By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

What Mark said

The Phoenix’s Mark Jurkowitz defends the integrity of his fellow “Beat the Press” panelist Bob Zelnick, but says Zelnick probably should disclose the fact that he received a $4,000 fee to testify against the Boston Herald in a libel case whenever the Herald comes up as a topic. (Zelnick never actually testified.)

I’m with Mark. And, yes, I’m a semi-regular on “Beat the Press” as well, so make of that what you will. But I have not changed my belief that Zelnick’s ethics are above reproach.

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Judith Miller out


  1. Anonymous

    Speaking of disclosures, it should also be noted that Bob wrote what many considered to be a pretty good hatchet-job of a book about Al Gore for conservative publisher Regnery (more recently known as the publisher of bile spewed forth from Michelle Malkin and the Swiftboating crew that took down John Kerry). His Gore book got him fired from ABC, and he later cried like a baby with (uncorroborated) reports that Peter Jennings regularly inserted liberal slant into the news.

  2. Anonymous

    Dan, you and Mark are both flaming idiots. I am so ashamed to be a BU grad of SPC right now. Zelnick should resign and you and Mark should take a class in remedial ethics.

  3. Dan Kennedy

    Even if Zelnick discloses? Wow. For a different view, see the comments to Mark’s blog.

  4. Anonymous

    Looks like another Rorschach test for neocons and libs. Everyone will believe what they want. I DON’T have a dog in this fight but I still think Zelnick does a better job than most at disguising his political leanings, (notwithstanding what Franken and Moore above think of him). “Uncorroborated” reports of Jennings bias? Yikes!

  5. Anonymous

    I don’t think Zelnick’s book is related to him leaving ABC.Is anything documented to this fact?R

  6. Anonymous

    From a long article in Salon from 1998: (Eric Alterman)Robert Zelnick, a 21-year veteran of ABC News, is one such annoying individual. Zelnick was recently forced out of his job as a Washington correspondent because he refused to drop plans to publish a biography of Al Gore. Zelnick had been working on the book, with his boss’s permission, while on sabbatical from the network. He hired a research assistant and took a few trips to poke around Carthage, Tenn. Just as he was getting ready to finish it and return to his old job, however, Roone Arledge and David Westin, the network’s top two executives, informed him that he had to choose between being a reporter and being an author. “We cannot have a Washington correspondent writing a book about one of our national leaders whom that correspondent will undoubtedly have to cover,” they explained. Zelnick, who had already invested considerable time and expense in the project, resigned. ABC explains that it had already been planning to fire Zelnick, which was why it gave him permission in the first place. ABC did not think it fair to tell him no and then fire him anyway. But ABC executives changed their mind about the firing, and only then realized they were facing a conflict-of-interest problem. “We were trying to be nice to the man,” said Richard C. Wald, senior vice president of ABC News. But, added ABC News President David Westin, giving Zelnick permission to work on the book was a “mistake” for which the network was “genuinely sorry.” “To paraphrase (Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell) Holmes,” Westin told Zelnick, “you have a constitutional right to say whatever you like, but you don’t have a constitutional right to be an ABC News correspondent.” Zelnick quit in a huff, which was probably a big mistake. Though he insists that he has uncovered important new facts about Gore’s life, his book will be hard to take seriously, arriving as it will with the imprimatur of the Regnery publishing company (which also published an earlier Zelnick book, “Backfire: A Reporter’s Look at Affirmative Action”), whose commitment to truth is frequently at odds with its passion for right-wing sleaze. (See Gary Aldrich and R. Emmett Tyrrell.) Unfortunately, Zelnick’s defense, mounted from Stanford’s conservative Hoover Institute, has been myopic and ham-handed. In a deeply self-important op-ed piece published in the Wall Street Journal, he argued that he had been silenced by a liberal conspiracy that allows that brilliant left-winger Sam Donaldson to mouth off at will, while poor Robert is silenced because of the brave iconoclasm of his conservative views. In fact, the best argument for Donaldson is that he is a plant for the other side, designed to make liberals seem stupid, inconsequential and full of themselves — kind of a reverse version of David Horowitz.

  7. Anonymous

    **is one such annoying individual.**Well, nothing like an even handed analysis from Eric AltermanI guess we can take his word for it.

  8. Anonymous

    whatever, man. you sound like you’re trying really, really hard to stay in Bob’s corner. Google him up, and that Alterman piece is innocuous compared to some other stuff. There’s a particularly scathing BusinessWeek review hanging around out there. And when all else fails, ask yourself this question: Has Regnery ever published anything other than right-wing hit jobs? If your answer is yes, and you think Michelle Malkin gets a bad rap, then we definitely know where YOU stand, and it’s not in the reality-based community.

  9. Anonymous

    If Westin and ABC News are your Gospel, the “reality based” community is smaller than you think. “Google up” New York Magazine’s piece on Westin. Regnery and Salon are what they are, one would have to be a fool to not notice. How do Salon’s “hit jobs” differ from those of Regnery? Follow the money. Suits at ABC spend more on bartabs than BU pays Zelnick. Do you think Westin, Jack Welch, et al are not in it for the $$$? If Zelnick wanted to get rich, he would have gotten real money for expert testimony in the Herald litigation and would be on Fox instead of WGBH. I disagree with the guy myself sometimes, (as I do with Dan Kennedy) but I think fair-minded people would agree that neither of them have hidden agendas. People who are afraid of someone else’s opinion don’t really trust their own, do they?

  10. Anonymous

    Hidden agendas–maybe not. But if Zelnick was not a Friend of Dan, you know we’d be seeing an entry here about how his righty slant on things and his Bernie Goldberg-ian liberal bias charges post ABC giving him the shove. I think I’m getting your game, though–it’s all relative, it’s all opinion, it’s all one person’s word against another. That way, nothing is ever right or wrong, good or bad, factual or false. I know a few people down on 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. who share that same view.

  11. Anonymous

    My “game” is that a lack of right-wing demagoguery does not equate to a leftist slant, and vice-versa. Your post presupposes there are no centrists; you may be right, but I doubt it, (polls have shown that even extremists on either side consider themselves to be middle-of-the-road). How many people have you heard saying “a pox on both their houses”? If Bernie Goldberg or Michael Moore did not strike a chord, no one would buy their stuff, but neither of them represent >50% of the country. Those folks on Pennsylvania Ave.? It’s called a “democracy”. If you don’t like it, work to change it.

  12. Anonymous

    **whatever, man. you sound like you’re trying really, really hard to stay in Bob’s corner.**Franly, I don’t care one way or another. I don’t have a dog in this fight.However, he seems to be rather level-headed and fair, from the times when I have seen him.You however, seem to want to beat up on him out your allegiance to ideology or some sort of political leanings.You point to a couple of online opinion peices, which are hardly a balanced look at Zelnick.His sin is that he wrote a book about Gore?

  13. Wes

    Zelnick has always played it marginally cloudy. From most of an age, he gets leeway as he once brushed up against RMN.

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