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The Duality of Giving Alex Jones Attention

There are times we are complicit in taking levels of anonymity from people, whether or not they give consent or often when they don’t understand the price they will pay.

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This is yet another example of when news coverage is necessary yet exploitation cannot be avoided by what we do. Two months from now will mark ten years since the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Most people cannot recall but two names involved in the 2012 massacre; that perhaps of the shooter and Alex Jones, an individual who made his reputation and millions for a ludicrous misuse of fact.

The civil processes against Jones has blanketed every possible platform and area of news coverage, talk programming, and online discussion groups. It was news, did we really have a choice? The disputes, the arguments, the theorizing about the content, the way to present it, and what to show and what not to show will likely become as memorable as the details of the story itself.

New England was home to the very worst of it, from beginning to present day. The legal system and the news media bear similar responsibility in showcasing the perpetrators and the victims. Both are perpetual, there is no denying that.

Plus, people are watching the money. Even if the dollars are virtual for the present time. $49 million and change in Texas, $965 million in Connecticut. Only time will tell what actually will be paid.

Parents and other family members of the victims telling and retelling the worst moments of their lives in a joint effort to reclaim what they can from the tragedy. All of it for the cameras, the listeners, and the readers.

There are times we are complicit in taking levels of anonymity from people, whether or not they give consent or often when they don’t understand the price they will pay. At the same time, we offer the world’s biggest podium to those who seek it. It matters not if they are right or wrong, if their intentions are honorable or if they’re simply trying to make money.

On several occasions following the days proceedings or even during the court lunchbreak, Alex Jones positioned himself outside the courthouse in Waterbury, Connecticut and provided the media with a spur of the moment press conference. Most everyone bit and those soundbites would often find equal time alongside courtroom testimony in the day’s newscasts.

Back to right or wrong for a second, is it one or the other? Is it neither, or is it both? As Hyman Roth said, “This is the business we’ve chosen.”

What goes on in the courtroom is news. Dramatic testimony is engaging, should it bring anger, tears, or even laughs. It is going to make it on the air or online or within the pages. So, for better or worse are the exclamations and utterances of those vying for attention, trying to make their mark or push an agenda.

Intentions do not matter, motive does not come into question and very often the impact or resulting effect will not either. It is what we do and as much as some of us may hope for it, very few audience members would simply choose to change a channel or move down the dial in order to avoid a story about something or someone they do not approve of.

There’s no “we’re not covering this” when it comes to these kinds of stories, or most any story actually.

Why? Because people want to point at what’s offensive or who is in the wrong and if we do not offer them that opportunity by showcasing the evil-doers or bad actors, the competition certainly will. We will just have to feel bad about it on our own time.

BNM Writers

Should The News Be Minimized on The Holidays?

“I do wonder who is watching or listening or reading and what the return on efforting news programming on holidays really is.”

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This is not by any means a new topic of discussion but I do enjoy bringing it up and batting it around because I think it’s worthy of regular consideration and deliberation. Perhaps it deserves even just a fresh batch of whining and complaining by those of us stuck in a newsroom, in front of a camera or microphone or standing out somewhere in the cold.

There’s no debate that what we do has a level of importance that fluctuates from time to time. There are countless professions that we cannot do without for even a portion of a single day. That said, working the holidays is not unfamiliar or even a question for many people out there.

I, myself have spent most of my adult life in professions where working on Thanksgiving, Christmas, the High Holidays, Independence Day among others was just part of the job. It still amazes me how many people would react in astonishment when I declined an invitation or mentioned in conversation that I was working that day.

Like they couldn’t comprehend the possibility. Must be nice.

Now, let’s be clear about this; covering a parade or a holiday festival or religious services on a particular day is not what I’m focusing on here. Imagine the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade or New Year’s Eve or the 4th of July fireworks without reporters and crew coverage.

More people would actually have to go to these things.

No, I’m talking about regularly scheduled newscasts and field reports on these mornings, afternoons and evenings.

Why?

I don’t see it.

More specifically, who is measuring the need for this programming? I cannot identify sitting behind a desk (probably inside an office…what’s that like?) and concluding that there must be 4:00pm-6:30pm newscasts on Thanksgiving Day.

5am news on New Year’s Day is out and out sadism.

“Good morning and Happy New Year…here’s what’s happened in the twenty-three minutes since you went to bed.”

Yes, by all means, let’s open our presents with the soothing tones of morning drive news in the background or lounge in the living room after the two-ton turkey dinner and watch the daily rundown of criminal activity lovingly framed in holiday graphics.

Do people want to drive to Grandma’s house while listening to the latest in Tuesday’s home invasion- assault investigation, this morning’s hit and run fatality or the city council vote on funding a halfway house near the elementary school?

Actually, the inspiration for this semi-rant comes from a conversation I had with a woman I was speaking with about holiday getaway travel. She very innocently asked me why there is news on the holidays. “Who is watching…who is listening on a day like that?” I told her I really couldn’t say. Of course, this was someone who told me she didn’t even pick up a newspaper or peruse social media for a news update on any given holiday.

“On Christmas”, she said, “no news is good news.”

To a significant degree, I’m on board with that. I do wonder who is watching or listening or reading and what the return on efforting news programming on holidays really is.

This is not about those having to work although employee consideration should be part of the equation. There will always be the need to have someone in the newsroom but minimizing that requirement could never be a bad thing.

Many operations do work with reduced staff during the holidays and that’s great. Twenty-years ago the radio station group I worked for dropped most programming during the year-end holidays, simulcasting holiday music across all the stations only cutting in with station IDs, tracked greetings from staff and news updates only if necessary.

I suppose one could argue that people need to know what’s going on all the time so we are providing a necessary service but really, everything we do is on-demand whether we like it or not. Nobody is listening or watching or reading unless they make a conscious effort to do so. They have to turn the TV on and hit the channel, dial the car radio and click on the website. We have no say.

For me, somebody somewhere has to show me that there’s a need and a want for what we do on those special days and at those special times. Convince me.

In the meantime, move the turkey and stuffing closer to my side of the table and keep the cranberry sauce and yams over on your end.

And I’ll be up bright and early talking to the Black Friday shopping crowd.

Don’t get me started.

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BNM Writers

Seth Leibsohn Expected to Move to Phoenix, Didn’t Expect Radio Show

“There wasn’t a huge demand for a white male teaching Aristotle’s teachings. I kind of like the idea I can still teach on the air.

Jim Cryns

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We’re all made up of a unique genetic recipe. Take a graduate student of political philosophy, add a pinch of love of contemporary politics, a dash of popular culture, maybe a trumpet, and you have Seth Leibsohn.

“I was a good trumpet player in high school,” Leibsohn said. Still, that alone wasn’t enough for him to pursue it as a career, even though his parents were fine with him chasing something he enjoyed, even supportive. “Some parents try to push you into a career, but my parents never did. I thought I might be able to play the trumpet as a career, but ultimately decided I wasn’t as good as my trumpet heroes. I’ve heard golfers have hung it up in a similar way.”

Quoting Del Griffith in Planes, Trains and Automobiles, ‘The finest line a man’ll walk is between success at work and success at home.’ To be truly happy you’ve got to have both. Seth Leibsohn couldn’t agree more.

“I don’t know many people who are thrilled with what they do for a living,” Leibsohn continued. “I believe you work to pay bills, not for life satisfaction. Billy Joel said there is no magic secret and everybody has happiness within themselves. If you’re truly happy with what you do, you have it all beat.”

The Seth Leibsohn Show airs live on KKNT 960 The Patriot in Phoenix from 3:00-6:00 PM weekdays. Then the show is replayed as a podcast. “The podcast is essentially the show I do,” Leibsohn said. “It’s fun. I never thought I’d be on the radio. I started in D.C. with a national show with Bill Bennett, The Bill Bennett Show, as co-host and guest host.”

You may recall Bennett was appointed the drug czar in 1989 under President George H.W. Bush.  Bennett still does a podcast and Leibsohn appears as a guest about once a month. He was Bennett’s chief of staff for many years.

Leibsohn decided to move back to Phoenix in 2011 to take care of his parents.

“After I arrived I was approached to host my own show,” he said. “I like that it doesn’t have to be relegated to a local audience. I get calls from Texas, Chicago, Ukraine. Leibsohn describes himself as a ‘different’ radio host, “I started in academia,” he explained. “There wasn’t a huge demand for a white male teaching Aristotle’s teachings. I kind of like the idea I can still teach on the air. The show is a vital seminar, with a bigger classroom.”

Leibsohn works hard on the show as he doesn’t have a producer. “I have to find my own guests, which I average about one each day. Television show hosts don’t have to track down and book their own guests. I start reading from the moment I wake up, searching for something interesting, a guest that can provide some insight to a topic.”

He’s long been a staunch advocate against the legalization of marijuana. He headed the group ‘Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy’, which was instrumental in preventing the legalization of marijuana in Arizona. He has co-authored several articles with Bennett regarding the dangers of marijuana, which was picked up by numerous newspapers including the Los Angeles Times and The Tampa Tribune.

Doing whatever he can to rid the streets of drugs and the pollution of our children is essentially what make’s Libsohn tick. It may be more accurate to say it drives him.

When talking about ridding streets of drugs throughout the country, I was impressed that Leibsohn wasn’t hypocritical. He said he wasn’t above having a good time with friends in college, but recognized there was a time to stop.

“I partied with the best of them,” he said. “Then I saw four of my best friends, who were both far smarter than me academically, ultimately fail in their lives. They just couldn’t give up the partying and substances and succumbed to a lot of drug use.”

Another bolt of realization about the destruction of drugs for Leibsohn stems from his sister struggling with substances her entire life. “I guess I had more of a vector about what it could do to you. Drugs cause so many problems in our society. It’s an ongoing battle to protect our children.”

Working on reducing substance abuse in America has long been a passion for Leibsohn. Working with Bennett helped fuel that desire. Leibsohn spent time working for the Higher America initiative with Jeane Kirkpatrick.

Never a fan of Hilary Clinton, Leibsohn said he agrees with the former First Lady on one thing.

“Hilary said Mexico is a problem regarding illegal drugs, but if the citizens of America didn’t want the drugs, it would be a problem. People want this crud. Since we lost the anti-drug messaging system in America, the problems have spiraled out of control.”

Remember the old ad, ‘This is your brains on drugs?’ That’s the messaging Leibsohn is talking about. Leibsohn said when Bennett was drug czar, 10,000 Americans were dying each year. Since then the death toll has increased 1,000 percent.

“We reduced drug use by 65 percent in 1992,” Leibsohn said. “I attribute that to the messaging. It was hugely important. We embedded the anti-drug message at the movies, in schools, there was a Hollywood sobriety chic. We did for drugs what mothers did for drunk driving.”

Leibsohn cites Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. when he wrote, ‘Human desires increase with their means of gratification.’

“The narration in the television show Narco opens with the narrator talking about cocaine. He said they had a supply problem keeping up with the demand for the drug in Miami.”

Leibsohn intended to run for Congress in 2018, but his staff screwed-the-pooch.

“My campaign management didn’t get enough signatures,” Leibsohn said. “I made sure everyone who contributed to my campaign got their money back.” He said he has no biting need to run for office again.

Our conversation swerved into another contentious topic–immigration from Mexico. Leibsohn said our immigration problem is currently out of control.

“There are a lot of reasons for the problem,” he said. “I don’t think there’s one single answer or solution. I do know we’re giving billions of dollars annually to illegal immigrants. When the monthly numbers come out regarding the prison population in Arizona, the illegal immigrants count for a huge portion of those criminals.”

He said there have been good examples of cleaning up cities, like New York. “There are things that work,” Leibsohn explained. “We have to replicate those efforts and dump the things that don’t work. Indianapolis is another city that turned things around. There are theories that work when applied.”

Leibsohn spoke of disparate impact, when policies and rules have a disproportionate impact on a particular group.

“I think a lot of Left-wing prosecutors abhor statistics of racial minorities. In effect they turn a blind eye, a deaf ear when it comes to crime. I had hoped by now we could get beyond race, see policies enacted in my lifetime.”

We also talked about what constitutes American conservatism, which is delineated by low taxes, free markets, deregulation, privatization, and reduced government spending and government debt. Leibsohn thinks the definition of American Conservatism is more nebulous than that.

“I think American Conservatism has never had a good definition,” he said. “Perhaps the most prominent recent conservative was William F. Buckley Jr. He never wrote a book on American Conservatism as he said it was too diverse.”

Regarding pinpointing what American Conservatism actually is, Leibsohn said it’s really clay in the hands of those you ask. “Some say it’s a group that believes in limited government,” he explained. “There are some who will fold religious beliefs into that, some may add sociology.”

He said throughout his life, he’s always been in search of discovering the meaning.

“In Buckleys’ National Review Magazine, he debated this all the time,” Leibsohn explained. “He had always been in search of the meaning. In his magazine, Buckley debated this all the time. In my own view it should be a movement based on America’s founding fathers ethos–equity and liberty. There’s not a lot of agreement on these things today.”

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BNM Writers

Fox News Dominates Election Day Coverage

Although less than half of FNC’s draw, MSNBC (3.21 million) was runner-up among cable in total viewers followed by CNN (2.61 million).

Douglas Pucci

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November 8th was Election Day, as the country decided who held control of Congress in this midterm session, and Fox News signaled it still controls cable news viewership.

Results from early and same-day voting indicated, much to the surprise of news outlets and observers, that Democrats would likely retain power in the U.S. Senate. This was confirmed as close races in Arizona and Nevada were decided in the Democratic Party’s favor; also confirmed, the GOP earned a majority in the House of Representatives, albeit by a slimmer margin than expected. For Joe Biden, it marked one of the best midterm election results for a sitting President’s political party in U.S. history.

Of course, all major cable news outlets experienced a lift from election coverage. Fox News Channel dominated the TV landscape (including broadcast networks) averaging 7.42 million viewers in prime time (8:00-11:00 PM ET), according to Nielsen Media Research. Although less than half of FNC’s draw, MSNBC (3.21 million) was runner-up among cable in total viewers followed by CNN (2.61 million).

The race for the U.S. Senate seat in Pennsylvania was one of the high-profile contests to watch. At about shortly after the 1:00 AM ET hour, it was called for Democratic incumbent John Fetterman, defeating Republican challenger and former daytime talk show host Dr. Mehmet Oz. The cable news rankings in total audience remained the same: FNC (2.64 million), MSNBC (1.94 million) and CNN (1.25 million).

Fox Business Network’s simulcast of FNC midterm election news delivered 629,000 viewers. Meanwhile, Newsmax averaged 572,000 and NewsNation posted 93,000.

During the 9:00 PM ET hour on Saturday, Nov. 12, it was reported that Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto held onto her seat in Nevada after defeating Republican Adam Laxalt, clinching the Democrats’ control of the Senate regardless of the results of the upcoming December runoff election in Georgia. MSNBC (1.68 million) edged past CNN (1.53 million) within the hour. FNC opted for regular programming; its “Unfiltered with Dan Bonigno” drew 1.29 million.

On the broadcast side back on Nov. 8, ABC led with 3.31 million viewers, with NBC (3.11 million) close behind and CBS in third (2.56 million). In their regular 11:35 PM hour, CBS aired a live edition of Late Show with Stephen Colbert (at a below-average 1.88 million total viewers) and ABC televised an original edition of “Jimmy Kimmel” (guest Bill Maher; delivered 1.56 million — near its normal levels). NBC preempted The Tonight Show for additional news coverage.

Univision (1.29 million viewers from 9-11 p.m. on Nov. 8) led all Spanish-language outlets, and more than doubled Telemundo (601,000) in the same two-hour period.

The 2022 midterm elections drew a combined total viewership of 23 million from the eight major networks (ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox News plus FBN simulcast, MSNBC, CNN, Univision and Telemundo). This marked a 33 percent decline from those same networks for the 2018 midterms (34.2 million), although that was in the midst of the chaotic Trump White House era which then heightened interest for all news outlets.

Figures for 2022 somewhat harken back to those from 2014. ABC, CBS and NBC then each only devoted the 10 p.m. ET hour to the midterms. Combined with FNC, CNN and MSNBC, the six outlets posted 22.9 million viewers.

Cable news averages for November 7-13, 2022:

Total Day (Nov. 7-13 @ 6 a.m.-5:59 a.m.)

  • Fox News Channel: 1.911 million viewers; 223,000 adults 25-54
  • MSNBC: 0.986 million viewers; 146,000 adults 25-54
  • CNN: 0.767 million viewers; 201,000 adults 25-54
  • The Weather Channel: 0.166 million viewers; 36,000 adults 25-54
  • Newsmax: 0.162 million viewers; 21,000 adults 25-54
  • HLN: 0.156 million viewers; 38,000 adults 25-54
  • Fox Business Network: 0.144 million viewers; 22,000 adults 25-54
  • CNBC: 0.123 million viewers; 29,000 adults 25-54

Prime Time (Nov. 7-12 @ 8-11 p.m.; Nov. 13 @ 7-11 p.m.)

  • Fox News Channel: 3.243 million viewers; 597,000 adults 25-54
  • MSNBC: 1.702 million viewers; 274,000 adults 25-54
  • CNN: 1.219 million viewers; 368,000 adults 25-54
  • Newsmax: 0.269 million viewers; 39,000 adults 25-54
  • The Weather Channel: 0.183 million viewers; 38,000 adults 25-54
  • HLN: 0.169 million viewers; 40,000 adults 25-54
  • CNBC: 0.157 million viewers; 49,000 adults 25-54
  • Fox Business Network: 0.136 million viewers; 43,000 adults 25-54
  • NewsNation: 0.076 million viewers; 14,000 adults 25-54

Top 10 most-watched cable news programs (and the top programs of other outlets with their respective associated ranks) in total viewers:

1. FNC Democracy 22 Election (FOXNC, Tue. 11/8/2022 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 7.805 million viewers

2. FNC Democracy 22 Election (FOXNC, Tue. 11/8/2022 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 7.274 million viewers

3. FNC Democracy 22 Election (FOXNC, Tue. 11/8/2022 10:00 PM, 60 min.) 7.186 million viewers

4. FNC Democracy 22 Election (FOXNC, Tue. 11/8/2022 7:00 PM, 60 min.) 5.826 million viewers

5. FNC Democracy 22 Election (FOXNC, Tue. 11/8/2022 11:00 PM, 60 min.) 5.745 million viewers

6. The Five (FOXNC, Tue. 11/8/2022 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 4.827 million viewers

7. FNC Democracy 22 Election (FOXNC, Tue. 11/8/2022 6:00 PM, 60 min.) 4.521 million viewers

8. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Wed. 11/9/2022 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 4.428 million viewers

9. The Five (FOXNC, Wed. 11/9/2022 5:09 PM, 51 min.) 4.340 million viewers

10. The Five (FOXNC, Mon. 11/7/2022 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 4.071 million viewers

20. Decision 2022 “Midterms Results and Analysis” (MSNBC, Tue. 11/8/2022 10:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.435 million viewers

36. Election Night In America “Midterm 2022” (CNN, Tue. 11/8/2022 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.683 million viewers

262. Real Time With Bill Maher “Episode 619” (HBO, Fri. 11/11/2022 10:00 PM, 56 min.) 0.828 million viewers

322. FNC Simulcast: Election (FBN, Tue. 11/8/2022 10:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.681 million viewers

385. America’s Morning Headquarters (TWC, Thu. 11/10/2022 8:00 AM, 60 min.) 0.535 million viewers

401. The Daily Show (CMDY, Mon. 11/7/2022 11:00 PM, 30 min.) 0.478 million viewers

413. Last Week Tonight (HBO, Sun. 11/13/2022 11:06 PM, 34 min.) 0.455 million viewers

488. Fast Money Halftime Report (CNBC, Fri. 11/11/2022 12:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.306 million viewers

490. Forensic Files “Hundreds of Reasons” (HLN, Fri. 11/11/2022 11:30 PM, 30 min.) 0.303 million viewers

767. Cuomo (NWSN, Wed. 11/9/2022 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.163 million viewers

Top 10 cable news programs (and the top  programs of other outlets with their respective associated ranks) among adults 25-54:

1. FNC Democracy 22 Election (FOXNC, Tue. 11/8/2022 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 1.978 million adults 25-54

2. FNC Democracy 22 Election (FOXNC, Tue. 11/8/2022 10:00 PM, 60 min.) 1.879 million adults 25-54

3. FNC Democracy 22 Election (FOXNC, Tue. 11/8/2022 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 1.781 million adults 25-54

4. FNC Democracy 22 Election (FOXNC, Tue. 11/8/2022 11:00 PM, 60 min.) 1.497 million adults 25-54

5. FNC Democracy 22 Election (FOXNC, Tue. 11/8/2022 7:00 PM, 60 min.) 1.285 million adults 25-54

6. Election Night In America “Midterm 2022” (CNN, Tue. 11/8/2022 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 1.120 million adults 25-54

7. Election Night In America “Midterm 2022” (CNN, Tue. 11/8/2022 10:00 PM, 60 min.) 1.097 million adults 25-54

8. FNC Democracy 22 Election (FOXNC, Tue. 11/8/2022 12:00 AM, 60 min.) 1.054 million adults 25-54

9. Election Night In America “Midterm 2022” (CNN, Tue. 11/8/2022 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.960 million adults 25-54

10. FNC Democracy 22 Election (FOXNC, Tue. 11/8/2022 6:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.876 million adults 25-54

13. Decision 2022 “Midterms Results and Analysis” (MSNBC, Tue. 11/8/2022 10:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.811 million adults 25-54

120. FNC Simulcast: Election (FBN, Tue. 11/8/2022 10:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.279 million adults 25-54

210. The Daily Show (CMDY, Mon. 11/7/2022 11:00 PM, 30 min.) 0.186 million adults 25-54

279. Last Week Tonight (HBO, Sun. 11/13/2022 11:06 PM, 34 min.) 0.139 million adults 25-54

308. America’s Morning Headquarters (TWC, Thu. 11/10/2022 8:00 AM, 60 min.) 0.127 million adults 25-54

319. Real Time With Bill Maher “Episode 619” (HBO, Fri. 11/11/2022 10:00 PM, 56 min.) 0.124 million adults 25-54

325. Forensic Files “One For The Road” (HLN, late Thu. 11/10/2022 1:00 AM, 30 min.) 0.121 million adults 25-54

420. Shark Tank “Shark Tank 1303” (CNBC, Sun. 11/13/2022 10:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.085 million adults 25-54

735. Newsnation: Rush Hour (NWSN, Mon. 11/7/2022 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.035 million adults 25-54

Source: Live+Same Day data, Nielsen Media Research

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