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’11th Hour’ Farewell From Brian Williams Lifts MSNBC

“The Dec. 9 edition of “11th Hour” delivered 1.62 million total viewers and 182,000 in the key 25-54 demographic, the program’s best total audience since Sep. 14.”

Douglas Pucci




Brian Williams, the longtime NBC News anchor, signed off for the final time with the company on Dec. 9 on his MSNBC program “The 11th Hour”. During his closing remarks, he noted in his observation of the current state of America, “Grown men and women who swore an oath to our constitution, elected by their constituents … have decided to join the mob and become something they are not.” Williams later concluded, “I’ll show myself out, until we meet again.”

The Thursday, Dec. 9 edition of “11th Hour” delivered 1.62 million total viewers and 182,000 in the key 25-54 demographic, according to Nielsen Media Research. That was the program’s best total audience since Sep. 14 (1.9 million viewers), the night of the California gubernatorial recall election results.

Williams’ career was at its height during his 11-year stint as anchor of the “NBC Nightly News.” His work at MSNBC, since 2016, began at a time when his reputation needed rehabilitation following the revelations that he had falsely claimed the helicopter he flown in during the Iraqi War had been hit by enemy fire.

For much of his MSNBC era up until this year, “The 11th Hour” was cable news’ most-watched program within the 11 p.m.-midnight hour.

On the night after Williams’ departure (Dec. 10), MSNBC premiered the documentary “Paper & Glue” about acclaimed French artist JR. It drew 696,000 viewers, garnering a mere one-third retention from its “Rachel Maddow Show” (2.07 million) lead-in. A post-show discussion on the documentary in the 11 p.m. hour posted just 366,000 viewers.

Earlier that Friday (Dec. 10), the funeral services of former U.S. Senator and presidential candidate Bob Dole took place at the Washington National Cathedral. Dole passed away on Dec. 5 at the age of 98. Fox News Channel topped all cable news outlets in live coverage, averaging 1.11 million viewers and 180,000 adults 25-54 from 11 a.m. thru 1:07 p.m. Eastern. MSNBC drew 607,000 total viewers within the 2-hour span, edging out CNN’s 562,000 viewers but it was CNN (107,000 within the 25-54 demo) with the clear advantage over MSNBC (45,000) among adults 25-54.

Advancing to late night that same date (Dec. 10), President Biden was a guest on NBC’s “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon”. The appearance — his first on the program as a sitting President and one which he described the recent laws in various states limiting voting as “un-American” — delivered 1.88 million total viewers and a late-night-demo-leading figure of 372,000 within the 18-49 demographic. It was the largest Friday audience for “The Tonight Show” since Feb. 5, yet it was not enough to best that night’s top talk show, CBS’ “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” (2.065 million).

In morning news, CBS — while still trailing their ABC and NBC counterparts — achieved its best weekly average in 14 weeks. The newly-titled “CBS Mornings” with Gayle King, Tony Dokoupil and Nate Burleson averaged 2.62 million total viewers for the week of Dec. 6-10, up one percent from the previous week and the network’s best morning show average since Aug. 30-Sep. 3.

ABC’s “Good Morning America” was still tops in the morning based on total viewers. For Dec. 6-10, it averaged 3.32 million total viewers. It was a week that featured host Michael Strahan’s excursion into space aboard Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin craft; that edition from Dec. 9 drew 3.33 million viewers.

The Weather Channel (their figures noted in the list of outlets below) jumped up 47 percent in viewership from the previous week. The uptick was attributed to their weekend coverage of the aftermath of the multiple deadly tornadoes that touched down across six states (Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi and Tennessee) on Dec. 10.

Cable news averages for December 6-12, 2021. Fox News Channel extended their streaks to 43 weeks as cable’s most-watched network in total viewers..

Total Day (December 6-12 @ 6 a.m.-5:59 a.m.)

  • Fox News Channel: 1.474 million viewers; 239,000 adults 25-54
  • MSNBC: 0.684 million viewers; 74,000 adults 25-54
  • CNN: 0.501 million viewers; 101,000 adults 25-54
  • HLN: 0.201 million viewers; 59,000 adults 25-54
  • The Weather Channel: 0.153 million viewers; 32,000 adults 25-54
  • CNBC: 0.147 million viewers; 33,000 adults 25-54
  • Newsmax: 0.110 million viewers; 17,000 adults 25-54
  • Fox Business Network: 0.105 million viewers; 13,000 adults 25-54

Prime Time (December 6-11 @ 8-11 p.m.; December 12 @ 7-11 p.m.)

  • Fox News Channel: 2.353 million viewers; 367,000 adults 25-54
  • MSNBC: 1.160 million viewers; 131,000 adults 25-54
  • CNN: 0.585 million viewers; 120,000 adults 25-54
  • HLN: 0.213 million viewers; 58,000 adults 25-54
  • CNBC: 0.166 million viewers; 42,000 adults 25-54
  • The Weather Channel: 0.155 million viewers; 36,000 adults 25-54
  • Newsmax: 0.147 million viewers; 31,000 adults 25-54
  • Fox Business Network: 0.060 million viewers; 12,000 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. Special Report with Bret Baier (FOXNC, Thu. 12/9/2021 6:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.615 million viewers

2. The Five (FOXNC, Thu. 12/9/2021 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.592 million viewers

3. The Five (FOXNC, Mon. 12/6/2021 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.495 million viewers

4. The Five (FOXNC, Wed. 12/8/2021 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.427 million viewers

5. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Wed. 12/8/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.427 million viewers

6. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Thu. 12/9/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.380 million viewers

7. The Five (FOXNC, Tue. 12/7/2021 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.299 million viewers

8. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Tue. 12/7/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.210 million viewers

9. The Five (FOXNC, Fri. 12/10/2021 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.108 million viewers

10. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Mon. 12/6/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.017 million viewers

28. Rachel Maddow Show (MSNBC, Wed. 12/8/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.104 million viewers

154. CNN Newsroom (CNN, Sat. 12/11/2021 1:00 PM, 60 min.) 1.000 million viewers

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

1. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Wed. 12/8/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.613 million adults 25-54

2. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Thu. 12/9/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.606 million adults 25-54

3. The Five (FOXNC, Mon. 12/6/2021 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.534 million adults 25-54

4. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Mon. 12/6/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.530 million adults 25-54

5. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Tue. 12/7/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.516 million adults 25-54

6. The Five (FOXNC, Wed. 12/8/2021 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.516 million adults 25-54

7. Hannity (FOXNC, Thu. 12/9/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.496 million adults 25-54

8. The Five (FOXNC, Thu. 12/9/2021 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.496 million adults 25-54

9. The Five (FOXNC, Tue. 12/7/2021 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.495 million adults 25-54

10. Special Report with Bret Baier (FOXNC, Thu. 12/9/2021 6:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.483 million adults 25-54

61. Rachel Maddow Show (MSNBC, Wed. 12/8/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.263 million adults 25-54

106. Situation Room (CNN, Mon. 12/6/2021 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.205 million adults 25-54

147. Forensic Files “Murder On The Menu” (HLN, late Wed. 12/8/2021 12:30 AM, 30 min.) 0.168 million adults 25-54

168. Weekend Recharge (TWC, Sat. 12/11/2021 12:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.153 million adults 25-54

Source: Live+Same Day data, Nielsen Media Research

BNM Writers

Millionaire Maker Brian Buffini Offers His Best Advice

The goal of Brian Buffini is to share some simple, yet profoundly impactful, advice to help listeners rise above the negativity in financial news.

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Regardless of how negative the current financial news cycle has become, one influential entrepreneur is offering his best advice to help others steer clear and aim for future prosperity. Forget recessions, market collapses and higher debt, and keep your focus on building better days to come.  

This was the approach of podcast host Brian Buffini, on the most recent episode of his popular program, It’s a Good Life.

The goal of Buffini’s program was to share some simple, yet profoundly impactful, advice to help listeners rise above the negativity in the financial news. And also to become a millionaire.

“This is not just something I’ve studied. This is not just something I’ve read about, which I have.  This is something I’ve lived in my own life. I’ve been a millionaire since I was 26 years of age,” Buffini began. “And I don’t really ever talk about that. I don’t know if I’ve ever even said that before. But a lot of you on the podcast, being new to me and what I do, and so I wanted to share with you. There’s some great principles here that I want to help you.”

Buffini came to America from Ireland with only a few bucks in his pocket, before suffering a major motorcycle accident that left him thousands of dollars in medical debt. He earned his real estate agent license, and eventually built a company dedicated to coaching and teaching other agents to attain higher levels of success. Over time, he repaid his loans and began to grow a substantial net worth.

“We have to understand that the culture’s view toward money, the typical person’s view toward money, what’s promoted on TV, what’s marketed, is not a formula for success financially. The culture’s view is success, economic success, is the ability to buy more stuff, and then typically people have to go work much harder to go and afford the things that they bought,” Buffini said. “And typically people are paying for that which they can’t afford just yet. So they’re paying with future earnings. They’re paying with future interest expenses. And they’re on the wrong side of it.”

One can rely on Fox Business or CNBC for the day’s macro-economic news or latest stock quotes, but Buffini believes the key to success is much more personal and habit-driven. And once you have an individual plan, your personal financial transformation will begin to happen.

“The first thing, before we get into investing and how to go build a fortune, is that you have to first go to work, you build your business, you do the things you need to do. You have to have a working budget. You have to spend less money than you make,” Buffini, author of the hit book, The Emigrant Edge: How to Make it Big in America, said. “You have to control what goes out. It’s the one thing you’re in total control of. You have to control what goes out. And then if you will do that, then you can earn more than you are currently spending. Then you can create what’s called a surplus.”

Buffini says the American culture needs to look past the divisive labels some attach to millionaires. He says the goal should be to be able to invest whatever surplus we have, in order to grow it and be able to do amazing good for our families, friends and those in need.

“I know full well that the majority of people listening to this today may have some financial difficulties or challenges, but I want to paint a picture of where you can get there,” Buffini said. “If the son of a house painter from the southside of Dublin can build himself a fortune 30 years ago, and build it up and create it that it becomes generational. Without being the smartest guy in his school. Without all the different advantages. I came to America, I got run over by a car. In and out of hospitals and lots of bills and had kind of a tough start. And I built a fortune, well by golly anyone listening to this can.”

Buffini reviewed the economic “state of the union,” and it’s not pretty.

He said the average retirement age in America is 63. 

The median retirement savings in the country is only $17,000.

One in three people has saved zero dollars for retirement.

The average savings for an American is only $4400.

73% of Americans have less than $1000 in savings.

The average household has $132,000 in debt.

Yet, to put it in perspective, Buffini says the poorest Americans still rank in the top 20% of earners worldwide.

So how can Americans gain control, build a fortune and become able to help others in need? Buffini lays out these tips, along with the biggest decision that he says can lead one to become a millionaire.

Invest in what you know. 

He quotes Warren Buffet, who said, “Wall Street is the only place that people ride to in a Rolls Royce to get advice from those who take the subway.”

Think long-term.

“We are not long-term culture anymore,” Buffini said. “Even financially, it used to be companies would analyze by the quarter. Then it became the mid-quarter, and now it’s by the day. The dynamic is, if you plant three seeds in the ground and you pull them up two or three days later to see if they’ve grown, good luck with that.”

Stay the course. 

“You gotta be consistent is what that means. If compound interest is the 8th wonder of the world, the one thing you’ve gotta have for compounding to take place is consistency,” he said.

Re-evaluate annually.

“Peter Lynch, who was really the leader of Fidelity fund management, said know what you own and know why you own it. You’re re-evaluating annually, and you’re saying ok, here’s how it did and here’s how it didn’t do. Here’s what I was hoping for, and here’s what we got,” Buffini said on the program.

“Now if you’re willing to hold down your expenses and what you spend money on, you’ll create more income than you have expense and you’ll create the surplus,” Buffini said, getting to the biggest decision that he says can make someone a millionaire. “And with that surplus I want you to then make this decision. And if you’ll make this decision, you can become a millionaire, you can build a fortune. You can change your family’s fortune for generations to come.”

Decide what you want most – appreciation or cash flow.

“The vast majority of people shoot for both things at the same time, unintentionally, and miss both targets,” Buffini said, calling on his 30-years of real estate and coaching experience. “Well of course we want both. I want to be able to eat ice cream and lose weight. I want to be able to not work out and get fitter. I want both! The truth of the matter is that when you try to have both things happen, usually neither one does.”

Buffini says if we’ll focus on one, oftentimes we’ll naturally see some of the other. But without focus, most people can guarantee neither.

Profound advice from someone who started with nothing, fought through adversity to accomplish a great deal and has helped others walk the path toward earning that same success for themselves.

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BNM Writers

WWL’s Scott ‘Scoot’ Paisant Wants Radio to Stop Eliminating Its Strongest Elements

Scott Paisant said from the very beginning of his career, he’s been intent on having fun after a general manager suspended him

Jim Cryns




When you think of Wolfman Jack, the iconic American radio jock with the gravelly voice, him ripping off your cocaine might not be the first thing that comes to mind.

“At the time I was pissed,” said Scott Paisant (a.k.a. Scoot.) “If I knew where he was buried I’d still spit on his grave,” Scoot jokes. 

Scoot was backstage at a Rolling Stones concert where the Wolfman was introducing Mick and the boys. 

“Everybody backstage was doing coke and I’d just bought a vial. I asked Wolfman if he wanted some. He said ‘sure.’ Then he took the vial and walked away. That was going to be my little vial for the weekend. I was so disappointed.”

I mentioned to Scoot it was almost worth it that Wolfman was a coke-hog. Now he’d have a great story to tell. Wolfman Jack stole my cocaine. That would be a great opening story at any party. Scoot had another similar story. He was at a strip club in New Orleans where a young woman took a liking to his sweater.

“It was a nice club on Bourbon Street,” Scoot explained. “I was wearing this long, cool sweater and a stripper asked me if she could try it on. She did and told me she’d give me a free lap dance if I gave it to her. I told her no. Friends have always chided me for not taking the dance as it would have been a great story. I told them it’s a better story now because I said ‘no.’”

Scoot is back home in New Orleans on WWL-AM-FM-WWL and has worked in prestigious markets across the country including Philadelphia, Miami, Denver, Seattle, Portland and San Antonio. His first radio gig was a part-time job as a producer for Bob Ruby’s Morning Show on WWL radio.

Scoot said he worked alongside a very popular jock named Captain Humble early in his career. They appeared on each other’s show, not on the same show.

“He was a good guy who enjoyed life,” Scoot said. “He was stoned all the time, loved his pot. When I was new in the business in the early 70s, I found a way to associate with him. He was a big deal and FM was still king of the underground.”

Scoot took part in what might be termed performative radio. At the Superdome, he organized a jazzercise class that filled the stadium. Replete with leg warmers, Scoot was the MC. 

“There are a lot of things I used to do that wouldn’t fly on the radio today,” he said. “I used to do a gay character named Sid Showcase. I’d play the sound effect of a knock on the door and a door opening. I’d say, ‘Sid is coming out of the closet.’”

He did other characters with different accents. 

“They were major parts of my show,” Scoot said. “In the 80s, it was a different moment in time. I don’t do that kind of stuff today.”

Scoot did an episode on his YouTube channel which focused on people’s fixation on whether he was gay.

“I did that because I felt I needed to show how ridiculous people are when they judge people for whatever reason,” Scoot said. “It was a way of pointing out how I’ve been judged purely on the way I look. The only thing that makes you gay is if you’re ‘gay.’”

Scoot said he has friends in Denver who have commented he is the gayest straight person they’ve ever known. Apparently, if a man has an eye for fashion or an eclectic taste, you are relegated to assume something about them. 

“I’ve even had women that I’ve dated tell me, ‘Maybe you shouldn’t wear that.’ We all have that voice inside us that nobody can hear but us. Not everybody has the courage to follow that voice. People like to think I’m gay because I stand up for gay rights, equality in general. We have no right to judge people. My wife and I went to see a tribute for Donna Summer at a gay club on Bourbon Street. Not because I was gay but because Donna Summer was the Queen of disco and that club honored her the best. I just want to live in a kinder world. Not just for gay people but for politics as well. It’s sad when someone can’t appreciate the fact others have a different point of view.”

He said from the very beginning of his career, he’s been intent on having fun. A GM once suspended him for something he said on the air, something today people wouldn’t blink at. 

“I was listening to the Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter debates,” Scoot said. “I comment on the air they were master-baters.”

Colbert, Kimmel, or Fallon probably said something more controversial last night. The suspension would have been a great PR stunt, but Scoot doesn’t think the GM saw it that way.

With stations dramatically flipping formats today, emphasizing different areas of broadcasting, Scoot said it hasn’t been too surprising. 

“A lot of major corporations are taking away the strongest elements radio has to offer,” Scoot said. “We’re eliminating the intimate conversations hosts can have with listeners. We have so many pre-recorded shows.”

You can get your music anywhere. It’s the connection people crave. 

“Once that connection is gone I don’t know why people would have any use for a radio station. It seems the trend is to whittle everything down, so streamline things for the bottom line.”

Scoot thinks that can be the death knell for radio.

“After we had a hurricane down here, I had people come up to me and say ‘Thanks for being there for us.’ We’re still live and intimate. Tens of thousands of people tune in to someone they have a relationship with.”

During the immediate effects and aftermath of Hurricane Katrina on New Orleans and the Gulf Coast in late August 2005, WWL was for a time one of the few if not only radio stations in the area remaining on the air. 

To stay relevant to young listeners, Scoot is doing a lot of social media stuff, and working on a podcast. 

“There are still a lot of people in their 20s and 30s that listen to what we do, they just don’t show up in the ratings. They’re not going to fill out a card telling someone what they’re listening to.”

Evelyn Benoit, a prominent player in Louisiana horse racing, has been so taken with Scoot, she named a horse after him–Scootiera.  

“It’s official, approved and everything. He’s got a good bloodline,” Scoot said. 

Benoit said her horses’ names have great meaning to her. The names have to be approved by officials. She said she and her trainer went through the stables to find the right horse to name Scoot. 

“This is just a microcosm of the fun I’m still having on the radio. I could probably coast on my name and reputation in this market, but I still get up every morning and deliver the best I can every day.”

Scoot has a very calming voice and presence on the air. He said that’s because he strives to be ‘real.’

“People want authenticity,” Scoot said. “I want to be natural on the air. If something is bothering me, I might bring it up. If I think of something on the way to the station, I make it part of the show.” 

Sadly, Scoot said we may have to accept these shootings as a ‘new normal.’

He has taken some hope from the midterm elections, saying people are showing up to make a difference.

“I get people that call the show that lean Left, and I’m in a red area. I’d like to think I can provide an alternative to Right-Wing extremism. Too many people are taking the path of least resistance, swallowing the rhetoric.”

Like a comic reads a room, in preparing for his show Scoot said he reads his audience. Scoot and I spoke the day after the most recent gun-related massacre in a Walmart in Virginia.

“I have to wake up on a beautiful Wednesday morning after another shooting and make a decision. Do I bring up yet another horrific topic? I have to determine if and how much I’ll go into a shooting today as they’re so commonplace. How much can an audience take?”

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BNM Writers

After Decades of Reporting, Jim Avila is Enjoying Giving His Opinion

Throughout his amazingly diverse and essentially unparalleled career, Avila covered the White House during Obama’s second administration beginning in 2012.

Jim Cryns




Jim Avila is a man who thinks before he speaks. He measures his answers before responding. 

Throughout his amazingly diverse and essentially unparalleled career, Avila covered the White House during Obama’s second administration beginning in 2012. Before that, he covered agencies in Washington D.C. for the ABC bureau, mostly assigned to international issues. 

Working for WBBM television in Chicago, Avila got to know Barack Obama when he was a community organizer on the South Side. 

“I did an investigative story about asbestos in a housing project for WBBM television,” Avila said. “Obama was part of the community organization that was going to change things. He had an ongoing professional relationship with Martha Allen, a reporter for the Chicago Reporter. I got to know him through her.”

That investigation stemmed from Allen and Obama peeling up a tile from a kitchen floor and sending it to a lab, which found it contained between 30 and 50 percent chrysotile asbestos. Allen’s muckraking exposé was picked up by the Tribune and Channel 2’s Walter Jacobson, creating a PR ruckus that eventually forced the Chicago Housing Authority to remove asbestos from five projects.

Avila won an Edward R. Murrow award for that investigation. In Chicago, he also covered the mayoral administrations of Harold Washington, Jane Byrne, and Richard Daley. 

During his coverage of Obama, he grew to know David Axelrod, and they played basketball together. Axelrod had a long relationship with Obama, going back to his organizing days and was an advisor on his presidential campaigns. 

“I knew David well,” Avila said. “He was very influential in Obama’s career and had been with him since Obama was a state senator. Ax was an advisor to some of the biggest political names in Chicago. Over the years I kept in touch with him. I was out of day-to-day news when Obama ran for president. But I kept in touch.”

After Avila returned to day-to-day news, he reconnected with Axelrod, oftentimes at White House press conferences. When asked if he thought the Obama he knew as an organizer and state senator in Illinois could be President of the United States, Avila wasn’t quite sure.

“I always knew Obama was charismatic,” Avila said. “I think the first time I really knew he was going somewhere was when he gave the keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention in 2004. I was 35, Obama was about 28 years old. You never know for sure, but I always knew he had the charisma.” 

Avila said he wasn’t surprised when President Obama became the first Black elected president, he said he is still surprised a woman hasn’t been elected. 

There was a huge hatred for Hilary Clinton by so many people. Avila said she would have made a solid president, but was lacking in the charisma department that both her husband and Obama possessed.

“The Republicans made Hilary a huge target, just like Nancy Pelosi,” Avila explained. “These were powerful and marked people who were targeted over and over. When people do it for a long time that enters the psyche of the American public.”

He said there is always a danger to a democracy when 30 percent of the country has gone off the deep end. “They’ll respond to that kind of rhetoric, legitimizing a hatred that was already out there,” Avila said. 

Covering the White House was on Avila’s bucket list. After his family, for Avila, covering the White House during the Obama administration was the highlight of his career. The icing on the proverbial career cake. He said he still vividly remembers walking up the driveway to the White House.

“Not just the first time I did it. I felt chills every single time I went there,” Avila said. “You walk up to the secret service shack, show them what is called a hard pass. They put your stuff through the magnetometer. After that you walk up the driveway toward the press room. It was the White House, with the Marine standing outside the door. There is no experience like it. I was always aware that I was one of the lucky few. I was the first Latino correspondent to sit in the front row of the White House press room, and it has brought me to tears several times. It was one of the most gratifying and patriotic feelings I’ve ever had.”

While covering President Obama, Avila said he didn’t take it easy on him, even though he’d known him years before. 

“He knew our job was to ask him the tough questions,” Avila said. “I never experienced any pushback personally. I did a one-on-one interview with him when I first became a White House correspondent. When I asked the first question, he’d say, ‘There’s Jim Avila, someone I’ve known for a long time.’

Avila said that doesn’t mean it was always a feel-good interaction. “One time I referred to him as the Deporter in Chief, and he wasn’t happy with that. He didn’t attack me. He didn’t call my bosses or anything like that.”

In 2012 while the President was in Malaysia, he warned if Syria used chemical weapons against their own people, that would be a ‘red line’ and the United States would require a U.S. military response. Syria did cross the ‘red line’ and used chemical weapons on their own people. 

“We didn’t do anything about it,” Avila said. “I was the first reporter to ask the President a question on this topic. I reminded him that he said he would respond and he didn’t. I asked him how he could explain that.”

Immediately afterward, Avila said three other reporters from different networks asked the President the exact same question. President Obama was clearly frustrated, he didn’t get angry. He didn’t call them enemies of the state.

While President Obama didn’t call the press corps out on that repetitive question, someone else did. 

“One of the White House traditions, when you’re overseas, is you have dinner with the White House staff,” Avila explained. “Susan Rice, who was Obama’s foreign policy advisor, was not so understanding. She told us we overdid it that day with that particular question. She said we dragged the issue to the ground, and the president had answered it. Why was it asked five times? I had no problem asking tough questions. I had no problems asking press secretary Jay Carney tough questions. Same thing with John Earnest.’ 

Now years later, Avila said he does think the question was asked too many times.

“Here’s the dynamic in that,” he explained. “Especially when the president is in the room the reporters want to be seen asking a tough question for their broadcast. Even if it was the same as the previous question. Susan Rice had the right to say what she did.”

Since he ended his coverage of the White House, things have changed. When the Trump administration suspended CNN reporter Jim Acosta’s press credentials, Avila said if he’d still been there, he would have stood up for Acosta’s questions. 

“Jim Acosta is a friend of mine,” Avila said. “He would have had an ally. I would have held Trump’s feet to the fire. I would have objected to every lie, and corrected him after every lie he told.”

Now retired, Avila can be an average citizen, taking a position on anything he chooses and voicing it. He’s personal friends with Mark Thompson, a longtime host on KGO in San Francisco, and now the host of his YouTub show. 

“He’s got lots of energy. He’s a smart guy,” Avila said of Thompson. “I mostly go on his show because I get to say what I want to. As a reporter, I never had the luxury of revealing my own thoughts. Now I have the freedom to do that.’

The life of a network correspondent is demanding, at times it can push you to a breaking point. It certainly has costs and demands you make tough choices. 

“There was so much traveling and everything else, it was tough on the family,” Avila said. The pressures and the demands of the job took its toll on his marriage. He and his wife divorced. 

“We continue to raise the kids together,” he said. “We go on vacation together once a year with the kids. We did our best to keep it together, but the life of a correspondent is difficult for a family. I think I’m forgiven for that. It certainly was difficult for them to not have their dad around all the time. I did most of the traveling when they were kids, one was very young. I made sure after the divorce I only lived a block away from the family house in Oak Park, Illinois.”

Avila keeps up with former colleagues and their work. This past weekend he watched Chuck Todd’s interview with former Vice President Mike Pence.

“While I’m not a big fan of Chuck Todd, and am usually critical, I felt sorry for him during the Pence interview,” Avila said. “Pence lied, made overstatements and exaggerations. I felt bad for Chuck. How often could he be expected to continue to interrupt Pence to correct him. It’s a no-win situation for an interviewer.”

Avila believes Pence could be equally as dangerous to the country as Trump. 

“He made one good call by helping save our country, and he deserves some respect for that,” Avila explained.  It may have pissed off Trump’s base, but he said Pence did the right thing. 

“If Pence decides to run for president, I don’t think he’ll win,” Avila said. “He was complicit in so many things. His stance on abortion will end his run with 70 percent of the population who are pro-choice.”

Regarding the midterms, Avila said the youth in America, many voting for the first time, were critical in the outcome. 

“The kids showed up for the midterms,” Avila said. “I talked to Mark Thompson about this on his show a couple of weeks prior to the election. He’s a pessimist and I tend to be more of an optimist. Mark said there would be the predicted ‘red wave’ in the elections. I was convinced the American people would make the right choices. I told him I thought the ‘red wave’ talk was B.S. Women were registering to vote in record numbers. I don’t know about you, but I know the women in my life don’t easily forget things. If you do something to hurt them, they’re not going to forgive that in a few months. I also think Biden made a shrewd move in forgiving some of the student debt. That brought a lot of younger voters to the Democratic side.”

Avila thinks Republicans were out of touch when it came to abortion. 

“They kidded themselves and figured things would break even,” Avila said. “Especially with women, it was a big mistake. I think that and the disregard for democracy cost them the midterms.”

In regards to gun control, Avila thinks as a country we’ll come to terms with some regulations, but not immediately.

“The biggest problem is money in politics,” he said. “The money given to politicians from groups like the NRA is staggering. I’m a little more pessimistic about gun issues. As long as the Republicans control the house we won’t see much change. I do think in a couple of years we may see background checks. 

I hate to sound like the old guy who tells kids to get off his lawn, but I’m not optimistic about the future of either television or radio. I only see people watching local television for news and sports. They have too many options. They can get everything streamed to them.” 

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