Quid Pro Quo at MSNBC?

Last night, the folks at MSNBC were quite proud of the “exclusive” interview Chris Matthews of Hardball did with John Kerry. To put it mildly, it was John Kerry night on MSNBC.

After the Hardball interview, both “Countdown with Keith Oberman” and “Deborah Norville Tonight” ran pieces on Kerry and the medal flap. Kerry could not have bought better air time. In fact, both shows’ “reporting” was so poor it raises troubling questions that he might have bought such positive press with his air time on Hardball.

That is not a charge I make lightly.

Keith Oberman set the tone early when he showed the controversial clip of Kerry being interviewed back in 1971 but did not play the sound! Oberman spoke over it, describing what Kerry said, while significantly changing the meaning.

Oberman over video: “Over the weekend, a 1971 interview with Kerry from a Washington television station turned up in which Kerry seems to use the terms medals and ribbons interchangeably.”

Of course that is not an accurate description of the tape’s importance to the debate, but MSNBC viewers will never know what Kerry really said, because MSNBC did not play it.

Then Oberman ran a clip from Kerry on “Hardball” saying that medals and ribbons were used interchangeably, making Kerry look consistent. Oberman came back live and bashed Republicans for saying ribbon were not medals. – Which is something I’ve never heard a Republican say.

If you did not know the truth, you would never know from this report that the story was about Kerry contradicting himself after the event, you would think it was a matter of ribbon vs medal semantics.

Oberman went on to have a guest that witnessed the events that day and the guest confirmed Kerry threw something over the wall. Of course, that fact was never in dispute. The issue has always been that Kerry has continually changed the story to match the audience he was telling it to. There were no guests allowed on Countdown that had any clue what the story was about.

No mention of the fact that when Union leaders told Kerry they could not support him in an election after the medal throwing incident that his medals magically reappeared. Likewise, Oberman did not explore why Kerry did not throw the medals themselves which Kerry has now told 3 different stories to explain.

Oberman then went on to bash Republicans for giving Kerry a hard time over the difference between ribbons and medals. An issues that, again, has never been in dispute.

So I wrote off Oberman as a hack and held naive hope Norville would get the story right.

She might have been even worse…

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Norville had two guests on, both were pro-Kerry. [No need to be Fair and Balanced here- wrong network.] She never once asked them any question that could remotely lead to an answer.

She had Betty Groebli, woman who interviewed Kerry in 1971 and Norville opened up with a hard hitting question: “What do you remember about John Kerry?”

Then Norville followed it up with a question that got to the the very core of the debate: “Was it controversial to have him on your program back then? “

Norville’s third question really framed the issue: “Was that something that people focused on back in 1971, ribbon versus medal? “

The whole episode was surreal to watch. It was like watching Arab T.V. when they report that the U.S. attacked a mosque while never mentioning terrorists were firing RPG’s out the window.

Norville did the whole story and 2 interviews and never once mentioned Kerry’s ever changing tales. Like Oberman, she also ran a Kerry clip from Hardball and implied that it was just Republicans arguing over ribbons vs medals.

To top it off, she followed it up with a look back on Bill Clinton having to fight off problems from his past to get elected and how Kerry won’t lose any votes over this non-story.

MSNBC managed to spend a good 20 minutes on the story but were somehow careful enough to avoid any facts about it. They never ran any of Kerry’s contradictory quotes or even told you they existed. It was all about the ribbons vs. medals strawman. They had 3 guests, all of which were pro-Kerry.

Do a search on the transcripts from both Oberman and Norville and you won’t find the words “contradiction” or “changed” anywhere in regards to Kerry’s story. (I even searched ‘contra’ and ‘change’)

The story is now on day 3. Certainly MSNBC was running it because they saw the same reports we did on ABC news. It is not ignorance, they know the real story. So why did they actively cover it up?

Incredibly, the best answer they can hope for is that they were biased partisan hacks. The other possibility is even more damning but the reporting was so horrific it calls their motives into question.

The facts of the case are that MSNBC repeatedly plugged their “exclusive” interview with John Kerry then broke many journalistic ethics to cover up a story on him. It is hard to make the case it is not a quid pro quo for Kerry giving them access.

Reporters have done it for years. Eason Jordan was not the first case.

The painstaking coverup was so obvious last night that it is a reasonable question.

MSNBC has some explaining to do.

Bringing Chance Home
Long Live The Victory Coalition


  1. Fritz April 28, 2004
  2. Paul April 28, 2004