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John Kerry has Showdown with Reporter, Hits Raw Nerve that Reporter Reveals to Bloggers After Conference Call

by Pamela Leavey

A recurring theme in the liberal blogosphere is to note the propensity of the MSM to allow the Republican Noise Machine to control the message in the media. In Lapdogs, Eric Boehlert demonstrated clearly that “the news media have utterly failed in their duty as watchdog for the public.”

An instance of this was seen clearly during the conference call with John Kerry and Patrick Murphy, a week ago Friday, when Jonathan Kaplan of The Hill asked Patrick Murphy, “Do you think Ned Lamont’s victory in Connecticut hurts or helps your chances of defeating the GOP incumbent?”

Murphy responded and Kaplan pushed the meme again, that perhaps Lamont’s victory was a gain for the GOP.

After Murphy’s second response to Kaplan, John Kerry interjected his thoughts on Kaplan’s question and made it very clear to Kaplan that the press “should not allow them [the GOP] to be able to try to transform failure into an offensive policy to suggest that someone is weak because they have an alternative that works.”

Kaplan snidely responded to Kerry saying, “Isn’t that your job not ours?”

John Kerry proceed to give Jonathan Kaplan a quick lesson in what the role of the media really is — “We communicate through you,” Kerry said. “We need to invite you to hold them accountable… We speak but if it doesn’t get out there, the American people don’t hear it.”

So many of us watched in utter dismay during the ’04 election cycle as the media suppressed the message from our presidential nominee, John Kerry. Kerry was right when he told Kaplan, “if it doesn’t get out there, the American people don’t hear it.”

    Listen here to Jonathan Kaplan’s questions to Patrick Murphy and John Kerry’s response to Kaplan on the role of media.

When John Kerry and Patrick Murphy signed off of the conference call, a few reporters and bloggers hung on and that’s when Jonathan Kaplan revealed that John Kerry had hit a raw nerve with him…

After a brief interchange about Mike Conallen hacking into the conference call (see earlier post here), Jonathan Kaplan responded, “Hey if you’re going to blog about… and rip Fitzpatrick, why don’t you rip Kerry for blaming the media for how he can’t communicate with the American people.”

A blogger responded to Kaplan, saying “…the media does not put the Kerry message out…”

Kaplan responded, “Screw that and Screw him!! For Him to criticize us, it’s his own fault.”

No, Mr. Kaplan, as John Kerry explained, it’s your job — that is the role of the media.

Kaplan refused to identify himself when asked who was speaking, although, it was clear that it was Kaplan and he was responding to the dressing down that Kerry had given him just a few moments earlier on the conference call.

After being asked repeatedly who had said “Screw that and Screw him,” one party on the call identified the speaker has Jonathan Kaplan of The Hill. But, Kaplan still refused to verify.

An editor at The Hill has verified that it was indeed Jonathan Kaplan on the second segment of the call, who said, “Screw that and Screw him.”

“Thank you for sending the files. There’s no doubt it was Kaplan.”

The interchange was a clear example of the real bias of some in the media, who allow themselves to be played by the GOP. Mike Conallen, the GOP CoS who hacked into the call had revealed that day that “a reporter” gave him the dial in information. There’s little doubt in my mind who that reporter was.

Jonathan’s Kaplan’s verbal outburst proved John Kerry’s point verbatim. Members of the press should not be allowed to get away with this sort of behavior. Contact Jonathan Kaplan and The Hill and let them know that Kaplan’s behavior was out of line.

UPDATE: Stuart O’Neill of Political Interviews, has a new post up on this with the complete audio’s. It was due to Stuart’s dillegence that the original tapes were made available for me to cut. Many thanks to Stuart, who’s original post on the Mike Conallen angle of the press conference is available here at Political Dogfight.

UPDATE 2: Thanks to Atrios, C&L, Markos at DKos, the Daou Report, and all the readers on the DKos Diary & DU, and many others for taking interest in this story.

RELATED POST: Media Matters Asks ‘Who Is Jonathan Kaplan?’

22 Responses to “John Kerry has Showdown with Reporter, Hits Raw Nerve that Reporter Reveals to Bloggers After Conference Call”

  1. Oh wow. What an ass!

    Great job, Pamela!

  2. Kerry’s sweeping the deck with them all. It’s hilarious how he exposes their lack of confidence. A one man band. Like the old blues song goes:

    “I’m a dangerous man”.

  3. I called The Hill and spoke to Mr. Gurdon. He was a little behind on the story so I filled him in the best I could on Mr. Kaplans comments directed at Senator Kerry. I told him Kerry had a point and that Kaplans “scew that and screw him” comment was out of line. All in all it was a productive 5 minute conversation. I hope they get the message that us “litle people” care about how the MSM covers politicians and Democrats in particular.

  4. Thanks MikeL!

    Much appreciated!

  5. There’s a diary on DKos that’s getting some good attention for anyone who wants to join in –


  6. Pamela – woo-hoo!!!!!

    Did you see THIS:

    It’s at the top of the recommended diaries right now, but this from the Democratic Daily deserves even more attention, regarding Jonathan Kaplan of The Hill.


    So what is the role of the media? Pumping out GOP talking points? Because that’s what Jonathan Kaplan was doing, that’s what Kerry responded to, and that’s what pissed Kaplan off. Go read the whole thing. It’s incredible.

    Did I travel through a warp in the space fabric and end up in an alternate universe?

  7. MH,

    I went and commented on Freedoms Fire. Great job!! JK is cranking up the heat, and some might not like it. But I do!!

  8. OMG!!!!

    The Democratic daily and John Forbes kerry!!!!

  9. Forgot to mention MH, I put a link up for you at The Katrinacrat Blog. Thanks for the link over there.

  10. MH

    There’s a first time for everything. I’m thrilled this has gotten so much attention.

  11. This is almost exactly what several prominent news representatives have repeated in private (and not so private) conversations.

    that it is not there job to counter.

    I have suggested that it is there job however not provide statements as fact that mischaracterize, mislead, or get the facts wrong, without providing some framework or context. If the news is merely a “tube” through which candidates speak, then it has completely lost its function as a free and robust press, on perhaps the most important issues fo the day == those with partisan implications even if the issues themselves are not partisan.

    I hope I effectively made the wider case with respect to the issue of the media merely reciting right wing talking points, and what it means, here.

    Also, the idea that a Lamont victor is somehow a victory for the GOP is an absurd proposition It would be like suggesting that in R.I. (assuming, to make it like Connecticut, that there was no viable democratic candidate in R.I. (untrue of course)) a win by a more staunch republican over Lincoln Chafee (although it does insult Chafee to compare him to Lieberman) in R.I. is somehow bad for the republcan party. Absurd.

    It only has viability by constantly mischaracterizing Lamont and Lieberman both, which since this has been done so much, suggesting this in essence plays upon.

    Kaplan does even more than this by then repeating, “but do you believe that a lamont victory gives the GOP an opening to criticize the democratic party as weak on national security. So when he says to Kerry, that that’s “his job,” he’s actually doing the job of the GOP to subtly suggest this point (which is, in fact, the most effective way to make many political points, something the democrats need to learn).

    however, where suggestiong is called for to avoid making it seem like one is playing partisan politics or “attacking” when communicatingn to voters, here, the response to kaplan’s question should have been different.

    Murphy simply answered the question, as if it was legitimate, rather than to take the opportunity to show how that blatantly mischaracterizes the issues, plays upon rhetoric and spin and mislealds misleads voters in order to avoid a substantive discussion of how we can be stronger on national security. And then ask Kaplan if he worked for the GOP and why, even if inadvertently (pays to be nice to the media) he was repeating GOP talking points.

  12. Damn, the next time some important Democrat gets asked if he thinks Lamont helps or hurts the party, could that someone please be smart enough to say, “I think he’s going to help us tremendously. He’s got people in Connecticut energized, and polls show consisently that the more people see of him, the better they like him.”

  13. I agree with Kerry that the media isn’t doing its job, but Kerry is an awful communicator. I still regret voting for him. Very few of his voters were actually voting FOR him, I think, so much as voting AGAINST Bush. I think we’d all be a lot better off if we had a strong third party to challenge the Dems and the Republicans.

    At this point though, I’d settle for a strong minority party, let alone taking Congress. Hopefully we’ll see some accountability after November, but I’m not holding my breath.

  14. Should anyone be interested, Ira Glass at NPR’s “This American Life” did the usual press hit on Kerry. He claimed that Kerry is “boring” and “unconvincing” without bothering to say why (he doesn’t need to, that’s the story on Kerry and on Gore and Carter and everyone else who knows something about something). His evidence for this was clips of Kerry speaking with specificity about foreign policy. Very disappointing. Go here for the audio of that segment:


  15. jcasey,

    Thanks for the link. I had to put JKs name in the search to find it was the cat one on that page.


    “Kerry is an awful communicator. I still regret voting for him. Very few of his voters were actually voting FOR him, I think, so much as voting AGAINST Bush.”

    You might want to explore this site a bit. We are die hard Kerry supporters who have no idea what world people like you were living in during the campaign. (You don’t remember the massive turnouts at his campaign stops toward the end? Philladelphia, Madison?)

    Especially check out some of his speeches from this year – he has gotten even better. You will find a lot of comments on how good we think they were. And more than a few media people finding them excellent as well.

    The number of people who no longer regret their votes for Kerry or deeply regret the Bush votes far exceed the few who can’t seem to get past what ever issues they had.

    There are a LARGE number of posts here covering all the problems most people come up with. The entire SBVT fight. The war vote comments, speeches, etc. And if you really don’t know it, the Ohio vote was a 60,000 vote difference.

    Look under polls (in categories at the right) and find some of Nick’s statistical breakdowns. It was extremely close for a candidate who had as much distortion by the press as he did, running against an incumbent during a war, when a lot of the country was still traumatized by 9/11 – due to the constant fear mongering by BushCo.

    At this point, I think the GOP is going to have trouble getting elected for some time and that will give a boost to the Green Party especially. Most of us would welcome that.

  16. klaatukev Says:
    August 22nd, 2006 at 5:22 pm

    Yeah man, thanks for giving us Bush, Cheney and Rove.

  17. Indie Liberal Says:
    August 22nd, 2006 at 9:59 pm

    The gift that keeps giving…

  18. […] Rich and Famous–Amway Edition Kerry Takes On Reporter, Exciting Blogoshere The Democratic Daily has broken its records for visits with its account of John Kerry standing up to r […]

  19. Thanks Ron… It’s been a whirlwind.

  20. WOW Pamela,

    This really got people paying attention now. Way to go!!

  21. Surfed in here from the link on The Daou Report, and want to add my praise for the entry. This is an important document for Democrats, and one that every candidate and media consultant should study. We must have candidates that understand the process of message distortion, as demonstrated in this encounter, and have strategies to counter this blatant message theft; we need communication directors and consultants who can teach candidates to do this naturally and effectively.

    When our long national nightmare is over, and the party and country are back on track, bloggers, some bloggers, will be at the top of the list of who to thank. Tools like Kaplan and his ilk are atop the list of who to blame for the fix the country is in. We can’t have a working democracy without honest media.

  22. Jonathan Kaplan = typical MSM GOP hack piece of garbage.

    Yep Pamela, Kaplan is obviously the “reporter” (do they actually refer to themselves as that somehow without laughing?) who gave Mike Conallen the press only conference # info. It was pretty obvious even before he actually admitted it with his whimpering plea to his buddy Mike to help him out. Sheesh as well as being sewer slime, he’s a wussy as well. Anyone want to take a bet he’s a chicken-hawk ta boot? I can use some easy money, any takers?

    So Kaplan, are you a paid “media consultant” of the Fitzpatrick campaign and/or RNC or are you just another typical MSM whore who thinks his only job is to push GOP lies, talking points and attack Democrats and liberals 24×7? You all obviously know the GOP wouldn’t be able to win any elections without all of your constant full time support. I know you all think that’s what your only job is. As you yourself have now admitted on tape.

    I hope you’re at least your receiving paid compensation as well? I mean, the Bush admin was caught a couple times already for paying big $ in the past to conservative columnists/pundits/hacks to push the GOP’s policies(who would have done it anyway since that’s what they do for a living with their columns and books).

    So at this point the only question left for now is this. Is Kaplan a paid whore or does he give it away for free to the GOP?

    I assume his employment has been terminated by The Hill by now, correct? Or is The Hill now nothing more than another Moonie or Murdoch type outfit? Is The Hill still a legitimate publication or not? If Kaplan hasn’t been fired and a public apology issued by The Hill to Senator Kerry, future Congressman Murphy(PA8) and the American Public, we’ll have our answer. I sure won’t hold my breath…