Category: Uncategorized

Babbling Brooke


When it comes to sharp, incisive, clear-thinking commentary during unscripted interviews, The Cable Gamer thinks of plenty of names before coming up with Brooke Baldwin. CNN’s afternoon chatterbox is known for having her difficulties with the English language, which sometimes lead her into embarrassing predicaments. It was difficult avoiding her today (the downside of air transporation is airports and their slim pickings when it comes to cable news) and what we saw was not what one would expect from the self-proclaimed “most trusted name in news.”

The topic was a Trump volunteer who wanted to take a meeting with Putin in Russia. And Brooke had the breaking news about what really happened:

BROOKE BALDWIN: This was a big deal because we had thought, right, that Trump hadn’t perhaps wanted to have this meeting with Putin, and according to our sources, he in fact did, and it was Sessions that said no.

JIM SCIUTTO: That’s right

Jim Sciutto was introduced with no disclosure that he was a political appointee in the Obama administration. But he confirmed what Baldwin said: Trump wanted to have the meeting.

Or did he?

SCIUTTO: And in that meeting he suggested this meeting with Putin in Russia, which Trump was present, didn’t immediately knock it down. Sessions did knock it down…

Did Trump say he wanted to have the meeting, or did he simply not knock it down? They are not the same thing. And what is “immediately” intended to convey? That he didn’t knock it down then, but two minutes later he did? Are you clear on what happened? Your Cable Gamer isn’t. Two different versions of the same discussion, and nobody bothers to say which is correct. Maybe they’re both wrong! So much for journalism. Brooke wasn’t interested in straightening it out. She moved on.

Earlier in the hour Baldwin had been excitedly teasing a Paul Rappaport passport scandal:

BALDWIN: Why would Paul Manafort have three passports?
BALDWIN: Why would he have three passports and is that even legal?

Now that Brooke had the chance, she posed the question–only it was in the form of a statement:

BALDWIN: Paul Manafort had three passports. That cannot be legal.

Brooke may not be the most skilled wordsmith in the cable game, but she understands the rhetorical climaxa series of related ideas so arranged that each surpasses the preceding in force or intensity. She moves from three passports, to asking if three passports are legal, to declaring that it “cannot be legal.” All the teases kept the viewer waiting for this big reveal. And then it came:

SCIUTTO: Well it’s not…I don’t know…I have two passports. You can get more than one passport for reasons of convenience…

Sciutto moved from the number of passports to another issue, leaving that whole build-up the televised equivalent of internet click-bait: make the suckers think they are going to hear something big, and when it collapses, disgorge some word salad and move on to the next talking point. And if people should end up with the impression that there just might be something illegal about having three passports–so much the better!

Brooke Baldwin has a good on-air personality and does well with stories that don’t require a surfeit of precision. But she has problems communicating facts without leaving people who are actually listening either befuddled or annoyed. Not something your Cable Gamer wants to be while sitting on an uncomfortable airport chair. Next time: the train.


Trickery in the Twitterverse: Gabriel Sherman

Recently The Cable Gamer took some time off to explore the world of twitter. She found it to be a fascinating universe, but with its share of frauds, fibbers, and fabricators. Agendas are everywhere and when that happens, facts can be the first casualty. The other day she noticed this from Gabriel Sherman:

When The Cable Gamer saw this her Spidey senses started tingling. Sherman delights in this sort of thing (in this case making people think Fox was avoiding the Trump controversy). And some of his followers aren’t exactly critical thinkers who will know what he’s up to and see through his verbal sleight-of-hand. But some people did:

Indeed it does. When The Cable Gamer checked the record it turned out that discussions of Trump and his “hot mic video” were the hour’s #1 topic at the time Sherman tweeted (7:33):

  • 7:00 hurricane
  • 7:02 Trump
  • 7:10 WikiLeaks
  • 7:13 break
  • 7:17 debate/Trump
  • 7:21 break
  • 7:24 hurricane
  • 7:27 immigration
  • 7:30 break
  • 7:34WikiLeaks
  • 7:39 break

Fox covered both theWikiLeaks revelations and the Trump news in “fair and balanced” fashion, with the latter getting a tad more airtime than the former (thanks to additional coverage in the 7:17 segment, which incidentally fell within Sherman’s carefully curated 15 minutes). But why should Sherman be honest when he can wait for the right moment, then cherry-pick a snippet and suggest it represents the whole? At least it gave The Cable Gamer her first entry dedicated to Trickery in the Twitterverse. Watch for the next episode.

Throwback Thursday: Democrats to Half of America…”Drop Dead!”

donkey22So the Democrats have decided to back out of the planned Nevada debate, hosted by Fox News. It’s a free country, of course, and so the donky party is free to bow down to pressure from the lefty blogosphere. But of course, regular middle-of-the-road Americans are free, also, to draw their own conclusions about the Democrats, and who they listen to.

David Rhodes, a Fox VP, told The Las Vegas Review-Journal:

News organizations will want to think twice before getting involved in the Nevada Democratic Caucus which appears to be controlled by radical fringe out-of-state interest groups, not the Nevada Democratic Party.


Interestingly, the editorial page of the same paper, the Review-Journal, made the same point as Rhodes. Under the headline, “Meltdown Over Fox,” wise heads wrote, “Liberals’ aversion to Fox News has finally gone over the top.”

The edit page observed that the goal of the Nevada Democratic Party was to get more attention to the Silver State’s January presidential caucus—now the second the nation. Given that Nevada is a solidly red state at the presidential level, the Review-Journal asked, “What better way for the party to reach conservative and ‘values’ voters who might consider changing allegiances?”

But, the paper continued:

The socialist, Web-addicted wing of the Democratic Party was apoplectic. The prospect of having to watch Fox News to see their own candidates would have been torture in itself. So they set the blogosphere aflame with efforts to kill the broadcast arrangement, or at least have all the candidates pull out of the event.

And that’s what happened. The lefty blogospheroids prevailed. First they peeled away John Edwards, and then the entire Nevada Democratic party.

Further reading: Broadcasting &Cable‘s John Eggerton adds his voice to the debate over debates

Who’s Afraid of the Big, Bad Fox?

When Roger Ailes is right, he’s right. And he’s right. The Fox News Chairman/CEO warned political candidates Thursday night not to get pressured into bypassing his news operation by groups that don’t like the way it reports the news, saying it would be a “terrible mistake.

I might not have phrased it that way, but I can understand his unhappiness. He was receiving a First Amendment award and boycotts of news organizations are anathema to the free flow of information.

The Fox News Channel is the top-rated cable news channel, watched by millions of people. Fox TV station newscasts are on when a lot of people who have to get up early and go to work for a living can see them and still function at 6. a.m.

Whatever you think of its news coverage—and apparently a lot of people think a lot of it—it is an important voice in TV news.

Presidential candidates are adults and can refuse to answer a question if it seems over the top, or perhaps if they are smart enough, turn such questions to their advantage.

That’s strong stuff. And then Eggerton concludes:

Shame on John Edwards for pulling out of that Nevada debate under pressure from It looks like a cave, or a wilt, or a knee-jerk, or a turn-tail or something. But whatever it is, it was the wrong move.

And of course, since this powerful piece was published, the whole Democratic Party has followed Edwards ‘ lead. So shame on all of them.

Reposted from The Cable Game, 10 March 2007

Throwback Thursday: Jossip Resorts to Reruns–This Is Not Hot!

jossip_logo2The Cable Gamer likes gossip as much as the next girl. Gossip is good–but Jossip? I’m not so sure about that site any more. Not when Jossip runs an 11-day-old left-over, using such sloppy seconds, as an excuse to bitchslap Fox Business News. For doing that, Jossip itself deserves a spanking. At least.

It’s perfectly fair to criticize Fox Business News. For example, Rachel Sklar, the fun-loving brunette who posts for The Huffington Post, offered a piece on Monday headlined,“Launched! Fox Biz Network Goes Live (With Bloopers).” That’s fine: If Rachel catches a blooper, she is free to run with it. If, for example, Jenna Lee (another brunette, yay!) gets something wrong, as Jenna did when she said that Starbucks gives away free WiFi–it doesn’t–that’s fair game for fact-checking bloggers, such as, in this case, Rachel. Indeed, such flyspecking is actually healthy, in the sense of providing a good feedback loop for on-air talent and for keeping everyone on his or her toes. (TCG appreciates such constructive criticism, too, btw—it’s good for all of us!)

But here’s the point: Rachel was doing her homework! She was watching FBN—that’s how she caught the error about Starbucks.

But apparently, Jossip can’t be bothered! Instead, Jossip just ran a nasty item, which passed off an 11-day old item from The as if it were something fresh. Now, Cable Gamers, let us reason together: With FBN on the air, there to be watched and critiqued, why would Jossip hang its sparsely worded, unwittily bitchy hat on a peg that’s nearly two weeks old? Mostly dismissing an amusing piece in Tuesday’s The New York Times by Allesandra Stanley, which referred to FBN as “perky,” a place where “the fun never stops.” By contrast, the Deal piece was nasty, and yet it was TheDeal that Jossip relied on for its own posting. And yet I am sure that even TheDeal doesn’t think that an attempted preview of FBN dated October 5 has much validity after FBN has been on the air for the better part of two whole days.

Oh, of course, Jossip made another mention of FBN, citing the same Stanley piece in the NYT; this equally brief and unfunny Jossip item dwelt on the supposedly “gravity-defying bosoms” of Fox anchors. It’s worth pointing out that Stanley made no reference whatsoever to “gravity-defying bosoms,” the quote is entirely the making of some Jossipist.

So what’s going on here? What is it with such sloppy and lazily fact-free gossip? Why would Jossip prefer to get its tone from a stale piece in an obscure publication such as TheDeal, as opposed to a fresh piece in The New York Times? The Times, is still, after all, despite its many flaws, the numero uno media outlet in the country.

For perspective on this perverse choice by Jossip, Cable Gamers must turn their attention away, briefly, from cable news. We must look over into the realm of new media in New York City. And our guide will be Vanessa Grigoriadis. Specifically, she has written a knowingly brilliant article in the new issue of New York magazine, entitled, “Everybody Sucks: Gawker and the rage of the creative underclass.” The headline tells the tale, although the entire 6000-word piece deserves close consideration. Grigoriadis looks piercingly into the hyper-competitive, hyper-nasty world of blogs and bloggers, in which underpaid and overworked 20-somethings compete with each other to be nastier and edger. And so everyone is “annoying,” or “slutty,” or a “douchebag.”

What a rotten, wicked bunch these bloggers are–at least for as long as they are doing what they are doing. Maybe they will clean up their act and shift away from the dark side, but so long as they work for the likes of Gawker‘s owner, Nick Denton, Grigoriadis is saying, they will be dwelling in websites of slime and sliminess.

And that’s Gawker.

Jossip, of course, is a notch even below Gawker, in terms of reputation and revenue.

Which explains everything about this stupid post, whose malicious intent is exceeded only by its maladroit journalism.

Update: Jossip has a new item, on Joe Scarborough’s reaction to FBN, here.

Reposted from The Cable Game, 16 October 2007

Throwback Thursday: The Book I Wish Anderson Cooper Would Write

dispatches from the edgeIt was bound to happen: an excerpt of Anderson Cooper’s forthcoming book, Dispatches from the Edge: A Memoir of War, Disasters, and Survival has been leaked. Who knows if it’s for real, or just, oh, I don’t know, some critic’s satirical commentary on the state of CNN? (Even though the book hasn’t been released yet, it’s slowly but steadily climbing up the sales ranker.) Check it out:

Chapter Six: Hurricane Katrina

I almost don’t know what to write here. The things I saw and experienced after Hurricane Katrina both made me wonder if there is a God, and at the same time proved His existence. Katrina may not have been punishment, but her trajectory was so lethal, so precise, as to be almost choreographed by an unseen hand, and the miracles conceived in the rubble seemed similarly engineered by an entity that has been engineering the expansion of human limits for a very long time.

What I saw in New Orleans made my heart feel as fragile as glass, and my heart didn’t just break: it was pulverized into dust, into knife-edged atoms small enough to tear apart everything it touched at a microscopic level. I guess when those particles get into your soul, it’s like certain kinds of shrapnel wounds sustained in combat: they can’t be fished out in surgery, so you’ll just have to live with them.

That’s why I can’t understand why my boss, Jon Klein, keeps bragging to the press about the authenticity of my emotions. Of course they’re authentic, they’re so authentic I’m pretty sure I have an ulcer. If I hadn’t been completely grey before Katrina you can bet my hair would be snow-white now. And Klein just can’t get enough of it–he’s the first grief pimp to ever run a national news network. Doesn’t he understand that urging more live-on-TV grief, more vividly re-enacted post-traumatic stress, and more please-God-make-it-stop-the-sadness-is-killing-me remembrances, he’s just cheapening what Katrina’s victims have gone through and strip-mining my empathy? Doesn’t he understand that I’m a reporter with feelings, not a bundle of feelings that reports? Can’t Klein get it through his head that in his quest for ratings he’s making CNN into the worst kind of reality television, the kind where spontaneous, uncontrollable emotions are written into the script and about as spontaneous as brain surgery?

Yeah, I cried and screamed on air when I was covering Katrina. I’m only human. A lot of other serious reporters from other nets did the same thing. But most of them didn’t have a wanna-be Quentin Tarantino calling the shots from his director’s chair back in New York, trying to yank more and more cry-til-you-puke grief out of them like he did out of me. Note to Klein: it’s precisely because I’m only human that I can’t in good conscience put on an Oscar-winning performance every time the news is sad. Here’s some breaking news for you: a lot of the news is sad, and to some extent television news reporters exist to tell the public that we all have to stay steady and not fall to pieces over every little thing, or else we’ll all be on anti-depressants. Reporters need to report, not emote unless the news is especially grim, like Katrina. But now, Jon, it’s been months. I’m not a dancing bear, yet here I am tap-dancing on a desk in the CNN studio, a emoting dancing bear with great hair in a suit. Well, no more. I quit. I’m taking my camcorder and my cool bump music and going anywhere where I can do investigative reporting without being encouraged to mist up on cue. Good luck with those ratings, Jon.

Kidding. Cooper didn’t write this, I did. This is just what I wish he’d write. But talk about emotional authenticity if he would put something like this in his book, though. Keep hope alive, I guess.

Reposted from The Cable Game, 21 February 2006

A Dozen Questions

tcgAn interview? That I didn’t expect. My thanks to Tyler, Chief Political Reporter from TKNN, who asked me to answer a few questions for his site. What did he want to know?

  • Is there any reason that you’re hesitant to discuss your identity and/or your background?
  • You wrote a very thorough piece attacking CNN’s Brian Stelter. Do you have something against Stelter?
  • Gabriel Sherman reported that the original Cable Game blog was started and run by Fox News PR. How do you fight that perception?

For the answers to these and 9 other questions check out the full interview. Thanks again to Tyler for his interest in The Cable Game.