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Ashleigh Banfield Joining ABC News: TVNewser

Huffington Post   Danny Shea First Posted: 03/18/10 06:12 AM ET Updated: 05/25/11 03:40 PM ET

Ashleigh Banfield

Ashleigh Banfield will be joining ABC News next year, TVNewser reported Friday.

Banfield rose to prominence on MSNBC during the early 2000s, but was cast aside after speaking out against the coverage of the Iraq War. She has been an anchor on Court TV/truTV since 2005, but Friday is her last day with the network.

ABC News did not confirm the report, telling TVNewser simply, "We like Ashleigh Banfield and admire her work."

Banfield's breakup with NBC News, where she was a rising star war correspondent and primetime anchor on MSNBC, was bitter. After a speech in which she was seen as criticizing NBC's coverage of the war, she was publicly rebuked by NBC News executives and ostracized at the office, as she explained to a Connecticut magazine earlier this year:

"I was office-less for ten months....No phone, no computer. For ten months I had to report to work every day and ask where I could sit. If somebody was away I could use their desk. Eventually, after ten months of this, I was given an office that was a tape closet. They cleared the tapes out and put a desk and a TV in there, and a computer and phone. It was pretty blatant. The message was crystal clear. Yet they wouldn't let me leave. I begged for seventeen months to be let out of my contract. If they had no use for me, let's just part ways amicably -- no need for payouts, just a clean break. And [NBC News President Neal Shapiro] wouldn't allow it. I don't know what his rationale was -- perhaps he thought I would take what I felt was a very strong brand, and others felt was a very strong brand, to another network and make a success of it. Maybe that's why he chose to keep me in a warehouse. I will never forgive him for his cruelty and the manner in which he decided to dispose of me."

In her controversial speech, delivered at Kansas State in April 2003, Banfield argued that the coverage of the Iraq War left out much of the harsh realities of war and was more "coverage" than "journalism":

What didn't you see? You didn't see where those bullets landed. You didn't see what happened when the mortar landed. A puff of smoke is not what a mortar looks like when it explodes, believe me. There are horrors that were completely left out of this war. So was this journalism or was this coverage-? There is a grand difference between journalism and coverage, and getting access does not mean you're getting the story, it just means you're getting one more arm or leg of the story. And that's what we got, and it was a glorious, wonderful picture that had a lot of people watching and a lot of advertisers excited about cable news. But it wasn't journalism, because I'm not so sure that we in America are hesitant to do this again, to fight another war, because it looked like a glorious and courageous and so successful terrific endeavor, and we got rid oaf horrible leader: We got rid of a dictator, we got rid of a monster, but we didn't see what it took to do that.

She also spoke about the "Fox News effect":

There is another whole phenomenon that's come about from this war. Many talk about it as the Fox effect, the Fox news effect. I know everyone of you has watched it. It's not a dirty little secret. A lot of people describe Fox as having streamers and banners coming out of the television as you're watching it cover a war. But the Fox effect is very concerning to me.

I'm a journalist and I like to be able to tell the story as I see it, and I hate it when someone tells me I'm one-sided. It's the worst I can hear. Fox has taken so many viewers away from CNN and MSNBC because of their agenda and because of their targeting the market of cable news viewership, that I'm afraid there's not a really big place in cable for news. Cable is for entertainment, as it's turning out, but not news.

I'm hoping that I will have a future in news in cable, but not the way some cable news operators wrap themselves in the American flag and patriotism and go after a certain target demographic, which is very lucrative. You can already see the effects, you can already see the big hires on other networks, right wing hires to chase after this effect, and you can already see that flag waving in the corners of those cable news stations where they have exciting American music to go along with their war coverage.

Read her whole lecture here.

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