Sunday, December 25, 2005

Microsoft-NBC Divorce Prime Fodder For The N.Y. Times To Pout Instead of Report

Bill Carter Throws Hissy Fit Over Flacks Who Refuse To Talk To Him

Bill Carter has made his mark at the N.Y. Times because his Rolodex is better than any other reporter covering the TV beat. Head honchos return his call, without him first having to run interference from doe-in-the-headlights publicists too scared of their own shadow. In short, he knows how to deliver the goods for the latest backdoor maneuverings, backstabbings and intrigue at the networks with nuance and extra tidbits his rivals generally can't match.
So, his Christmas Eve dispatch on Microsoft selling its stake in MSNBC to the Peacock Network was jarring to say the least. While Carter reported the basic story, most of his article was tinged with the bitterness of someone who's kept out by security even though he's flashed his backstage pass.

The less-than-celebratory nature of the breakup seemed to be underscored by the timing of the announcement. NBC and Microsoft released the news at 8 a.m. yesterday, the Friday before Christmas, when the offices of both companies were already closed for the holiday weekend.

OK, not a good thing, but that shouldn't be a problem for someone as well connected as Carter. But....

Of the two contacts listed on the release, one, from NBC, had a message on her office phone number saying she would be gone until Tuesday, and the other, from Microsoft, was at an airport with two toddlers ready to fly home for the holiday.
That spokeswoman, Kristen Batch, from a public relations firm, Waggener, Edstrom, said Microsoft executives would have no comment anyway, beyond what was said in the official news release.

Inside baseball, anyone? Carter should know better. The above two paragraphs were unnecessary given the one that preceded them. Yet, he felt the need to flog NBC and Microsoft for having the unmitigated gall not to talk to him. Sour grapes don't taste good. Nor do they read much better.
But all is not lost. Sort of.

Reached at home yesterday, Julie Summersgill, a corporate spokeswoman for NBC, said that despite the timing, the companies were not trying to bury the news on the slowest news weekend of the year. It simply worked out that way, she said.
"Ideally, we would have put this out on Tuesday," Ms. Summersgill said. The deal was completed late Wednesday night, but neither company could apparently manage to prepare an announcement in time to be released Thursday.

Boo freaking hoo, Bill. Grow up. Every once in a while you will encounter a source who doesn't lay prostrate at the Times' door waiting to give you information. It happens, even to you.

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