Kaplan: FOB Who Hailed Dan Rather as 'Meticulously Careful to Be Fair and...Accurate'

Rick Kaplan, who as reported earlier by Matthew Sheffield, announced his departure Wednesday from MSNBC where he’d run the least-watched cable news network as its President since February of 2004, has a long record of friendly relations with former President Bill Clinton and hostility to conservatives -- as well as admiration for Dan Rather combined with condescension for conservative critics of Dan Rather -- during his career with ABC News, CNN and MSNBC. The AP’s David Bauder on Wednesday night noted “speculation” that Kaplan “might be a candidate to run Good Morning America” now that the ABC show's Executive Producer, Ben Sherwood, “announced five days ago he was stepping down.”

At the News and Documentary Emmy Awards presented by the National Television Academy at a September 19, 2005 ceremony, Kaplan asserted that "Dan was meticulously careful to be fair and balanced and accurate" during his career. Kaplan then lashed out: "When did we allow those with questionable agendas to take the lead and convince people of something quite the opposite? It's shameful." Kaplan went so far to declare that Rather's "legacy" is "the gold standard journalists today have struggled to live up to." Check this October 4 NewsBusters posting for a full transcript accompanied by a video clip in Real and Windows Media formats.

A “Friend of Bill” (FOB), who ran CNN from 1997 to 2000, after a multi-decade career with ABC News, re-joined ABC News in 2003 as Senior Vice President, the number two slot he held until shortly before jumping to MSNBC in early 2004.

While serving as President of CNN, Kaplan played golf with President Clinton, stayed overnight in the Lincoln Bedroom and participated in a mock debate session with Al Gore. When he was Executive Producer of Nightline in 1992 he advised presidential candidate Bill Clinton on how to handle the Gennifer Flowers revelation and later as Executive Producer of World News Tonight he blocked anti-Clinton stories from getting onto that newscast.

For a thorough and lengthy rundown of Kaplan's pro-Clinton, pro-liberal and anti-conservative activities over the years at ABC and CNN, see the June 10, 2003 MRC CyberAlert.

During a May 16, 1999 commencement address Kaplan delivered at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, while President of CNN, he complained that Ken Starr is "putting obsession ahead of the best interests of the nation" while Bill Clinton has had "extraordinary" achievements. For a 45 kbps low quality streaming Real video clip (about two minutes) of some of what Kaplan told the students, check the August 31, 2000 MRC CyberAlert. (You cannot play the clip from here, you must go to the MRC page.)

Here’s a hunk of Kaplan’s 1999 commencement address which matches the video:
"In the past eighteen months, we have seen a Congress damage itself in the shameless partisanship of the House. We have seen a Senate run from the light to debate the future of a President in secret. The independent counsel law seems destined to die but Ken Starr is still around and many believe still putting obsession ahead of the best interests of the nation. And then there is the President, who if not guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors, well, it may have been because our Founding Fathers never thought a President would get caught acting in such a manner.

"Is there a lesson here? We have learned more about perjury and fidelity in the presidency of Andrew Johnson than I ever thought imaginable. Our young children learned more about sex than I may know right now. But if in the wake of this national tragedy, how many of you now believe that with the right connections, you can get away with anything. The President got impeached but he didn’t lose his job so did he get away with it? I’m here to tell you that there is always a price to be paid. Not always paid on demand but paid in the end, always.

"As many of you may know, I’ve been privileged to be a friend of Bill Clinton’s for more than twenty years and like many, I had high expectations for his presidency. His intellect and his heart and his drive to help people should have guaranteed his success, his greatness. But as it stands now, when history writes this President’s story, his accomplishments, while noteworthy, even extraordinary at times, will be listed after an explanation of who Monica Lewinsky was. He kept his office, but at a very high price and I’m only talking about his public life. Well, before it’s all over others will pay, I trust, as well. But remember there is always a price. You are not going to be perfect. We all make mistakes."
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center