I hadn't talked with Steve Rose, the founder of HOTT News, in several months. I just finished interviewing him. Here is the full transcript of our interview:
TS: You always have interesting opinions about the cable news business. Where do you think you stand in the cable news landscape and what do you make of your competition?
SR: Let's start with the facts. We're the hottest. No one brings hottness like HOTT News. Our on-air talent (and off-air talent) are all hot. So we've got the edge there. Substance doesn't matter (obviously) but we also score highly on substance. Without even trying (in fact, in trying not to have substance) we actually have more substance than our competitors. It's true in daytime and in prime time.
TS: Can you be more specific?
SR: I can, but I like to avoid specifics. C'mon, this isn't rocket science. CNN is floating in the deep end, flailing its arms wildly in search of a life jacket. MSNBC is busy doing a fine impression of Fox News. Current TV lasted a few weeks. So we're shooting up the charts.
TS: You compare MSNBC to Fox News. Isn't that false equivalency?
SR: Nope. Increasingly, they are offering the same product. Obviously one is from the left and the other is from the right. No doubt Fox News is better at inventing reality. But overall, MSNBC and Fox News play loosely with a different set of half-truths. MSNBC just hired David Axlerod and Robert Gibbs as contributors. That kills their last shred of credibility. Period.
TS: But isn't it perfectly reasonable that MSNBC take advantage of their political insights?
SR: It's perfectly unreasonable. MSNBC's slogan should be "Inside Baseball" or "Horse Race Politics." That's all they have to offer. In that vein, Axlerod and Gibbs make a lot of sense. But the genre is called cable news for a reason. We are supposed to be in the business of delivering news. MSNBC and Fox News are both terrible at delivering news.
TS: And CNN?
SR: If there's a cruise ship disaster, you dial up CNN. Otherwise, don't even bother.
TS: Your network continues to be a lightning rod for criticism. One observer even called you the "Hooters of cable news." How do you respond?
SR: Awesome. That's right on target. I need to tweet that person immediately and offer a job. That's pithy and pitch perfect. That's the kind of honesty we need right now. Is the person who said that hot?
TS: I'm confused.
SR: Don't be. Americans need news and they need it now. They like news delivered by hot people. We offer real news by really hot people. Don't over think it. This is good.