Congress seat holder, George Santos, from New York, recently elected, but I cannot use the phrase “disgraced” because he is still in office despite, lies, upon lies, deception upon deception and phony stories upon phony stories that makes the Brian Williams scandal at NBC News seem like child’s play. I use BriWi because it’s the closet thing I could recall of a major figure in an institutionalized world that did a lot of over embellishing.
The day or two after New Years, Maggie Haberman from The New York Times said some strong words about the local New York market loosing its credibility to CNN. Not too long after, Charlie Sykes from The Bulwark Podcast characterized the failure in “the New York media ecosystem” a phrase that’s kinda like a cliche to Sykes vocab, not to offend him or anything.
As you know local news plays a strong role in holding the actual people in power to account. If this failure in the New York market failed this badly, it’s not a matter of So Goes New Hampshire, so goes the country. It’s one thing if WMUR-TV fucks up a political story; it’s another thing when a dozen or so news operations in the New York Tristate area fucks up… excuse my salty language, but there’s a reason why I am using this phrase.
Corporate Clusterfuckery is Likely At Fault
Corporate Clusterfuckery, is a vulgar slang to describe the networks managing their flagship and owned-and-operated stations or O&Os. Once upon a time, the networks or affiliate groups would have a certain managerial standards, and the local management would implement them. In recent years, some groups, news directors have direct contact to the next person in line in the C-suite. Literally local media executives are cloned CEOs or have very CEO-esque managerial styles, which makes media feel and sound like crap. In radio, the ol Clear Channel was notorious back in the early 00s for no local control whatsoever and a zero tolerance for bypassing the corporate playbook. While this destroyed radio, it’s worse for TV because it also has moving pictures and sound, if you make one medium bad, on a medium that does both, it’s looks more scandalous (you can take that as a pun, I was intentional.)
From Nexstar to Disney, no company has been spared from complete control-freakery in managing stations. I’ll assume the station’s excuse (or justification of their stupidity) by interjecting my opinion
W/NBC: NBCU is building a new TV station for WNBC on the 3rd floor of 30 Rock, as well as relocating the Telemundo O&O from CNBC’s ol digs in Fort Lee, NJ, at a building just off the access road on the GWB. NBCUniversal is insistent on making WNBC and WNJU (the Telemundo station) a Splangish news outlet, making viewers confused of this connection that most people don’t know or don’t care and NBCU wants you to care. Just look at the hot mess in Needham, and how they are really insistent to make the Peacock and the Telemundo T look like happy couple! We’ll see if WNBC’s ratings goes back to the subway basement again at this rate the way NBCU has destroyed other operations in the country.
At WABC-TV, the management from Disney since the acquisition of Capital Cities Communications in 1995 had been autonomous. The Walt Disney Company had the least amount of “operated” in the O&O letters. Even in the 2015 scandal of “Camevil” or Camille Edwards, who had some really sketchy management styles couldn’t easily gotten fired by corporate due to that unique managerial control of the 8 ABC owned stations. The managerial style has been speculated to be contributing factor to the passing of America’s Sweetheart of a reporter, Lisa Collograssi; while her surivivng family and station brass denied that claim that was reported in Page Six at the time. WABC-TV still has solid news operation, still being top rated for their Eyewitness News broadcasts.
For those Disney haters, 8 O&Os is one too many. Many Disney haters think ABC owns all the affiliates.
At WCBS-TV, the station employed two managers who also ran the entire group. The General Manager also served as the head of the O&O stations and the News Director had also overseen all CBS-owned news directors at their respective markets. These two jobs I cannot for the life of me could see how they could run New York while micro-managing the other stations, some markets similar of those to NY. In fact Denzel’s Distant Cousin was often disliked by the New York management, resulting in KYW-TV to post a meme of “We Love Ukee” in the infamous Philadelphia “Love” logo
That followed the infamous the LA Times expose of their mismanagerial styles in early 2021, Viacom found their opportunity to take control of the stations, by doing the insane thing by allowing the head of the CBS News Division to merge with the O&Os, and rebrand both divisions as one as “CBS News & Stations”, and 2022 to complete Viacom’s obsession to unify the CBS corporate look, the 20 something stations resisted in rebranding to a generic “CBS News” for local stations.
On the week of Christmas, KPIX rebranded as “KPIX News” and after New Years, KCBS dropped “CBS2” and KCAL9 dropped the 9, and both stations are branded as KCAL News… I will revisit the CBS O&O branding later, because I was out of the office when these changes happened. But many stations resisted “CBS News [Market name]” for the obvious reasons to not go down the IQ of the viewers, but being the flagship station in the top market, I wouldn’t be surprised to see if the CBS 2 News management was in too many meetings for branding, and lost sight of George Santos.
WNYW is part of Fox, and even before Fox bought WNYW in 1985/86, the previous owners, Metromedia was cheap, and tried to do news in the least amount of costs possible. While Rupert Murdoch in the beginning put resources into the station, the last 5-10 years, the station is basically a bare-bones news operation, with anchors and reporters covering stories per to what Lachlan Murdoch thinks is New York (such as crime stories, they even do a Crime of the Week for digital platforms.)
WPIX is essentially owned by Nexstar, but the management is very insistent to be independent from corporate because WPIX has been aware as early as 2017 the then parent company Tribune was seeking a sellout, the station had a mass layoffs and ratings crash during the hangover of The Financial Crisis just a couple years before. (WPIX is owned by a separate company, but through a Local Marketing Agreement or LMA, Nexstar runs the station – like they own it, its the privilege to serve New York without the financial responsibilities, they leave it to the shell company – oh wait is that an FCC loophole or did they exploit it? You decide)
WWOR-TV has completely absorbed into WNYW, and their “studios” is at the Fox Television Center on the East Side. Their ol digs that goes back to the RKO days is now been deconstructed and the owners of that property was the ones that built the building for then WOR. WWOR does not do any news since nixing it almost a decade ago.
Spectrum News’ New York 1 is seen on the city’s cable systems but they do not cover the tristate area, and even their political editor on CNN with Haberman on that same morning show; speculated if News 12 served Long Island, Santos’ district. Yes, News 12 Long Island is supposed to cover his district… Speaking of that
News 12 is no longer a Dolan clan company. The family that owned Cablevision was sold to Altice a few years ago. Management wanted to turn the regional, oh I mean there’s multiple News 12 outlets that only serve to those customers, Long Island, Westchester, Brooklyn, The Bronx, New Jersey and Connecticut. Only recently did News 12 consider consolidating some of their outlets. I understand the hyper-local possibilities, but this venture was pretty complex under Cablevision. But Altice thinks Long Island people want to know more news that isn’t Long Island, well then why would people want to tune in about stories that have no direct impact? What the hell did you expect when they were sold to a European company with a bunch of moronic corporate whores? Did News 12 cover Santos’ inconsistencies? Their online content is behind paywall, only for Altice and/or Spectrum customers in Manhattan and Staten Island cable subscribers!
So should we hold the radio stations accountable? Yeah for WCBS 880, they had a Long Island reporter, and if 880 covered it, who knows. 1010 WINS is mostly the 5 boroughs, while the coverage of the station is like getting Connecticut and New Jersey under the tent of the stories in the 5 boroughs.
The recent switch by Entercom, ahem Audacity, ahem Audacy to FM was a big distraction, among retirements of people on WCBS 880. 1010WINS on FM is a bit different because some of the writing and on air reporting is coming from WCBS 880 indirectly per to a renegotiated contract with the unions. Audacy currently has a licensing agreement with ViacomCBS to allow the use of “CBS” in their callsign for 20 years, this started after the sale in 2017, and at this point this may be the path to jettison the letters when that time comes in 2037, where 1010WINS will finally “win” over WCBS (sorry for the pun)
For a fun fact, the only other station with a license for the “CBS” letters, per to the copyright page on their website is KCBS All News 740 in San Francisco, so KYW 1060, WBBM, despite former sister stations sharing the TV station calls are not licensed, even if one would argue those are intellectual property too, and I didn’t include WBZ because iHeart owns WBZ because Audacy/Entercom hit their ownership limits including Beasley/Greater Media when that complex sale for Entercom’s few overlapping stations occured. To this day I forget who got what, and who owns what in Boston, because it was literally piecemeal deals like trading baseball cards. jeez.
What about the newspapers? Well, while some accountability should be held, for the outlying areas, it’s believed on of the Long Island papers tried to call the alarm. While the hard right almost literally wants to torch “the media” for being too progressive, the idea they are not biased towards one party in this instance is false. They only seemed to conveniently pick up the story after Santos denied being a drag-queen.
By no means am I directing a fuck-you to CBS 2 or 1010 WINS, or a little island newspaper, what’s remaining of the clusterfuck of News 12, but managers who are supposed to be the gatekeepers of facts, from the outsider looking in with some insight to the industry, it’s easy to assume that management from the corporate level was highly distracted with other business that shouldn’t be their responsibility with the publicly- available information and the chatter online.
When New York fails, the possibility of any market can fail with them. That’s the nightmare no one should be hoping or living with.