Dan Abrams is the founding father of Mediaite, hosts a day by day radio present on the SiriusXM POTUS channel, and hosts a brand new 8 pm primetime present on NewsNation.
We sat down to speak about his new present, the racialization of the Gabby Petito case, the large three cable information networks, Rachel Maddow’s future, and his plans for Mediaite.
Bobby Burack: NewsNation first branded itself as straight information, with no robust opinions. That’s not one thing many viewers need, in response to focus group findings. You’ve additionally mentioned earlier than that you simply don’t suppose straight information reveals can discover an viewers. So how did your new present at NewsNation come about?
Dan Abrams: Thanks for having me, Bobby. So the primary dialog was truly about one thing not associated to me being on the air with them. It was a enterprise dialog about considered one of my different companies and a potential partnership, and many others. And one of many issues that was a part of the dialog was speaking about information and what NewsNation was doing. And my place was that for those who’re going to do a 24/7 information community, which they ultimately are beginning in 2023, you then’re going to should have a primetime lineup that’s extra than simply the newscasts that we’ve got seen time and again.
Newscasts don’t work on cable, as , Bobby. The greatest instance is Shepard Smith on CNBC. Shepard does a strong newscast, one which’s very well produced. But nobody’s watching. When I say nobody’s watching, I imply by CNBC requirements, even nobody’s watching. So it hasn’t labored. They’ve by no means labored on cable, actually.
So I don’t suppose that that’s the best way you’re going to get viewers. Why? Because individuals can get that info from the web. So it’s a must to do evaluation and opinions. And NewsNation has a few of that with Leland Vittert, who got here from Fox News. He’s doing opinion evaluation. Ashleigh Banfield is doing opinion evaluation now. Of course, that’s actually what I’m doing. You should have that to make it work on cable information.
Burack: One of the promoting factors of your new present is that you simply convey on each liberals and conservatives. Most cable information reveals don’t do this anymore. I assume the info doesn’t help them going again.
While a present that options each side sounds intriguing, is that what cable information viewers truly need? I don’t know the reply.
Abrams: That’s proper. The key for me is to not sit in the course of a debate alone present. I don’t need to convey on a conservative and a liberal and allow them to debate. That’s an excellent lazy approach to do a cable information present. Anyone can host that present, proper? Does it imply that you simply don’t actually should do the work? The more durable stuff is — and by the best way, there are cables, hosts which can be doing a few of this — bringing on individuals to problem your self on each side.
For instance, the opposite night time, I did a narrative on the Kyle Rittenhouse trial, which is upcoming. It’s the man in Kenosha, who shot three individuals throughout one of many 2020 riots. And my place was an enormous ruling a few decide saying that the prosecutors can’t check with the three individuals as victims as a result of the declare is self-defense. We don’t know in the event that they have been victims but. I felt that that made sense. That ruling was wise. And I introduced on somebody from a really left-leaning publication to debate me on it. The particular person felt that that was an outrage that the decide was attempting to rig it in order that Rittenhouse will get off. I believed it was actually fascinating. We didn’t yell at one another, however we disagreed. I feel it makes for an fascinating dialog.
The downside that these cable information hosts have, quite a lot of them, is that they faux to be goal journalists. “Oh, I’m just correct,” they suppose. Like, cease. You’re not goal. Stop pretending and also you received’t get your self into hassle. Just admit it. And that’s what I do. I name my present to say, “Look, here’s where I’m coming down on this topic.” I’m not pretending, I’m not faking that.
So what I’m hoping is I get sufficient of an viewers of people that say, “I don’t always agree with Abrams, but I respect the fact that he’s generally somewhere in the middle.” I need to be up entrance, so the viewers don’t really feel like I’ve any hidden biases.
I need to be a spot for individuals who suppose that Fox has change into means too radical to the appropriate, or those who suppose MSNBC and CNN have gone too far to the left. And I’m hoping that individuals need evaluation.
Burack: CNN principally bashes solely Fox News. Meanwhile, conservative retailers focus virtually fully on the biases of CNN. I discover that odd. MSNBC is wackier than each Fox and CNN — there’s virtually little question at this level.
MSNBC ranks third within the 25-54 demo and will lose Rachel Maddow from its day by day line within the spring. Therefore, MSNBC faces probably the most query marks of the three cable information networks. So why does MSNBC obtain much less media protection than CNN and Fox News when, in actuality, MSNBC faces probably the most uncertainty?
Abrams: Well, as , I personal an internet site referred to as Mediaite. On my web site, you will note MSNBC wackiness that’s coated on the location. It’s fascinating as a result of I don’t deal with the day-to-day stuff that goes on at Mediaite. I don’t know what they’re publishing, and many others. But I’m concerned within the massive image: hires, the steadiness of the location, and the way we do what we do. So I’m all the time hyper-focused on attempting to make sure we’ve got conservatives who’re watching MSNBC and liberals who’re watching Fox. That’s as a result of they’re those who’re going to be watching and saying, “Oh my God, did you see that?”
I completely agree with you that I feel that MSNBC has extra “gotcha” kind of loopy moments than CNN, notably on the weekend. That’s the place Joy Reid got here from. I feel she’s actually amongst the MSNBC hosts which can be most controversial, when it comes to what she says and the way far she goes. So, there may be undoubtedly room for criticism and highlighting of MSNBC.
Here’s my idea: Fox News focuses extra on CNN as a result of CNN claims to be goal. I don’t even suppose MSNBC is claiming it. Well, I don’t know. Maybe they do. I don’t know for those who have been to ask Chris Hayes or Lawrence O’Donnell or Joy Reid if they’re goal journalists, they’d say sure. But I suppose it’s potential.
Burack: How can MSNBC survive with out Rachel Maddow day by day, ought to she train her choice in 2022?
Right now, Maddow attracts one million extra viewers than Chris Hayes, who airs earlier than her, and Lawrence O’Donnell, who follows her. Thus, she’s extra invaluable to her community than anybody else is to theirs.
Abrams: Look, I discover it onerous to consider that Rachel Maddow is definitely going to a weekly present. Maybe I’m improper. That’s been my thought because the minute I heard she signed that. They are permitting her to go to a weekly present for, no matter, $30 million a yr? It simply doesn’t make any sense for precisely the explanations you’re laying out. MSNBC simply can’t afford to lose her. They don’t have the marquee voice with out Rachel Maddow, who raises all ships there, proper earlier than and after.
So my guess is that Rachel Maddow won’t be going to a weekly present. What do you say?
Burack: If I have been wagering, I guess she stays previous 2022 as nicely.
Dan, I discovered it predictable and lazy that the media claimed that the Gabby Petito saga obtained protection solely as a result of she was white. I wrote a column difficult that. The novel-like really feel of the story generated way more curiosity than Petito’s pores and skin coloration.
You additionally coated that story intently. Were you bothered or stunned by the media’s claims?
Abrams: Well, there’s additionally the piece that social media sleuths across the nation helped resolve it with suggestions from individuals, proper? That, to me, is likely one of the nice components of this story: how concerned odd people have been in serving to crack the case.
I’ll inform you that I’m the particular person, whether or not it was on NBC or ABC, was the man who — within the mornings on the Today Show after which on Good Morning America — when there was considered one of these sorts of tabloid-ish trials or circumstances or investigations, they referred to as. It was once true that there was a bias in the direction of lacking white girls. It was, like, each week there was another person lacking. I don’t suppose that that’s been the case anymore. And I can inform you that as a result of I haven’t been doing Good Morning America on lacking white girls for years now. I’ve been doing an entire number of different kinds of tales. The Today Show has been following that as nicely. They simply haven’t been doing that for the final 10 years.
The Petito case broke out for lots of causes, a lot of which you lay out. So I agree with you and I take offense to the individuals who say you’re solely masking this as a result of she’s a white lady. I’m masking it as a result of this can be a nice story.
The one bias that I feel nonetheless exists within the media is whether or not the persons are enticing. That in all probability makes a distinction, which is I’m not defending in any means. I’m simply saying that there’s nonetheless a bias. There’s a bias in the direction of enticing information individuals, there’s a bias in Hollywood. So I feel that that could be somewhat little bit of a problem. But I mentioned this earlier than: for those who had the very same reality sample, with the very same video main as much as it, with a really enticing lady of coloration, who’s placing up movies of herself with her accomplice earlier than she goes lacking, I feel there would nonetheless have been a nationwide fascination with this story.
Burack: Brian Laundrie’s villainous function was a key issue within the curiosity. Every story wants a nasty man. I’m unsure the media would’ve comfortably bashed him early within the course of had he not been white a man, had he been a person of coloration. Networks really feel safer attacking a white man or a white household — that’s apparent.
That’s the place race comes into play in lacking white feminine circumstances — the perpetrator is usually a white man. Have you discovered that’s the case?
Abrams: I don’t learn about that. No, I don’t purchase that.
The story had the entire components for the entire causes you laid out: a pair goes on a visit, the man comes again, he then goes lacking, there’s the mother and father, the social media sleuths. There are a number of causes a information story pops. They will need to have a number of layers.
Think about OJ Simpson, the right instance of one thing that had all the things. It wasn’t simply that OJ Simpson occurred to be one of the well-known individuals in America. At the time of his trial, the OJ case had the race component, it had home violence, it had a historical past of police points. It was all of the kind of issues that had been percolating in society all coming into one case, which turned it from simply the superstar trial right into a worldwide mega occasion.
Burack: There’s an urge for food to accumulate media websites proper now. Barstool, The Ringer, OutKick have all bought prior to now yr and a half. Have you regarded to promote your firms, particularly Mediaite?
Abrams: So for a few of my properties, I’m comfortable to promote. I bought out a sports activities web site referred to as SportsGrid, which is now a fantasy sports activities web site and community. I had a web site referred to as GossipCop, which corrected false reporting and gossip, which I bought. And sure, there are different websites that I’ve that I would definitely be all in favour of promoting. However, Mediaite is enjoyable. I get pleasure from proudly owning it. I’m not seeking to promote it. I get pleasure from being part of it.
So it’s humorous as a result of I’ve been approached about both promoting or partnering on Mediaite. And my response relating to Mediaite is all the time: “The numbers that you would have to give me to want to sell Mediaite are gonna be way out of the ballpark.” That’s as a result of I prefer it, proper?
I additionally like Law & Crime, which is a implausible community I constructed. But that’s a enterprise with traders. So that’s a full cable community and OTT community with a large web site and manufacturing arm. So with one thing like that, I actually should be extra centered on it. With Mediaite, I don’t have any traders. I can do no matter I would like with it. So it depends upon the property. But proper now, I’m all the time all in favour of seeking to probably promote or construct out, however not essentially for all the things I personal.