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MSNBC’s Kaplan Notifies Staff of His Departure

Jun 7, 2006  •  Post A Comment

MSNBC President Rick Kaplan notified his staff in an e-mail Wednesday afternoon, “Today I’m leaving MSNBC.”

Although rumors recently had resurfaced about Mr. Kaplan’s status, they had not carried a sense that change was so imminent. MSNBC is to celebrate its 10th anniversary in July.

Mr. Kaplan, a big man with a big personality and a big resume, came to MSNBC 2½ years ago. A broadcast news veteran who had spent much of his career at ABC in the Roone Arledge era, Mr. Kaplan ran CNN for several turbulent years that included the 1998 Tailwind scandal in which CNN retracted a story that U.S. troops had secretly used nerve gas on U.S. defectors in Laos during the Vietnam War. After being off the network news radar for a while Mr. Kaplan signed on to help ABC News produce coverage of the war on terrorism.

Third-ranked among the all-news channels, MSNBC had been resistant to ratings improvement between big news events until recent months, when its evening lineup tightened the race with CNN in the core news demographic: viewers 25 to 54 years old.

In his e-mail to the MSNBC staff, Mr. Kaplan wrote: “I couldn’t be more proud of the progress we’ve made together over the last 2½ years. Together, we’ve increased MSNBC’s viewership 25% in prime time and 19% in dayside. Over just the last year, we’ve had great success across the board, with ‘Hardball’ and ‘Countdown’ coming into their own. All of our prime-time programs have improved tremendously in their production and content.”

In an internal communiqué, NBC News President Steve Capus praised Mr. Kaplan for his work and said, “Soon I will have an announcement for all of you about MSNBC’s new leadership. During this period of transition I will call on the department heads at MSNBC to manage their respective units and report to me.”