Fox News raised a few eyebrows on Thursday when it announced that it had hired veteran media critic and longtime CNN host Howard Kurtz, effective July 1.
Kurtz will be the new anchor of Fox News Watch, replacing Jon Scott, who will move to the specials unit. The show’s format will be revamped. Kurtz will also serve as an on-air analyst for a variety of programs—much like what Juan Williams does—and will be writing a column for FoxNews.com.
In an exclusive interview with Mediaite, Kurtz said that while he had 15 great years at CNN, the opportunity at Fox News “was too good to pass up.”
“The chance to help build a new franchise and be a media and political analyst during the week, and to write for the network’s website, is a complete package that had great appeal for me,” he added.
Kurtz told Mediaite that he expected the Reliable Sources format to translate well to Fox, but plans to “add a few new wrinkles.” He said he hopes to “improve on the model I helped build,” while he plans to be an independent voice on the network.
“Fox wouldn’t have hired me if it wasn’t interested in my independent brand of media criticism. So, I’m very comfortable that I’ll have the freedom to criticize anyone I need to in my new role.”
In a press release, Fox News Executive Vice President for news, Michael Clemente, said of Kurtz: “Howie is the most accomplished media reporter in the country. He’s also a master of social media trends, information good and bad, and a veteran political reporter. Altogether, he will add even greater depth to a very accomplished team of reporters and anchors.”
While Kurtz thanked CNN president Jeff Zucker on Twitter for his support, CNN’s reaction was far more muted.
“Howie Kurtz has served as host of Reliable Sources for 15 years, developing it into a leading source for commentary and critique on the media,” said a CNN spokesperson. “We thank him for all his contributions to CNN, and wish him all the best in this new opportunity.”
In reality, CNN was probably glad that Kurtz departed. They have been struggling to defend him since he was terminated from The Daily Beast after they had to issue a retraction for his story on gay NBA basketball player Jason Collins in May.
With Kurtz’s hiring, Fox News turns just another slight notch to the left, as he joins fellow liberals and leftists who are making a living at the right-leaning network.