Another bad day in media.
Rolling Stone has lost its libel suit case brought by the University of Virginia. This was the case of the made up rape story. UVA wanted $7.5 million when they filed, but the total could be much, much more when the jury deliberates for damages. We’ve just seen the whole arc of the Gawker case, in which a jury awarded Hulk Hogan $140 million.
The award destroyed Gawker well before a settlement brought the amount down to $31 million– which is still a massive amount of money. Rolling Stone and Wenner Media are now in peril. Earlier this year, Jann Wenner sold 49% of the company to Chinese investors in preparation for this. But Wenner’s nearly 50 year run and his legacy are now at stake because of this crazy episode in which the magazine and its editors were duped. It’s quite awful for everyone.
At the same time, HBO has cancelled Bill Simmons’ sports show after four months. Simmons left ESPN and joined HBO hoping his huge social media following would translate into big ratings. They wanted to make a sports version of John Oliver or Bill Maher’s shows. It just didn’t happen.
Simmons says: “One of the many reasons I joined HBO was to see if we could create a show built around smart conversations for sports fans and pop culture junkies. We loved making that show, but unfortunately it never resonated with audiences like we hoped. And that’s on me. But I love being a part of HBO’s family and look forward to innovating with them on other ambitious programming ideas over these next several years – both for the network and for digital. With that said, I want to thank the dedicated staff that worked so diligently with me behind the scenes to make this show every week – we hired so many great and talented people and I loved having them in my life. It’s difficult for me to imagine not working with them anymore.’
Simmons will stay with HBO and be deployed in other ways.
For the kind of show HBO wanted, you should catch Michael Kay on the YES Network. He’s managed to mix sports and pop culture, and his show is excellent.