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Chris Cuomo Controversy Creates Viewership Challenges For CNN

“The controversy has put CNN in a bind at a critical time. While CNN currently draws far less than their Fox News competition, it is cable news’ runner-up outlet among the key 25-54 demo.”

Douglas Pucci

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Cable news made news itself during the week of Nov. 29 with the unexpected conclusion of “Cuomo Prime Time” on CNN.

For the better part of the 2021 calendar year, the show, hosted by Chris Cuomo, had been under scrutiny as its host is the younger brother of ousted New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. On the air, “Cuomo Prime Time” did not cover Andrew’s scandals concerning multiple allegations of sexual misconduct, Andrew’s alleged misuse of governmental resources for his book about leadership in the midst of the crisis, and the falsified data of those who perished in New York nursing homes during the early months of the pandemic in 2020. A “Washington Post” article published this past May which detailed Chris Cuomo’s involvement in strategy sessions for Andrew had presented a conflict of interest but had not yet risen to the level of termination for Chris.

The Aug. 16 edition of “Cuomo Prime Time” finally addressed Andrew’s news which occurred almost a week following Andrew’s governor resignation announcement. Chris then admitted he “tried to do the right thing” in attempting to help his older brother while placing his journalistic integrity in jeopardy. That night drew 1.46 million total viewers and 393,000 in the key adults 25-54 demographic, according to Nielsen Media Research.

Chris assured the public that his role in assisting his brother Andrew had been minimal. In addition, that assurance seemed enough to satisfy the higher-ups at CNN who still valued his presence on the network. Nonetheless, a document dump on Nov. 29 from the office of New York Attorney General Letitia James which had led the investigation on Andrew Cuomo put Chris’ claims of limited involvement into question. It was revealed that Chris had used his connections within press circles to investigate the women who had accused Andrew of misconduct.

Monday, Nov. 29 was the unexpected final edition of “Cuomo Prime Time”. That night, which was absent of any talk about that day’s document dump, delivered 758,000 total viewers and 158,000 adults 25-54. On the following day, CNN suspended Chris Cuomo. Then, on Saturday Dec. 4, he was ultimately fired as new allegations of sexual misconduct upon him had arisen during the week.

The controversy has put CNN in a bind at a critical time. While CNN currently draws far less than their Fox News competition, it is cable news’ runner-up outlet among the key 25-54 demo. Chris Cuomo’s program was the main reason CNN held on to runner-up status in prime time, as the previous two months’ of their lineup had showed (most of the following “Don Lemon Tonight” data includes the show’s full two-hour 10 p.m.-midnight slot):

“Anderson Cooper 360” (Oct. 4-8): 807,000 total viewers; 154,000 adults 25-54

“Cuomo Prime Time” (Oct. 5-8): 849,000 total viewers; 154,000 adults 25-54

“Don Lemon Tonight” (Oct. 4-8): 534,000 total viewers; 126,000 adults 25-54

“Anderson Cooper 360” (Oct. 11-15): 765,000 total viewers; 168,000 adults 25-54

“Cuomo Prime Time” (Oct. 11-14): 788,000 total viewers; 165,000 adults 25-54

“Don Lemon Tonight” (Oct. 11-15): 527,000 total viewers; 125,000 adults 25-54

“Anderson Cooper 360” (Oct. 18-20 & 22): 834,000 total viewers; 139,000 adults 25-54

“Cuomo Prime Time” (Oct. 18-22): 867,000 total viewers; 168,000 adults 25-54

“Don Lemon Tonight” (Oct. 18-22): 518,000 total viewers; 119,000 adults 25-54

“Anderson Cooper 360” (Oct. 25-29): 681,000 total viewers; 139,000 adults 25-54

“Cuomo Prime Time” (Oct. 25-26 & 28-29): 717,000 total viewers; 130,000 adults 25-54

“Don Lemon Tonight” (Oct. 25-29): 507,000 total viewers; 119,000 adults 25-54

“Anderson Cooper 360” (Nov. 1 & 3-5): 774,000 total viewers; 178,000 adults 25-54

“Cuomo Prime Time” (Nov. 1 & 3-4): 685,000 total viewers; 156,000 adults 25-54

“Don Lemon Tonight” (Nov. 1 & 3-5): 496,000 total viewers; 118,000 adults 25-54

“Anderson Cooper 360” (Nov. 8-12): 762,000 total viewers; 170,000 adults 25-54

“Cuomo Prime Time” (Nov. 8-12): 757,000 total viewers; 165,000 adults 25-54

“Don Lemon Tonight” (Nov. 8-12): 523,000 total viewers; 148,000 adults 25-54

“Anderson Cooper 360” (Nov. 15-19): 844,000 total viewers; 178,000 adults 25-54

“Cuomo Prime Time” (Nov. 15-19): 844,000 total viewers; 186,000 adults 25-54

“Don Lemon Tonight” (Nov. 15-19): 555,000 total viewers; 135,000 adults 25-54

“Anderson Cooper 360” (Nov. 22-24): 744,000 total viewers; 164,000 adults 25-54

“Cuomo Prime Time” (Nov. 22-24): 776,000 total viewers; 166,000 adults 25-54

“Don Lemon Tonight” (Nov. 22-24): 639,000 total viewers; 148,000 adults 25-54

Only twice within the past eight weeks had “Anderson Cooper 360” topped “Cuomo Prime Time” in total viewers; only three times among 25-54. The one week where they each tied in total viewers (Nov. 15-19), “Cuomo” had won in adults 25-54.

Back on Nov. 29, “Anderson Cooper 360” was CNN’s top prime time program with 760,000 total viewers and 175,000 adults 25-54, barely edging past its aforementioned lead-out.

Chris Cuomo’s suspension on Nov. 30 caused a flurry of behind-the-scenes activity as Cooper’s show was unexpectedly extended to two hours that night, from 8-10 p.m. The controversy caused a spike in CNN’s ratings: “AC360” drew 946,000 total viewers and 203,000 adults 25-54 in the 8-9 p.m. hour; 897,000 total viewers and 222,000 adults 25-54 in the 9-10 p.m. hour. “Don Lemon Tonight” also rose on Nov. 30 to 842,000 total viewers and 239,000 adults 25-54 in the 10-11 p.m. hour.

The brief uplift continued on Wednesday, Dec. 1 but sandwiched in between “AC360” (911,000 total viewers; 188,000 adults 25-54) and the 10-11 p.m. portion of “Don Lemon Tonight” (711,000 total viewers; 165,000 adults 25-54) was an original installment of the global town hall entitled “Coronavirus: Facts and Fears” (861,000 total viewers; 196,000 adults 25-54).

Then, ratings seemed to have settled to a new lower normal beginning on Dec. 2 and thru to Dec. 8:

Thursday Dec. 2

8 p.m. — “Anderson Cooper 360”: 690,000 total viewers; 133,000 adults 25-54

9 p.m. — “Anderson Cooper 360”: 611,000 total viewers; 150,000 adults 25-54

10 p.m. (thru 11 p.m.) — “Don Lemon Tonight”: 654,000 total viewers; 144,000 adults 25-54

Friday Dec. 3

8 p.m. — “Anderson Cooper 360”: 822,000 total viewers; 175,000 adults 25-54

9 p.m. — “CNN Special Report: China’s Iron Fist” (repeat): 600,000 total viewers; 127,000 adults 25-54

10 p.m. (thru 11 p.m.) — “Don Lemon Tonight”: 578,000 total viewers; 132,000 adults 25-54

Monday Dec. 6

8 p.m. — “Anderson Cooper 360”: 708,000 total viewers; 0.09 A25-54 rating*

9 p.m. — “CNN Tonight”: 626,000 total viewers; 0.10 A25-54 rating*

10 p.m. (thru 11 p.m.) — “Don Lemon Tonight”: 502,000 total viewers; 0.09 A25-54 rating*

Tuesday Dec. 7

8 p.m. — “Anderson Cooper 360”: 706,000 total viewers; 0.13 A25-54 rating*

9 p.m. — “CNN Tonight”: 659,000 total viewers; 0.14 A25-54 rating*

10 p.m. (thru 11 p.m.) — “Don Lemon Tonight”: 645,000 total viewers; 0.13 A25-54 rating*

Wednesday Dec. 8

8 p.m. — “Anderson Cooper 360”: 717,000 total viewers; 0.13 A25-54 rating*

9 p.m. — “CNN Tonight”: 674,000 total viewers; 0.15 A25-54 rating*

10 p.m. (thru 11 p.m.) — “Don Lemon Tonight”: 619,000 total viewers; 0.15 A25-54 rating*

  • note: a 0.10 rating in adults 25-54 equates to approximately 121,670 viewers within the demo

CNN may be able to keep its 25-54 demo prime time runner-up ranking in cable news for now. But of course, their margins with MSNBC have suddenly become narrower.

Over on the broadcast network side, George Stephanopolous’ prime time interview of Alec Baldwin on ABC on Dec. 2nd posted 4.22 million viewers and a 0.8 A25-54 rating. Those figures ranked fourth for the 8-9 p.m. hour on a more-competitive-than-usual Thursday night due to NBC’s live telecast of the musical “Annie” (5.77 million total viewers from 8-9 p.m.). It was Baldwin’s first exclusive interview since the accidental shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and director Joel Souza on the set of Baldwin’s western “Rust”. Hutchins died from the shot that was fired from the gun held by Baldwin during filming which he claimed had not had its trigger pulled.

Cable news averages for November 29-December 5, 2021. Fox News Channel extended their streaks to 42 weeks as cable’s most-watched network in total viewers..

Total Day (November 29-December 5 @ 6 a.m.-5:59 a.m.)

  • Fox News Channel: 1.489 million viewers; 245,000 adults 25-54
  • MSNBC: 0.704 million viewers; 80,000 adults 25-54
  • CNN: 0.524 million viewers; 111,000 adults 25-54
  • HLN: 0.203 million viewers; 61,000 adults 25-54
  • CNBC: 0.142 million viewers; 31,000 adults 25-54
  • Newsmax: 0.122 million viewers; 19,000 adults 25-54
  • Fox Business Network: 0.105 million viewers; 11,000 adults 25-54
  • The Weather Channel: 0.104 million viewers; 23,000 adults 25-54

Prime Time (November 29-December 4 @ 8-11 p.m.; December 5 @ 7-11 p.m.)

  • Fox News Channel: 2.472 million viewers; 375,000 adults 25-54
  • MSNBC: 1.203 million viewers; 140,000 adults 25-54
  • CNN: 0.676 million viewers; 151,000 adults 25-54
  • HLN: 0.232 million viewers; 70,000 adults 25-54
  • CNBC: 0.168 million viewers; 48,000 adults 25-54
  • Newsmax: 0.145 million viewers; 30,000 adults 25-54
  • The Weather Channel: 0.120 million viewers; 29,000 adults 25-54
  • Fox Business Network: 0.047 million viewers; 7,000 adults 25-54

Top 10 most-watched cable news programs (and the top MSNBC and CNN programs with their respective associated ranks) in total viewers:

1. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Tue. 11/30/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.653 million viewers

2. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Wed. 12/1/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.586 million viewers

3. The Five (FOXNC, Wed. 12/1/2021 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.527 million viewers

4. The Five (FOXNC, Mon. 11/29/2021 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.510 million viewers

5. The Five (FOXNC, Tue. 11/30/2021 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.500 million viewers

6. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Mon. 11/29/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.413 million viewers

7. The Five (FOXNC, Thu. 12/2/2021 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.353 million viewers

8. The Five (FOXNC, Fri. 12/3/2021 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.276 million viewers

9. Hannity (FOXNC, Tue. 11/30/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.256 million viewers

10. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Thu. 12/2/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.250 million viewers

25. Rachel Maddow Show (MSNBC, Wed. 12/1/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.280 million viewers

158. Anderson Cooper 360 (CNN, Tue. 11/30/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.946 million viewers

Top 10 cable news programs (and the top MSNBC, CNN and HLN programs with their respective associated ranks) among adults 25-54:

1. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Tue. 11/30/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.631 million adults 25-54

2. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Wed. 12/1/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.615 million adults 25-54

3. Hannity (FOXNC, Tue. 11/30/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.568 million adults 25-54

4. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Thu. 12/2/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.562 million adults 25-54

5. The Five (FOXNC, Wed. 12/1/2021 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.557 million adults 25-54

6. The Five (FOXNC, Mon. 11/29/2021 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.532 million adults 25-54

7. Hannity (FOXNC, Wed. 12/1/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.521 million adults 25-54

8. The Five (FOXNC, Thu. 12/2/2021 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.505 million adults 25-54

9. The Five (FOXNC, Tue. 11/30/2021 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.500 million adults 25-54

10. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Mon. 11/29/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.476 million adults 25-54

33. Rachel Maddow Show (MSNBC, Wed. 12/1/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.339 million adults 25-54

82. Don Lemon Tonight (CNN, Tue. 11/30/2021 10:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.239 million adults 25-54

144. Forensic Files “Fishing For The Truth” (HLN, late Wed. 12/1/2021 12:30 AM, 30 min.) 0.164 million adults 25-54

Source: Live+Same Day data, Nielsen Media Research

BNM Writers

Jan. 6th Hearings Draws Roughly 10M Viewers Across Networks

Almost 4.5 million of those viewers tuned in on the three main cable news outlets.

Douglas Pucci

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The second and third days of the hearings focused on the Jan. 6th insurrection at the Capitol took place during the week ending June 19.

For day No. 2 on Monday, June 13, approximately ten million viewers watched across several networks — about half of its opening night audience from June 9. Almost 4.5 million of those viewers tuned in on the three main cable news outlets. Unlike the many other news events of the past two years, the rankings according to their audience figures uniquely reflect the interest level by their respective channel’s typical crowd.

MSNBC, which had also topped its cable brethren on opening night, did so once again in total viewers with averaging 2.49 million from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Eastern, as tabulated by Nielsen Media Research. The network’s two-hour prime time recap later that night (from 8-10 p.m.) drew 2.34 million viewers and 218,000 in the key 25-54 demographic, well above their normal nightly levels.

CNN (from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.) posted 1.37 million. Its daytime coverage was cable’s tops among adults 25-54, with an approximate 200,000 within the demo.

Fox News was in the uncharacteristic third place spot with 960,000 total viewers from 10:45 a.m. to 1 p.m.

For the hearing’s third day (on Thursday, June 16), it was cable’s same ranking order in the daytime hours: MSNBC (noon-4 p.m.) 2.61 million total viewers, CNN (11:59 a.m.-3:45 p.m.) 1.33 million and Fox News (1-4 p.m.) 743,000. Once again, MSNBC aired a recap at night (from 8-10 p.m.) which delivered 2.46 million viewers and 326,000 adults 25-54 — a close runner-up to FNC’s duo of “Carlson” and “Hannity” (2.84 million total/444,000 A25-54 average) and a far outpacing of CNN’s “AC360” and “CNN Tonight” (622,000 total/140,000 A25-54 average). 

Cable news averages for June 13-19, 2022:

Total Day (June 13-19 @ 6 a.m.-5:59 a.m.)

  • Fox News Channel: 1.360 million viewers; 210,000 adults 25-54
  • MSNBC: 0.882 million viewers; 100,000 adults 25-54
  • CNN: 0.432 million viewers; 91,000 adults 25-54
  • HLN: 0.150 million viewers; 47,000 adults 25-54
  • CNBC: 0.138 million viewers; 32,000 adults 25-54
  • Fox Business Network: 0.130 million viewers; 13,000 adults 25-54
  • The Weather Channel: 0.115 million viewers; 22,000 adults 25-54
  • Newsmax: 0.113 million viewers; 14,000 adults 25-54

Prime Time (June 13-18 @ 8-11 p.m.; June 19 @ 7-11 p.m.)

  • Fox News Channel: 2.198 million viewers; 315,000 adults 25-54
  • MSNBC: 1.423 million viewers; 149,000 adults 25-54
  • CNN: 0.504 million viewers; 118,000 adults 25-54
  • HLN: 0.182 million viewers; 63,000 adults 25-54
  • CNBC: 0.182 million viewers; 65,000 adults 25-54
  • The Weather Channel: 0.160 million viewers; 27,000 adults 25-54
  • Newsmax: 0.141 million viewers; 17,000 adults 25-54
  • Fox Business Network: 0.067 million viewers; 8,000 adults 25-54
  • NewsNation: 0.049 million viewers; 6,000 adults 25-54

Top 10 most-watched cable news programs in total viewers:

1. The Five (Fox News Channel, Tue. 6/14/2022 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.351 million viewers

2. The Five (Fox News Channel, Mon. 6/13/2022 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.295 million viewers

3. Tucker Carlson Tonight (Fox News Channel, Tue. 6/14/2022 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.268 million viewers

4. Tucker Carlson Tonight (Fox News Channel, Mon. 6/13/2022 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.200 million viewers

5. Tucker Carlson Tonight (Fox News Channel, Wed. 6/15/2022 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.062 million viewers

6. Tucker Carlson Tonight (Fox News Channel, Thu. 6/16/2022 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.013 million viewers

7. The Five (Fox News Channel, Thu. 6/16/2022 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.006 million viewers

8. The Five (Fox News Channel, Wed. 6/15/2022 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.998 million viewers

9. January 6th Hearings: Day Two Hearing (MSNBC, Mon. 6/13/2022 10:45 AM, 126 min.) 2.971 million viewers

10. January 6th Hearings: Day Three Hearings (MSNBC, Thu. 6/16/2022 1:01 PM, 165 min.) 2.964 million viewers

Source: Live+Same Day data, Nielsen Media Research

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BNM Writers

Financial News Media Praises LeBron James

On The Dave Ramsey Show, co-hosts George Kamel and Rachel Cruze discussed LA Lakers star LeBron James becoming a billionaire while still playing.

Rick Schultz

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On a recent episode of The Dave Ramsey Show, co-hosts George Kamel and Rachel Cruze discussed a story that intersected the pop culture world and financial news.

And they used one of the most polarizing athletes of our day to make their point.

According to a report from CBS News, basketball star Lebron James has officially become the first player to reach billionaire status while still in his playing days.

Kamel quoted the article, saying, “After another monster year of earnings, totaling $121.2 million, before taxes and agents fees over the last twelve months, Forbes estimates he’s officially become a billionaire while still playing hoops.”

James has both large numbers of admirers and detractors, often stemming from the argument over who is basketball’s Greatest of All-Time, or G.O.A.T. Some say, James, while others point to Michael Jordan.  

In addition, James has waded purposefully into the political waters as an outspoken supporter of Democratic politicians and their liberal policies. Unfortunately, many feel these policies hurt the very people James supports in so many other ways.

During the show, Kamel and Cruze continued discussing the article, which estimated the net worth of the hardcourt legend to be $1 billion. It quoted James as saying the milestone is important because he wants to maximize his business. 

“He’s commanded more than a $385 million salary from the Cavaliers, Miami Heat, and Lakers as the NBA’s highest-paid active player,” Kamel continued, quoting the article. “And off the court, to your point, Rachel, he’s raked in upwards of $900 million in income from endorsements and other business ventures. So he’s a very smart businessman on top of being an incredible athlete.”

“Kinda like Michael Jordan,” Cruze added.

“So, here’s the funny thing,” Kamel said. “This isn’t just why I wanted to talk about this. Yes, he’s a billionaire; that’s an amazing milestone. And it’s a thousand millions for those of you that need to get that picture in your head. But my favorite thing about this story is that he is known as the cheapest player in the NBA.”

The show then cut to an audio clip of former NBA star Dwyane Wade referring to James as “the cheapest guy in the NBA.” James listed a few extras he’s unwilling to pay for, such as data roaming, phone apps, or commercial-free streaming music. 

“Let’s be clear, LeBron James is not living in a shack. He’s got a nice house; I’m sure he’s got nice cars. He’s done really well,” Kamel joked. “But it’s amazing to me the things he goes. I’m not paying three bucks for that.”

“Hey, do you know who else who is not a billionaire but listens to Pandora with commercials,” Cruze asked. 

“Rachel Cruz!” Kamel answered.

“I’m basically like LeBron,” she quipped.

“I want to make it clear, LeBron James is not a cheapskate. In fact, he’s very, very generous,” Kamel made sure to note. “And there’s maybe a connection there; maybe you can speak to this. This is another article from CBS News. Lebron says he’s opening a multi-million dollar medical facility in his Ohio hometown. He’s built the I Promise School in his hometown in Ohio. He’s pledged to send 2300 students to college debt-free through scholarships. So to me, I just go; this guy has a plan for his money. He’s got a vision for where he wants it to go.”

Cruze agreed, discussing the mental approach and discipline needed to make such a significant financial impact.

“It’s not the Pandora subscription that’s going to make you a billionaire. That is not it. But it’s a mindset, too, of seeing what’s wasteful, what’s not. And it’s the same ways of looking at life that really could lead you; I mean, that kind of stuff can play into his business deals. Where he’s like, hmmm, what am I doing, it’s that same thought process that really can make you become successful.”

Ramsey Solutions has preached for years about the necessity of devising a plan for your money and following it rather than simply doing what feels good. They have always been strict adherents to a budget, regardless of how much one has flooded in on the income side of the equation. They also talk extensively about being a good steward and becoming incredibly generous along your journey.

Apparently, LeBron James shares many of the same deeply-held values.

“It’s wisdom with money,” Kamel added.

“LeBron, well done,” Cruze summed up.

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BNM Writers

The Cost of “Thoughts”

Jack Del Rio made a classic mistake of wondering aloud about topics that people in public positions aren’t allowed to think about on Twitter.

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wusa9.com

The first recorded use of the expression, “A penny for your thoughts,” was made by Sir Thomas Moore precisely 500 years ago (1522). But, no doubt, a penny went much further in the 16th century.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s most recent Consumer Price Index (CPI) shows that inflation continues to increase above expectations. The current annual rate of 8.6% is the highest since 1981. The cost of thoughts, or at least saying them aloud, well, saying certain things in a public forum, has gone up far more than the CPI.

Jack Del Rio, defensive coordinator for the Washington Commanders (formerly known as the “Washington Football Team,” and before that, the Washington Redskins), made a classic mistake of wondering aloud about topics that people in public positions aren’t allowed to think about on Twitter. Specifically, his Tweets compared (what he called) “the summer of riots” to January 6th at the U.S. Capitol. As the late, great Alex Trebek would say, Del Rio’s comments were “in the form of a question.”

Faced with media scrutiny about his Tweets, rather than back down, Del Rio referred to January 6th as a “dust-up at the Capitol.”

Can I tell you a trade secret of press flacks? They all have a small can of lighter fluid and a pack of matches within reach behind a piece of glass with the words “break only in the case of emergency” scrawled on it. Certain phrases or words will cause a press person, at great personal danger and sacrifice, to break the glass, douse themselves with the accelerant, and strike a match before flinging their immolating body in front of the podium. Okay, not literally, but I guarantee the Commanders’ public relations director would think this alternative less painful than hearing those words come out of Del Rio’s mouth in front of the press gaggle.

The controversy that followed was swift and certain: as was the reaction from Commanders Head Coach Ron Rivera. He promptly assessed a $100,000 fine on Del Rio for his comments.

Two points here: First, this is not a sports story. Talk Radio observers should be far more concerned with the consequences of this story than NFL or sports fans. Second, it doesn’t matter what you think happened on January 6th. You should still find the fine issued by Rivera chilling, whether you call it an insurrection or a dust-up.

I used to believe that comedian Bill Maher and I were about as far apart on the political spectrum as any two Americans could be. Maher and I, however, hold similar views on freedom of expression.

On his HBO show, “Real Time,” Maher defended Del Rio by saying: “In America, you have the right to be wrong. They fined him; the team fined him $100,000 for this opinion. Fining people for an opinion. I am not down with that.”

Because this is where we meet, I’d like to buy Bill Maher a drink and have a laugh over all the times he’s been wrong, or we can share that drink and a smile for understanding that freedom of expression IS the foundation of democracy – no matter who’s right or wrong. Freedom of expression is an issue where liberals and conservatives must find common ground.

The football team currently known as the Washington Commanders may need another name change. Perhaps the “Comrades” would reflect the team’s philosophy better? Levying such a hefty punishment for stating a political (and non-football) point of view because it is out of step with what is apparently official policy seems more reminiscent of the Politburo’s posture than a free society.

Del Rio’s words are understandably offensive to many. At the very least, they were ham-handed for someone who has been in the public spotlight for so long. But a $100,000 fine? Stifling political opinion is far more dangerous than anything Del Rio said.

Taking the Del Rio incident into context with the “Cancel Culture” of the past few years, Talk Radio hosts should look over their shoulders. Del Rio is also an excellent reminder to think twice before posting a politically unpopular opinion on social media.

Inflation has eaten away at the value of a penny and increased the cost of making politically incorrect statements, including on the air in recent years. What inhibits individuals from expressing their thoughts, beliefs, opinions, and emotions is a threat to Talk Radio and democracy.

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