Mediaite’s Most Influential in News Media 2018
55. Jay Sures
Being influential from behind the scenes often results in having more power than those names you know. UTA co-president Jay Sures is that guy in the news world. In fact, there is no one else even close. His client list is a who’s who in T.V. news and when Sures calls, network presidents, not their surrogates, have to answer. He represents a big percentage of the people on this list — including Don Lemon, Norah O’Donnell, Jake Tapper, Chuck Todd, David Muir and many more. Oh, he also runs United Talent Agency, with its ever growing stable of actors, directors and producers.
54. Trevor Noah
Trevor Noah has continued to carve out a unique space for himself in late night, most notably with his “Between the Scenes” segments that appear only online. They range from very loose and lighthearted, like when Anna Kendrick explained to him what “the list” is, to serious, like when he broke down Trump’s caravan fear-mongering for his audience. Like everyone else in late night, Noah’s had some fun with the president’s musings, culminating in the Daily Show releasing a book this year based on the “Donald J. Trump Presidential Twitter Library” they set up in 2017. Jon Stewart’s shoes are hard to fill, but Noah is doing an impressive job.
53. Ari Melber
Ari Melber is not your typical cable news host. He can do deep dives into serious legal issues concerning the Trump presidency, peppering his analysis with a rap reference or two (Or, well, more.) But the formula has worked for him. He has seriously grown the audience for his unique show, carving out a space on cable news with panels you’d be hard-pressed to find anywhere else. Vic Mensa, Bobbito Garcia, and Bill Kristol on an MSNBC panel together to talk police involved shootings? Desus & Mero as regular guests? Only The Beat can pull that off. On top of that, Melber has proved himself to be a skilled interviewer, like with his recent grilling of Mueller target Jerome Corsi.
52. Lester Holt
Lester Holt is one of the best anchors on television. A recent survey also found him the most trusted anchor in news, and that is an incredibly important quality in the current era where misinformation runs rampant. His sensibilities are on point: Holt laid out in a recent interview how anchors shouldn’t fall into the trap of responding to every single thing Trump says about the press, which is why it resonates when an anchor like him speaks out about Trump’s “enemy of the people” attack. In a new TV world where opinion commentary is king, Holt remains one of the most important and respected newsmen in the business.
51. Emily Smith and Richard Johnson
Page Six has an outsized influence in the Trump era, thanks to a president whose career was forged in the pages of New York tabloids. Page Six editor Emily Smith and writer Richard Johnson are New York’s top gossip columnists. They break news and stir drama prolifically, making use of a deep bench of sources built up over years to report on politics, entertainment, media. Smith might be the single most plugged in gossip reporter in the U.S., and she made a splash this year with articles on Donald Trump Jr.’s relationship with Kimberly Guilfoyle, Megyn Kelly’s tumultuous departure from NBC, and everything in between.
50. Kaitlan Collins
Kaitlan Collins transferred to CNN from The Daily Caller back in 2017, and if her first full year with the network has proven anything, it’s that she’s a rising star on the most competitive beat in journalism. As a White House correspondent who never hesitates in asking the tough questions, Collins has proven that she has a knack for rattling those in power. This culminated when the Trump Administration banned Collins from a White House event for asking questions (her access has since been restored). Collins gets scoops and provides solid political analysis on air. She’s a valuable asset for CNN and expect that to continue and beyond into 2019.
49. Bret Baier
At a network with many pro-Trump hosts and personalities, Bret Baier remains a true newsman. Respected across the political aisle, he keeps it straight and down the middle. The anchor doesn’t go out of his way to call out the president, but he also doesn’t sugarcoat things for Trump fans watching the network. As a result, he’s capable of bagging big-name interviews from administration players and its critics alike. Baier also made a point of issuing a public statement standing with CNN after the White House blocked one of their reporters from an event, a commendable gesture of solidarity at a time when every network not named Fox News is earning the president’s ire. Baier’s words matter and when he does make a point, it resonates.
48. Gayle King, Norah O’Donnell & John Dickerson
As far as network morning news shows go, CBS This Morning undoubtedly has the most real news coverage. And while it’s still No. 3 in the ratings, it has made comparative progress and maintained a stellar reputation this year. 2018 was John Dickerson’s first anchoring the show after serving as host of Face The Nation, and his new job suits him as a partner to two of the best in the business in Norah O’Donnell and Gayle King. O’Donnell has also become a major 60 Minutes player, her interview with Saudi prince Mohammed Bin Salman, for example, made serious waves. Whether the three are covering the migrant crisis at the border or pressing Bob Woodward about the sources for his big White House exposé, audiences can always expect a substantial and informative broadcast.
47. Willie Geist
Of the key cast of characters on the air of Morning Joe, few are as charismatic, sharp and well-liked as Willie Geist. He has the keen insights of a political analyst and the warm wit of a late night comic — it’s the perfect combination for a morning show host. Geist has also emerged as a vital player for NBC News: since being named the host for the Sunday iteration of the Today show, Geist has cemented himself as a ubiquitous — and welcome — presence on the network’s airwaves. He’d be the perfect fit for the weekday show as well, if you ask us.
46. Michael Schmidt
Since New York Times reporter Michael Schmidt teamed up with Emily Steel to deliver the major sexual harassment investigation that ended Bill O’Reilly’s career at Fox News — for which the pair won a Pulitzer Prize in 2018 — he has hardly rested on his laurels. As the Washington correspondent for the Times, Schmidt has delivered countless breaking reports on everything from entertainment to the White House to the Russia investigation. When he’s not on A1 of the Gray Lady, you can catch Schmidt on MSNBC dissecting his latest bombshell.
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