A Cable News Type Of Week

[ Posted Monday, April 24th, 2023 – 15:58 UTC ]

It looks like it's going to be a very cable news sort of week this week. Today two prominent cable news personalities lost their jobs, for different reasons. Most of the astonishment this generated in the media world is likely to be overshadowed tomorrow by two developments in the presidential race. President Joe Biden is rumored to have picked tomorrow to formally announce his candidacy for re-election -- four years to the day after he announced last time. Meanwhile, Donald Trump is going to go on trial in New York -- which could prove to be the first of many times he'll have to defend himself in court. So it's going to be a pretty momentous week all around on cable news, that's my guess at any rate.

With a certain degree of karmic balance, two on-air personalities were notified almost simultaneously that they were out of a job this morning. Tucker Carlson was fired by Fox News, while CNN canned Don Lemon. This spurred the funniest headline we've seen in a while (outside of the tabloid press), when Politico ran with: "Fox Nips Tuck, CNN Squeezes Lemon Out." Editorial amusement aside, however, the two situations are in no way related. It is being reported that Don Lemon was ousted for being too toxic with women, both on screen and off. This comes a day after the chief executive at NBC Universal, Jeff Shell, left the company after an inappropriate workplace relationship. Both seem directly responsible for their own fate, in other words.

The situation on the right side of the cable news media is a little more muddled. Tucker Carlson was the king of cable -- he had the highest-rated show in cable news. So he wasn't fired for not being popular or not making the company a lot of money, because he was and he did. As of this writing, there are rumors circulating that either Rupert Murdoch personally took a dislike to Carlson or that it was a cold hard business decision after Fox agreed to a $787.5 million settlement for defaming a voting machine manufacturer on air. Sooner or later we'll likely hear a few more details about why Carlson was kicked out, but for now this is all nothing more than mere speculation. Carlson wasn't the only big name Fox fired recently either -- Dan Bongino was let go just last week as well. Will Carlson be the last person booted, or are there others also facing cancellation? Tune in tomorrow to find out....

In reality, today's news is likely to be largely pushed aside tomorrow if Joe Biden does actually make his anticipated announcement. Rumors began to circulate in the middle of last week that Biden had chosen Tuesday as his big day, so we've already gotten the first of what will doubtlessly prove to be a flood of pundits speculating on how good an idea Biden running for re-election really is, and on his chances of beating Donald Trump again. Every aspect of a second Biden campaign will be examined, with the central theme being Biden's unpopularity. Biden's job approval ratings haven't been very impressive (and that's being polite), and NBC unveiled a poll over the weekend showing that a whopping 70 percent of the public didn't want to see Biden run again. That was ten points higher than those who didn't want to see Trump run again, it bears mentioning.

This is somewhat astonishing since Joe Biden hasn't particularly annoyed any major factions within the Democratic Party while he's been president. He hasn't picked any big public fight with any particular wing of the party at all. Most Democrats (both politicians and the general public) think Biden's done a surprisingly good job with the dire crises he faced when he entered office. He got an impressive amount of things accomplished with a Democratic Congress, and so far he's been holding his own against the new Republican House. There have been disappointments along the way, but most of these can be laid at the feet of Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, not Biden himself. Biden has done a good job of making good on the inherent promise of his first campaign -- to be a competent president, but (much to most people's relief) also a boring president. That's what won him the election -- millions of Americans were just tired of the nonstop circus atmosphere Donald Trump spreads wherever he goes. And if the Republicans nominate Trump again, Biden's probably got a pretty good shot at beating him again, for precisely the same reason.

There's really one thing and one thing alone which drives that 70-percent mark in the poll: Biden's age. Biden is old. He's already the oldest president ever, and he'll be asking for another four years. If he wins re-election and serves his whole second term, he will be 86 years old by the end of it. This is why even a large chunk of the people who voted for Biden in 2020 are likely telling pollsters that they'd really rather see someone else run. But this isn't insurmountable. Those Biden voters will likely return to the fold at some point, and the point where such movement will begin may well be tomorrow, when he officially announces that he's running.

Contrasting this will be the start of jury selection in a civil trial against Donald Trump. This is the first time Trump himself will be answering for any of his actions in a courtroom. All the other cases and possible cases against him have not yet progressed this far. In terms of those "possible cases," Trump hasn't even begun the legal process, which will kick off with any forthcoming indictments. Trump is being sued in a separate civil case over tax fraud in New York, and he has already been indicted on criminal charges in New York over the Stormy Daniels hush money payments. In Georgia, a new grand jury will be seated in Fulton County in May, and any number of serious charges may be brought against Trump in the upcoming weeks (criminal grand juries only sit for two months there, so this may move quickly). And Trump has his own federal special counsel investigating him on a number of fronts, including his involvement in the January 6th attempted insurrection and his refusal to return presidential papers (including highly classified documents) even after he was subpoenaed for them.

But of all the serious legal problems Trump faces on that list, the E. Jean Carroll rape case will go first. A former president will be accused of raping a woman in court -- yet another dubious "first" for Trump. Unlike the Stormy Daniels story -- which was fodder for tons of late-night comedy and other jokes -- this is a much more serious subject, obviously. Trump is not being tried on criminal charges for the alleged rape, but a New York law allows for survivors of such sexual violence to sue their attackers even years later, which is what Carroll is doing. She is also attempting to sue Trump for defamation, but that lawsuit is still tangled up in legal problems over whether she should be suing Trump or the United States government (since Trump was president when he made the allegedly-defamatory statements).

Carroll is reportedly planning not only on taking the stand herself in the current case, but also calling two other women who allege that Trump sexually attacked them as well. The case is expected to take a week or so, which means we'll get a steady feed of news from it for a while. Trump may not even show up in court (which is his right), and it certainly doesn't look like he'll be taking the stand, but there is already a full deposition he was forced to undergo in the case, so his own words will almost certainly be introduced as evidence even if he's not there to hear them.

Because this is a civil trial, Trump faces no jail time even if he loses his case. At the most, he'll have to pay Carroll some money, but (being Trump) he will of course file every appeal in the known universe before he is actually forced to do so. Even though this case is going first, it could drag on for quite a while even afterwards, in other words. But it will be notable for the fact that Trump himself will be on trial somewhere, for some past action of his. That, together with the salaciousness of a rape accusation, will certainly put the whole case in the center ring of the political world.

All in all, it seems like a week made for the vehicle of cable news. Today they've got their own internal stories to chase, but that will likely change starting tomorrow. Biden's presidential kickoff will certainly be fodder for much speculation and analysis, and we should get a steady diet of details once the Trump trial really gets underway (it likely won't be that big a story tomorrow, as it'll just involve jury selection). If Trump does decide to attend court at any point, we may get another breathless door-to-door live extravaganza as he travels to the New York courthouse. Even absent that, it'll still likely be a banner week for cable news.

-- Chris Weigant


Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant


5 Comments on “A Cable News Type Of Week”

  1. [1] 
    BashiBazouk wrote:

    Honestly, Biden and his team have been doing just fine. I support most of their decisions. All the stuff the progressives want and criticize Biden for not being more forceful on just don't have the votes in Congress. It's good he does not waste time on issues that have no chance of passing anyway. He is way too old and hard to listen to, though he is getting better with practice. In the end, though I don't wish for it, him dying of old age while president would be a good reminder of the strength of our republic and the solid lines of succession. Kamala taking over and the apoplexy among the right it would cause would be icing on the cake. He has my vote...

  2. [2] 
    andygaus wrote:

    Are you sure Biden will run with Harris again? John McCain lost a lot of votes from people who decided that it was too great a risk for Sarah Palin to possibly become president. Kamala Harris is certainly better than Sarah Palin, but I think many voters will make the same decision. The real disaster would be if Biden ends up running, not against Trump, but against, let's say, DeSantis. A lot of voters who don't like DeSantis might still decide that at least they're guaranteed that someone young and vigorous will be at the helm. I admit it seems unlikely that Biden will ditch Harris, but it would certainly be in his best interest to do so.

  3. [3] 
    andygaus wrote:

    Carlson's firing almost makes me feel sorry for Vladimir Putin. He's lost his best friend.

  4. [4] 
    BashiBazouk wrote:

    Oh, I don't know, RT has already offered him a job...

  5. [5] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    All in all, it seems like a week made for the vehicle of cable'll likely be a banner week for cable news.

    Too bad that car was driven straight off a cliff ... many, many years ago ...

    Even I have finally had enough of CNN.

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