The News With Shepard Smith Begins Tonight… Predictions

It was Gram’s 79th birthday last year, October 11th, a Friday fall afternoon. 3:59 pm Eastern Time. I am having a late lunch. I can hear the TV in the dining room of which Gram is watching. I hear context of self-reflection. I also hear something about contracts and leaving. I literally run to the living room and saw the abnormal closing of Shepard Smith Reports on the Fox News Channel; using my ears, I knew he was gone. Both of us looked puzzled Because our box has a DVR, I rewound back 2 minutes before to see it again. This time, we see the leadup to to Neil Cauvto who went like “wola” and was felt he was thrown under the bus. In fact when you see the last jib cam shot, you see a group of people on an Avaya phone almost like coordinating his shadowed exit. 

Ironically Emily Rooney’s show on WGBH was on tape that evening because it was the upcoming Columbus Day Weekend. Did the panel follow up and made a segment the following Friday? Nope!  Not to mention in January she made a remark confused of where he was on the channel. I said he left on the week y’all off! Brian Steltzer had a tingle in his eye when the news broke at CNN.

Nevertheless Shep’s disappearance (whether you like him or not, whether or not you like his politics or whether or not you approve of his sexuality) was a huge void missing in cable, of which I am pointing to YOU COVID19 and POTUS & Friends! The news of Shep moving to CNBC was announced in mid to late summer and promos are running on CNBC’s air this week. His show begins tonight 7:00 Eastern on CNBC.

My predictions:

  • If you wanted balance and stable coverage on COVID19, Shep is the go-to guy. If you were missing better coverage, Shep being off the air didn’t help
  • There will most likely be some business and market coverage. That 7:00 ET slot had been reserved for emergent market events; and Shep can do that either on his own or help with his new CNBC team
  • Will Shep chase the storms in studio or in the field? That may not be out of the realm of possibilities.
  • This may not occur, but CNBC is due for a massive rebrand….way overdue. Because the dark blue colors of graphics and set have gone for too long. In fact in it’s 31 years, nearly half of it has been around dark blue/black; whether it’s graphics or sets and/or both. CNBC’s history has not had many years had vibrant colors. Their current studios is roughly 17 years old, and for at least 15 years, CNBC has had a lot of dark backdrops and lighting in the largest part of the building, the newsroom. You can’t tell me that it’s growing mold and other elements of sick building syndrome, which actually what SBS stands for.

My perspective:

  • During COVID19, I’ve kept my monitor on CNBC. Part of it was the business impact, but I think a business channel could cover the matters better because there is analytics over policy. If you switched to the Searchlight, all you hear is politics such former editors of girly mags whining about masks, bow-tie punks that call out alleged hypocrisy of pols; and gets so concerned about the personal lives of owners of broadsheets and 10 pm blond acting extremely sadistic about the human toll; by literally heckling night after night (*giggles* it’s all a joke) and spreads worries more about economic impacts over her elders. (I am referring to Gutfeld, Carlson and Ing-ra-ham respectively.)
  • CNBC isn’t all business: CNBC has been mixed bag of content in it’s 31 years. They started with mixing literal consumer news, such as constant updates on broccoli when the equities hitting the circuit breakers. Then in the 90s they did talk shows in the evening. They even were rerunning Conan O’Brien’s late night show at 7:00 too.
  • It’s not to say a business story will be the lead: On Studio B and Shepard Smith Reporting, business stories were sometimes the lead, or would have higher priority, as for the first 11 years of Fox, it was just the News Channel and 3:00pm was always the critical hour of trading. For the last couple of decades, the 7:00 slot was alwasy reserved for emergent events, Hurricane Katrina, the Financial Crisis and for most of this year, was the Markets in Turmoil following the business, finance and health impacts of the Coronavirus; the program was dropped when things were stabilizing.
  • CNBC for the most part had their own general news operation: In only a few years out of the history of both CNBC and MSNBC, did CNBC use MSNBC to provide news updates. There’s no well known story of why this has been the case, but CNBC and MSNBC are only 6 years apart, CNBC in 1989 and MSNBC in 1996. Currently Sue Herrera, the long time anchor going as far back as the days at Financial News Network in L.A. has provided general news updates and non stop Coronavirus updates in the midst of the crisis. In those updates, she is not covering business; something she did for roughly 38 years!
  • The News With… Remember a show called The News With Brian Williams? That was the first thing that came to mind. However Shep had 23 years at a cable news network, while Brian Williams had the weekend Nightly News gig two and a half years before that show launched in 1996; and his last day in local news was the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. I don’t suspect him going on to some crossover of a sitcom and playing himself or going on SNL or stuff like that. He’s has more experience than when Brian Williams did when he started that program.

In short: if CNBC has decent management (which appears from the outside they do) and they don’t screw up like what NBC did in the summer laying off massively, and they support Shep’s work, the program should be successful for the next five years. I suspect CNBC’s secret ingredient is they are investing in the next five years of cable news; and trying to make the most of the remaining business model. What about streaming? I don’t discount that as a product or a revenue generator; but from a content perspective, I tired of “fresh” and “new” ideas.  Youngins need to look up people like Shep Smith; and learn what Broadcast TV was and what Cable content is to put Vice into it’s grave.

I strongly believe what is old is new again, and this might be 10 times better than what occurred in 1996. (I think you couldn’t tell how I don’t respect Brian Williams that much anymore.) 🙂