Well that was then (sort of.)
Hapless Pravda Reader: We already know this, but…: Best part of Newsweek’s Krugman piece was something your readers and viewers know, but establishment media personalities are loathe to admit:
“By definition, establishments believe in propping up the existing order. Members of the ruling class have a vested interest in keeping things pretty much the way they are. Safeguarding the status quo, protecting traditional institutions, can be healthy and useful, stabilizing and reassuring…If you are of the establishment persuasion (and I am) . . .”
Much of the scalding tone many of your writers on these chats are subjected to from readers is based on this premise. We know that the Post, the Times, the networks are working to support the establishment at all cost. (In Broder’s famous and haughty dismissal of Bill Clinton “this is not his town”). But the problem is that you guys don’t like to portray yourselves as defenders of the establishment. You are the “little guy.” No you are not. Be honest with your audience.
Howie Kurtz: Talk about sweeping generalizations! Evan Thomas declares himself part of the establishment and suddenly every member of the major newspapers and networks are pillars of that establishment as well?
That would be news to Brian Williams, who was a volunteer fireman as a young man and washed out in his first job at a tiny Kansas station. And news to me, a guy who went to a state university. And news to Katie Couric, who started out on the University of Virginia’s student paper and washed out in her first national job, at CNN. And news to longtime Post editor Len Downie, who went to Ohio State University and started here as an intern. And also news to me, a kid from Brooklyn who never met a professional journalist until my junior year at a state university.
If you want to say these are big corporations, if you want to criticize what they do, be my guest. But let’s not assume that everyone in the business grew up in the bosom of the establishment.
Kurtz is the host of the Reliable Sources segment on CNN’s State of the Union with John King and has written for The New Republic, the Washington Monthly, and New York Magazine. He is a graduate of the University at Buffalo and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
Kurtz has covered the press since 1990 for the Post, and is widely read within the journalism business, although some critics feel he has a tendency to be biased toward the political right. Others believe he should not be covering the news business because he has a clear conflict of interest. Mickey Kaus, reporting on and partially quoting from a letter by Charles Kaiser in The New Republic, wrote that Kurtz “has large, non-technical conflicts of interest, since he free-lances and takes money ‘from the people he writes about, from Time Warner to Condé Nast.‘… The most obvious conflict is that Kurtz co-hosts CNN’s Reliable Sources, a gig that rewards him with not only money but national renown.”
Kurtz also received criticism for his seeming support of syndicated radio host Don Imus. After Imus was dismissed amid controversy surrounding a particularly derogatory statement, Kurtz commented on an April 15, 2007, edition of Reliable Sources that no one had ever asked him, “How can you go on this show when he’s making fun of blacks and women?” However, journalist Phil Nobile wrote a column on TomPaine.com on June 14, 2000, headlined “Spotlight on Howard Kurtz: Missing in Action on Imus?”, asking this very question. A month earlier, on May 10, TomPaine.com had published an ad on The New York Times op-ed page urging prominent journalists to either refuse appearances on Imus’ show or else use their air time to question his apparent racism and sexism. Kurtz responded on May 22, 2000, on the Washington Post website, saying, “I don’t believe (as a regular listener and very occasional guest on the program) that Imus is in any way racist. He sometimes crosses the line, as he himself would admit, in trying to make people laugh, but it’s all shtick. He’s no bigot.”
Some contend that Kurtz is biased to the right, in particular that his coverage of the blogosphere selectively ignores extremism on right-wing blogs. These critics often note the fact that he is married to Republican consultant and commentator Sheri Annis. Eric Alterman, a liberal journalist, wrote, “It is hard to avoid the conclusion, based on examination of his work, that Howard Kurtz loves conservatives but has little time for liberals.”
In addition, Kurtz has defended even dangerous right-wing disinformation, as in this quote from Glenn Beck’s show:
“KURTZ: I think the argument that I’ve heard Olbermann make in the past about Fox News — it’s not an argument that I embrace — is that, because it poses as a news organization and puts out dangerous misinformation is a cheerleader for the Bush administration, that it’s misinforming our society. But you know what? They’re entitled to do that.”
Kurtz has publicly declined to state his political affiliation. In his weekly chat on The Washington Post Web site, “Critiquing the Press”, Kurtz takes often angry questions from critics on both the left and right who believe he is too soft on the right and left, respectively.
Don’t worry, Howie. Frank Loesser understands.