also Read:6 New Revelations From Vanity Fair’s Explosive Roger Ailes Expose
The Netflix host was an outspoken Hillary Clinton supporter and was brought to tears when discussing Donald Trump’s victory.
“Sorry, I hate f—ing crying on camera,” an emotional Handler said before discussing that she had threatened to move to Spain if Trump won the election but was talked out of it.
Also Read:Chelsea Handler Cries Over President-Elect Donald Trump (Video)
The former MSNBC and ESPN host went the entire 2016 presidential election cycle without landing a gig on cable news and eventually started offering commentary online through GQ. Olbermann is one of the most polarizing political pundits in the media industry and, if he didn’t land a primetime show in 2016, then it’s probably not looking good moving forward.
Also Read:Keith Olbermann Hosts New GQ Web Series
The former “Today” show co-host lost his job after The Washington Post published a videotape of Donald Trump on a hot mic boasting about kissing, groping and having sex with women. “When you’re a star, they let you do anything … I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything,” he said. “Grab ‘em by the pu-y.”
Bush is heard throughout the tape agreeing with Trump as he made disparaging remarks about a married woman, and even egged him on. Bush is out of work, but the same can’t be said for Trump.
Also Read:Donald Trump Calls ‘Access Hollywood’ Leak Illegal, Hints He Might Sue NBC (Video)
Pollsters and data journalists
Nate Silver is the face of data-driven journalism and the FiveThirtyEight founder called all 50 states correctly during the 2012 election. This year the election didn’t go so well for anyone in the industry, including Silver.
Silver reported on Election Day that Clinton had a 71.4 percent chance of winning the election. His site was wrong about the outcome in major battleground states including Florida, North Carolina and Pennsylvania, and Trump obviously won the election in addition to the individual states that were supposed to vote Clinton.
Also Read:Nate Silver Blew It Bigly on the Election – Can His Brand Recover?
Bill Simmons’ highly publicized HBO show “Any Given Wednesday” was canceled after only four months. The former ESPN star still has a comprehensive overall deal with HBO, a successful podcast and website, but getting canceled so quickly after so much buildup has to sting.
“One of the many reasons I joined HBO was to see if we could create a show built around smart conversations for sports fans and pop culture junkies,” Simmons said in a statement. “We loved making that show, but unfortunately it never resonated with audiences like we hoped.”
Also Read:Bill Simmons Gets Torched by NBC’s Cris Collinsworth Over Canceled HBO Show
A lot of people in the media were wrong about Trump, but few were as bold and arrogant about it as the HuffPost. When Trump first announced his candidacy, the HuffPost decided to cover Trump’s presidential campaign in its entertainment section, claiming the site won’t participate in the legitimacy of a “sideshow.”
The site was denied credentials to Trump events because of the decision, so it eventually moved coverage to the political section with the following editor’s note on every story: “Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.”
Also Read:Can Lydia Polgreen Fix ‘Miserable’ Huffington Post?
The DNC interim head and former CNN contributor probably won’t land a gig on TV anytime soon after leaked emails indicate she sent town hall and debate questions to the Clinton campaign before the CNN events during the Democratic primary race against Bernie Sanders.
CNN President Jeff Zucker blasted Brazile’s behavior as “unethical” and “disgusting.” Needless to say, CNN cut ties with her shortly after the news broke.
Also Read:CNN’s Jeff Zucker Calls Donna Brazile’s Actions ‘Disgusting’ and ‘Unethical’
The “Live!” co-host took a four-episode hiatus after being blindsided with news that Michael Strahan was ditching her for a permanent role on “Good Morning Amercia.” She was widely reported to be furious with the way the situation was handled by executives at ABC.
Ripa said she doesn’t consider the show simply a workplace but her “second home,” mentioning “apologies have been made” and ABC has assured her that “Live!” is a priority... but seven months later she still doesn’t have a permanent co-host.
Also Read:Kelly Ripa Guest Co-Hosts Ranked by TV Ratings: From Jimmy Kimmel to Max Greenfield (Photos)
A jury awarded Hulk Hogan a total of $140 million over Gawker’s publication of a sex tape featuring the former wrestler. Gawker was forced to file for bankruptcy following the judgment awarded to Hogan, and Univision bought the company and closed Gawker Media while retaining the digital media conglomerate’s other assets.
Hogan eventually settled for $31 million plus a share of distributions from the $135 million sale to Univision.
Also Read:Gawker Media Announces $31 Million Settlement With Hulk Hogan
Facebook has been under scrutiny for failing to battle fake news that is shared on the social media juggernaut. COO Sheryl Sandberg recently said she doesn’t “think” the spread of fake news helped Trump win the presidential election, but many disagree.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg outlined his plan to fight the spread of fake stories on the platform. Zuckerberg initially downplayed the criticisms that Facebook could have contributed significantly to swaying the 2016 presidential election, but later made concessions to the contrary.
Also Read:Help Wanted! Facebook Seeks Head of News Partnerships Amid Fake News Fracas
Al Jazeera America
When Al Jazeera America launched in 2013, it set out to prove that a hard-news cable network with an Arabic name and financial backing from the rulers of a tiny, corrupt Middle Eastern state could connect with American viewers. It failed miserably and went off the air in April.
Not too many people noticed, as primetime viewership was hovering around 30,000. Many Americans never gave the network a chance, with its Arabic name and ties to the royal family of Qatar, but even open-minded viewers were turned off by allegations of sexism and anti-Semitism at the network.
Also Read:Journalist Rips Silicon Valley Leaders as ‘Sheeple’ for Meeting With Trump
University of Virginia associate dean of students Nicole Eramo was awarded $3 million by a federal jury in the wake of a defamation lawsuit against Rolling Stone magazine. Jurors ruled that Eramo’s portrayal in a now-discredited Rolling Stone article published in 2014 titled “A Rape on Campus” was inaccurate.
The jury decided that Rolling Stone magazine, its publisher and reporter Sabrina Erdely were responsible for libel, with actual malice. The lawsuit was the result of a 9,000-word feature in the magazine written by Erdely that has since been labeled a hoax.
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Click here for those media members who prospered in 2016 with TheWrap's list of the year's media winners.