US NEWS & WORLD REPORT

WASHINGTON WHISPERS
Keyes vs. MSNBC Over Israel
July 13, 2002



By Paul Bedard
© 2002 USNews.com

 

For MSNBC execs, dropping Alan Keyes is Making Sense from the primetime schedule was a no-brainer: Fox and CNN were killing Keyes in the 10-11 p.m. slot. But when they replaced him with Ashleigh Banfield, no O'Reilly or Donahue herself, his Jewish supporters began to mutter that TV's No. 1 pro-Israel host was being axed for his views. That beef is going national now that he has refused to take another slot and is essentially fired.

He can't talk, choked by a contractual gag order. But his backers aren't, and they're mad. Rabbi Moshe Ben-Chaim accuses MSNBC of going anti-Israel in its latest hirings and firings. Ben-Chaim's Mesora.org has collected more than 72,000 names on protest petitions. MSNBC President Erik Sorenson took those concerns so seriously he penned a note saying Keyes's removal was based strictly on bad ratings. Much ado about nothing? Not to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. We learn he is showing support by blocking out an hour for an interview with Keyes, be it on MSNBC or not.