Documents released Monday from New York State Attorney General Tish James' office about CNN anchor Chris Cuomo's major role in helping craft an expansive and targeted response strategy earlier this year to the sexual harassment allegations made against his brother and then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) have rocked the low rated cable news network, prompting them to say in a statement that they would be conducting “a thorough review and consideration … over the next several days” of the new information as it related to the longtime “Prime Time” anchor's role.
But as it turns out, Chris Cuomo is not the only prominent national media figure who was implicated by James' document dump this week. New York-based “The City” did some digging and discovered revealing comments made by Lis Smith, a former advisor (2018) to both Gov. Cuomo and failed 2020 Democratic presidential candidate turned Biden Transportation Sec. Pete Buttigieg. In group text messages on March 3, 2021, Smith noted how she was texting with “MSNBC Live” anchor/NBC News correspondent Katy Tur, alleging that Tur was using her talking points about Gov. Cuomo “verbatim” during a live broadcast:
In text messages to senior advisers and allies, Smith bragged that MSNBC host Katy Tur was using her talking points about Cuomo live on air.
“I'm texting w Katy Tur,” Smith wrote to the group. “Katy is saying my spin live. Like verbatim.”
Smith and the group appraised how the story was moving in a favorable direction after the governor held his first press briefing in March in which he said he was embarrassed and apologetic, but would not resign.
Smith was hesitant for the public to know about her involvement in helping the governor and his team, telling Cuomo's advisers it would be bad for her “credibility” to answer a reporter's question.
Here's a screengrab of those group text messages:
— 'Weird Alex' Pareene (@pareene) November 30, 2021
Assuming Smith's comments were accurate, this presents big problems for NBC News and MSNBC for reasons that are both different and the same as the CNN situation with Cuomo.
In addition to being ethically wrong from a journalistic perspective, Cuomo's involvement presented a big-time conflict of interest for his employer for obvious reasons. But with Tur, NBC won't have the luxury of falling back on the “family capacity” excuse as CNN has tried to do with Cuomo, because she's not related to Andrew Cuomo.
But what NBC News will have to answer for is the fact that Tur is ostensibly an “objective” anchor/correspondent for their media teams. Supposedly unbiased reporters do not – I repeat – DO NOT uncritically repeat talking points from political figures and their surrogates, especially “verbatim.” Like ever.
That's something Tur appears to either not understand or care about considering how well-known it is in media circles that she's an unabashed shill for Democrats, so much so that even “Meet the Press” anchor Chuck Todd, who is second to none in the Democratic apologist sweepstakes, once openly displayed shock as Tur morphed into a Democratic spokesperson during an on-air exchange, which prompted him to shade her on journalistic objectivity at the end of the segment.
And it goes without saying that Tur's employer will not be the only ones who have to account for Tur's actions. Tur herself should offer a full on-air explanation, not just in response to these new revelations but also in consideration of what she's said in the past about the role of journalists in getting to the bottom of the story:
— Columnated Ruins (@DominofromAZ) November 30, 2021
In light of what we learned this week, it would seem that quote takes on a whole new meaning – but one far different from the one Tur intended.