Variety looks back on some of the most memorable media events of 2019:
‘Catch & Kill’ Reopens Wounds at NBC News
Ronan Farrow’s book relitigates his complaints that NBC News tried to tamp down his investigation of harassment and assault allegations against Harvey Weinstein. NBC News denies the claim. The book contains new allegations against ex-“Today” anchor Matt Lauer, fired in 2017 for sexual misconduct.
TV News Gears Up for 2020 Race, Impeachment Inquiry
Anchors away! The news industry, already upended by a 24/7 cycle dominated by White House antics, has had to stretch to cover a gaggle of Democratic presidential candidates and the House impeachment inquiry into President Trump. Programming disruptions have been the new normal.
Susan Zirinsky Shakes Up CBS News
The veteran producer was named the first female president of CBS News at a time of ratings declines and low workplace morale at the division. Within weeks of taking the job, she set new anchors at “CBS Evening News” and “CBS This Morning,” and named Bill Owens to the top role at “60 Minutes.”
Shepard Smith Leaves Fox News Channel
The longtime FNC anchor, noted for his just-the-facts reporting, raised eyebrows in October when, in the last minutes of his show, he told viewers he was exiting the network. The move prompted a round of hand-wringing over Fox Corp.’s commitment to straight news versus opinion programming.
Claims ABC News Ignored Report on Jeffrey Epstein
In August, NPR reported that ABC News’ Amy Robach and Jim Hill secured an interview with Virginia Roberts Giuffre, who alleged the financier sexually trafficked her. In November, a conservative activist group released video of Robach commenting off-air on ABC News’ refusal to run the interview.
‘CBS Evening News With Norah O’Donnell’ Moves to D.C.
At a time of intense interest in a Trump-dominated news cycle, CBS News has said it intends to broadcast “Evening News” from Washington, D.C., beginning this month. When O’Donnell took the reins in July, she vowed to bring scrutiny to important issues.
Comcast Unveils Plans for Global News Channel
After snapping up European satellite broadcaster Sky for $39 billion in 2018, Comcast teased plans throughout the year for the launch of a “global” news operation that would make use of Sky and NBC News assets and challenge CNN’s international dominance.
Town Hall Forums Take Over Cable News
CNN, FNC, NBC News and MSNBC have placed new emphasis on town-hall events, during which a mix of ordinary citizens, newsmakers and sundry experts hold forth on a topic of national import. On one town hall, Lester Holt moderated a discussion about criminal justice reform — from Sing Sing.
Megyn Kelly’s Next Step After Leaving NBC News
The anchor came to terms with NBC News in early 2019 on her exit with the network after morning show, “Megyn Kelly Today,” was canceled months earlier over on-air remarks that defended white people wearing blackface. Kelly looks to be pursuing an indie venture with Instagram and YouTube.
MSNBC’s Chris Hayes Tests Live Audience Format
Hayes hosts MSNBC’s 8 p.m. hour, “All In,” but on recent Fridays, he’s been doing it in front of a live audience, experimenting with a format that has intrigued news divisions eager to find new tweaks to keep viewers interested.