Media in 2021: Mailbag, Predictions

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What a year. Let’s take your media questions one more time in 2021 and look ahead to 2022:

Matt writes, Is there an end game for the FOX News Primetime (7 pm) slot? Sure seems like Will Cain is the best fit, but with him moving back to Texas, would he even want that role permanently? Is that part of the reason for the continued rotation?

Matt, Fox News said last January that it would eventually name a permanent host at 7 pm in a press release. The people I’ve spoken with around the industry think that remains the case.

So I have no reason to believe otherwise. That said, the network has found success with a rotation. Fox News Primetime ranked 7th in cable news during 2021 with an average of 1.86 million viewers.

I agree, as do others, that Will Cain is the best fit for the permanent role. Most notably, Cain delivers the strongest, most talked about monologues. A signature opening segment is the key ingredient to primetime success — see Bill O’Reilly and Tucker Carlson.

Fox can build Cain into a star in an era of increased focus on individual conversation-starters. Cain would also lead in well to Carlson at 8 pm.

To answer your question about who wants the job: I assume each guest anchor would take it. Of course, they would. It’s a solo primetime role on the top cable news network in the country. That comes with money, some level of fame, and autonomy. (We will discuss how good the job is in the next question.)

I’m not sure how the anchors’ current locations play into the decision. Not all members of the 7 pm rotation live in New York. Ben Domenech, who guest anchors often, lives and broadcasts in DC. Living in New York is less important than it once was. For example, Carlson broadcasts from Maine.

David: You tweeted out all of the media openings that will be filled in 2022. Which one is the best job?

My tweet listed the following: Fox News at 7 pm (as we just discussed), CNN at 9 pm, MSNBC at 11 pm, MSNBC at 9 pm (if Maddow departs the network’s lineup), GMA Weekend, and Fox News Sunday.

David, I do not remember a time when this many lucrative and promising media jobs were available at once. Even before Chris Wallace left Fox News for CNN last week, that was the case. And now, Fox News Sunday is the best position among the openings.

First, the program airs on broadcast television. Meaning, Fox, ABC, CBS, and NBC (broadcast networks) are in far more homes than cable networks (CNN, Fox News, MSNBC). Though the aura has diminished, Sunday morning news programs remain prestigious in status.

Competing networks often cite Fox News Sunday interviews. This week, nearly every network played the clip of guest anchor Bret Baier’s conversation with Sen. Joe Manchin on President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda.

Fox plans to rotate the following anchors on FNS: Baier, Bill Hemmer, Dana Perino, Harris Faulkner, John Roberts, Shannon Bream, Jennifer Griffin, Neil Cavuto, and Martha MacCallum.

Baier, Hemmer, Bream, and Perino come to mind as four hosts who would give the show a spark to better challenge NBC’s Meet the Press, the top-rated Sunday news show.

I’d rank the openings in order:

  1. Fox News Sunday
  2. CNN at 9 pm
  3. Fox News at 7 pm
  4. MSNBC at 9 pm
  5. MSNBC at 11 pm
  6. GMA Weekend

Brian tweets, I didn’t like Max Kellerman but First Take sucks with Stephen A and a bunch of randos. Will they ever add a full-time debate partner? If so, who should it be?

Brian, ESPN will do with First Take whatever Stephen A. Smith tells them to do. ESPN SVP Dave Roberts, who runs the show, marches at Smith’s command.

The quality of First Take is meaningless. Smith doesn’t care about that. Smith cares only about how he looks. Thus, why he demanded the network demote Max Kellerman. Kellerman outsmarted Smith and that made Smith uncomfortable. It was also harder for Smith to call white people racist, his go-to, next to a host who oozes as many Rachel Maddow vibes as Kellerman does.

So I’d guess Smith either keeps the show himself or picks a former athlete, someone Smith believes he is “smarter” than.

I’ve heard that JJ Redick has been Smiths’ best foe since Kellerman left. Redick is fiery and a solid broadcaster. However, Redick is a white man, a type of creature that ESPN views as dangerous. Just look at First Take’s rotation for evidence.

I expect First Take to remain Stephen A. Smith versus a mediocre bench for at least the next year. Ultimately, Smith and Roberts grow hot and cold on everyone, therefore would prefer not to name anyone permanently.

Wendy asks, what are your five media predictions for 2022?

Since my predictions are spoilers — ask Kansas City Chiefs fans — here we go:

— Rachel Maddow will not leave her daily show on MSNBC until after the 2022 midterm elections.

— CNN moves creepy Don Lemon to 9 pm and Laura Coats to 10 pm.

— At least one major star leaves TV for a podcast.

— Brian Williams goes to CNN+.

— Alex Cooper becomes one of the 10 most popular voices in media.

Thanks for reading. Check back for more mailbag answers in 2022.

Written by Bobby Burack

Bobby Burack covers media, politics, and sports at OutKick.


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  1. However, Redick is a white man, a type of creature that ESPN views as dangerous. Just look at First Take’s rotation for evidence.

    WTF??? This is the dumbest ass shit possible. JJ is good at what he does. Not because he is white or unwanted. You sound like a fucking fool saying that. No wonder people don’t respect conservatives in the sports world. You act FRAGILE AF

    • Glenn “Ball Don’t Lie” Willams-Washington, the last time I was at the zoo I saw a Chimpanzee rub shit on her head and then look confused about why she smelled so bad. You reminds me of that…

      Here’s a little news about your failed criminal culture for you: Illinois’ Democratic state Senate majority leader was the victim of carjacking Tuesday night in a Chicago suburb, police have confirmed. Lightford, who chairs the Illinois Black Caucus, worked with Barack Obama when he was an Illinois state senator representing the 13th District. In the late 1990s, Lightford and Obama worked together to pass a racial profiling reform law. As a senator, Lightford has been a major sponsor of police reform in Illinois.

      Rub some more shit on your head Glenn.

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