An emailer wrote in asking me what I thought the winners and losers would be from Kaplan’s departure. I don’t think it’s possible to ascertain that at this point. There are rumors that Tammy Haddad is angling for the Good Morning America EP position. If that happens it opens up a hole in MSNBC’s political coverage and puts into question what happens with the 2006 mid term election coverage including the rumored return of Battleground America. But aside from that it’s too difficult to figure out who and what the winners and losers are, if any.
The winners and losers, if there are any, won’t be known until we know who is running MSNBC and what changes in course, if any, are being planned by 30 Rock.
I’m still vexxed by the announcement and what it really means. There are two schools of thought about this story.
The first school of thought is that Kaplan was fired but allowed to play this out in a more face saving manner which benefits both sides. The evidence for a firing would be that it was abrupt with no time built in for a transition. Even Erik Sorenson got kicked upstairs when he was removed as President of MSNBC. But if it was a firing, it would put NBC Corporate in a bad position since execs have publicly backed MSNBC with no less that Bob Wright giving the equivelent of a thumbs up on Your World last week. To fire Kaplan under this public backing of MSNBC would bring out charges that NBC was saying one thing but doing another. The graceful exit we witnessed today would therefore be a means of removing Kaplan without disrupting MSNBC’s perceived momentum.
The second school of thought, which is more disturbing to me, is that Kaplan saw where MSNBC was going to go under this rumored “new direction” NBC News is planning and wanted no part of it. Say what you will about Kaplan and his tenure at MSNBC but in the end he was a newsman with a long tenure in hard news going back to his days with ABC. Say, for example, that NBC News wants to gut daytime news with canned programming, as has been rumored on TMZ.com (I’m not saying that’s the direction they’re going to go…I’m just tossing out one scenario). Would a newsman like Kaplan want to be in charge of that? See what I’m getting at? Perhaps Kaplan’s departure is a sign of ominous things to come for people who watch MSNBC for news?
We won’t know really what instigated today’s events until we see what happens in the future; when we can look back and compare the Kaplan period with the post Kaplan period.