Reliable Sources host and unreliable former Daily Beast and Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz is parting ways with CNN and will join Fox News instead, Mediaite reports. (CNN confirmed Kurtz’s departure.) “I’m excited to be bringing my independent brand of media criticism to Fox News,” Kurtz said in a statement. “Howie is the most accomplished media reporter in the country,” a Fox News executive added. “He’s also a master of social media trends, information good and bad, and a veteran political reporter.”
The switch makes sense: Kurtz was on thin ice at CNN as his contract ran down, but he’s always had a mutually beneficial working relationship with Fox boss Roger Ailes. In fact, they go way back.
Although the intensely distrustful Ailes is known to rarely speak to the press, Kurtz has maintained a direct line to the cable news mogul for years, providing a platform for controversial quotes and landing news exclusives about the network. Fox example:
“The Right Man for Fox News,” October 2006:
“The New York Times had to fire a person for making up news,” he says. “We haven’t taken down a major story. If we make a mistake, we correct it in an hour.”
Ailes believes he has helped discredit the notion that conservatism is “a freak point of view” in the media, noting that Rush Limbaugh, whose television show Ailes once produced, recently did a “Free Speech” commentary on the “CBS Evening News.”
“We have forced a dialogue into the news business that didn’t exist before we got here,” Ailes says.
It’s no accident that Fox, which delights in skewering MSNBC, barely mentioned Keith Olbermann’s recent suspension for donating to three Democratic candidates. Ailes had sent word to the troops that it wasn’t much of a story.
“If they went to get the guy, they were going about it fairly stupidly,” Ailes says. “It isn’t like we don’t know the guy supports left-wingers.”
“Roger Ailes Plays Nice,” June 2011:
The Fox News honcho responds to a media drubbing.
“Roger’s Reality Show,” September 2011:
First, Ailes dialed back the Tea Party talk. Now he’s turning the GOP race into a political X-Factor—and steering the election agenda one more time.
Last year, Kurtz broke the news of Ailes’s new contract at Fox News in an “exclusive” tweet. “Ink hasn’t dried yet on contract,” Kurtz wrote. Just this March, there was another interview: “Roger Ailes Couldn’t Care Less What You Think About His Obama Comments.” (This is not the first time Ailes has hired a reporter who profiled him: In 2012, Fox News picked up Peter J. Boyer, who wrote about Ailes the year prior for The New Yorker.)
Last month, Kurtz got drummed for writing a column without facts and spreading himself thin with work on the site Daily Download. The Hollywood Reporter said CNN was “unlikely to renew his contract,” and so it is.
“Howie Kurtz has served as host of Reliable Sources for 15 years, developing it into a leading source for commentary and critique on the media,” CNN said in a statement. (He will host the program for two more Sundays.) “We thank him for all his contributions to CNN, and wish him all the best in this new opportunity. Reliable Sources will continue on CNN, and will be hosted by a variety of people in the coming months.”