Challenged Over WH Criticism Of Fox News; President Obama ‘Not Losing Sleep Over It’

obama_nbcPresident Obama was asked if it is appropriate to be “working the umps” in regards to White House officials repeatedly calling Fox News “not a news organization.” The President appeared neither aggrieved nor apologetic in accessing the contentious relationship between Fox News and his administration, though he did claim that it was “not something that I’m losing a lot of sleep over.”

The President said “I think what our advisers have said is that we are going to take the media as it comes, and if media is operating, basically as a talk radio format, then, that’s one thing, and if it is operating as a news outlet, then that’s another, but I’m not something that I’m losing a lot of sleep over.”

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Watching E:60? Get A Hanky.

Danny GronerConfession: I’ve teared from watching TV about three times in my entire life. All of those times I was watching E:60.

It’s true – the most consistently moving, compelling and uplifting stories on television are being reported on ESPN. Mediaite has mentioned before how strong — and emotional — E:60’s interviews have been. Last week’s story, for instance, about the Dallas Cowboys’ DeMarcus Ware and his wife’s fertility issues was both heart-wrenching and heart-warming.

While these inside looks at the personal struggles of famous athletes lends a different perspective, E:60’s ultimate strengths are best shown in its coverage of unknown athletes facing tough predicaments and enormous obstacles. This week’s episode was highlighted by a story about Pat Chawki, a 41-year-old California man who suffers from locked-in syndrome.

Now, others have covered Chawki before. This story, though, proves to be more chilling as a sports story than initially reported as a medical one.

Chawki, a lifelong baseball fan, watched his children throw out the first pitch at a Dodgers game this season. Fixed on Chawki’s motionless face, you wanted to believe that deep-down he felt the pleasure and pride any father would at such a sight. Chawki’s body couldn’t express his feelings, but in that moment the emotion was transmitted through the television screen.

Better than any other program, E:60 gets you to care about complete strangers; the subjects’ difficulties, illnesses and challenges make their stories so powerful you can’t tune out. Immediately after the Chawki story ran, messages started to pour into the “Pat Chawki – Let’s help!!!!!” Facebook group.

Commenters wrote about being at their local malls, barber shops and gyms when the piece aired. They said that it stopped them, and groups of others, in their tracks. Because the piece was so gripping, they felt a duty to do something. Expressing their thoughts on the piece on Facebook, was a viable, accessible and respectable outlet.

Many others wanted to do more than simply state how inspired they were by the piece. It motivated them to get involved in Chawki’s cause. They asked how they could help, wondering where they could send donations. They left prayers on the group’s wall. Comments conveying love and support for Chawki and his family quickly began to pack the page.

One person asked how he could learn more about Chawki’s rare and fluky disease. Others shared anecdotes about friends who are battling similar disorders. And then there are those who posted with words of encouragement for Chawki. “Keep fighting,” one post reads. “Keep it up, Pat,” another says. They directly addressed a man who has been locked in for years, who shows little sign of comprehension.

That’s what E:60 segments do in ways other news channels come up short. In this example, the piece propelled many people to believe that they were communicating with someone who can’t reciprocate. Chawki’s family, friends and advocates hope someday he’ll wake up and be able to see all the messages left for him. It’s a tribute in waiting.

In the first hour after the ESPN piece debuted, Chawki’s Facebook group registered 75 new posts. By comparison, when the L.A. Times ran a story about Chawki in March, it brought only a handful of comments. CBS’s May report led just two Facebook users to express their support. Not only did ESPN get Chawki’s story out there, it got everyone’s emotions too.


Danny Groner is the Video Editor/Online Assistant Editor for TheWeek.com. He also co-writes the Panel Nerds column for Mediaite.com in which he covers media panel, lectures and book readings. Previously, he worked at several prominent media companies, dabbling in radio, television, and print and online journalism. He continues to study how traditional methods of news delivery have paved the way for new forms of media.


Wednesday Links: “Read and Weep,” Break Up, WSJ Excuses

Uh oh, Bank of America. Some pretty damning emails leaked out of Congress yesterday about what BofA executives knew about Merrill's massive losses several weeks before the shareholder vote was held before that information was released. "Read and weep" wrote the chief accounting officer in an email in early November estimating losses at more than $5 billion. — <a...

Fox News Ratings Undamaged By White House War

Many critics of the Obama administration's ongoing war against Fox News have cautioned that, if anything, calling out the network will only increase its ratings. News Corp COO Chase Carey echoed those sentiments Wednesday, telling a media summit that the White House's comments have been "PR and marketing we couldn't have bought."

The ratings seem to backup those claims.

For the week of October 12-18, amid MLB playoffs and "Monday Night Football" on ESPN, Fox News was the #4 cable network in primetime, averaging 2,098,000 total viewers — placing it behind only ESPN (3,767,000), TBS (2,994,000) and USA (2,868,000). This is down only slightly from the previous week, when it averaged 2,118,000 total viewers. Nick at Nite (1,748,000) rounded out the top five.

In total day, Fox News averaged1,255,000 total viewers, up from 1,194,000 the week before and enough to rank as the #6 network in cable for the week. This may have been a result of the "Balloon Boy" coverage, which Fox News — anchored by Shep Smith — won by a wide margin.

MSNBC ranked #27 in primetime with 696,000 total viewers, while CNN came in at #28 with 674,000. In total day, CNN ranked #25 with 511,000 total viewers, while MSNBC did not place in the top 30.

See the rankings below:


Cable Time Period Rank - Week of 10-12-09 _Live+SD_ -