It's hard to pick just one beautiful moment from today's rollickingly emotional story about CNBC's success, despite, or perhaps because of, the introduction of Rupert Murdoch's rival Fox Business Network. But pick one we did.
Name: Charles Gasparino Job: CNBC's hunky on-air editor. Also, author of the recent bestseller, King of the Club: Richard Grasso and the Survival of the New York Stock Exchange. Age: 40s. (How's that for a hedge?) Neighborhood: Stuyvesant Town
Who's your favorite New Yorker, living or dead, real or fictional?
My dad. The last man I knew to have such a distinct, New York accent that he used to pronounce the words toilet "terlet" and oil "earl"
What's the best meal you've eaten in New York?
Spaghetti with cherry tomatoes at San Pietro.
In one sentence, what do you actually do all day in your job?
Scream at sources to get stories, scream at producers to put them on CNBC, and then scream at editors to get more time for stories that I'm writing.
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• CNBC's Dylan Ratigan proposes a toast at the anniversary of his show Fast Money: "Here's to destroying … well, 'destroying Fox' is what I was going to say, to be totally honest about it. And I was going to say something even more profane than that except there's press in the room." [Mixed Media/Portfolio]
• Oprah Winfrey won't stand for Ellen taking her place as America's favorite TV personality. The Queen of Talk announced plans to start her own network. And what's it called? OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network. Which is only appropriate for a woman worth upwards of $2.5 billion. [HuffPo, NYP]
• Will the Academy Awards suffer the same fate as the Golden Globes? WGA president Patric Verrone confirmed the guild has no plans to give the Oscars a pass if the strike hasn't been settled, and it's still unclear whether the Screen Actors Guild will cross picket lines to attend the awards. [B&C]
Did anybody else notice the funny timing of the New York Times' attack coverage of Fox Business Network? On January 4, Jacques Steinberg and Brian Stelter wrote a story called "Few Viewers for Infancy of Fox Business," in which the two television writers tore down the new channel for getting only about 6,000 viewers during the day. "By contrast, Fox Business’s chief competitor, CNBC, attracted about 283,000 viewers each weekday," the story explained, going on to accuse FBN of having "bravado" during their launch. "Thus far, at least, CNBC would seem to have easily eluded Fox’s crosshairs," the writers cackle. The numbers were based on secret Nielsen ratings for the new channel that only CNBC and FBN had paid to receive. On the same day, there were severalotherstories on the topic, with less gleeful Schadenfreude. And since, in those stories, a Fox rep spoke with reporters, it's probably a safe bet that they didn't cooperate on the Times story. In other words, they probably didn't leak the unpublished Nielsen ratings: CNBC most likely did. Now, it's pretty easy to understand wanting Rupert Murdoch and Fox to fail. But the aggression in this story was put into a surprising new context yesterday when it was announced that CNBC and the New York Times are starting a content-sharing partnership that has been in the works for a while. From the Reuters story reporting the collaboration:
The deal also gives the Times and CNBC access to each other's breaking business news as Rupert Murdoch's News Corp prepares to fight them both with the nascent Fox Business Network cable channel and the recently acquired Wall Street Journal.
CNBC business anchor Erin Burnett dreams of men spending copious amounts of dough on her. Gus Wenner, son of Rolling Stone honcho Jann Wenner, was accepted early decision to Brown, and Jack Byrne, son of Ellen Barkin and Gabriel Byrne, was accepted to Bard. Jimmy Fallon and new wife Nancy Juvonen ate at Pastis. An upcoming "oral history" of Rudy Giuliani chronicles the former mayor's "petty, vindictive, small-minded maneuvering." Jay-Z says he is not concerned with the problematic rumors surrounding the opening of his new 40/40 club. Mary-Louise Parker and boyfriend Jeffrey Dean Morgan had coffee at Local on Sullivan Street.
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• Don Imus on Tom Brokaw: "He is not the most courageous person I've ever met in my life. He's not the guy I'd want to be in a foxhole with." You see, Brokaw didn't defend Imus when he was down-and-out because of the whole "nappy-headed-hos" incident. Resentment, now that takes courage! [NYP]
• Shocker: CNBC is actually scared shitless of Fox Business News. They're now asking guests to choose sides, threatening to drop them if they dare to appear on Murdoch's new down-home network. [Silicon Alley Insider]
• Veteran literary agent Lynn Nesbit wants a new publishing madman: "Even [former Simon & Schuster CEO] Dick Synder is a lot more colorful than [newly departed Simon & Schuster CEO] Jack Romanos, who is now gone. I mean, they had passion, they cared about literature. Even Dick, who's not an intellectual. He cared. He was a madman . . . . Who is a madman now in publishing? . . . It was just different then." Hi, Lynn, allow us to introduce you to our favorite publishing madwoman, Judith Regan. [Media Mob/NYO]
Newly divorced billionaire and New York Giants co-owner Steve Tisch might be dating women on both coasts. Martha Stewart created a special Christmas tree for Sirius Radio's office, complete with Howard Stern cookie ornaments. Former NYSE head Dick Grasso left CNBC's Charles Gasparino a creepy "merry Christmas" message on his answering machine, despite the fact that Gasparino's new book takes Grasso to task for the $190 million kiss-off he took after leaving the Exchange. John Mayer has had a crush on Ricki Lake for two years (Ed. note: WTF?!), and actually got her digits at the wonderfully successful Sunshine Sachs Christmas party. Lance Armstrong picked up the tab for dinner with former flame Sheryl Crow. Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera hung out together at the Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year party. Andy Samberg, Amy Poehler, and Seth Meyers had lunch together.
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Last week Portfolio's Jeff Bercovici reported that CNBC says they're not worried about Fox Business Network anymore. Crowed a CNBC press release:
During November when the stock market has swung wildly, viewers tuned to CNBC, First in Business Worldwide, for fast, accurate, actionable and unbiased business news. In measured ratings, CNBC had its best November in total viewers since 2000 in Business Day and its best November in the key adults 25-54 year-old demographic since 2003. It was also CNBC's best month in Business Day programming in total viewers since August 2002.
Last night's launch party for Fox Business Network had so many media and business moguls, you couldn't throw a canapé without mussing up the rug of some very important dude. Seriously, our throats were burning from inhaling the perfume of wealth and success. In one corner of the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Temple of Dendur, Liz Smith chatted with Mel Brooks and Harvey Weinstein. (Apparently, Harvey loves the channel. "I love Roger Ailes," he said, though he would not tell us what he liked the best or whether he ate Money for Breakfast.) In another corner, Oscar and Annette de la Renta greeted Regis and Joy Philbin. And kingly in the middle of it all, like a pair of samurai and their husbands, were Rupert Murdoch, Les Moonves, Julie Chen, and Rupert's wife, Wendi Deng. "Wendi, we love your bracelets!" we cried in unison, suddenly morphing into Blair's sidekicks in Gossip Girl. "They were only twenty dollars," she exclaimed. Wow, we thought. Wendi is so down-to-earth! "But this wasn't," she laugh-cackled, flashing us her index finger, which was adorned with what looked to be the actual Hope Diamond.
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So the numbers are in, and it looks like Fox Business Network and its ruthless cadre of joy buccaneers has made a dent on the cable finance-news market. Well, the numbers aren't quite in – FBN won't be officially tracked until next year. But it looked like during their first week on the air, audience numbers for rival CNBC dipped noticeably Monday through Thursday across a wide range of indicators. This is great news for Roger Ailes, who was probably only planning on measuring the network's success on how much it damaged CNBC, his former home, anyway. CNBC did make strides in the coveted 25 to 54 age demographic, but this is where their pragmatism will get in the way. A slight positive in a wash of negative news on CNBC would be treated as a defeat. On FBN, it would be a win, win, win!!
Viewership Dips, But Key Demo Gains During Four Days After Fox Business Network Launch [Multichannel]
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The Economist makes a good point today. Why, if CNBC is distributed into 90 million homes and the fledgling Fox Business Network has only barged its way into 30 million, is the old network so worried? CNBC is already doing what FBN claims it will try to newly achieve — that is, bringing business news to the common man and taking a pro-business approach. Since both FBN and CNBC were shepherded into life by Roger Ailes himself, Fox will obviously face a major problem differentiating itself, let alone improving upon the formula. But will that even matter? As the mag points out, a rising stock market tends to be good for ratings, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average is at a new record high. Plus, the subprime crisis in August gave CNBC its best numbers in half a decade. If that all continues, there might be enough demand for both networks to flourish. Now that wouldn't be any fun, would it?
A New Business Channel Takes on General Electric's CNBC [The Economist]
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When we saw the Wall Street Journal interview today with Fox Business Network overlord Roger Ailes, we were excited to learn more about the soon-to-debut channel. So when we began to flip through, we were less than delighted that all we read about was CNBC. Ailes began his interview with the WSJ's Rebecca Dana by saying, "I think the CNBC Fox Business Network so-called rivalry could be overblown." And then he went on to rant about his former network for much of the rest of the interview. "They've embraced capitalism suddenly," he chortles. "They've put on shows: what? Capitalism's good! What a plan." Oh, har. If this is the kind of muckraking journalism we can expect from FBN, we'll definitely tune in! After the jump, more on what FBN's Roger Ailes has to say about — what else? — Another network.
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• Murdoch is hinting heavily that he'll take WSJ.com free, but Dow Jones CEO Richard Zannino doesn't think it's such a great idea. [WSJ]
• Well, we'll be — Portfolio pulling down pretty good ad pages. [NYP]
• Roger Ailes, former CNBC president now with Fox Business Network, making many CNBCers interested in switching teams. It may be many things, but it won't be boring! [NYO]
CNBC "Money Honey" Maria Bartiromo is jealous of co-worker Erin Burnett because Burnett is becoming more popular than she is. An upcoming book about Katie Couric claims she planned to leave NBC a year before she actually did and that the staff of 60 Minutes thinks she's a "lightweight." State Senator Carl Kruger is not a fan of fellow Democrat Eliot Spitzer. Jeremy Shockey took a bunch of Giants teammates to Scores. The woman who blogged about Keith Olbermann's bedside manners is no longer maintaining her blog. Naomi Watts finally gave birth. Nora Ephron has spent a lot of time giving her breasts a workout. Christie Brinkley is spending $10.9 million to buy the house in North Haven next door to the one where Peter Cook had an affair.
The wife and son of deceased National Enquirer founder Generoso Pope Jr. are suing each other for the remainder of his $418 million fortune. Barbaro was the focus groups' choice for August's Vanity Fair cover, but Graydon Carter nixed him for Shia LaBeouf. CNBC's Maria Bartiromo will soon have her own show titled Money Honey. The Giulianis like golf, bargains, The Tudors. Chris Noth tried to poach talent for his club from Hawaiian Tropic Zone but failed. Tinsley Mortimer and Lydia Hearst are attending a dinner thrown by Pete Wentz in the Hamptons. Jon Anderson of Yes canceled a benefit show for a bunch of kids because his spiritual adviser told him to.
• Hedge-fund divorces are drawn-out, acrimonious, multi-million-dollar affairs. Turns out money causes problems! [Financial Times via LAT via DealBreaker]
• CNBC commentator Ron Insana has at least thirteen managers seeding his new fund-of-funds. [Deal Journal/WSJ]
• Insider trading: It's not just for greedy Americans anymore. [NYT]