MSNBC's Katy Tur probably shouldn't be anywhere near an anchor's desk.
In 2017, after disgraced former NBC News anchor Matt Lauer was fired over credible allegations of sexual misconduct, Tur reflected on-air about the nature of workplace harassment and what more can be done to support and protect the victims of abuse.
“We can talk about the sea change or reckoning until we are all blue in the face, but the real question right now is ‘what’s next?’” she said. “What concrete measures can be put in place by organizations large and small in the workplace?”
Four years later, as then-New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo stood credibly accused of multiple allegations of sexual harassment, Tur used her position at MSNBC to parrot his office’s spin “like verbatim,” according to the people paid to rescue him.
On March 3, as the sexual harassment allegations against Cuomo mounted, he addressed the matter publicly. He argued he did not, in fact, sexually harass anyone but that his accusers merely mistook his overly friendly manner for sexual overtures.
An independent investigation by New York’s state attorney general concluded this year Cuomo sexually harassed at least 11 women, including state employees. He resigned later in disgrace.
But on March 3, as Tur covered Cuomo’s first public response to the scandal, his inner circle was delighted by her reporting. Pro-Cuomo Democratic strategist Lis Smith even bragged in a private text exchange the anchor had parroted her spin “verbatim.”
“I’m texting [with] Katy tur,” Smith wrote. “Katy is saying my spin live. Like verbatim.”
Here is what Tur said:
I’ve just been talking with somebody who is close to the family and I asked them, given the moment we have been living in for the past two years, given how everyone has had a reckoning with this #MeToo moment, why would someone like Governor Andrew Cuomo, who is a savvy politician, not have buttoned things up, not have gotten the message to be careful about what he says around his staffers around others.
And the person said, it’s not that he didn’t think the rules didn’t apply to him, it’s just that in the Cuomo DNA, they are extraordinarily friendly, I guess, by nature.
Here is a clip of the March 3 segment (the relevant moment is at the 3:40 mark):
Neither Tur nor MSNBC responded to the Washington Examiner’s request for comment.
There are a couple of problems with Tur’s coverage. For starters, she bills Smith simply as “somebody who is close to the family” as opposed to a hired gun that was brought on specifically to spin the sexual harassment scandal. This is hiding the ball. Tur’s inside information didn’t just come from “somebody who is close to the family” but from someone whom Cuomo paid to defend him at all costs.
A fair argument can be made Tur didn’t so much parrot the Cuomo spin “like verbatim” as she simply repeated his team’s official position. Indeed, her sigh at the end of the segment suggests even she realizes the “I’m not a pervert, I’m Italian” defense is insanely stupid. Then again, if this is the case, why repeat it at all? Tur didn’t have to repeat any of what Smith apparently told her. She certainly didn’t have to repeat it uncritically.
Also, the fact Smith was privately pleased with Tur’s coverage suggests Tur did indeed serve Cuomo’s interests as opposed to the interests of MSNBC's viewers.
It’s important to remember Tur is not a pundit or a commentator. She is part of MSNBC’s “hard news” division. That she repeated the Cuomo spin, presenting it as the family’s side of the matter and withholding the fact her information came from a paid strategic operative, suggests either a major ethical failing or complicity.
Let me put it this way: In the 1995 film Casino, after gamblers score roughly $45,000 on a slot machine scam, hotel operations manager Sam Rothstein (Robert De Niro) fires the employee who should’ve put a stop to the scheme the moment it became obvious. Rothstein says, “Listen, if you didn't know you're being scammed, you're too f***ing dumb to keep this job. If you did know, you were in on it. Either way, you're out.”
The same can be said here for Tur.
If she didn’t realize Cuomo’s spin doctors fed her obvious self-serving slop, she’s too stupid to keep her job. If she did know, it means she was complicit in the effort to help Cuomo escape the consequences of his actions.
Either way, she should be out.