Calling Shep Smith.

Shepard SmithShepard Smith

CBS chief Shari Redstone, fresh from her boardroom triumph of merging the one-time Tiffany Network with Viacom, is thinking about launching a conservative TV outlet to compete with Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News.

Redstone already has chatted up former Foxer Megyn Kelly, whom president Trump trashed for her less than-tender line of questioning during the 2016 presidential debate, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Fox News is a juicy target as it “mints” more than $1B in profit annually. Redstone has already swung by the White House to talk to Trump, though it’s unclear whether she spoke about her plan to give Fox a run for the money. “He’s always been very good to me and a tremendous supporter of me personally," Redstone told THR after Trump was elected president.

Trump has been critical of Fox for its recent less-adoring coverage of him. He tweeted Oct 10 that Fox News “doesn’t deliver for US anymore. It’s so different than it used to be.”

Smith quit Fox on Oct. 11. A legion of fans anxiously awaits his return to the tube.

It’s a pretty safe bet that NBA commissioner Adam Silver can’t wait for tomorrow’s 2019/2022 season opener as the champion Toronto Raptors tip-off against the New Orleans Pelicans.

The new season should move the China controversy--triggered by a single tweet by Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey in support of the Hong Kong pro-democracy protestors--off the NBA's radar.

China’s government-run CCTV on Oct. 19 vowed that Silver will face “retribution sooner or later” for telling a Time 100 Health Summit in New York that China wanted him to fire Morey.

CCTV claimed that Silver “crossed the line” and fabricated lies out of thin air.” The government's media mouthpiece went on to say, “Silver is making every effort to portray himself as a defender of free speech and is using so-called ‘freedom of speech’ to cover for Morey, who voiced support for violent elements in Hong Kong.”

Morey, of course, didn’t condone violence in Hong Kong. He voiced support for people who fear that China is slowing tearing up the agreement that it made with the UK to support an amount of free expression in the former British colony.

In supporting Morey’s right to free speech, Silver said “the values of equality, respect and freedom of expression have long defined the NBA and will continue to do so.”

He told the Time 100 Summit that he doesn’t know how the tussle with China will play out and that the NBA will take a “fairly dramatic” financial hit.

The multi-millionaire players of the NBA should support their commissioner’s bold statement in favor of free expression, instead of whining about loss revenues from sneaker and jersey deals in China.

While Morey’s tweet “hurt the feelings” of the Chinese people, according to CCTV, there’s been little impact on the NBA’s reputation in the US.

Morning Consult reported Oct. 18 that 41 percent of Americans had a favorable view of the league a month prior to the Chinese government going nuts over Morey’s tweet and 41 percent had a favorable view after it. The unfavorable ratings inched upward from 15 percent to 17 percent.

The same 28 percent of respondents said they were going to purchase NBA gear before and after the tweet.

The NBA controversy is a mere tempest in a teapot compared to the crisis that the NFL suffered in the kneeling Colin Kaepernick episode.

The NFL favorability rating crashed by more than 60 percent, fueled largely by Trump supporters after the president injected himself into the kneeling controversy.

Trump remained strangely quiet during the NBA/China fracas.

My guess is that he’s not too keen on people voicing support for protestors advocating for democracy and against totalitarian rule.