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Ashleigh Banfield on Her Last Days at NBC: “I Was Banished. I Sat in the Outfield For A Long Time”

Banfield_1128.jpgCourtTV’s Ashleigh Banfield talks with mediabistro.com for our So What Do You Do? series. Part of it is excerpted below. TVNewser contributor Diane Clehane asked the former MSNBC anchor and NBC News correspondent about her undoing at the network:

In the months following 9/11 you were being touted as one of NBC’s rising stars. The New York Post even mentioned you as possible successor to Katie Couric. Then, just as quickly, it seemed as if you dropped out of sight. What happened?

The Iraq war started to develop and I gave a very controversial speech at Kansas State [University] about the press’s responsibility in covering international affairs. I sent out a cautionary note to all my colleagues covering this conflict and chastened the press corps not to wave the banner and cover warfare in a jingoistic way. It didn’t sit well with my employers at NBC — who are no longer there. I think they overacted. I was banished. I sat in the outfield for a long time.

When did you officially leave NBC?

I left in 2004 — a few months after my contract expired. I was very much in the warehouse while my contract petered out.

Looking back on that time, what were the biggest lessons you learned?

On one hand you could say, “Keep your mouth shut while our nation is embroiled in war,” but I don’t think that was a responsible way to behave. If I have been fortunate enough to have risen to level in this business where people would actually listen to me, then I think I have a duty to convey all truths that I encounter. I felt it was my duty at the time. I was a war correspondent who had seen that the hearts and minds of the Arab world were not that easy to win.

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