While a guest on the 92Y American Conversation program on Sunday, TIME magazine political analyst Joe Klein vented to host Jeff Greenfield of the Public Broadcasting System: “I miss being able to turn on a straight newscast” after returning home at 6 o'clock on weekdays.
He added that the only place he can find such a program in that format and at that time is the Fox News series Special Report With Bret Baier before declaring: “It is such an embarrassment to our profession" that the Cable News Network “has gone in the toilet the way it has.”
“I come home,” Klein stated, “and I turn on CNN at 6 o'clock at night because that's something I kinda do in preparation for the 6:30 network news to see what Wolf [Blitzer, whose series uses his first name as its title] is being really hyperbolic about, and he's talking about the plane!”
The columnist was referring to the nonstop coverage CNN had devoted to the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 during the first few weeks after the airplane disappeared during an international passenger flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on Saturday, March 8.
Klein then said he is able to “speak entirely candidly now although I did in the past because TIME magazine has been spun off from Time Warner.”
“I've got to say that it is such an embarrassment to our profession that CNN has gone in the toilet the way it has,” he said to applause from the studio audience. “It really is.”
However, Klein got a quite different reaction when he said the only channel he can turn to for straight news at that time is the Fox News Channel.
“Yes, it's true,” he said after hearing the audience grumble at that statement.
Greenfield quickly came to his guest's defense: “Don't mumble, folks. He's telling you the truth.”
Klein asserted that the only other option is “to go to MSNBC and see the Rev. Al Sharpton, who I still consider to be a major criminal.”
The audience again applauded before the columnist begrudgingly stated: “The guy can have a job on network TV, on the NBC cable network, and he still hasn't apologized for Tawana Brawley. Give me a break!”
As NewsBusters previously reported, Sharpton was one of the first people to defend the 15-year-old African-American girl after she was found on Nov. 28, 1987, apparently unconscious and unresponsive, lying in a garbage bag with her clothing torn and the words “KKK,” “Nigger” and “Bitch” written on her torso.
However, a grand jury later concluded that the teenager had created the wounds herself and falsely accused a group of white men of raping her and leaving her for dead in an alley.
Twenty-five years later, Sharpton claimed he did the right thing in the Brawley situation and did not express any regret over helping cause a nationwide scandal.
During his years on MSNBC as host of the weekday PoliticsNation program, the reverend has often combined his role of community activist with that of the host of a television program.
Perhaps the most obvious attempt at mixing those concepts came after Feb. 26, 2012, the day Hispanic George Zimmerman shot and killed 17-year-old African-American Trayvon Martin.
Even though Sharpton and his allies in an open conflict of interest protested the youngster's death in Sanford, Fla., newly hired MSNBC president Phil Griffin stood up for him, claiming that he “didn't hire Al to become a neutered kind of news presenter. That's not what we do.”
Nevertheless, whatever the channel actually does is dragging MSNBC down in the ratings, since the liberal outlet ended the third quarter of 2013 in a distant third-place finish behind Fox News Channel and CNN, then dropping its year-to-year audience by 29 percent at the end of December., making 2013 a year the executives and employees would like to forget.
Of course, this isn't the first time Joe Klein has used his outlets to promote his liberal agenda. In mid-May of 2013, he declared that Hillary Clinton is “one of the most experienced candidates we've ever had running for president.”
One day later, Klein whined that the Benghazi and Internal Revenue Service scandals were merely “an excuse for the GOP to paralyze our government.”
Perhaps watching a “straight news” program on FNC has had a positive impact on Klein's political “leanings.” Who knows what might happen if he also starts watching Shepard Smith Reporting or any of the weekday afternoon programs the news channel airs?