To some in the news business, Fox News chief Roger Ailes looms large, viewed with a combination of fear, loathing, fascination and (at least in cable-news-ratings terms) envy. But when it comes to staffing FNC and its sister cablenet, Fox Business Network (FBN), a relationship with Ailes is often the secret ingredient.
Thursday (June 20), FNC announced that it has hired longtime media reporter Howard Kurtz, who has anchored CNN’s weekly media-criticism show “Reliable Sources” since 1998. He has also been the Washington, D.C., bureau chief for The Daily Beast and Newsweek.
Fox News also recently re-upped with right-wing political firebrand Sarah Palin,
no fan of what she calls the “lamestream media.” The former Alaska
governor and 2008 GOP vice-presidential candidate made her reappearance
on the network on Monday’s “Fox & Friends.”
via email for comment on Kurtz joining her in the FNC stable, Palin
wrote, “Well, no one can accuse a brilliant boss like Roger Ailes of
shying away from diversity and debate! Sounds like this guy Kurtz would
be another interesting one to chat with at the water cooler. I look
forward to meeting him. Hope he’ll visit Alaska soon.”
While Ailes took some criticism for hiring Palin in the first place, the notion of only taking in the universally lauded and unblemished doesn’t seem part of his style.
Kurtz comes off a rather public drubbing after recently losing his Beast/Newsweek gig after he misstated facts in an online post regarding NBA player Jason Collins coming out as gay.
Kurtz also had other ventures, including a media-criticism site called The Daily Download, and the demands of too many irons in the fire can lead to errors.
However much the Collins incident and the notion of Kurtz spreading himself too thin contributed to his leaving CNN, his move to FNC may be due in large part to his rapport with Ailes, whom Kurtz profiled in an exclusive 2010 interview for the Daily Beast.
He also interviewed Ailes more recently for a March 2013 post titled “Roger Ailes Couldn’t Care Less What You Think About His Obama Comments,” in conjunction with some potentially incendiary remarks from a new biography, “Roger Ailes: Off Camera,” by Zev Chafets.
Wrote Kurtz, “When Roger Ailes saw his words in print, the stark accusation that President Obama is lazy, he was momentarily taken aback.
looked at it and thought, someone’s made outrageous statements about
our leaders, and that someone sounded like me,” the Fox News chairman
told me in an interview. He promptly offered an explanation for that
slam and for his dismissal of Vice President Biden as “dumb as an
“Anybody who knows me knows that half the time I’m saying things with a somewhat humorous overtone,” Ailes says.
Kurtz’s new job at FNC seems guaranteed to keep him very busy.
He’ll be the the anchor of a revamped version of the current media-criticism show “Fox News Watch,” which airs weekends. Kurtz will also appear as an on-screen analyst on various programs during the week and will write a regular column for FoxNews.com, commenting on social-media news, industry trends and breakthroughs, along with his usual politics/media beat.
In a statement, FNC’s executive vice president of news Michael Clemente says, “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.”
Says Kurtz, “I’m excited to bring my independent brand of media criticism to Fox News. I want to thank CNN for giving me such a prime opportunity over the years and was tempted to continue, but the chance to create a revamped program and establish a strong online presence was too good to pass up.”
FNC has never been shy about criticizing the rest of the news media — and the rest of the news media, in turn, has never hesitated to criticize Fox — but recently even FNC’s liberal commentators have become vocal about the shortcomings of media coverage on certain issues.
One of those at the forefront of this, former Clinton White House staffer Kirsten Powers, seems happy to welcome Kurtz to FNC, tweeting via @kirstenpowers10, “Great news!! Welcome Howie!”