The Republican National Committee (RNC)'s public relations firm, Shirley & Banister Public Affairs, sent a memo to conservative media outlets instructing them not to give airtime to Kitty Kelley, author of The Family: The Real Story Of the Bush Dynasty (Doubleday, September 14). And according to The Washington Post's Howard Kurtz, White House communications director Dan Bartlett also discouraged news outlets from covering the book. Media Matters for America tracked mentions of Kelley and her book, as well as her personal appearances, during the week of the book's release (September 13-17) on the four major cable news networks: CNBC, CNN, FOX News Channel, and MSNBC. The only network on which Kelley did not appear in person is FOX News Channel.
As of September 17, Kelley had personally appeared for three interviews on CNN (NewsNight with Aaron Brown, American Morning, and Lou Dobbs Tonight), one interview on MSNBC (Hardball with Chris Matthews), and one interview on CNBC (Capital Report). In addition, several news programs on CNBC, CNN, and MSNBC aired clips of Kelley's interviews on NewsNight and on NBC's Today show. FOX News Channel, meanwhile, did not air or schedule a single interview with Kelley.
While Kelley has not appeared on the network, FOX News Channel hosts have made negative references to her on their programs. Brit Hume labeled Kelley a “gossip” [Special Report with Brit Hume, September 9]; Sean Hannity claimed Kelley was “discredited” and expressed outrage that the Today show would devote three days to her [Hannity & Colmes, September 15]; and Bill O'Reilly disparaged The New York Times for publishing a review of “the Kelley dirt” and the media in general for “giving huge exposure to Kitty Kelley's hatchet job on the Bush family” [The O'Reilly Factor, September 15]. O'Reilly solicited input from viewers and listeners on whether or not he should interview Kelley on his show. On September 14, O'Reilly reported that “50,000 Factor viewers and listeners voted down Ms. Kelley in a billoreilly.com poll. So we canceled her appearance here.” O'Reilly said: “I just didn't want to get down there in the muck.”
U.S. News & World Report's September 14 "U.S. News Bulletin" reported that Shirley & Banister Public Affairs sent a memorandum to conservative media outlets discouraging them from giving Kelley airtime:
“New Media” Urged To Ignore Kitty Kelley And Her Book.
Conservative talk radio, TV and print outlets are being urged to ignore Kelley, author of The Family: The Real Story Of the Bush Dynasty. “Don't give Kitty Kelley air time,” says a memo from the conservative and influential PR firm Shirley & Banister Public Affairs. The memo was sent as NBC's Today Show was set to interview Kelley over three days.
Shirley & Banister Public Affairs is a public relations and government affairs firm founded by Craig Shirley, a longtime Republican activist. Shirley & Banister's client list is a virtual Who's Who of Republican and conservative organizations, including the RNC, the Cato Institute, Citizens United, The Club for Growth, The Federalist Society, The Gingrich Group, The Heritage Foundation, and the National Rifle Association. Shirley's clients have also included discredited right-wing authors Gary Aldrich and Ann Coulter.