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Documenting the Fake News

Barrett News Media’s Rick Schultz writes that the Fake News has now been permanently documented for posterity in his latest column.

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The Fake News has now been permanently documented for posterity.

“I’m not a huge fan of media books,” pollster Richard Baris said as he began Friday’s episode 309 of his online program, Inside the Numbers. “You know, like this is fake news, that’s fake news, look how bad the media is here. What I love about how Daniel Street handles his work is that he prosecutes the case he’s making. It is so thorough, and he has a series of books now on fake news. Fake news that really just followed the former President everywhere he went. And when you read these books, there’s so much of it, you forget some of these stories. But Daniel didn’t forget.”

Author Daniel R. Street has spent the past few years documenting nearly 100 instances of deceptive and misleading news, which he packaged into three books in his Fake News Exposed About Trump series. 

“I started out just following these stories, and I see so many. And it’s just vociferous, vitriolic fake news. And then the GOP establishment piled in on it, and I started collecting these stories. I ultimately decided to turn it into a book,” Street explained.

“I couldn’t put that book down. I forgot about so many of these stories that you documented. When you read them, you’re like, how can anybody believe a damn word these people say ever again. It’s so bad. It’s way worse when you review it in hindsight the way you did,” Baris said. “And what I love about what you do is you also explain how the story develops and collapses, but that they don’t care. They just go through that process. And so it has to make you conclude – you can’t conclude anything else – that they’re after that 24 to 48-hour damaging time period. They don’t care how bad or inaccurate their reporting was or how much it might hurt somebody.”

The duo discussed some of the violent episodes in recent years, where incorrect reporting seemed to motivate individuals to commit heinous acts.

“There have been efforts by Leftists who have been influenced by fake news to kill people,” Street pointed out. “The attack on the Congressional baseball game a couple years ago, where one of my state, Louisiana Congressman Steve Scalise, was seriously injured and wounded. The guy who perpetrated that was a Bernie Sanders campaign worker. Now he was low on the totem pole of course, but he had been motivated by fake news. So fake news is dangerous.”

Street explained that some of the more well-known instances of purposeful media deceit from the book include the “Russia collusion” hoax, the Charlottesville “good people on both sides” deception and the “armed insurrection” lie. 

“I get told all the time by people who read them, man I totally forgot about that. Because I go all the way back. Right after Trump came out and announced in 2015, and all the way through until this year. And it’s one story after another,” Street said, pointing out that the media has always been deceptive in its treatment of Republicans. “There’s nothing new about it. But what’s different about it in the Trump era is that during Trump’s administration, fake news was used to hinder and impair the ability of Donald Trump and his administration to govern this country. And it was used to initiate bogus investigations and to result in process crimes or prosecutions for process crimes for people who didn’t do anything wrong, and I can elaborate on all of that.”

Street, an attorney with over two decades of experience handling civil litigation in State and Federal Court in Louisiana, said this era of fake news has been a sea change in the media’s audacious level of deception.

“We could have a three-hour discussion of Russia collusion and just scratch the surface of it,” Street noted. “But obviously that was used to foment a phony investigation of the President and to hamstring his administration.”

“Like you said, there really was a difference between what happened under Trump and what always happened,” Baris said, recalling how George H.W. Bush called out the biased media in his race against Michael Dukakis. 

“These phony leaks and phony quotes. Phony quotes and misrepresentations about phone calls got Donald Trump impeached. Totally bogus and made up,” Street said, recalling when Trump supposedly gave classified information to the Russian ambassador during an Oval Office meeting. “That was all based off of anonymous quotes. Every time Donald Trump turned around during his administration there were stories that were supposedly leaked from people who were supposedly in the know about what Donald Trump said or did. He had to drop everything he was doing. His administration had to drop what they were doing. And the leaders of foreign governments would have to drop what they were doing, like in the “invade Mexico” nonsense. So this was used to hamstring the Trump administration. All of that is covered in the books.”

The two men discussed themes and tactics that are seen daily across all areas of media. Take, for example, what some consider the current hyperventilation by hard-left financial reporters on top business networks. They apoplectically repeat the misinformation that Twitter CEO, Elon Musk, is now “banning journalists” from the platform. Yes, the same reporters who gleefully celebrated President Trump being suspended from the platform. They know full well this accusation against Musk is untrue. They know that Musk banned specific users, who happen to also be journalists, for violating the platform’s terms of use and doxing other users. Musk has taken extreme criticism on the platform and said such free speech, while aimed at him, is tolerable. But he will not allow doxing and other behaviors that could, and have, led to violent and threatening incidents.

Street, a resident of Monroe, Louisiana, said he’d love to “sell about three million copies of every volume and retire,” however the overarching goal of his book series is to help citizens see the truth and counterbalance the deleterious effect of purposely deceptive and misleading journalism.

“I’d like for enough people to get this information because we can defang and neutralize fake news if enough people know what the truth is,” Street said.

Baris astutely pointed out that the media derives its influence not only from what and how it reports material but also from what it omits and obfuscates.

“They hindered his ability to govern as a duly-elected president, using this fake news. But also, now we know they have interfered with two different elections doing this as well,” Baris said. “One of the things that really differed in public polling and doing my work between 16 and 20 were the percentages of people who were aware of some of this stuff being fake.” Baris said voters knew the truth about the Hillary Clinton email scandal in 2016, but were much less informed in 2020 about the Hunter Biden laptop scandal. 

“They were desperate – desperate – to keep that information from the public because if it was just another pay-for-play Washington scumbag, then we’d rather vote for Donald Trump,” Baris said. 

Three volumes in, Street has already made huge contributions toward freedom of speech and information. 

Only time will tell how many volumes he’ll pen between now and 2024 and perhaps 2028 and beyond.

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BNM Writers

Market Still Finding 2023 Footing

After some rigorous data analysis, the thoughtful, numbers-based host was able to formulate some potential conclusions.

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While it’s hard to imagine 2023 being as painful for investors as 2022, experts still cannot say for certain we are destined for blue skies ahead. Many in the media are starting the year by sifting through the stock market tea leaves; trying to figure out what historical data can tell us about probabilities and expectations for the next twelve months.

Some think the United States is poised for a market rebound, while others remain quite bearish, feeling that negative policy implications have yet to be fully realized.

Peter Tuchman of Trademas Inc. joined Neil Cavuto on his Fox News program Friday, to offer his thoughts about where the American stock market might be headed in light of the newly-divided United States Congress.

“Markets have a sort of a gut of their own,” Cavuto opened. “Today’s a good example. We’re up 300 points, ended up down 112 points. What’s going on?”

“Markets don’t like unknowns, and markets need confidence. The investing community needs confidence,” Tuchman said. “And I think it’s going to take a lot of work to rebuild that. And as we saw the other night with what went on in the House, it feels like people should get busy governing as opposed to all this posturing.”

Six months ago, Tuchman didn’t have a solid feel for the direction of the market. And just two trading weeks into the year, he still doesn’t believe any real trend has been established.

“The market has yet to find its ground. It’s yet to find its footing,” Tuchman told Cavuto. “And still, even coming into 2023, the first week of trading we have not found our footing. We have come in on a couple of economic notes that were a little bit positive. We opened up with a little bit of irrational enthusiasm. By the end of the days we were trading down.”

Meanwhile, some financial outlets, such as CNBC, have dug into the data showing what a market rise during the year’s first week – such as what we experienced this year – potentially means for the rest of 2023. They published a story last week with the headline, Simple ‘first five days’ stock market indicator is poised to send a good omen for 2023“.

On an episode of his popular YouTube program late last week, James from Invest Answers dug into 73 years of stock market data, to test that theory and see if the first five days of yearly stock market performance are an indicator of what the market might do over the full year.

“Some analysts pay attention to this, the first five trading day performance, can it be an indicator of a good year or a bad year,” James began last week, “I wanted to dig into all of that and get the answer for myself. Because some people think yes. Some people swear blind by it. Some people think it’s a myth or an old wive’s tale. Some people think it’s a great omen.”

After some rigorous data analysis, the thoughtful, numbers-based host was able to formulate some potential conclusions.

Based on James’ analysis…

If the gains from the first five market days of the year are negative, the market rises 86 percent of the time over the full year, with an average gain of 6%.

If the first five days are positive, the market increases 92% of the time, with an average yearly gain of 16%.

Most importantly, in this year’s scenario, where the first five days saw a jump of more than 1%, the market traditionally ends positive for the year 95 percent of the time. Those years see an average yearly gain of 18%.

“Is it a good omen, does it look bullish?” James asked. “Well, yes, based on history. But remember, there are factors like inflation, interest rates, geopolitical turmoil, supply chains, slowing economy. All that stuff is in play. But history also says that the market bounces bounces back before the market even realizes it’s in a recession. That’s an important thing to know.”

On his Your World program, Cavuto wondered if the recent House speaker voting drama has added to the uncertainty facing markets.

“Historically, Wall Street definitely is a bit more friendly to a Republican administration,” Tuchman said. “We’re in new ground, there’s no playbook, Neil. And I went over it with you the last time. There’s no playbook for coming out of a pandemic. No playbook for what’s gone on over the last two and a half years. Let’s think about it. March 2020, the market sold off so radically. We had a rally of 20 percent in 2020. 28 percent in 2021, in the eyes of a global economic shutdown due to the Federal Reserve’s posturing and whatnot.

“And now we’re trying to unwind that position. In tech, and in possible recession, and inflation and supply chain issues. So, there’s no way historically to make a judgment on what the future looks like in that realm, let alone what’s going on in the dis-functionality of what’s happening in Washington. I would like to disengage what’s going on in Washington and try and rebuild the confidence in the market coming into 2023.” 

So while the data might indicate a strong year ahead, the fact is that many analysts still won’t make that definitive call amidst such economic turmoil gripping the country. 

Along with U.S. markets, they remain steadfast in their search for solid footing.

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BNM Writers

Does Radio Need A Video Star?

If there’s revenue attached, the debate is over. If there isn’t a deal on the table, and there aren’t already orders to monetize a video stream, it’s likely coming soon.

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Last week numerous stories about using video with broadcasting or audio podcasting became a hot topic of discussion.

A Morning Consult poll found that 32% of Americans prefer podcasts with video, compared with 26% who like just audio better. Among podcast listeners, 46% said they favor them with video, compared with 42% who said they would rather listen without video. It’s worth noting that these are podcast listeners, not radio listeners.

Video has become the latest trend in audio. Almost everybody is trying to do some form of video. Many shows already stream online. A few others simulcast on a television or cable channel. It seems nobody believes in pure audio anymore. It’s a wonder everybody didn’t go into television instead of radio.

Before everybody else starts adding webcams in the studio, it’s worth weighing the reasons to move ahead versus slowing down.

The first person to realize they could use video of their show may have been Howard Stern. In June 1994, Stern started a daily half-hour show on E! network, featuring video highlights from his radio show. Stern added slick production values and faster pacing on the E! show.

Don Imus started simulcasting on cable during the same month. It’s possible others that I’m not aware of started earlier.

Stern’s E! show made sense. It answered the most common questions people asked about the show, in addition to what’s he really like; the first questions people usually asked were: 1) Are the women really as good-looking as he says? 2) Do they really take their clothes off? The E! show answered those questions. In addition, it gave a backstage glimpse of the show.

The same month Stern’s E! Show began, Imus began simulcasting his show on cable networks. I would have feared losing ratings. In fact, Imus’ program director did!

I spoke to my long-time friend and colleague Mark Chernoff (Current Managing Director of Mark Chernoff Talent and on-air talent 107.1 The Boss on the NJ Shore, Former Senior VP WFAN and CBS Sports Radio, VP Sports Programming CBS Radio) about the impact simulcasting Imus’ show had on WFAN. Chernoff may have the broadest range of experiences with simulcasting radio programs with video. 

Imus began on CSPAN but shortly afterward moved to MSNBC. Chernoff told me: “When we started simulcasting Imus, I suggested we’d lose about 15% of our radio audience to TV, which we did.” Chernoff added that there was a significant revenue contribution and that the company was content with the trade-off.

WFAN had a different experience simulcasting Mike and the Mad Dog on YES in 2002. “In this case, TV was helpful, and we increased listenership,” said Chernoff. WFAN also benefited financially from this simulcast.

Imus was on in morning drive while Mike & the Mad Dog were on in the afternoon. Keep the era in mind, too. Before smartphones and high-speed streaming, it was not uncommon for people to have televisions in the bed or bathrooms and have the tv on instead of the radio as they got ready for their day. In the afternoon, fewer people would have had video access in that era.

Ratings measurement moved to Portable People Meter (PPM) by the time WFAN started streaming middays on its website. Chernoff reported streaming had no ratings or revenue impact – positive or negative – on middays. However, the company did provide an additional dedicated person to produce the video stream.

The early forays into video by pioneers such as Stern, Imus, and Mike & the Mad Dog are instructive.

There are good reasons to video stream shows. Revenue is a good reason.

If there’s revenue attached, the debate is over. If there isn’t a deal on the table, and there aren’t already orders to monetize a video stream, it’s likely coming soon.

Another good reason is if the video can answer questions about the show, as the E! show did for Howard Stern.

On the other hand, audio companies are going to throw a lot of money at video, based on the notion that it’s what they “should” do because:

  • It’s the latest trend. Being late on this trend is different from missing the Internet or Podcasting. Industries already revolve around video; television and film come to mind.
  • Podcast listeners like it (by a slight plurality).

Before turning on webcams, see what viewers will see. The studios at many stations I’ve worked at were better not seen. Considerations include; the set, lighting, wardrobe, visuals, and a plan.

Too many video streams of studios feature the fire extinguisher prominently in the shot or the air personalities milling about during terminally long breaks.

Before going live, watch the video with no audio. Is it interesting? Compelling? Does the video draw you in, or is it dull?

With program directors now spread so thin handling multiple stations, a dedicated person to oversee streaming should be a requirement for stations streaming shows.

Other considerations:

  • How could this help us, and how could it hurt us?
  • How does the video enhance the show?
  • Will personalities do their radio show or perform for the cameras?
  • What production values are you able to add to the video?
  • What happens during those seven- eight-minute breaks if it’s a live radio show (vs. a podcast)? What will people streaming video see and hear? Does everybody on the show get along?

Do you have revenue attached? What do you expect will happen to the ratings?

WFAN earned significant revenue for two. Therefore, the company wasn’t concerned when the ratings took a hit for the first one and were surprised when they helped the second one. They didn’t see any impact on ratings or revenue the third time.

After all the budget cuts and workforce reductions over the past decade-plus, before audio companies invest in video, shouldn’t we get: people, marketing, promotion, or research monies back first?

Most of us decided to get into radio (or podcasting) instead of television or film. There’s a reason they said, “video killed the radio star.”

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BNM Writers

Streaming Platforms Cannot Be Forgotten By News/Talk Program Directors

BNM’s Pete Mundo writes that if you’re a News/Talk program director, you run two radio stations and what comes through the streaming platforms.





If you’re a News/Talk program director, you run two radio stations. Didn’t you know that? Oh. Well, you do. 

I’m not just referring to our over-the-air broadcast but also what comes through our streaming platforms. Alexa, Google Home, apps, computers, etc., are all streaming platforms of our radio stations, which for most of us, are airing different commercial inventory than what is coming through the radio.

I understand none of us are unnecessarily looking to add to our plate, but our streaming platforms are the way we are getting more people to use our product. So neglecting, or forgetting about it, is a bad business decision, especially in the talk space. 

Across all clusters, talk radio is far more likely to have high streaming use when it comes to total listening hours. Listeners are more loyal to our personalities and often can’t get the AM dial in their office buildings during the day, or even if they can, they don’t want to hear our voices through static, so they pull up the stream. 

It’s never been easier to listen to talk radio stations, thanks to our station apps and websites (although welcoming some sites to the 21st century would be a good idea). So, given the challenges many of us face on the AM band, why not push our audience to the stream and make sure the stream sounds just as good as the over-the-air product?

The tricky part in putting together a quality stream sound is trying to balance what ads are programmatic, which ones are sold locally, where is the unfilled inventory and what is filling that gap?

And unlike your over-the-air product, where you can go into a studio, see what’s coming up, and move inventory around, that technology is not available in most cases. So yes, it’s a guessing game.

But as the talk climate continues to change, the best thing we can do to build our brand and trust with the next generation of talk radio listeners is to find them and engage them where they are, which may not always be next to a physical radio. That will be on a stream. How do I know that? Because if they have a smartphone, they have (access to) the stream.

Of course, the over-the-air product remains the massive revenue generator for our stations, as in most cases, the streaming revenue is not close to comparable. But then, if we look years down the road, that will likely start to change. 

To what degree? That’s unknown. But double-digit growth on an annual basis should not be out of the question when it comes to stream listening. It should be a very achievable goal, especially in our format. So our listeners who are P1’s, love the station and want to consume as much of the content as they can, can be on the AirPods in the gym, desk at work, or in their home office and listen to our radio stations. 

Heck, with Alexa and Google Home, they don’t even have to turn a dial! They just speak. So if they’re there, let’s keep them there.

There are simply too many media options today to lose our listeners due to sloppy streaming quality that makes us sound like a college radio station. Instead, listeners, who find us there should be rewarded with a listening experience that is just as high-quality as what they would get on the AM or FM band.

And if we play our cards right, it will be better, serving the industry incredibly well through a new generation of listeners.

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Barrett Media Writers

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