Howard Kurtz’s Weekly Media Critique

Earlier today, Howard Kurtz held his weekly Monday chat (on Tuesday) where he covered all things media, including Tony Snow’s effectiveness, the role of bloggers and Victoria Toensing’s opinion on Valerie Plame. Some excerpts:

    Westchester, N.Y.: Good morning. I’ve been watching Tony Snow, and it seems to me that he’s less effective than McClellan was. McClellan was exasperating and had no difficulty repeating the same non-informative phrase over and over again; he didn’t care if this made him seem a bit ridiculous. Snow, on the other hand, tries to give an answer, tries to be entertaining, sometimes snaps at the questioner, and has to apologize a lot. I would give the advantage to McClellan. You agree? Of course, why would you want that job in the first place?

    Howard Kurtz: I would say the consensus, both among journalists and at the White House, is that Snow is a far more effective spokesman. He is a much more skilled television performer, which is unsurprising given that he has spent much of his career as a Fox talk show host, and has the ability to make his points or defuse criticism without repeating the same rote phrases, as McClellan had a tendency to do. Of course, any spokesman is only as effective as the material he has to work with, and with the administration playing defense on Iraq, Walter Reed and now the U.S. attorney firings, it’s been a tough few weeks for Tony.

    Western Springs, Ill.: Do you think bloggers in general are doing what would be considered journalism, or just regurjitating original reporting done by others?

    Howard Kurtz: Whether it’s labeled “journalism” isn’t very important. Many bloggers argue, opine, blather, regurgitate — but usually linking to news outlets — and that adds a valuable perspective to the ongoing debate. Some actually do reporting and original research. With millions of blogs out there, I feel no need to put a label on it. You can read the ones you find interesting or useful and ignore the rest.

    Tallahassee, Fla.: On 2/18, WaPo run a piece by Victoria Toensing in which she claimed that “Plame was not covert.” In hindsight, should an editor have stopped her from writing that?

    Howard Kurtz: No, because it was an opinion piece in the Outlook section, and in an opinion piece, you get to make your argument as best you can. Certainly, Valerie Plame testified last week that she had covert status before she was outed by White House officials via Robert Novak.