The announcement Thursday that Howard Kurtz is set to join Fox News Channel followed a well-worn formula: a prominent figure’s career had hit a snag and the conservative cable empire was more than eager to snatch him up.
Over the years, Fox News and its financial news arm Fox Business Network have routinely welcomed to their ranks media personalities or former politicians who have either been fired, cast off or committed a career-threatening pratfall.
TPM rounded up some of our favorite examples of the individuals who failed their way to Fox:Howard Kurtz
The longtime media critic was lambasted last month when he wrote an error-filled column in The Daily Beast on openly gay NBA player Jason Collins. Kurtz asserted that Collins failed to mention that he had been previously engaged to a woman. In fact, Collins had and the Beast ultimately retracted Kurtz’s piece.
Kurtz left the Beast on the same day as the retraction, but insisted that the departure had nothing to do with the Collins article. As Kurtz faced a torrent of criticism for the piece, many wondered if CNN would axe him as host of “Reliable Sources.” And although CNN’s president gave him a vote of confidence last month, Kurtz accepted the warm embrace of the top rated cable news network, saying he hopes to “add a new dimension to Fox’s coverage and have some fun while diving into the passionate debates about the press and politics.”
Williams was axed by National Public Radio in 2010 after he said during an appearance on Fox News that he gets “nervous” and “worried” when he sees “people who are in Muslim garb” board an airplane. Fox News immediately rallied to Williams’ defense, decrying public radio’s political correctness.
On the day he was terminated by NPR, Williams was scooped up by Fox News, which awarded him a three-year contract worth $2 million. Williams kicked off his tenure there with a defiant column arguing that he was fired by NPR “for telling the truth.” Ostensibly brought on to serve as a rare liberal voice at Fox News, Williams recently appeared on a Fox Business segment during which he backed up conservative pundit Erick Erickson’s assertion that women should serve in a “complimentary role” to men.
Fox News chief Roger Ailes once said candidly that he hired Palin in 2010 “because she was hot and got ratings.” She appeared to be the consummate conservative commentator, writing best-selling books and addressing rapturous crowds at right-wing confabs, until the Democratic triumph in last year’s election prompted Ailes to usher in some changes.
Along with notoriously bad prognosticator Dick Morris, Palin was let go by Fox News in January. Many wondered if Palin’s star had finally burned out, until Fox News once again followed its own blueprint and welcomed her back this week. The 2008 running mate to Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) cozied up with the gang on “Fox & Friends” on Monday.
Brown’s trajectory from politician to pundit largely mirrored Palin’s own path. After scoring an improbable victory in the 2010 special U.S. Senate election in Massachusetts, Brown became a darling on the right. But his time on Capitol Hill was fleeting, as he was ultimately defeated last year by Democrat Elizabeth Warren.
Ailes and company were more than happy to hire Brown after he officially left the Senate in January. Fox News hired Brown in February as a contributor, and in April, he served as guest host of “The O’Reilly Factor.” But the move to cable news may have been a mere stop-gap option for Brown, who has publicly expressed an interest in running for public office in both Massachusetts and New Hampshire.
The longtime shock jock’s career appeared to be unraveling in 2007 after an ugly moment on his radio program in which he referred to the Rutgers University women’s basketball team as “nappy-headed hos.” Imus apologized for the remark, but MSNBC swiftly canceled his simulcast program on the channel. Following MSNBC’s lead, CBS Radio then canceled “Imus in the Morning.”
Imus returned to radio later that year, but his show’s simulcast was relegated to little-known RFD-TV. His time in cable news purgatory ended in 2009 when Ailes came calling, inviting the gruff radio host to simulcast his program on fledgling Fox Business.
Buchanan had been a frequent sparring partner of both Chris Matthews and Rachel Maddow during his time at MSNBC, but the latest book by the former aide to Richard Nixon made his place at the left-leaning channel a bit too awkward. With chapters like “The End Of White America” and “The Death Of Christian America,” the 2011 book “Suicide of a Superpower” was vintage Buchanan.
MSNBC was not amused, suspending Buchanan shortly after the publication of the book. The writing was on the wall when the channel’s president, Phil Griffin, said in January of 2012 that he didn’t think the book “should be part of the national dialogue, much less part of the dialogue on MSNBC.” A month later, Buchanan was let go, but he has since found a place at the friendly conservative confines of Fox News, where he’s made several guest appearances. Williams even brought Buchanan on Fox News Latino to commiserate over MSNBC’s firing.