Earlier today, Howard Kurtz held his weekly weekly online chat where he covered such issues as the media’s role in the Duke rape allegations, Don Imus, and Alberto Gonzales’ op-ed in the Post. Some excerpts:
- Rockville, Md.: Great story this morning in the paper. I think this Duke case is perhaps one of the lowest points for the news media in history. It was the classic case of the facts not fitting in with the predetermined narrative and the media not knowing what to do. Not only should the DA be held accountable — which it appears he will — but news directors, reporters, producers and whomever decided to put the kids mug shots on the cover of Newsweek should be held accountable as well. (First up, Nancy Grace.) In addition, producers and bookers should not have people like Al Sharpton — who went to Durham to make a scene — on until they apologize. I know this is wishful thinking, but I just wanted to vent.
Howard Kurtz: Vent away. Now I’m not saying for a second that the story shouldn’t have been covered at all. The three students were indicted, however wrongfully. But the volume and tone and sheer relentless of the story were horribly unfair to the defendants and all but wiped away the presumption of innocence. After all, there are thousands of rapes committed each year. Why did this one become a national soap opera? Because media outlets felt they could use the confluence of race, sex, sports and an elite university to turn this into a morality play. What they forgot is that prosecutors sometimes overreach and allegations sometimes turn out not to be true.
Takoma Park, Md.: Was there any thought to having a special Imus insert last Wednesday? Or better yet, a national/metro/sport/business insert, so the rest of the paper could be completely devoted to Imus? I only ask because it seems like A1, C1 and E1 weren’t nearly enough for a radio host who draws literally hundreds of D.C. listeners.
Howard Kurtz: Well, it’s on the cover of Time and Newsweek, and led the network newscasts for several days, so if the Imus uproar was overcovered, The Post had plenty of company.
Washington: What are the guidelines when having someone like the attorney general write an op-ed piece while his job is in jeopardy? Was The Post allowed to edit anything? And who decided on the headline? My guess is that Gonzales didn’t write the headline.
Howard Kurtz: Guidelines? Given the dozens of articles that the paper has published on the fired prosecutors, running an op-ed piece in which the attorney general of the United States offers his side seems like a reasonable thing to do. Readers can buy his argument or dismiss it. I am sure that the piece was not edited except perhaps for length, and newspapers always write the headlines (in part because you don’t know what the headline space will be until the page is laid out).