BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST: Good morning. Welcome to a soaking wet Washington, D.C.
The media world changed in so many ways in 2013, for better and for worse. What can we forecast for the future of journalism, commentary, television, technology? We’ve got 12 headlines to dissect about all of that and 60 minutes to do it. It’s time for a special end of the year edition of RELIABLE SOURCES.
STELTER: Thanks for joining us.
Every channel you turn on today is bound to have some year in review programming. But this hour is different. This hour is about the media. We’re going to cover everything from Boston bombings, to the Twitter IPO and, yes, probably “Duck Dynasty.”
And a little bit later, we’ll talk about a great television tradition, New Year’s Eve in Times Square. The three people who were there every year, Ryan Seacrest and CNN’s own Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin.
Let’s begin this media year in review with our panel of reporters who’ve covered it all. Rosie Gray, a political reporter for “BuzzFeed”, Christina Warren, a senior technology analyst for Mashable, and Hunter Walker, national affairs reporter for “Talking Points Memo.”
Hunter, before we look back at the whole year, I want to talk about something that happened in New York this week, maybe a rare example of restraint on the part of the press. Let me put up a tweet on screen that you wrote about Chiara de Blasio, the daughter of the mayor, Bill de Blasio — incoming mayor Bill de Blasio — who released a video talking about substance abuse problems.
You wrote, “Many reporters were aware of elements of this and declined to pursue it given her age.”
Does this surprise you? What does this say about the press that reporters did not follow up on these rumors months ago and why didn’t they follow up?
HUNTER WALKER, TPM: Well, I think it says that even in an environment where there is a vicious tabloid culture that New York has, there are some limits. “The New York Post” specifically has relentlessly attacked de Blasio and they kept off this as well.
WALKER: And I think it’s a really unique situation where he chose to put his kids front and center in the campaign and there are some very newsworthy questions about why he did that, sort of knowing this was going on with his daughter. But no one thought it was worth putting this girl’s private life out there in order to get to that question.
So, I hope we get to the answer now. But, you know, she did get to tell the story on her own terms.
STELTER: Yes, very much so. She controlled the story by putting the YouTube video out about it. Were you one of the people that heard these rumors and why did you choose not to follow up on them?
WALKER: Absolutely. I mean, every — you know, sort of an open secret among the city press corps and Web sites, all the major papers, everyone I know sort of heard rumors in this regard.
STELTER: Right. About those substance abuse as well as depression that she’s battled.
WALKER: Right. And, you know, for me, it wasn’t worth pursuing because this girl is 19. She’s just on the side of adulthood. And, yes, she may have been in a very public role in the campaign but how old was she when she made that choice? Was it her choice and did she understand the implications?
STELTER: Right. And those are stories I think we’ll continue to see next week once the inauguration happens in New York.
Let’s broaden out to national politics and start our media year in review. We’ve got 12 headlines to go over in the next half hour or so.
And I think the first one about politics is Obama versus press. You know, we had presidential inauguration in January but that feels so long ago.
I mean, how would you describe, Rosie, the tone between the president and press this year?
ROSIE GRAY, BUZZFEED: I think it’s becoming increasingly testy really. I mean, if you look at — a big example of this a battle over photographers access to the president and the role of Pete Souza as the official photographer and how angry photographers are that they have been shut out in favor of giving official access to Pete Souza.
STELTER: It’s the national version of Chiara de Blasio putting out her new YouTube really.
GRAY: Right. Exactly, the Obama administration has done an excellent job of putting and really managing their own media presence and not having to go through the press corps. But that’s hard if you cover — if you’re a White House reporter, that makes your job a lot more difficult.
STELTER: Do you think we saw months of Obamacare coverage, do you feel like we actually learned a lot about health policy? Or was this a story that was mostly about the infighting and the shutdown?
GRAY: I think that the media did start covering like getting —
GRAY: — and get into the nitty-gritty of policy of Obamacare.
GRAY: But this is an issue that’s been unlike covering other consumer products, this has been really tinged by partisan conflicts. So, that’s really bled into the coverage.
STELTER: It felt to me like the media — the mainstream media not — niche titles, that are always covering policy. But the mainstream media had a hard time figuring out what was in this bill and what was fought over for a while.
WALKER: Well, you know, throughout the year, we’ve sort of moved through scandal to scandal, whether it was IRS or Benghazi —
STELTER: We should put scandal in air quotes in some cases here, right? Because these scandals didn’t last.
WALKER: Absolutely. And I think a big part of that is as with health care where we focused on the rollout and rather that some people lost their health plans, you know, with Benghazi, “The New York Times” has a story out today showing that, hey, maybe this video played a role and we focused on talking points on why this attack might have occurred rather than the very legitimate questions of what are we doing to secure embassies abroad?
So, sometimes it seems like we’re missing the real story to just kind of have tension.
STELTER: The “TIME” story is definitely worth reading, by the way. It’s a massive story online this morning.
STELTER: Let’s go to our second headline. It’s politics as news. A big change at FOX News, let’s play the clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MEGYN KELLY, FOX NEWS: Welcome to “The Kelly File”, everyone. I’m Megyn Kelly, live from the world headquarters of FOX News in New York City.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STELTER: This is a really big deal. This is the first prime time schedule shake-up at FOX News in a decade. Megyn Kelly comes in 9:00 p.m. We see Sean Hannity moved at 10:00 p.m.
Now, Hunter, you used to cover television. What did you make of FOX rethinking its prime time schedule?
WALKER: Well, you know, first off, I want to say that in spite of what you may have heard, Megyn Kelly is white. She’s a white woman.
STELTER: Going back to Santa, right?
WALKER: But, you know —
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And Jesus.
WALKER: And she obviously had a huge buzzing moment in the past month. I think that’s the type of thing that FOX is looking for. We’ve seen a year of really tough ratings in cable news and I think CNN has a new president. Everyone is sort of changing up their approach to try to find out how to capture the public’s imagination.
STELTER: I’m glad you pointed that out. Cable news ratings were down across the board in this nonelection year. CNN was flat. HLN was up a bit. But even CNN’s prime time was down. FOX and MSNBC’s prime time was down.
And here’s a headline I want to put up from capital New York, the new president of CNN, you mentioned Jeff Zucker gave his first interview earlier this month, that he said headline on the story was he plans massive change at CNN. I don’t think we’ve seen the end of those changes especially given the fact that these ratings have been soft for all cable news channels.
Feels like they’re desperate for another election cycle, right?
WALKER: Well, I think that in the off years we see them try new things. Obviously, you’re new here. We bring in some youth to CNN.
STELTER: We’ve seen Jake Tapper hired here, Bill Weir, and others as well.
WALKER: We’ve seen Anthony Bourdain come in which is interesting, because we’re seeing sort of a shift to more general interest entertainment content in some of the blocks.
And I think, you know, I think with MSNBC you had them double down on partisanship. Maybe the same thing with FOX.
The one message that’s clear is old style voice of god network anchor, those days are over.
STELTER: Right. Every year, that’s more and more over.
STELTER: Let’s bring up our third headline and, Christina, I want to ask you about politics as entertainment. I think that’s reflective by “House of Cards.” We saw Netflix really come of age with original programming this year.
This is what President Obama when he met with Reed Hastings and others a few weeks ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I’m just wondering if we brought the advance copies of “House of Cards?”
I wish things were that ruthlessly efficient.
It’s true. This guy is getting a lot of stuff done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STELTER: Now, Christina, I think President Obama will have to wait like the rest of us for “House of Cards” season two. I think it’s coming out Valentine’s Day.
This is the year that streaming TV came of age it feels like.
CHRISTINA WARREN, MASHABLE: Absolutely. We look at a few years ago, Reed Hastings wanted to take on the cable industry. He wanted to remake cable and kind of kill it. That failed.
So, now, his target is HBO and I think “House of Cards” is an example of high quality original programming that is not debuting on traditional networks but on streaming services. And it’s interesting because it gives people the opportunity to binge view and watch at once and really puts the entire time shifting model on its head because you can watch whatever you want, which makes it harder to measure ratings but also easier for people to do it on their own pace but then how do you have a conversation about it. It opens up a lot of interesting questions.
STELTER: That’s really the generation shift that Netflix symbolizes — from live TV to on-demand. And I feel like Netflix has made us all aware of that through binge viewing.
WARREN: Definitely. And I think one of the great things about “House of Cards” is it’s a high quality show. You know, it’s nominated for a number of Emmys and Golden Globes and you’ve had these fantastic actors. And it’s a show that HBO bid on first, to be totally fair, and Netflix paid a lot of money for it. I think it’s paid for them because it helps completely legitimatize streaming as a place for networks to go or for producers to go to show their content.
STELTER: Right. Well, Christina, Hunter, Rosie, stay with us. We’ve got a lot more headlines to talk about, including why Reed Hastings is at the White House at all with President Obama. It involves the single most important media story of the year and why you’ll hear more about it in 2014.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GLENN GREENWALD, THE GUARDIAN: I think the main point is that the thing people most did not know is just how limitless the NSA’s goals are when it comes to spying. What they’re really doing is creating a spying system that literally has as its goal the elimination of privacy worldwide. In other words, every form of electronic communication that human beings have with one another should be collected, stored, monitored and analyzed by the NSA. And that’s a very extraordinary thing to happen in a democracy with no public debate and no public knowledge, and I think that’s why the story has resonated the way it has.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STELTER: That was from an interview I did with Glenn Greenwald earlier this year. Greenwald the first to report in “The Guardian” newspaper about documents taken by Edward Snowden. Throughout the year, more and more stories of NSA’s surveillance tactics emerge and really forever changed how the world perceives information and privacy.
Snowden has been in Russia for months now but one American reporter, Bart Gellman, of “The Washington Post” was recently able to interview him face to face about the impact of his leaks and he spoke about it with CNN’s Dana Bash this week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARTON GELLMAN, THE WASHINGTON POST: He was serene. I wasn’t sure what to expect. This is a man that I had never met face to face before. I had communicated with over the computers and we all know that it’s hard to pick up everything about a personality that way.
I didn’t know how he would feel about what’s become of his act and what followed on and what I found was a man who is calm and comfortable and at peace with what he did who believes that he succeeded quite considerably in promoting the debate he was looking for.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STELTER: Still with me here in studio, Rosie Gray, a political reporter for “BuzzFeed”, Christina Warren, a senior technology analyst for Mashable, and Hunter Walker, national affairs reporter “Talking Points Memo”.
And, Christina, Mashable had a dramatic headline the other day I want to put on screen. It said Edward Snowden “mission accomplished, “I already won.”
Was it inevitable that this story of surveillance would be about personality, in this case Edward Snowden’s personality, as it would be about policy?
WARREN: At the core of the story when the information came out to be true, originally there was questioning about what’s accurate in this and what isn’t. It becomes powerful about who is the person behind these leaks.
And this case, we’re really talking about two personalities. We’re talking about Edward Snowden and, obviously, his personality is what helps drive the narrative. We’re also talking about the personality of Glenn Greenwald and some of the other reporters who really become a big part of the story. And that I think helped shape the narrative tremendously because through Greenwald, Snowden has been able to get his message out continuously and has been able to share more and more about what’s happening.
And I think if he didn’t have such a personality, we wouldn’t care as much if he was more of a Mark Zuckerberg time but because he’s a little boisterous and as, you know, the interview we’re seeing maybe serene, it becomes more interesting.
STELTER: Well, it’s journalism advocacy hybrid that we see with Glenn Greenwald, don’t we?
WALKER: Right. And, you know, from Bradley Manning now to Snowden, leaks are becoming a much more important part of the modern media landscape.
And, naturally, I think whistle blowers choose to take those to journalists to share their views. And I think the question is the rise of these types of journalist keeps on going and how we get back to a more balanced approach.
STELTER: You know, I think it’s interesting that people like Glenn Greenwald had to figure out how to encrypt their communications. They’ve had to change the way they work with sources.
Is that something that’s a big shift this year?
GRAY: I think so. I would love to see a survey on how many journalists this year got encryption for e-mail. I bet it was a lot, because the example of how Glenn worked with Edward Snowden really I think drove home the point that — and NSA revolutions themselves drove home the point that journalists need to be careful about protecting their sources.
STELTER: Here’s what Glenn Greenwald said to “Esquire”, in an interview in the January issue. He said, “I’m definitely assuming because you called my home phone that this call is being monitored. I’m not saying it’s being monitored in real-time but it’s stored and recorded and will be analyzed by the NSA. I mean, there is just no question about that. And it’s because of these leaks there’s no question about that.
A year ago, there would have been considerable debate about whether that was true or not.
GRAY: Yes. And that’s part of the huge impact that the story has had. And Americans know now like what kind of their communications are being stored in some government data base and that’s huge.
STELTER: I mentioned Reed Hastings being at the White House with President Obama. There were lots of technology CEOs there. And they were essentially to say we need to have new limits on this surveillance technology.
Do you see that actually happening, though?
WARREN: You know, I think to a certain degree, they are definitely going to use their lobbying power to do that and for one core reason. It’s not that they care about our privacy. They don’t. Obviously —
STELTER: They want to profit from our information. That’s right.
WARREN: But the big thing is that they need businesses and other countries and international people to trust them with their data. So, you have a company like Netflix who’s trying to work in other countries and they need other countries to trust that viewing information is going to be analyzed in certain ways to maybe implicate people.
And the same thing with Google. You know, they need businesses to trust them to store their data with them. If they can’t do that because of these NSA leaks, then, you know, that hurts their business. So, I think in that regard, maybe we’ll see some changes or at least more transparency.
But what NSA leaks have shown us which as technologist has been scary is that they haven’t needed to have permission of these companies to grab this information. That’s what’s so potentially disarming about all of this, is that we talk about using PGP and other sorts of encryption stuff but we’re saying, OK, if the main tunnel of data is being grabbed to begin with —
STELTER: If we lock the front door but back door is assessable, that’s a problem.
WARREN: Exactly. It’s like if they’re coming through regardless, there are certain limits to, you know, how we can protect anything.
STELTER: I’m thinking back to when Apple released the new iPhone with that fingerprint ID and, of course, the conversation about that right away was, well, how is that data being stored? How secure is it really? Those kind of conversations about technology wouldn’t have happened a year ago either.
WARREN: No, I mean, definitely, you would have had maybe third or fourth question would have been is Apple sending these keys to a server some place. Stored in the Cloud?
This was now the first question. Apple had to come out at the beginning and say in the press statement during the keynote, don’t worry. These only stay on your phone. They never go to any storage anywhere else. They’re never transmitted.
They had to make that message clear because of this and it’s becoming a consumer point where we say, wait a minute, you know, who has access to what I’m using?
WALKER: I think one of the more frightening recent stories is webcams on computers and phones, that they turn on without your knowledge and law enforcement and surveillance agencies can actually watch you through your computer in real time.
GRAY: It’s easy to fix if you put a little piece of tape on the webcam, you can fix that.
WARREN: If you kind of look at the camera, they can do that. But it’s scary because they can even just — the light won’t be activated in most cases. You can activate. You can watch remotely without them knowing.
STELTER: Well, these are examples of the fallout. The last headline I want to get to this block is the future. You know, in 2014, it seems like we’re not to going to have any fewer of these disclosures. There are still many more documents from Edward Snowden that we’re going to be reading about.
GRAY: Right. I think that this point, there are kind of diminishing returns in terms of how much of a buzz it creates when they do more stories. They are still very interesting. At the beginning, it was explosive and now, oh, it’s like another Snowden thing.
WALKER: And I think for journalists, we should be returning to old school techniques. I mean, as Rosie said, put tape on your camera and no one is watching you. PGP encryption, maybe they can break into that. I prefer personally meeting sources over drinks.
STELTER: Right. It does feel like there’s a whole generation of reporters having to learn that now for the first time.
Well, all three of you standby with me. We’ve got a lot more headlines to talk about. You know, it was a dizzying year for the media business, as old moguls reinvented themselves and new moguls join to the fray. What mattered most, though? What matter most?
Our answers are next.
STELTER: Welcome back to a special year in review edition of RELIABLE SOURCES. I’m Brian Stelter.
We’ve talked about politics and privacy. Our next topic is media business. Joining our panel in New York is David Folkenflik, the media correspondent for NPR and author of the new book “Murdoch’s World: The Last of the Old Media Empires.”
David, let’s start with the subject of your book. This was the year Murdoch broke his company, News Corporation, into two pieces. Why did he do that and what does it say about the media industry?
DAVID FOLKENFLIK, NPR: Well, he’s been under pressure for a long time for both particularly his investors but often his top executives as well. You know, the newspapers that formed foundation of his media empire and riches for many decades turned out in the most recent years to be kind of a heavy weight around his neck.
By splitting the company in two he both insulated the more profitable television and entertainment properties from the fallout from the enormous hacking and corruption scandal in the U.K. and he also liberated the share price, the stock value of those entertainment properties. You have seen him be rewarded on the market for doing something he resisted doing for many, many years.
The fallout from that is that the newspapers, which once had been profitable and now struggling so mightily like so many of their competitors, are now no longer insulated by the great profits of, you know, FOX News or movies like “Avatar” that FOX Studios puts out. So, they’re really vulnerable.
He’s the chairman. He’s got the CEO, Robert Thompson, who used to lead just “The Wall Street Journal” forum trying to figure out what they’re going to do to solve this riddle that has so far stymied so many of their peers.
STELTER: And News Corporation isn’t the only company that seems to be moving away from print. Here’s the headline from “The Wrap” this week about “Tribune” because they, of course, were acquiring more stations.
The headline says “Tribune” closes local TV acquisition to become the largest independent broadcast group in the U.S.
“Tribune” was once known as a newspaper company. But it doesn’t want to be anymore.
FOLKENFLIK: Well, Wall Street sort of punished it for being a newspaper company. I say this with some pain as a former “Tribune” company employee. I used to be a reporter at “The Baltimore Sun”.
And what you’ve seen is sort of a multiple series of body blows to the newspaper edition of that company. The combination of poor choices, poor management, little greed on part of the owners, and also loading of it with enormous debt when it was taken over by one of its prior owners.
At this point, they look carefully at this. It’s being led by a former top television and entertainment executive and they said, you know, the future is in TV and digital. Let’s get away from print things. And they spun that off to the side.
One thing you can say for Murdoch, was that he gave it a couple of billion dollars, his new newspaper spin off, which is the new News Corp as a cushion. “Tribune” has basically said, look, we’ve cut these papers to where they are profitable and we’re not going to give them cushion at all. We’re going to try to sell them and they can fend for themselves.
STELTER: Let me bring up with our panel as well, the second headline: future of print with a question mark. It’s happening here at the parent company of CNN as well, Time Warner is spinning off its magazine division, Time Inc. next year.
What do you all make of these continued moves away from print toward digital, Christina?
WARREN: I think it’s inevitable, because, you know, print has suffered for a long time. These companies are realizing that they have to move to other avenues of making money. The challenge, of course, is that the ad revenue hasn’t caught up on the web to the place where it was with print. It becomes inevitable because profits just aren’t there.
STELTER: Here’s one indicator. This month, “Newsweek”, which went out of printing a year ago, announced came back and said it will bring print edition back from the dead. This was a big surprise to people.
But the new owner said, we’re only going to do this at a profit. We’re only going to do this at subscriber levels that make it work. We’re not going to depend on advertising alone.
I suppose that’s true for every media company, right?
WALKER: Yes. You know, we’ve actually seen “Politico”, which was owned by Albright, and which was a local TV company —
STELTER: But which sold its stations.
WALKER: Right. They doubled down on a magazine and hyper local media with capital. And they’re hoping to do that via pay wall.
STELTER: Let’s talk about one of the new media barons who bought “The Washington Post” a few months ago. Here’s what he said recently to CNN about his plans for “The Post.”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEFF BEZOS, AMAZON FOUNDER: For me I thought “The Washington Post” was an important institution and I am optimistic about its future. It’s a personal investment. I’m hopeful I can help from a distance in part by providing runway for them doing a series of experiments and in part through bringing some of the philosophy that we have used at Amazon to “The Post”.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STELTER: David, you covered the story when it happened. Have we seen evidence “The Post” changed at all under the new owner?
FOLKENFLIK: Not really. I mean, you’ve seen continuation of aggressive watchdog journalism. Fairly newly installed editor, Marty Baron, whose appointment preceded Jeff Bezos. He’s going to stay on that post. He may well be the best newspaper editor in the country right now.
You know, I think you’re starting Bezos study this very closely. He’s a very smart guy. He really understands the relationship between the consumer, particularly the digital consumer, and the company that he founded and has made such a force with Amazon. They’re hoping that he brings that sensibility to the paper.
Katherine Weymouth, you know, was the daughter of the chairman of “The Washington Post” Company, Don Graham, said in a recent interview she stayed on for now as publisher and biggest changes that men no longer wear ties. You noticed Jeff Bezos in that clip with an open collar like yourself.
So, at the moment, things are stylistic. I think he’s making a careful study and I think you’re going to see some real changes in the future. But we don’t know what those will be yet.
STELTER: I thought one of the most interesting things “The Washington Post” did this year and I wonder what you thought as well was creation of a Web site called No More. It feels a little bit like buzz-worthy, BuzzFeed, a little bit up worthy, like viral nova. It’s one of these viral Web sites, at least it’s trying to be at least.
I wonder if this is a year where the virality industry really took hold and everyone wanted to have buzzy headlines like your employer, “BuzzFeed”.
GRAY: Well, I think it’s been taking hold for some time. And we launched the news organization part of “BuzzFeed” two years ago now.
GRAY: I think if you looked a media today, there are lots of people trying to tap into what we’ve been able to do so successfully.
STELTER: What are the secrets to a “BuzzFeed” headline, by the way, or an up worthy headline?
GRAY: Well, the idea behind “BuzzFeed” is that we’re not aimed toward people who are typing in search terms into Google. Like the idea behind “BuzzFeed” content is it’s shareable and people want to share it.
STELTER: Do you think we’re going to see just more and more of that in 2014? This is a fad or something more?
WALKER: We’ve already seen. I mean, obviously, you’ve mentioned some of the better known sites. But we’ve seen a lot of copy cats. One thing I find interesting is that Facebook has hinted that they might change their algorithm. And when you have these sites that really as Rosie said, tapped into search and social —
STELTER: They’re really depending on traffic from Facebook.
WALKER: Exactly. And we saw LinkedIn, earlier this year, sort of, create an in-house editorial team and send less traffic outward. And I think, if Facebook and Twitter do something similar, we could see another shift.
STELTER: We’ve got a couple more topics to get to. So let’s take one break and come back to them. Everybody, stay with me. Because, coming up, it’s the single greatest disruptive force in the media this year. It’s the thing causing the most pain and creating the most potential. I don’t want to give it away. Let’s discuss it next.
STELTER: Welcome back. For years the Pew Research Center has been measuring what percentage of Americans have smartphones. And this year, for the first time, that number surpassed 50 percent. Phones are changing the culture and radically changing the way we consume media. Frankly, I think it’s one of the biggest media stories of the year.
Let’s resume the discussion, see what our guest think. With our panel, from New York, David Folkenflik, the media correspondent for NPR, and here in studio, Rosie Gray, a political reporter for BuzzFeed; Christina Warren, the senior technology analyst for Mashable; and Hunter Walker, the national affairs reporter for Talking Points Memo.
Now, I wonder, Rosie, first to you, who is benefiting most from these trends involving mobile media? Because, increasingly, all media has to fit onto this small screen.
GRAY: We are. BuzzFeed is.
It’s a huge — it really is a huge percentage of who looks at our site.
STELTER: And you say that because it’s easy to scroll through lists and things like that on a phone, because you produce it for the phone?
GRAY: Well, we don’t necessarily produce things just to be looked at on mobile, but that is something that we really keep in mind when we are producing what we do.
STELTER: I’m surprised by how much TV is also being watched on mobile phones now. Because, you know, it’s not the most comfortable experience. But if this is the only screen you have, it’s good enough, isn’t it?
WARREN: It’s good enough, and, more than that, I mean, when you’re talking about, whether it’s a phone or tablet, when it’s right in front of your face, it’s not that different from a viewing perspective than if you’ve got something 10 or 15 feet away. But the better thing is that you can watch it anywhere. Convenience is the big thing. So you’re taking the locational aspect of having to be at home away from it and I can now be on the train and catching up on — on CNN.
STELTER: These are really the overarching trends that we end up talking about every week. And it’s worth reflecting on how fast things have changed. Data is more easily assessable on the phone now. It’s faster than ever. It’s getting better and better.
And, of course, with the phone comes social TV, the idea of chatting along with shows like this one. And we saw Twitter go public this year. Let’s put up the stock price on screen because it all makes us wish we had all bought stock in the company.
There it is. It’s had a great year.
Do you see any — do you see it that this is a fad or as something that is permanent for Twitter and for television?
WARREN: I think that this is, for Twitter, a big part of its business moving forward, because they have been able to lock in, whether it’s correct or not, they’ve been able to work with Nielsen and convince networks that there is a correlation between discussion on Twitter about a TV show and ratings. And so, if they can deliver advertisers to people while they’re discussing things online, that’s a win-win for them.
STELTER: I’ve got to bring up the Super Bowl and the blackout and this wonderful creative tweet by Oreo. You know, this, I feel like, woke up so many marketers…
WARREN: The tweet of the year.
STELTER: … to Twitter. You think it was the tweet of the year, huh?
WARREN: For marketing, absolutely.
STELTER: So remind people about this one if they didn’t see it.
STELTER: It says, “Power out, no problem.”
WARREN: “Power out, no problem.” So, I mean, they came up with this within 10 minutes of the blackout at the Super Bowl and just tweeted out this photo on Twitter of Oreo. And it was perfect. It went viral. It was one of those great moments of capturing the zeitgeist. Everyone on Twitter, people in the stadium, people at home were all talking about the blackout and Oreo was able to come in and dominate a conversation.
STELTER: As we wrap up and get to our last headline, highs and lows, I want you all to think about what your lowest media moment of the year was and what your highest one.
I’m going to show you my tweet of the year while you think about it. This was from an astronaut who is now — you know, when he was up in the — in space, tweeting pictures from space. Let’s put one of them up on the screen. I mean, these are — these are wild to see. There were a couple of them that I thought were really my personal favorite tweets of the year. And it shows us how connected the world really is now, even in space.
So let’s start with Christina. What was your media low point of the year?
WARREN: It has to be the Boston bombing coverage, especially the role that Reddit played in trying to crowdsource figuring out who the bombers were. I thought it was a really negative point where the Internet, kind of, became a mob. But I think, even worse than that, lots of mainstream and respectable media outlets started turning to places like Reddit to source information rather than doing accurate reporting, and so false information was spread out.
And, for instance, in the Reddit instance, you know, a man was misidentified as being a suspect who wasn’t. He was actually — had already passed away. His family was looking for him, and he became a suspect online. And it was a really negative, I think, example of what happens when we are in this real-time sphere we’re all talking at once and you don’t stop to take a breath and say, “Wait a minute, what’s real and what’s not, and let’s separate facts from fiction.”
STELTER: There were so many hoaxes this year, weren’t there?
STELTER: And the press has to do a better job of checking those.
WARREN: Absolutely. We can’t just listen in to the police scanners and report it immediately. We’ve got to do vetting.
Hunter, what’s your pick for the low point?
WALKER: Well, I think Christina is right, that this, sort of, viral vigilantism, which actually went onto the front page of the New York Post, took the cake.
STELTER: Yeah, let’s put that onscreen. It said “Bag Men.” It was completely wrong.
WALKER: Right, and it ended up resulting in a lawsuit. And, you know, I think you’re right also that, of course, on a story such as this, it’s terrible. But we’re seeing, on a more casual and fun story, such as this “Diane in 7A” Thanksgiving note-passing story that turned out to be a complete hoax, the media is, sort of, not fact-checking anything.
And even Neetzan Zimmerman, who’s Gawker’s, kind of, chief viral aggregator, said in a recent Wall Street Journal interview that what scares him most is when delving into this viral Internet culture and focusing on it loses that element of speaking truth to the dominant culture.
STELTER: Rosie, your turn, low point of the year?
GRAY: I’m going to go in a little bit of a different direction and say the “60 Minutes” report on Benghazi, which was discredited and I think was a hugely damaging moment for the credibility of a major media institution.
STELTER: And to New York, David, what was your media low point of the year?
FOLKENFLIK: Well, I hate to provide some sort of consensus.
I’ve got to say that the Benghazi/CBS botched story was terrible from two standpoints. One was the story itself and the other was that, in the days after, when serious reporters at The Washington Post and the New York Times raised questions, the initial reaction was to try to trash those reports. Finally, New York Post prompted the top-level CBS to respond in a more responsible way.
But the worst, I think, in mainstream media, certainly, was that “New York Post” “Bag Man” headline. And not only the mistake which was based on one photo of dozens circulated by FBI agents, but also in the cavalier reaction. They said, hey, it was accurate. We don’t want — essentially, they were saying we don’t want you to take the implications that we so clearly and — and trumpetingly made on the front page of our newspaper. It was truly transcendently despicable.
STELTER: My pick for the year related to Boston, it was the reports of an arrest that Wednesday by CNN, the “Boston Globe,” the AP and others. The whole country wanted an arrest. And the fact that the reports were wrong, I thought, really did damage, because people wanted to believe it and yet it wasn’t true quite yet and it was true a couple of days later, of course.
Let’s turn to the high points in the minute-and-a-half we have left.
Christina, let’s start with you.
What was the best media thing, moment of the year here?
WARREN: Bat Kid.
STELTER: Bat Kid?
WARREN: Bat Kid. I think it was one of those moments where, you know, San Francisco became, you know, Gotham for this, you know, kid with cancer. I thought that the way that that community came together was amazing. And it was just kind of one of those — especially with everything else that was happening at the time, I thought it was a great — it was a great moment to say, hey, you know what, we can kind of stop being cynical for a little bit.
STELTER: A feel good story.
Hunter, what have you got there?
WALKER: This is TPM’s Golden Dupe trophy, named for disgraced congressman, Duke Cunningham. And this is because, for me, we reached new heights in scandal this year, especially with Rob Ford. Any other year, Weiner would have won this. But I will be giving this to Rob Ford in the coming weeks…
STELTER: Rob Ford?
WALKER: — because that may be the best scandal of all time.
STELTER: And may continue next year.
Rosie, your turn?
GRAY: I am going to say the NSA revelations and how journalists like Glenn Greenwald and Bart Gellman have done really important work on that topic and really informed the public.
STELTER: And David, to you.
What was your media highlight of the year?
FOLKENFLIK: Well, the most important one was clearly Snowden revelations that forced debate at the top levels of now only our own government, but in Britain, as well.
But let me offer you an antidote to some of what we’ve heard. Let’s give a shutout to “Dead Spin,” it’s revealing of Manti Te’o’s girlfriend didn’t really exist, using sort of the tools of social media to unravel certain hoaxes perpetrated through social media, as well as through mainstream media outlets like “Sports Illustrated.” An impressive work of reporting by a newer entrant in the field.
STELTER: It sure was.
Well, David, thank you so much here in DC.
Rosie, Christina Hunter, thanks so much for joining us.
WALKER: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thanks to you.
STELTER: When we come back, we’re going to keep up our end of the year theme here by talking to the people who ring in every new year on TV.
That’s right, Kathy Griffin is going to haze me, next.
STELTER: Welcome back to RELIABLE SOURCES.
I’m Brian Stelter.
New Year’s Eve is just a couple of days away.
So should you stay in this year?
Well, we’re going to try to help make the case for that.
First, here’s Ryan Seacrest. He’ll be back hosting Dick Clark’s New Year’s “Rockin’ Eve” on ABC on Tuesday night.
I asked him how he prepares for the big night.
STELTER: So you recently renewed your contract for “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve.”
Does that take a lot of prep, for a New Year’s Eve show, or do you show up and count it down?
RYAN SEACREST, HOST, “NEW YEAR’S ROCKIN’ EVE”: You know, I’m there for a week prior to the show. We plan the show throughout the course of the year.
SEACREST: When I first started, it was a lot of pressure. I felt a lot of pressure because I was stepping in to be the, you know, the passenger of Dick Clark, who was the driver, in this vehicle that he had driven for so many years.
So I put a lot of pressure on myself to do well for him, so he would keep inviting me back.
And then the first year that he wasn’t there, I think I felt a little bit more pressure, because I had never done the whole show by myself.
SEACREST: Now when we get there, we take a look at what’s happening. We’ve extended the show. It’s hours long. It’s 17 hours long.
STELTER: It’s pretty much all of prime time now.
SEACREST: It’s all of prime time. And it’s fun. You do — when that ball drops and you do say “Happy New Year,” you forget you’re on the air.
I mean Dick said to me — I remember he — I said, “What’s the best advice you can give me for when I do this?”
He said, “Shut up.” He said, “Just be quiet. When that ball drops and they say “Happy New Year,” lay out and be quiet. Let everybody cheer. Look at the smiling faces. Because that’s what that night is all about.”
STELTER: Do you ever wish you could just stay at home and relax at home and enjoy the night that way?
SEACREST: You know, when I get home, I just want to leave. So I never wish I — I’m home. Every time I get home, I feel like I should be doing something.
SEACREST: You know, so I did that enough as a kid, where I watched it. And that’s — it was a dream of mine to see Times Square on New Year’s Eve, just as a tourist. And so to be able to stand right there under the ball, it truly is something I’m very grateful to be able to do.
STELTER: Last year’s show was really a tribute to Dick Clark.
And we’ll hear his name again this year, won’t we?
SEACREST: Yes. Of course. I mean this is a franchise that he built and that, you know, so many Americans used to watch him every year, as did I. It’s sad that he’s no longer with us, but we’re trying to make him proud. He’s a great man. And he was a good friend. And I will try and count backwards as perfectly as I can.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
STELTER: Well, that was the always busy Ryan Seacrest.
If you’re in the mood for something a little more unpredictable, well, you might want to try this network, of course, because Kathy Griffin is back with Anderson Cooper.
Kathy kept me on my toes when I spoke to her earlier.
STELTER: I’m joined now by Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin.
Guys, thanks for being here.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: A pleasure.
KATHY GRIFFIN, COMEDIAN: Hi, Brian.
STELTER: How do you prepare for something like the New Year’s Eve show?
COOPER: I don’t really prepare…
GRIFFIN: Brain, how do I prepare for this?
My first question…
COOPER: Go ahead, Kathy.
GRIFFIN: I’m sorry. I don’t know who Brian is.
COOPER: Yes, you do.
STELTER: Well, I’m the new guy around here on RELIABLE SOURCES.
GRIFFIN: Is Brian still on the Stray Cats?
Was it hard leaving the Stray Cats to go ahead and get a TV show on CNN?
COOPER: I knew I should have prepared better for this.
COOPER: You know, I don’t really prepare much…
GRIFFIN: Look, it’s not…
COOPER: — to be honest, for…
GRIFFIN: — it’s not the “New York Times,” honey.
COOPER: I don’t prepare much for — see, she does know who you are.
I don’t prepare much for — for this. Kathy — for Kathy, I think this is a much bigger evening, a lot more important. But, you know, I feel like I — I’m just there to roll with the punches.
STELTER: And there are a lot of punches, aren’t there, Kathy?
GRIFFIN: Anderson, I’m going to ask you to stop talking for a second.
Look, Brian, when you went to prison with Judith Miller, why didn’t you just talk to the feds?
I mean I know “The Times” took a hit on that one, but what was it like?
Was it like that show “Beyond Scared Straight?”
Did they take your shoes?
STELTER: I am so glad I did not ever see that television show.
GRIFFIN: Brain, did you work for the Style section?
STELTER: Maybe once in a while. I don’t think I ever got the pleasure of writing about you, though.
COOPER: Well, let’s hope it doesn’t happen this time, either.
GRIFFIN: Did I — Anderson, did I just see you just wipe the top of your lip?
COOPER: Yes, you did.
I’m starting to sweat. Yes.
STELTER: I actually remember last…
GRIFFIN: — I actually saw…
STELTER: — last year’s…
GRIFFIN: — Anderson do my favorite thing, which is just a subtle (INAUDIBLE) is it over?
STELTER: I think it might have been last year, Anderson, when I was at some New Year’s Eve party and I heard on Twitter that you had just mentioned me, because Kathy had done something unmentionable to you on air. And you had said something about how Brian Stelter of the “New York Times” is going to be having to write about it.
COOPER: Yes, which is what I lived in fear of for all these years, because the problems develop as the evening gets later and it crosses like that midnight hour, that last half hour. For me, that’s the most dangerous time with Kathy, because, you know, she’s sort of striking out and in terms of wanting to just, I don’t know, get it all out there. And that’s when I…
GRIFFIN: I’d say lashing out.
COOPER: Lashing out. Yes, I’d say lashing out is probably a good expression, as well.
STELTER: It sounds like any party when you stay a little bit…
STELTER: — too long.
GRIFFIN: — what — Brian, what party — boy, you guys are being super sweet and supportive, by the way. I — really, this is a pleasure for me, to hear you two just insult me.
COOPER: Well, I’m not…
GRIFFIN: What else you got, boys?
Bring it. Let’s go.
STELTER: I’m actually thinking of staying home for the first time in years and watching TV for a change.
COOPER: Have you ever had a good time…
STELTER: I apparently miss a lot.
COOPER: Have you — Brian, have you ever had a good time at a party on New Year’s Eve?
I don’t know anybody who has ever had a fun time on a party on New Year’s Eve. So I think it is much better just to stay at home and watch it all on TV.
STELTER: Well, don’t you ever wish you guys could do that, just stay at home one year?
COOPER: No. This is why I work on New Year’s Eve. I don’t know about Kathy, but I…
COOPER: — I…
GRIFFIN: — we love it.
COOPER: — I started volunteering to work on New Year’s Eve, A, because no one else at CNN wanted to 10 years ago or whatever it was…
COOPER: — but also because it’s such — I just find — in New York City, it’s such a miserable night. There are no cabs. You can’t get anywhere. You have to wait in long lines to hand your coat to a coat check at a — at a club or something. There’s no reason to go out. It’s miserable. There’s too much effort and there’s too much pressure to like get wild and crazy. It’s so much more fun to just stay at home and watch us.
GRIFFIN: Once again, I love when Anderson is among the people complaining about his coat check person.
STELTER: Kathy, how do you…
GRIFFIN: Now, Brian…
GRIFFIN: — have you ever — like, Brian, why don’t you let me take it from here?
GRIFFIN: Brian, have you ever spooned with Candy Crowley?
STELTER: Candy Crowley?
You know, what am I on, my third or fourth week at CNN?
I don’t think that’s come up in orientation quite yet.
GRIFFIN: I’m just saying. You might get a better time slot.
STELTER: Anderson, how do you prepare for this?
This is — this is an onslaught.
COOPER: I love — you know, I mean I love being with Kathy. I mean she is a — she’s a good friend of mine and she’s somebody I — I enjoy her company. She makes me incredibly nervous. There’s no doubt about it. I never sweat more than I do in that time when we’re — even though it’s freezing cold out, I’m usually, by the end of the evening, I’m drenched in sweat because I am nervous. But, you know, she makes me laugh and, you know, giggle in a way that I am embarrassed to the fact that I giggle that way.
STELTER: Kathy, is it true that you all and Ryan Seacrest and Carson Daly, you all go out afterwards?
GRIFFIN: You know, it’s interesting you would ask that question, because this year, we had a plan to all have dinner together in harmony as a family. And then Anderson Cooper sent an e-mail to all of us blowing us off, saying he had to — something about meeting with his coat check girl or he had to make sure the coat check girl had the right ticket. It was not a significant reason, but we just cried a little bit and accepted it.
COOPER: No, I — I have to work the night before. But, yes, in — two years ago, I think it was, we all went out to dinner. Ryan paid, of course. And we — you know, it was a…
GRIFFIN: I picked up the tab.
COOPER: It was a very lovely dinner. Last year, I think Ryan blew us off. He sent me long underwear, I think — did he send that to you with your name on it, as well, Kathy?
GRIFFIN: Yes. He sent me long underwear with my name. I thought it was special until I told you. And then you said, oh, I have some that says “Anderson.” And then we found out Carson Daly has some, too.
COOPER: Right. So — and then this year…
GRIFFIN: I’m just…
COOPER: — go ahead.
GRIFFIN: I’m just glad to announce that this year, we have Bon Jovi performing at 9:05. We have Miley Cyrus at 9:30.
COOPER: We don’t.
GRIFFIN: We have Maroon Five at 10:00 p.m. sharp.
COOPER: No, we don’t.
GRIFFIN: And then we have The Eagles. And Taylor Swift is going to do a show with all the Victoria’s Secret models.
COOPER: None of those people are going to be on.
STELTER: I’m going to tune in only for you two.
GRIFFIN: You don’t want to miss it.
STELTER: Anderson, Kathy, thanks so much for joining us.
COOPER: All right, Brian.
GRIFFIN: All right, Bri.
Next, my final thoughts on 2013.
Stay with us.
STELTER: Well, that about all for this televised edition of RELIABLE SOURCES. But we continue online, where we’re covering the media all the time.
And right now on CNN.com, we’ve got a behind the scenes look at A&E’s Christmastime talks the Duck Dynasty family, the ones that resulted in the lifting of Phil Robertson’s suspension.
And we have a follow-up to our segment last week about CBS correspondent John Miller. He announced on Thursday that he’s spinning through the revolving door again, this time rejoining the NYPD.
Also online, my look at how there’s been a reprieve in the ugly battles between cable channels and distributors. There’s going to be no big blackouts this New Year’s.
And we’ve got a link to a very interesting discussion that Don Lemon had on air earlier this week.
Did Anchorman 2, that guy right there, Ron B Burgundy, fall a little short of his own hype?
Well, you can find it all on the RELIABLE SOURCES blog on CNN.com.
Thanks for watching this week and all year, for that matter.
You know, this program has changed a lot in the last 12 months. And so has this entire network. That was the theme of our whole conversation here today.
you know, in the media world, the pace of change continues to accelerate. Media companies and tech startups can rise and fall faster than ever. So can television anchors and pop stars.
Of course, that means there’s more media news for you and for me to digest every week.
And I’m looking forward to doing even more of that in 2014.
So have a Happy New Year.
And let me know what you think our New Year’s resolutions for this show should be. I’d love your feedback on Facebook and Twitter. My user name is Brian Stelter.
We’ll see you right back here next week, Sunday, at 11:00 a.m..