Cover image for Crazy like a fox : the inside story of how Fox News beat CNN
Title:
Crazy like a fox : the inside story of how Fox News beat CNN
Author:
Collins, Scott, 1964-
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Publication Information:
New York, NY : Portfolio, [2004]

©2004
Physical Description:
ix, 242 pages ; 24 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Language:
English
Corporate Subject:

ISBN:
9781591840299
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

How brutal is the cable news business? When Fox News CEO Roger Ailes learned that Paula Zahn was negotiating with archrival CNN, Ailes fired Zahn immediately. When a reporter pointed out that Zahn had boosted ratings for Fox, Ailes replied, “I could have put a dead raccoon on the air this year and gotten a better rating than last year.”

Crazy Like A Fox tells one of the most dramatic business stories of the past decade—the war over cable news. In 1991, with its coverage of the first Gulf War, Ted Turner’s CNN reinvented the television news business and became a global brand name. In 1995, NBC and Microsoft pooled their enormous resources to create MSNBC. But by 2003, both had been dwarfed in the ratings by Rupert Murdoch’s seven-year-old Fox News Channel. How did Fox News pull off this amazing victory and how is its success— and its alleged right-wing slant—changing the entire media world?

Scott Collins provides a shocking account of corporate arrogance and intrigue, with all the brash personalities and back-room dealings involved in the war for ratings. He offers inside tales about a virtual Who’s Who of American television: not just corporate players like Turner, Murdoch, Ailes, Walter Isaacson, and Bob Wright, but also on-air talent like Paula Zahn, Bill O’Reilly, Connie Chung, Phil Donahue, Sean Hannity, Greta Van Susteren, and Larry King. Collins also shows what happened behind the camera during the biggest news stories of our time, including the 2000 election, September 11, and Gulf War II.


Author Notes

Scott Collins is a staff reporter for the Los Angeles Times.


Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

Basing the story on interviews with many of the principals mentioned (including news types like Paula Zahn, Connie Chung, Bill O'Reilly and Brian Williams and other media types like Ted Turner and Roger Ailes), Collins, himself an experienced journalist currently working for the L.A. Times, paints a picture of how competition, ratings, personality and simply being in the right place at the right time can mean the difference between great success and second place. Showing how the news became a major player in the cable world, Collins traces history from the early days of CNN and founder Turner through the major news events and behind-the-scenes wrangling, sniping and celebrating that have created today's three-horse (CNN, Fox and MSNBC) cable news race. By being the most unconventional, the most hungry and, yes, in some instances the most crafty, Fox, from Rupert Murdoch on down, has managed to become (at least for now) the most talked about player in cable news. Collins presents a story that will be palatable to media insiders and casual observers alike. While its title is slightly misleading (this is really more a story of how all three major cable news channels got to where they are today), there is so much in this juicy tell-all that satisfies both a journalistic sensibility and a human enjoyment of "dish" that no matter how the author has titled the book, it's an entertaining read. Agent, Eric Simonoff. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal Review

In his first book, Collins (editor, Hollywood Reporter) offers an excellent overview of the recent cable news wars. Though the title indicates that Fox News Channel is the main focus, Collins shows how the channel's success is tied to the actions and reactions of CNN and MSNBC. In addition to chronicling each network briefly, he also reviews some of the most controversial programs that each has presented, including CNN's biggest scandal, the infamous Tailwind report, which later led to an on-air retraction. He also supplies interesting background information about each network's various personalities and discusses how they reacted to crises like 9/11. While other books have addressed the individual networks, this one does an excellent job of combining their stories and showing how they have affected one another. Highly recommended for public libraries.-Joel W. Tscherne, Cleveland P.L. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Choice Review

These volumes relate different aspects of the Fox network story. A staff reporter for the Los Angeles Times, Collins writes a chatty and personality-driven story of how Fox News, formed in 1996, has risen to dominate the all-news-all-the-time format, outstripping MSNBC and CNN in audience terms, despite (or perhaps because of) its rightward lean. Collins writes in a "fly on the wall" fashion, vividly reporting who said what to whom (based on interviews with most of the key figures) as the three networks developed and jockeyed for competitive advantage. This is largely a story of corporate strategy in an ever-tighter marketplace. Good reading (and quick). By contrast, Kimmel (Boston correspondent for Variety) takes a broad approach, dealing with the development of the whole Fox Network. He begins his tale a decade earlier (the network debuted in 1986) and focuses on prime-time programming. Despite some minor errors (he says this was the first "fourth network" since the demise of DuMont [misspelled throughout], when in fact it was at least the third such effort), this book offers a more analytical approach to the Fox story, though it is written in a popular fashion. Each of the book's 16 chapters focuses on a year or so, and each begins with a chart showing the network schedule for that season. Based on interviews and archival research (Kimmel makes clear at the beginning that he got no cooperation from the network itself)--and more useful in academic collections than Collins's book--The Fourth Network combines personal stories with discussion of program developments, as Fox slowly developed a viable network role. ^BSumming Up: Collins: optional; Kimmel: highly recommended. Both are accessible at all levels. C. Sterling George Washington University


Excerpts

Excerpts

Prologue "I hate the news. News is evil. It makes people feel bad." -Ted Turner, several years before founding CNN, in Porter Bibb, Ted Turner Gulf War II was barely twenty-four hours old when CNN lost its first major battle. "You're worse than the American administration," an Iraqi censor fumed to Nic Robertson after summoning the CNN correspondent from his room at Baghdad's Palestine Hotel on the afternoon of March 21, 2003. "Get out of Iraq! Get out immediately!" Early the next morning, Robertson and his crew reluctantly piled into their vehicle for the four-hundred-mile trip west through the desert to the Jordanian border. The forty-year-old Robertson, who reported from Iraq during Operation Desert Storm eleven years earlier, had expected to be the only staff reporter for an American network remaining in Baghdad, filing dramatic live dispatches as U.S. and British troops besieged the city. Instead, he was catching his last fleeting glimpses of life in the bomb-wracked Iraqi capital, as heavily armed members of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party darted past shattered storefronts and slipped inside bunkers. Robertson's forced exit was a grimly ironic setback for CNN, which earmarked an extra $35 million just to cover Gulf War II. Network executives were hoping for a dramatic replay of the first Persian Gulf War, when CNN had become a global icon for its journalistic fortitude in Baghdad. During the early morning of January 16, 1991, CNN correspondents Peter Arnett, John Holliman, and Bernard Shaw huddled into Suite 906 of the Al-Rashid Hotel. Among the last American reporters in the city, the trio reported live by four-wire telephone as U.S. forces ravaged Baghdad in one of the most ferocious air raids in military history. The worldwide audience was estimated at 1 billion-the largest in history for a nonsporting event. Just as narrative music videos from Michael Jackson and Madonna had validated the newborn MTV in the early 1980s, now the Gulf War had propelled CNN into the international spotlight. Broadcast news veterans bolted upright as the air sounded with a strange new battle cry: "Turn on CNN." The Desert Storm triumph was delicious revenge for the eccentric Atlanta mogul Ted Turner, who founded CNN in 1980. The twenty-four-hour Cable News Network was initially so unpolished, and staffed with so many low-paid neophytes, that rivals derided the enterprise as "Chicken Noodle News." When critics predicted that Turner's new cable service would quickly end in defeat, he vowed that the little startup would cover the end of the world "and sign off playing 'Nearer My God to Thee.'" After the live reporting coup from CNN's "Boys of Baghdad," competitors were singing from the Turner hymnal. Despite some hair-raising early losses, Turner had proven that nonstop news coverage could make for a profitable business. "News is the star," Turner had said, and he made good on his word. Gross ad revenue at CNN exploded to $322 million in 1995, nearly double 1990's figure. By 1996, CNN was available in 68 million homes, 15 percent more than at the outbreak of Gulf War I. Ratings surged during breaking news events such as the O.J. Simpson murder trial and the Oklahoma City bombing. Cable operators reported that CNN increased interest in cable TV generally. Perhaps most important, the same broadcasters that had once scorned CNN now wanted an all-news network of their own. "Before the Gulf War, [CNN] was this unknown little cable network that nobody was watching," longtime anchor Bobbie Battista said, "and after the Gulf War, suddenly everyone is watching." But much had changed between the two Gulf Wars, in American society as well as the media business. The partisan hurricane over the impeachment of President Clinton, and the subsequent battle over presidential election results in 2000, had deepened the anger of conservative viewers who had long believed that the mainstream media nurtured an unacknowledged liberal bias. At least in 2000, the nation was almost exactly split between Democrats and Republicans, and political attacks and counterattacks became a regular feature of the cultural landscape. Meanwhile, the growth of cable networks was eroding the market shares of the major broadcasters. ABC, CBS, and NBC were watching the audiences for their once-authoritative evening newscasts slowly disappear; viewers were scattering elsewhere in search of news, just as they were for entertainment. At the same time, the consolidation of the media business eventually made it impossible for CNN's corporate parent, Turner Broadcating, to survive as an independent entity. Once Turner merged with a larger media company, rivals began plotting their own competing cable news services. By the time American tanks again rolled into battle in the Persian Gulf in March of 2003, CNN found itself locked in a bitter war of its own. The network that for most of its existence held a virtual monopoly on cable news faced two competitors, MSNBC and Fox News Channel. While MSNBC appeared at first the bigger threat, it was Fox News-launched in 1996 by Australian- born media mogul Rupert Murdoch-that was pursuing the hearts of American viewers who felt abandoned by the mainstream media. Murdoch had called CNN "too liberal." Fox News would be, in the words of its memorable slogan, "Fair and Balanced." While staffers initially denied that Fox News tipped to the right, it was soon apparent that the network offered a safe haven for conservatives, with such right-leaning hosts and anchors as Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, and Brit Hume. The resulting cable news wars reveal much about the way national politics and mass media intersect in the opening years of the 21st century. Where television news once only presumed to cover political warfare, it now feeds it. Fox News' Bill O'Reilly-a formerly obscure tabloid TV host who has become one of the most popular news hosts on television-has used his nightly bully pulpit to stump against the Clintons, antiwar protesters, and alleged government waste. MSNBC has hired O'Reilly copycats such as Joe Scarborough, a former U.S. representative, and right-wing firebrand Michael Savage. The news networks have become part and parcel of the entertainment empires that own them, increasingly dragging the network news divisions along in a battle for ratings and interview "gets" with celebrities and newsmakers. The story of the cable news wars involves seized opportunities and failed strategies, corporate arrogance and executive intrigue, intense battles for ratings, advertising, and multimillion dollar anchors. And the surprising outcome of this unlikely battle has changed the way Americans get- and use-the news. 1 "One Giant Leap" "The people who get in trouble in our company are those who carry around the anchor of the past." -General Electric chairman Jack Welch, in Ken Auletta, Three Blind Mice At ten o'clock on the morning of December 14, 1995, Bob Wright strode to the podium in Studio 8H at 30 Rockefeller Center, ready to unload the big secret his network had been harboring for months. "Surprise!" the president of NBC joked as laughter rippled among the hundreds of executives and reporters gathered in the studio. Turning serious, he added, "This is a very unprecedented announcement." The studio was not Wright's customary habitat. Television viewers know 8H as the longtime home of Saturday Night Live , the place where performers such as John Belushi and Eddie Murphy made their names with comedy skits. But Wright, more than most other network executives, tended to keep his distance from showbiz glitz. He was slowly forming relationships with a few Hollywood stars-most notably Jerry Seinfeld, lead of one of NBC's most popular comedies-but Wright was hardly a natural-born showman. A former lawyer, intellectually sophisticated and somewhat prim, he concerned himself mainly with potential deals and large strategic and operational matters; specific decisions about NBC shows were usually left to his programming executives on either coast. Wright traveled so much that some staffers called him "the bumblebee," and when not flitting about on behalf of the network, he toiled from an office on the fifty-second floor of 30 Rock. Yet on this cold, foggy Thursday, he and the other NBC brass were putting on a glitzy show of their own, unveiling a deal they hoped would change the TV news business forever. Thousands of NBC employees worldwide were watching the entire event on a live video feed, eager for details of a transaction that had only been rumored in corridors and the press. The mission was so secret that NBC executives gave it a Pentagon-like code name: The Ohio Project. Anyone who doubted that Wright had something important to say had only to glance at the Fortune 500 celebrity who sat beside him onstage. The presence of Jack Welch highlighted any occasion. The hard-charging chairman of General Electric supervised a $60 billion conglomerate whose tentacles spread to everything from jet engines to kitchen ranges to, yes, NBC. If ranked independently, thirteen of GE's businesses would appear on the Fortune 500. Welch had served as Wright's mentor for more than twenty years, back to the day when the rising GE exec plucked the twenty-seven-year-old lawyer from obscurity and, over internal objections, installed him as a top strategist in the plastics division. Through working together in GE's plastics, housewares, and capital divisions, Wright and his boss developed an extraordinarily close, if complicated, relationship. They bore an uncanny resemblance to each other: Both were energetic, flinty men with somewhat high-pitched voices and pale, domed foreheads surrounded by wispy fringes of graying hair. Of course there were key differences. Welch was the very definition of an alpha male, inherently restless and addicted to change , one of his favorite words; when he spoke publicly, he would jab his finger in the air or pound the podium for effect. Wright, by comparison, was more reflective and conservative; he tended to avoid eye contact, and when speaking publicly, his gaze was married to the TelePrompTer. Overall, though, it would be hard to find a better example of the dictum that corporate chiefs tend to promote people like themselves. Their private lives, moreover, increasingly dovetailed with their careers. Wright owned a home across the street from Welch's in the tony Connecticut suburb of Southport, where his socially ambitious wife, Suzanne-a fixture at network parties and the self-proclaimed "First Lady of NBC"-was friendly with the former Jane Beasley, a sophisticated and intelligent mergers and acquisitions lawyer who became the GE chairman's second wife. Both men also owned vacation homes in close proximity on Nantucket. After GE purchased RCA in 1985, pundits laughed when Welch tapped Wright to head up the NBC unit. "People wondered how a 'lightbulb maker' could run a network," Welch remembered. David Letterman, at the time host of NBC's Late Night , had on-air fun with running gags about Wright and GE's stewardship of the network (during the 1992-93 season, legend has it, a kite in Letterman's opening sequence bore a Japanese inscription that translated as "GE Sucks"). But no one was poking fun anymore. Under Wright's guidance, NBC was making fat profits, fueled by such hits as Friends and Frasier . Although he had been somewhat eclipsed by the hard-charging Welch, Wright was widely regarded for his business acumen. "He has an unbelievable ability to process information," says one former NBC executive. "He really understands every aspect of NBC." Also onstage was Andy Lack, the voluble executive credited for transforming NBC News from disarray into the number one network news division. Lack seemed forever in jeopardy of upstaging his button-down boss. On this morning, for example, with Wright clad in a dour charcoal suit with an unremarkable green necktie, Lack wore an eye-catching gray double- breasted suit with a striped shirt, brightly patterned tie, and matching maroon handkerchief blooming from the breast pocket. Lack moved to the podium to introduce his biggest star, Tom Brokaw, live via satellite at Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany. The anchor of the NBC Nightly News was on assignment, reporting on U.S. troops headed for Tuzla, Bosnia. At Lack's cue, Brokaw's familiar face popped up on a giant video monitor behind Welch and Wright. The anchor was bundled in an enormous blue parka as heavy snow fell behind him on the Ramstein tarmac. Mechanics were darting about C-130 transport planes in the background. Brokaw told the attendees how pleased he was that NBC was making this announcement and how much it would change the news business in the coming years. Then he wryly added: "Some things will not change, of course. When a big story breaks in a hostile place like this, the working stiffs will still be out in the elements, and the executives will still be in the temperature-controlled studios." Back in New York, Lack chuckled along with the crowd, then asked Brokaw: "You wanna compare pay stubs?" And there was yet another boldface name, the true man of the moment. On a second giant video screen, this one stage left, loomed the bespectacled image of Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates, beamed in via satellite from Hong Kong. As virtually everyone in America now knew, Gates had turned a tiny Seattle software company into a giant high-tech monopoly, along the way becoming the world's richest man. The Internet age was here, and Bill Gates was positioned to be its king. Gates's presence confirmed, as nothing else could, that the crowd was about to witness an unveiling destined to rock the media world. It was a daring if risky move. After months of clandestine work, the secret could be told: NBC was joining forces with Microsoft to form a new twenty-four-hour cable news network that would directly target CNN. Like other broadcast networks, NBC for years grappled with the future of its respected but costly news division. News was an important part of the broadcast mix: It attracted affluent, educated viewers, produced magazines and interview shows that could be scheduled nearly any time of day, and conferred a prestige that entertainment programs too often lacked. But news gathering was expensive. NBC, like other broadcasters, had been forced to shut down bureaus and trim news staffs in recent years. Worse, CNN-Ted Turner's once-ridiculed cable network-had dominated perhaps the biggest news story since Watergate, the Gulf War of 1991, riding that glory to distribution and advertising gains. The Internet was likewise beginning to take hold, with its ability to update headlines at the tap of a key. NBC had to do something big soon, or the network would find itself edged out in the increasingly competitive race to provide news and information to American viewers. Microsoft would spend $220 million to buy 50 percent of America's Talking, NBC's low- rated news and talk cable channel. Over the next six months America's Talking would transition to the new network, renamed MSNBC. In addition, Microsoft and NBC each committed at least $200 million to fund the development of a news Web site that would accompany the cable channel. One of the world's largest conglomerates was thus allied with the biggest software firm in the world, creating a Web/TV colossus that would deliver news whenever and however consumers wanted it. Wright peered through his glasses at the reporters and executives gathered in 8H. "Today," he told the crowd, "NBC and Microsoft have come together to create news for the next millennium....Both the cable and online services will be fully integrated with the NBC television network into an interlocking chain of news and information delivery that meets all levels of viewers' needs. "No network, broadcast or cable, has ever offered news coverage of this depth, breadth, or interactivity before." Welch summarized the parent company's view. He told listeners that he had just been invited to a centennial celebration of the Dow Jones Industrial Average and that GE was the last remaining corporation from the original index. "This company and its people have been able to adapt to change for over a hundred years," Welch said in the thick accent of his native Boston. He referred to GE as "a company that welcomes and thirsts for change." Thus it made sense, he said, for the top company of the past century to join the most dynamic and successful company of the previous decade: Microsoft. "This is a big deal for GE," he said, "because commerce is never going to be the same again in the next decade. Commerce in the next decade will change more than it's changed in the last one hundred years. Business will be done differently, distribution will be done differently, people will buy products differently." He called Bill Gates "the most exciting entrepreneur this century may have seen." Like a baker icing a cake, Lack slathered some of his characteristic bombast on the event. "I feel a little bit like Neil Armstrong must have felt landing on the moon," he told the crowd in 8H. "This is one small step for me and my colleagues; this is one giant leap for electronic journalism into the next century." q Sitting next to Lack onstage was Peter Neupert, who listened dazedly as the NBC executives launched into their spiel. As Microsoft's chief negotiator on the cable partnership, Neupert had spent the entire night squirreled away in Rock Center, hammering out deal points with NBC executives. He did not get one wink of sleep. Neupert was one of a half-dozen or so people in the room who knew that the "giant leap" had almost belly-flopped. Less than two hours before the news conference began, the entire deal was up for grabs. Gates felt comfortable that Microsoft could make the online side of MSNBC profitable, but he worried that his company was going to get stuck with huge losses on the cable side. Microsoft and GE were signing a ninety-nine-year partnership agreement that would split costs and profits fifty-fifty. NBC would control the editorial functions of MSNBC, while Microsoft would control the online site. In addition to the $220 million stake in MSNBC, the software company agreed to pay a $20 million annual license fee to NBC. In return, Microsoft would get the interactive rights to all the content of NBC News-everything from MSNBC news magazines to Brokaw's Nightly News. But Gates wondered what would happen if NBC failed to get the new cable network into enough homes to make the whole enterprise work. Would Microsoft, a cable TV neophyte, end up eating the red ink? Gates had good reason to be concerned. NBC executives had already started several cable channels, including CNBC and America's Talking. Microsoft, on the other hand, had virtually no experience in television programming. To strengthen its team, Microsoft had hired Ken Ziffren, a top Hollywood business attorney, to help stitch together the MSNBC deal. But Ziffren was perhaps best known for negotiating contracts on behalf of the Hollywood unions. The NBC executives soon realized that Microsoft had no one who could match their expertise in devising a complicated partnership deal for a cable TV network. Neupert, his colleague Greg Maffei, and a Microsoft lawyer worked on the deal papers all night, trying to figure out ways to limit their company's exposure to cable losses. They continued to toil away even after Tom Rogers, the NBC Cable head, and the other GE executives filed out of the conference room around 1 a.m. But word came back that Gates, who was on a business trip to Asia, was growing increasingly anxious as time wore on. NBC had already announced the news conference, and in a few hours Rock Center would be crammed with reporters expecting to hear details of some exciting new deal. If Microsoft backed down now, "we were going to have egg on our face for a while," Neupert says. The unflappable Neupert, a Dartmouth MBA, kept working as dawn approached. In two days he was headed with his family on a three-week vacation to Australia and New Zealand, and he wanted to hurry up and finish the MSNBC deal and get ready for the trip. He shaved in a Rock Center bathroom and slipped into a new shirt and tie he had brought along in his bags. At 7 a.m., with the lawyers haggling over contract terms governing financial liability, Rogers returned and said that Jack Welch would like to have a word with him. Neupert had never met Welch before. To any MBA, getting an invitation from the GE chief was akin to receiving an audience with God (at one point CNBC, NBC's cable channel devoted to business news, punctuated any mention of Welch's name with strains from Handel's "Hallelujah Chorus"). "Neutron Jack" was beloved on Wall Street for his ruthless devotion to the bottom line. GE's revenues had increased threefold under his stewardship, from $27.9 billion in 1984 to $90.8 billion in 1997. The company's stock price had outperformed the overall market by at least 40 percent, according to one estimate. Once attacked for mercilessly firing tens of thousands of GE workers, Welch's unique combination of relentless cost-cutting and acquisitive fervor was now celebrated on the covers of Fortune, Business Week , and other magazines. And the indefatigable Welch, who had undergone open-heart surgery after a major heart attack just six months earlier, would soon unveil his crowning glory, GE's "Six Sigma" quality program aimed at reducing production errors to infinitesimal levels. Six Sigma would add to the Welch legacy a bona fide business theory, something that would help elevate his tenure to a management cult. As it happened, early in the morning when he heard that Gates was wavering, Wright had called Welch and asked him to intervene personally. For Welch this fell under the heading of a "deep dive." Even though he ran a multinational conglomerate, the GE boss still took time to devote intense personal focus on a particular issue or deal when he felt doing so sent an important message or might yield hidden benefits. Deep dives meant "spotting a challenge where you think you can make a difference-one that looks like it would be fun-and then throwing the weight of your position behind it," he later wrote. "Some might justifiably call it 'meddling.'" Rogers escorted Neupert and Maffei into a corner office usually occupied by Randy Falco, a top NBC executive. Welch was sitting there with Wright and Dennis Dammerman, GE's longtime chief financial officer. After pleasantries, Neupert sat down and explained Microsoft's reservations about the deal. Welch cut straight to the heart of the matter. For him it all boiled down to commitment. He wanted to know that Gates and Microsoft really wanted the deal to happen. "Basically, Jack was grilling me and taking the test of my character and mettle," Neupert says. "I convinced him that we were serious, that we knew what we were doing and we were going to make this happen, and we weren't dicking him around." After about fifteen minutes of back-and-forth, Welch finally said, "Okay, I'm with you. I think we should move forward. But I want to get a commitment from Bill along the same lines beforehand." "Okay, no problem," Neupert replied. Neupert left Falco's office and within the hour had reached Gates by phone, briefing him on what Welch had said. Soon the Microsoft cofounder was on the line with the chairman of GE, who took the call upstairs in his office at NBC. Amazingly, it was their first direct contact on the MSNBC deal. Gates told Welch that cable might be entering a slow growth period. Many cable systems were nearly filled to capacity with channels, and operators were increasingly consolidating, making the remaining players more powerful. It was growing difficult to get a new channel into enough homes to make a viable business. Besides, Microsoft had always been more interested in the online side. The TV programming dimension made Gates nervous. "Jack, do you believe the cable forecasts?" he asked. "I think cable's a no-brainer," Welch declared. "You're the guy who has the tough job with the online part. I don't have any doubt we'll make cable work." Welch tossed out some guarantees on cable performance that he said would protect Microsoft from losses if the new channel did not get into more homes. "That's enough for me," Gates said. It was about 9:20, forty minutes before the press conference in 8H. When his cue came at the presentation, Gates sounded somewhat wary, at least compared to the superlatives hurled from the NBC side. He stressed that the interactive age was at its "very beginning" and that Microsoft was taking "a long-term view" that high-quality video would become a key component of the Internet. "This world of new media will require some unique partnerships," he said carefully. "Over the last six months we've been impressed with the depth of news capability that NBC has in its various operations." For all his meticulously chosen words, however, one would never have guessed that an hour or so before Gates had been haggling with Welch over cable forecasts. Now he summoned up all the media buzzwords of the moment. "One of the key things," Gates told the crowd, "is that both of the companies are saying, 'We believe in the world of interactivity, but we're bringing this world into broadcast.' We'll be working with NBC to create innovative interactive news content and an integrated media experience." NBC even flaunted a bit of its technical know-how as Brokaw and Gates engaged in some satellite-enabled chitchat. The pair had developed a passing friendship over the years, and Brokaw noted that they had "informally" discussed a possible NBC-Microsoft partnership "for some time now." Brokaw asked Gates if, now that they were formally partners, NBC could send him a television set. The joke, of course, was that Bill Gates was famous for his ignorance of TV. His desire to be involved in interactive television was the decision of a businessman, not a fan. Viewers in 8H saw Gates crack a faint smile. "I promise, I'll watch it," he said, none too convincingly. Excerpted from Crazy Like a Fox: The Inside Story of How Fox News Beat CNN by Scott Collins All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

Prologuep. 1
Chapter 1 "One Giant Leap"p. 5
Chapter 2 Television Is Not a Gimmickp. 21
Chapter 3 This ... Is CNNp. 38
Chapter 4 Squish Rupert Like a Bugp. 56
Chapter 5 An Imaginary Friendp. 69
Chapter 6 Fair and Balancedp. 85
Chapter 7 Is Ted Turner Nuts?p. 94
Chapter 8 "Valley of Death"p. 108
Chapter 9 Fake Brick and Aunt Fannyp. 126
Chapter 10 The Right Personp. 138
Chapter 11 Electoral Folliesp. 147
Chapter 12 Waving the Flagp. 161
Chapter 13 A Dead Raccoonp. 173
Chapter 14 War and Ratingsp. 187
Chapter 15 "A Line in the Sand"p. 200
Epiloguep. 214
Notesp. 219
Indexp. 229