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How Reaction to Elon Musk and His Strong Statement to Ad Buyers Shapes the Future

Many have opined that Musk is merely reading the tea leaves of where the country is headed over the next decade.

Rick Schultz

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A photo of Elon Musk
(Photo: Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images for The New York Times)

Much has been made of last week’s interview in which the richest man in the world, Elon Musk, told liberal advertisers he would not be blackmailed by them. If they didn’t appreciate free speech and didn’t want to advertise on his social media platform, X, he effectively told them they could take a hike.

But perhaps the bigger point he made, and the sentiment he shares with the growing majority of America, went largely unreported by the mainstream news media.

Dr. Steve Turley offered his thoughts on an episode of his online program last week. The program for his more than 1 million subscribers featured the title, “What Elon Musk Just Did Changes EVERYTHING!!!”

“Every year The New York Times hosts what they call the DealBook Summit, which features a roster of major speakers sitting for interviews with Andrew Ross Sorkin,” Turley began on Thursday. “This year, the featured speaker was the one and only Elon Musk. And it was an interview that would prove, frankly, earth-shattering for the ruling establishment, so faithfully represented and guarded by The New York Times.”

Turley played some clips of Sorkin and Musk’s discussion, including the headline-grabbing comments that have received all the media coverage over the last few days. Fine, don’t advertise, Elon said. He won’t be blackmailed into changing or hiding his opinions, simply to appease liberal advertisers. If it bankrupts the platform, X, so be it. He will not keep quiet and suppress truth or free speech. That is the recap we’ve all seen and heard in the days since the interview.

“If somebody’s going to try to blackmail me with advertising, blackmail me with money, go F### yourself!” Musk said. That’s the clip we’ve seen countless times since. Of course, it gets clicks and eyeballs.

“Now that was absolutely amazing,” Turley said. “I mean, make no mistake, no one talks like that in front of our ruling elite. No one!” 

In Turley’s eyes, however, the comments went much deeper than X, and much deeper than any individual advertiser.

“This guy didn’t know what to do, when somebody does the unthinkable. That interviewer, Andrew Ross Sorkin, he was stunned speechless. Musk turned him into a stuttering fool. In front of everyone, he had no idea how to respond to someone who just told the whole of the globalist corporate world to go F themselves,” Turley offered.

But Turley dove deeper. He went further into the interview to what he thinks were the real bombshell comments from Musk.

“This is what’s so game-changing about what Musk just said there. The richest man on the planet just told woke corporations that he and billions of others along with him – the whole world, as he put it – refuse to be beholden to them and their incessant and pernicious wokeness any longer,” the thoughtful Turley said. “We refuse to bend a knee to your manipulative and, frankly, cruel tactics that seek to force compliance with your vile woke sensibilities.”

Many have opined that Musk is merely reading the tea leaves of where the country is headed over the next decade. As some data and polling show, the nation is preparing to boomerang back toward common sense, traditional values, and economic prosperity. He knows which way the wind is blowing, toward 2024 and beyond.

But the real punchline, for Turley, was what Musk said as he continued.  

“But I’ve got to say, that my favorite here is when Andrew Ross Sorkin inadvertently stepped in it, when he asked Musk how he felt about his contributions to A.I. research and green energy. Check this out,” Turley said.

“The approach to some of the stuff you are doing with A.I. has been very specific,” Sorkin noted. “There’s not a let-the-chips fall where they may approach to those businesses, I don’t think.”

“No, we focus on making the best products,” Musk responded. “And Tesla’s gotten to where it’s gotten with no advertising at all. Tesla currently sells two, twice as much in terms of electric vehicles as the rest of electric car makers in the United States combined. Tesla has done more to help the environment than all other companies combined. It would be fair to say that, therefore, as the leader of the company, I’ve done more for the environment than any single human on earth.”

Elon Musk continued, making the point that resonated the most with Turley.

“What I care about is the reality of goodness, not the perception of it,” Musk said. “And what I see all over the place is people that care about looking good while doing evil. F### them.”

“What I care about is the reality of goodness, not the perception of it,” Turley re-articulated. “And what I see all over the place is people who care about looking good while doing evil. F them. Now what Musk just said there is a paraphrase of what he’s said in the past to define wokeness. Wokeness gives people a shield to be mean and cruel, armored in false virtue. That’s a perfect description of the clowns that make up our lamesteam media and the corporate woke world.”

Turley summed up the episode, putting a Christmas bow on his thoughts.

“Wokeness is divisive. It is hateful. And it invites others to join in on that hate with the supposedly protected armor of false virtue. When all is said and done, wokeness is nothing more than the permission – indeed the obligation – to hate. It gives people a shield to be mean and cruel. To shame. To cancel. To excommunicate. And Elon Musk, there in front of the gathered praetorian guard of our corrupt, ruling elite called them out on it. Elon told the entire globalist establishment and liberal elites to literally go F themselves. He and the world are no longer beholden to playing by their rules. Make no mistake, this summit was a game-changer.”

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BNM Writers

Proof That Both CNN and Fox News Manipulate Their Audiences

Playing with numbers and technicalities is a function of what the media does today. Since the average person just reads the headline, viewers will likely move on if it confirms their own bias.

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When news organizations collide, journalism loses. Last week, CNN posted on X saying “US inflation cooled down in January, offering some relief for Americans who have suffered through the steepest price hikes in four decades.” The same day Fox News posted “BREAKING: Inflation rises faster than expected in January as high prices persist.”

While these are seemingly opposite statements, both can be true at the same time. More importantly, both of these outlets are manipulating their audience.

People like their own opinions and want those opinions verified by others. This is what social media has done to news: You read the post, see your opinion is valid, and then move on to the next clickbait (confirmation bias). More importantly, both of these tweets are true because one is based on an estimate, and one is based on actual numbers.

Looking at CNN, while their post on X seems positive, their business headline is a little less positive, “Inflation cooled last month, but some price hikes continue to cause pain.” The change from tweet to headline is striking. One says Americans are getting inflation relief, the other says inflation continuing to cause pain. In today’s world of “Read the headline and move on,” this is why people feel CNN lies. Its post is in conflict with the headline— even though both are true statements.

It’s not until you read the article that people can see how this is possible. The outlet notes overall inflation did cool when comparing January 2023 (6.4%) to January 2024 (3.1%). Four sentences into the article it says, “CPI rose by 0.3% in January.” It goes on to break down why inflation is still high and causing pain in the pockets of Americans. Although the X post is factually correct, people on the right side of the political spectrum feel CNN is untrue because they see the inflation problem in their bank account.

Meanwhile, the Fox News X post and Fox Business headline are identical, “Inflation rises faster than expected in January as high prices persist.” However, the keyword here is “expected.” Inflation did cool year-over-year. However, because Fox is comparing the January 2024 number to what experts expected the number to be, what they have posted is factually correct. This nuance is sometimes lost on readers.

The article does not mention inflation is down year-over-year. However, nine sentences into the article, the business outlet says, “Inflation has fallen considerably from a peak of 9.1%.” The nuance of “expected” combined with the lack of mentioning year-over-year inflation is down is why the left side of the political spectrum believes Fox lies.

Let’s be clear, neither CNN nor Fox News have lied (on this one specific topic). They both chose to present the same data differently. It also needs to be noted, CNN and Fox News are not the only outlets that do this. They all do. Playing with numbers and technicalities is a function of what the media does today. Since the average person just reads the headline, viewers will likely move on if it confirms their own bias. The problem is twofold.

  • Facts are no longer direct but skewed to fit a narrative.
  • Some viewers accept headlines and posts without diving deeper into the article.

We have been trained to share a headline without reading the article. We’ve known this since 2016 when Columbia University and the French National Institute found 59% of shared social media links were never read. We’ve gone from headlines selling newspapers, forcing people to read the articles, to headlines being shared on social media, but people won’t read the articles.

This is only a small part of why The Messenger failed: neutrality. The sentiment of unbiased news was well-intentioned. However, America has lacked unbiased news since 1987 when the Fairness Doctrine was abolished. Many on the left believe this has helped right-leaning outlets. This is false. Not only has it benefited both sides of the aisle, it can be argued the progressives have benefited more than the conservatives (but that is a different article for a different day).

When news outlets collide, the American public loses. Not because we lack news, but because we lack the ability to read the full scope of the issues in one place. Outlets are not forced to present all sides of the political argument or present the entirety of data sets. Additionally, news is not being fully read. Headlines are now king. Shares, clicks, and likes keep the lights on in newsrooms. Most importantly, facts are now nuanced. This forces debate instead of continuity and cohesion.

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BNM Writers

Does Dealing With Criticism Ever Get Easier?

Engage in the content of the criticism and ignore the rest – or at least take the high road. If that gets difficult, end the conversation.

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A photo of the word Truth written on a typewriter

Thick skin. If you work in media, you gotta have it. If you don’t, you either won’t last or you won’t sleep – or both.

Even if you are neutral politically, super nice, and in it for all the right reasons, there always will be people who criticize you, and some will even make it personal.

Having “thick skin” is a cliché I’ve been thinking about and dealing with for years. I find it fascinating that, somehow, I am way more sensitive at home than I am at work – and by at work, I mean on the air for hours every day.

Even the angriest of listeners are engaging, and engagement is what I want. Sometimes, it can throw a show off-balance, but if handled properly, it should never fully derail you.

Over the years, I have modified my professional behavior, perspective, and attitude, yet my foundational approach has not changed. It began with my first full-time television job when a journalist/mentor of mine told me not to ever act interested in ratings. Rather, he said, focus on my performance and content — the rest would take care of itself.

In my first two anchor/host jobs, it worked wonderfully. I immersed myself in the job, and the ratings were strong. I thought it was a mandate to always take this approach, although in retrospect, I was probably more lucky than good. Regardless, following that mantra actually allowed me to learn my craft and not be overly aware that ratings mattered.

Ignorance was journalistic bliss.

Flash forward to 2024 and it all seems rather naïve, but I think the approach really works well with criticism, too, whether it be on social media, through phone calls or even with fellow hosts.

Just a quick note on nuance: Look at the sentence four paragraphs above – don’t act interested. Looking back at the guidance given by my mentor, his point also seemed to be that even if you are laser-focused on how a show is rating, don’t make it a major topic of conversation, and don’t let people think it defines you as a broadcaster and journalist.

All of it may seem like advice from Fantasyland, but in an indirect way, this approach also makes me less vulnerable to criticism. I simply don’t focus on it too much, and over time, it stopped bothering me even if I did focus on it. Make sense?

Of course, it’s not as if I like it when a listener rips me or the show, either directly or on social media; but I never engage emotionally, and if I do respond in any way, it’s usually content-focused.

That’s the key.

Engage in the content of the criticism and ignore the rest – or at least take the high road. If that gets difficult, end the conversation.

You have the conch. Never forget that.

Ultimately, you’ll feel better, especially knowing you did not take the bait and handled it professionally – no need to create any more tension than is already out in the media eether.

That brings me to the moment a host of a show on my station was sharply critical of an interview I had done, saying it was soft, and not holding the guest (a sitting U.S. Senator) accountable enough.

Specific questions were put forth that absolutely should have been asked, according to the host, and honestly, it was used as a chest puffer for that person to show why certain guests were scared to come on that later show.

And … I thought it was great.

Great?

Well, maybe not great, but I actually had no problem with it. First and foremost, they were talking about it, which is good. When I can provide that kind of grist, it’s good radio. It wasn’t always easy to listen to — I was still in the office doing some booking — but for some reason, it did not bother me. This from a guy who gets a one-second side eye from my wife of 20 years, and I think our marriage is in trouble.

In the end, a few of the criticisms were helpful, believe it or not: One or two of the suggested questions put forth on the later show should have been asked.

It’s all part of the balance I seek to create a place where members of both political parties feel comfortable coming on our network. I always reserve the right to ask difficult questions, and I do ask them (apparently not enough for some), but I also try and be balanced and manage relationships.

It’s delicate, and sometimes, elicits criticism – sometimes deserved. Meanwhile, I just focus on the content, naïve as that may be.

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CBS Mornings Scores Big Post-Super Ratings Win

CBS Mornings became the most-watched program from 7-9 a.m. in total viewers for just the second time ever for a CBS morning news show.

Doug Pucci

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A photo of the CBS Mornings logo

The historic ratings milestones continue for CBS as a result of Super Bowl LVIII.

Less than nine hours following what turned out to be the most-watched telecast in U.S. TV history to date (120.25 million of the near-124 million watching Super Bowl LVIII did so on CBS), CBS Mornings became the most-watched program from 7-9 a.m. in total viewers for just the second time ever for a CBS morning news show.

For the Monday, Feb. 12 edition of CBS Mornings, which featured co-host Nate Burleson from Las Vegas, the site of Super Bowl LVIII, and a visit from Jon Stewart in New York to promote his Daily Show return (which generated great ratings milestones of its own later that night), it delivered 2.9 million total viewers including 654,000 within the key 25-54 demographic, according to Nielsen Media Research. It marked its best total audience and demo figures since Feb. 4, 2022.

CBS Mornings topped ABC’s Good Morning America, the usual morning news viewer leader, by a mere 7,000 viewers; it also outdrew NBC’s Today (2.86 million) by 49,000 viewers.

CBS also bested ABC in A25-54 by +103,000; the sixth time CBS Mornings has led over Good Morning America this season based on the key demo.

This was not the first time a morning show benefited from a halo effect of what the network had aired the night prior. Mar. 8, 2021, was the first time CBS won in the morning. It was the day after Oprah Winfrey’s primetime interview with Meghan Markle and Prince Harry had aired which drew 17.1 million viewers for CBS. The Mar. 8, 2021 edition of CBS This Morning featured an exclusive interview with Winfrey and the premiere of never-before-seen clips from the Meghan and Prince Harry discussion, had delivered 4.793 million viewers with 1.026 million of them in the 25-54 demographic.

The program changed its title to CBS Mornings in September 2021.

For this 2023-24 season, CBS Mornings has the smallest deficit margin in viewers with ABC’s Good Morning America since the 2017-18 season and the tightest margin in A25-54 ever.

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