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Memo from the Ministry of Truth

9/03/2000 08:00:00 PM Eastern

Whatever Rick Kaplan did or didn't do for CNN, his corporate bosses did themselves no favors in the way they handled his departure last week, effectively treating him publicly as a nonperson. The detailed multipage release on the reorganization of the company's top managers made no mention of Kaplan's existence, although the day before he had run its domestic news operation. When the real Big Brother throws you out of the house, history is revised to suggest you had never been there in the first place.

Turner parent Time Warner, at least by extension, once again earns low marks in the "try not to look arrogant and insensitive" department. Even if Kaplan deserved the treatment-and it's a big "if"-it was bad PR. And this while the company is still smarting from the bad press it got for its hardball must-carry stand. It reminds us of the "who can hit the softest" trick played-usually only once-on new kids in elementary school (the trick being that the victim taps first, then the prankster wallops him or her with the explanation, "You win"). Time Warner, though, is slugging itself, and it still doesn't seem to have caught on to the game.

March