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Left Coast Bias: My Greatest Misses - Broadcasting & Cable

Left Coast Bias: My Greatest Misses

Time to hold this journalist accountable
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I just got back from my annual Alaska fishing trip, and as tends to happen when you leave your little bubble, I learned a few things. For instance, I learned how to get a 140-pound, pissed-off halibut from a fishing pole into a boat. Someone shoots it. With a gun. Seems like a fair fight to me.

I also learned that when my redneck brother-in-law has too much to drink and sees a good-looking blonde, he invents new countries, such as when he said to me after a looker strolled by, “Thank God for Norwegia.”

But most of all, I learned that when I'm away from my lovely bride, I can actually go days in a row without being wrong. Which got me thinking about this column, and how often I actually am wrong.

As a former PR person, it always used to tick me off that hacks could write whatever dumb predictions they wanted and seldom be held accountable down the road. But if an executive makes a proclamation, journalists hold him to it for months and months.

Now that I've jumped to the lucrative world of journalism, it's only fair that I turn that scope back on myself. Here's a look at some of my hits and misses.

Worst. Prediction. Ever.: This wasn't actually in my column, but it was nevertheless a wonderful display of my gifted foresight and unrivaled understanding of the television business in front of a national audience. Back in the spring of 2007, I was on MSNBC and Joe Scarborough asked me how long Rosie O'Donnell would be on The View. I assured him that she was great for ratings and, despite all the commotion, would be on the show for a long, long time. Less than a month later, she was gone.

Sticking By This One: In September 2008, right after the reality hosts butchered things on the Emmys show, I wrote, “ABC didn't ask its current late-night franchise, Jimmy Kimmel, and in hindsight it could be easily argued that was a mistake. But Monday-morning quarterbacking is too easy, so I'll put myself out there: CBS should name Craig Ferguson next year's host.” Looks like it's Neil Patrick Harris, but I still think I was right.

An Olympic Misfire: Back in August of last year, I wrote in my column and told anyone who would listen that General Electric would spin off or dump NBC Universal soon after the Beijing Olympics. Um, I meant after the Vancouver Olympics. Or maybe London.

Nightline Flatline?: OK, everyone got this one wrong, but last July 21 I did write that the “smart money” was on ABC landing Leno, and Nightline as we know it being gone by the end of 2009. In the same piece, though, I said that whatever happens at 11:35, ABC needs to keep the prominent Nightline brand, whether in another time slot or as a series of specials. And as ABC considers what to do at 11:35, I am pleased to hear the talk of keeping the brand even if Jimmy Kimmel does supplant its current time slot.

Bullish Predictions: Last November, I wrote about reality concepts being pitched for pro wrestler Ric Flair and former NFL great Lawrence Taylor, and guessed someone would take a flier on them as they were great guilty pleasures in the making. Both former athletes are now the stars of massive unscripted hits on major networks. Or not.

I Got One Right!: In January, I predicted ESPN would dump Tony Kornheiser from the Monday Night Football booth, and that one actually came true. I didn't predict Jon Gruden replacing him, though. After all, no one's perfect. Not even me.

E-mail comments to
ben.grossman@reedbusiness.com

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