Accuracy in Media

Washington Post reporter Howard Kurtz has done a story noting that Rick Kaplan of MSNBC has not been giving interviews about the changes he’s making to his network. When you read the rest of the article you understand why. One or his new hires is Tucker Carlson, who tainted his reputation as a conservative by flip-flopping on the Iraq war. When the news out of Iraq got bad, he called it a nightmare and disaster.

Throwing a bone to the left-wing critics of cable news, Kurtz also reports that “Some critics question whether MSNBC is veering to the right by scheduling consecutive hours hosted by Carlson and former Republican congressman Joe Scarborough.” The only such critic quoted in the article is liberal radio host Ed Schultz.

Later in the piece, Kurtz is obligated to note that MSNBC has a news alliance with The Washington Post, a conflict of interest that may inhibit Kurtz from being brutally honest about the problems at MSNBC.

Kaplan has his own problems. And here Kurtz was accurate: “In the late ’90s he was president of CNN, where he sometimes drew flak for being a personal friend of Bill Clinton’s and was tarnished by the retracted story alleging American use of nerve gas during the Vietnam War.”

Another new Kaplan hire is Monica Crowley, described by Kurtz as merely “a former personal assistant to Richard Nixon hired from Fox.” Crowley was embarrassed when the Journal ran one of her columns in 1999 about her former boss, Richard Nixon, and then said it should not have run the piece because it was too similar to a 1988 article by Paul Johnson in Commentary magazine. Timothy Noah of followed up, explaining the similarities in detail and noting the evidence of plagiarism was too great to ignore.  Crowley, a PhD. who is advertised as someone who brings “a perfect blend of knowledge, strong opinion and charm” to her media appearances, denied she was a plagiarist and said she didn’t remember reading the Johnson article. Such a claim was hard to believe.  A similar defense emerged recently in the Maggie Gallagher case, when the conservative columnist said that she would have mentioned her $21,000 contract with the Bush Administration if she had remembered it.

Crowley appears on a new MSNBC show with Ron Reagan, who has achieved notoriety for trashing his father’s conservative legacy. That is probably why he has been hired. On the other hand, Carlson had been hired at MSNBC not because he is a strong and reliable conservative but because Kaplan has known him for a long time. Kaplan gave him a job at CNN.

Kaplan is unveiling two other new shows, “MSNBC at the Movies” and “MSNBC Entertainment Hot List,” that will attempt to draw in viewers fascinated by Hollywood celebrities.

Kurtz concluded his piece by saying, “So why isn’t Kaplan talking to the press? Maybe he’s waiting until he has more to brag about.” Don’t hold your breath. This guy is making a mess of another network.

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