Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Is Howard Kurtz Always This Awful?

No, really.  I hadn't read him in the WaPo for years, and on principle I don't watch the Sunday shows, so my impression was just that he was a worthless hack, but someone linked to what apparently is his first Daily Beast piece, and...well, I can't make head or tails out of this paragraph:

This is a year in which facts—the preferred currency of the reality-based media—often don’t seem to matter. Journalists report that Sharron Angle had favored privatizing Social Security, spoke of people considering “Second Amendment remedies” and counseled rape victims to turn “a lemon situation into lemonade” by giving birth—and she’s still competitive with Harry Reid. Media outlets report that Christine O’Donnell, the onetime witchcraft dabbler, opposes masturbation and considers evolution “a myth,” and she laughs it off (while trailing in the race). New York gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino calls gay pride parades “disgusting,” hurls baseless charges about Andrew Cuomo’s sex life (after fathering a child out of wedlock himself) and tells a New York Post columnist “I’ll take you out”—and still hasn’t been laughed out of the race.
Huh?  Angle may or may not win, but the consensus (which seems correct to me) is that Harry Reid would be twenty points behind a solid, generic GOP candidate.  O'Donnell is getting clobbered.  As for Paladino...does Kurtz believe that there is actually a clause in the New York State election laws that a candidate will be removed from the ballot if only the guffaws pass a specified decibels?  Because otherwise, I'm not sure what more anyone could do -- he is behind by 21 points, by Pollster's estimate, and Nate Silver gives Paladino a whopping 0% chance of winning.

And he continues:
Who, after all, has absorbed more abuse from the “lamestream media” than Sarah Palin, who can hit back with a Facebook post that bypasses the old gatekeepers?
Well, yes, Sarah Palin gets media coverage.  Does it mean she's bulletproof?  Checking back at Pollster, I see that her current favorable/unfavorable is a dismal 37/50%  She's massively unpopular!  And yet, somehow, she is still allowed to tweet and post to Facebook.  Scandal! 

Now, one could certainly make a case that the press has spent too much time on the Sage of Wasilla at the expense of other potential 2012 candidates, or that Palidino and O'Donnell are using up air time better devoted to the close and interesting Senate races in Illinois, California, Missouri, and Wisconsin (among others) and the close and interesting Gubernatorial races in Florida, California, and others.  One could -- but Kurtz doesn't.   I'm not sure, but I think he believes there hasn't been enough reporting on O'Donnell; he's upset that the press missed her.  Instead, he...well, there's something there about how reporting on 2010 differs from reporting on 2006 (without even a single example, much less serious evidence), and something about how Barack Obama received overly favorable coverage in 2007-2008 (two quick examples, but no context -- all winning presidential candidates get some favorable coverage at some point along the way, as do all major party nominees).  None of it adds up to much of anything.  But as I said, I really haven't read him for years.  Is he always this awful?


  1. I don't think so.
    I've actually liked a few of his columns over the last few years at WaPo.

    I think that Kurtz is conflating media attention with media respect for and/or close polls. The media are swarming around O'Donnell and Angle because a) they like feeling better about themselves, b) the stories write themselves, and c) the clicking public has indicated which stories they want to read, and they want to read about the train wrecks. I know I click on the stories about all these losers, either for schaudenfreude or just to be entertained.

  2. In a word, yes. In fact, Howie is often even worse than this.

    And as to that preposterous question he poses "Who, after all, has absorbed more abuse from the “lamestream media” than Sarah Palin, who can hit back with a Facebook post that bypasses the old gatekeepers?"

    Give. Me. A Break. Let's see, Hillary Clinton? Has the "lamestream media" dissected her ankles, her hair, her weight, shrieked about her "cleavage" on the Senate floor, investigated every facet of her sex life with her husband (numerous times), has she been accused of fraud, murder, a lesbian-frenzied affair with her husband's (male) chief of staff, has tapes of her private conversations been surreptitiously edited to falsely accuse her of lying, has she been accused of being a ballbreaker, a bitch, a testicle-stealer, all by supposedly reputable reporters employed by mainstream, national media organizations?

    No candidate in American history, save perhaps John McCain himself, has been treated more gently, more gingerly, with softer kid gloves, than Sarah Palin.

  3. He's out and out terrible. I had to give up reading him some time ago.

  4. Kurtz is not just terrible, he is also corrupt. He takes a paycheck from CNN while writing media criticism for the Washington Post, and his wife is a highly paid Republican political consultant.


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