An interesting discussion occurred on CNN's "Reliable Sources" Sunday when host Howard Kurtz raised the issue of MSNBC intentionally moving to the left politically, as well as its failed attempt to hire Rosie O'Donnell.
Maybe most shocking was conservative radio talk show host Michael Medved saying of the recent events at MSNBC, "I think it shows that they're getting smart."
Coming in a close second was Jennifer Pozner of Women in Media and News stating with a straight face "the majority of the people who host shows on MSNBC are either centrists or conservative," and that Keith Olbermann "is a liberal host, but he doesn't necessarily promote liberal candidates or promote liberal projects."
Deliciously, that might not have been the most absurd statement from Pozner this day (partial transcript follows with emphasis added for your entertainment pleasure):
HOWARD KURTZ, HOST: Let me turn now to news this week involving MSNBC, which got into serious negotiations with Rosie O'Donnell to make her the host of a prime-time show. It fell apart at the last minute over money, as well as over whether O'Donnell would make more than a one-year commitment. MSNBC wanted two years.
Let me show you a little bit on this question that kind of sparked a debate about whether or not MSNBC is moving to the left. Let me show you a little bit of what you get in prime-time MSNBC, followed by Rosie O'Donnell on her blog, a video of her talking about the deal that fell apart.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DAN ABRAMS, MSNBC: President Bush claiming that many have forgotten the "lessons of 9/11." Translation: If you don't agree with any and every part of the administration's anti-terror policy, then you are one of them.
KEITH OLBERMANN, MSNBC: The presidency of George W. Bush has now devolved into a criminal conspiracy to cover the ass of George W. Bush.
ROSIE O'DONNELL, FMR. TALK SHOW HOST: I'm not quite sure that a pundit would have been the best thing for me. But who knows? I was willing to maybe try it, but just as well.
And, hey, Keith Olbermann -- the best new show on TV. If you're only going to watch one, watch that guy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Michael Medved, what does it say to you that MSNBC decided to try to go aggressively after Rosie O'Donnell and where it's positioning itself?
MICHAEL MEDVED, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I think it shows that they're getting smart. I mean, they had tried in the past going to the extreme right. They had a show with Michael Savage. They had a show with Alan Keyes.
Look, this makes sense. It makes sense if you're going to have three major news networks. You have FOX news on the right, you have MSNBC on the left, and it leaves you guys at CNN to be in the middle, which is a good position for you.
I think it's terrific. As someone who is on right myself, I don't think that this pretense of fair and balanced is really good for the public.
What is good for the public is very clearly delineated points of view which gives people a free choice and the opportunity to go from one to the other and to know what you're getting. So I happen to think it's a positive development.
KURTZ: Well, it gives me some pause in terms of a news network positioning itself as being part of one ideology. I know these are prime-time shows, therefore they are opinion shows.
But Jennifer Pozner, you know, Chris Matthews, he was also hard on the Clintons during impeachment, but he has been tough on the Bush administration. So has Dan Abrams, so has Keith Olbermann.
Rosie would have fit right in.
JENNIFER POZNER, WOMEN IN MEDIA AND NEWS: You know what? I have to say, having done commentary on FOX News a number of times and having done Joe Scarborough's show on MSNBC, I've always had a tougher time from Scarborough. He struck me as the single-most conservative host of any show I've ever done, and I've been on "O'Reilly" and I've been on "Hannity & Colmes."
KURTZ: But what's wrong with that. It's Scarborough's...
POZNER: No, no, no. It's...
KURTZ: Hold it. It's Scarborough's job to be opinionated.
POZNER: Right. Right. Right.
KURTZ: He's a former Republican congressman.
POZNER: Yes. But when I'm saying is it's disingenuous to say MSNBC is tilting left when the majority of the people who host shows on MSNBC are either centrists or conservative.
Olbermann is a liberal host, but he doesn't necessarily promote liberal candidates or promote liberal projects. The one single show that was hosted by an actual person who called himself a leftist and had liberal and progressive guests and such was Phil Donahue's show, and it was cancelled in the run-up to the Iraq war...
KURTZ: Right, exactly.
POZNER: ... because they said from a memo from the top down they didn't want to provide an antiwar face for MSNBC.
KURTZ: OK. I've got to cut in here.
POZNER: It's about money. It's not about ideology.
KURTZ: I've got to cut in here. I want to get to Ray Richmond.
Look, Rosie O'Donnell, very liberal, very controversial. She propounds these conspiracy theories about 9/11, but she also is highly entertaining.
RAY RICHMOND, "THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER": Yes. The whole idea of, oh, mercy, a news network showing a political ideology -- oh, let's head for the hills. It's sort of like everybody does at one time or another, all of the networks. And I don't even think MSNBC was that serious about hiring her, if you want to know the truth.
I think -- I think they wanted the publicity and marketing reverberations of that. And look at this, we are talking about her on CNN. So it worked.
KURTZ: How about that?