The Tattlesnake On the Media Beat Edition
Rumors Slipped Under the Doorway:
— Word is billionaire George Soros, with additional backing from fellow moneybags Warren Buffett, is going to cause heads to explode in the right-wing media universe as he’s supposedly planning to spend mega-millions to buy Air America Radio, along with failing radio stations across the land, and start a well-financed alternative to Clear Channel’s network of conservative talkers. He’s also looking at purchasing some regional small-and medium-market TV stations that are down on their luck to compete with the typically GOP-friendly mumbo jumbo broadcast in those areas. Soros and Buffett aren’t doing this strictly for altruistic reasons they’ve studied buying patterns in the current depressed economy and it’s clear: the better-educated listeners of progressive talk radio have more disposable income than the downtrodden audience of right-wing media. While many advertisers have been shy to buy time on liberal radio, the trend is turning the other way now, what with the general unpopularity of the Republican Party and George W. Bush in particular. Will they be able to get the deal past the GOP-dominated FCC? Stay tuned
— Speaking of which, Rupert Murdoch is said to be quietly seeking a buyer for the Fox television network, including the Fox News channel. Revenues and ratings are down at Fox in general and Fox News in particular, and some of the news channel’s nameplates, like Bill O’Reilly, are retiring soon or have become public punchlines, such as Sean Hannity and Steve Doocy. Bloomberg is rumored to have cast the top bid so far.
— Look for rattled Republicans sensing electoral disaster to campaign this year without any reference to the party in their media advertising. Moreover, watch for them to campaign AGAINST some of the GOP agenda of the last eight years. “Appear to be independent,” is the private advice that went out from the RNC, according to rumor. Deflating the prospects of some GOP incumbents and first-timers is word from on high that the national party’s cupboards are bare and not to expect financial help even in tight ‘safe’ districts, only millionaires willing to spend their own cash need apply.
— Hot on the heels of the success of ‘Reel Time with Bill Maher,’ HBO is allegedly on the verge of offering radio host Randi Rhodes her own weekly ‘no-holds-barred’ hour, featuring a free-wheeling stand-up/panel format similar to Maher’s show. With her rumored MSNBC deal scotched after her controversial separation from Air America Radio, HBO sees an opening for Rhodes’ savagely funny, profanity-laden style. Word is, the pay-cable channel wants to have her up and running by late summer, if she’ll sign on.
— Meanwhile, speaking of MSNBC, Rachel Maddow keeps expanding her television orbit, regularly appearing on at least three of the ‘Place for Politics’ programs and as part of their election coverage, but the cable news channel’s execs continue to dither over giving Maddow her own show. They’d better act fast the dull and snarky Campbell Brown is gasping like a carnival goldfish over at CNN and they’ve been sizing up Rachel’s class act as a sharp and satirical and more youthful — addition to their political coverage including taking over Brown’s low-ball primetime hour, opposite MSNBC ratings star Keith Olbermann. It’s no secret that Olbermann and Maddow are good friends and simpatico politically would she mount a challenge in his time slot? All’s fair in love and TV, they say, so we’ll have to see how this plays out, but word is the Air America Radio talker is a little weary of parrying with the likes of ‘Uncle Fudd’ Pat Buchanan and his precious pup Michael Smerconish at MSNBC.