Wednesday, July 07, 2010

MSNBC blacklists Kos: A tale of murder, Twitter, and media double standards

Did you know that in 2001, around the time Chandra Levy, an intern at the Federal Bureau of Prisons, disappeared and media attention focused on Democratic Rep. Gary Condit, with whom Levy, who was from Condit's district, had had an affair, there was another serious incident, if one that received far less attention, involving a young woman, one Lori Klausutis, who worked for then-Rep. Joe Scarborough, now a big-shot MSNBC host?

I didn't either, until I read about Markos "Kos" Moulitsas being blacklisted from MSNBC.

It's still not clear what happened, but the 28-year-old Klausutis died at Scarborough's office in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. The mystery surrounds how she died, and if anyone else was involved. Conspiracy theories abound that Scarborough himself was involved, but nothing, it seems, has ever come of them. Kos wrote about the incident back in 2005.

Well, as Kos writes, Scarborough was all over the Joe Sestak "scandal" (the allegation that the White House offered Sestak a job to keep him from challenging Republican-turned-Democrat Arlen Specter in this year's Pennsylvania Senate race. (Sestak challenged and won the nomination.) Scarborough accused the media of neglecting to give the story, such as it was one, its due. In response, Kos tweeted: "Like story of a certain dead intern..." Scarborough fired back, accusing Kos of having "a long history of spreading lies" and of calling him a murderer. Kos replied that he had never called Scarborough a murder, noting that the issue was "media hypocrisy": "But he was Dem. You aren't."

Maybe there's nothing to the conspiracy theories, but Kos certainly wasn't pushing them. Rather, all he did was bring up the lack of media coverage of Klausutis's death. But that was enough to send Scarborough over the edge, and the upshot is that Kos has been blacklisted from MSNBC. As MSNBC head Phil Griffin put it in a statement reprinted (in full) by Kos:

Yes, after I became aware of the ugly cheap shot  you  took at Joe on Twitter, I asked the teams to take a break from booking you on our shows for a while. I found the comments to be in poor taste, and utterly uncalled for in a civil discourse.

I'm hoping this will be only temporary and that the situation can be resolved in a mature fashion, but until then I just don't know how one could reasonably expect to be welcomed onto our network while publicly antagonizing one of our hosts at the same time.

The DailyKos community has been among the most supportive of MSNBC, and we continue to appreciate that support.

Well, a lot of people antagonize MSNBC hosts. Are you not welcome on the network if you've ever criticized Chris Matthews or Rachel Maddow or Keith Olbermann? And, again, it's not like Kos called Scarborough a murderer. All he did was bring up a subject that Scarborough finds uncomfortable, one for obvious reasons he would rather consign forever to the dustbin of his own sordid past, far away from prying eyes.

What Kos is getting at here is that there appears to be a double standard, just as there was with the coverage of Levy/Klausutis, one driven by partisanship and ideology. And it's all about the media giving conservatives a free pass. It may not be clear-cut, and there may be exceptions to it, but that doesn't mean it isn't there.

Meanwhile, the Kos-Scarborough flare-up probably could have been handled more maturely, but it's really only Kos's first tweet that went a bit too far (if anything, he could have been more tactful). After that, it was Scarborough who lost it, throwing a "temper tantrum" and complaining to his boss (who "lets Scarborough call the shots" and so who was bound to side with his low-rated morning host).

Regardless, it's pretty stupid for MSNBC to blacklist a major progressive voice and new media icon like Markos Moulitsas. It would do well to rethink its priorities, and to think through its double standards.

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  • False equivalency. Sestak was running around town boasting of his crime.

    By Blogger J, at 11:49 PM  

  • False assumption, puff. There was no crime in the Sestak matter.

    By Blogger Mustang Bobby, at 7:49 AM  

  • *shrug*

    Daily Kos acted like a baby, and MSNBC put them in the crib for a while.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:56 PM  

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