Kurtz: Chelsea Clinton Not Immune To Criticism

Yesterday, Howard Kurtz held his weekly chat where he covered such issues as David Shuster’s remark about Chelsea Clinton, Rush Limbaugh’s opinion on endorsements, and the media coverage of the presidential race now that the Republicans have essentially settled their nomination. Some excerpts:

    Maryland: Howard, I really feel for the MSNBC reporter, David Shuster. Did he make a “gaff” at the expense of Chelsea Clinton? Yes. He also apologized. Now “mommy Clinton” has made a federal case out of nothing, resulting in David’s suspension for who-knows-how-long. So much for free speech. By the way, Chelsea is 27 years old and should be mature enough to speak up for herself.

    Howard Kurtz: I certainly don’t suggest that Chelsea Clinton, as a young professional playing a visible role in her mother’s campaign, should be immune from criticism. But “pimped out” is just not a phrase that should be aimed at anyone, let alone a candidate’s daughter. Clearly, as I wrote this morning, the Hillary campaign has decided to keep this alive as a political issue. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a bad mistake on David Shuster’s part.

    Ridgefield, Conn.: Last week you quoted Rush Limbaugh on the topic of his favored candidate dropping out of the presidential race and whether it was a defeat for Limbaugh as well. He complained: “The media never applies this template to anyone else in media. Not to anyone in cable news, not to any of the endorsements of the major newspapers. Why are the New York Times and Washington Post not asked about the setback they both suffered when George Bush beat both their endorsed candidates in 2000 and 2004?”

    I’m shocked you let that quote stand unchallenged. You know that The Post and the Times don’t endlessly campaign for a candidate like Limbaugh and other talk-radio hosts do, and the average newspaper reader doesn’t really understand the separation between editorial boards and reporters, and that a paper’s endorsement — especially at The Post or the Times — does not influence the daily coverage. You needed someone in there explaining that Rush’s point, while his perspective, was based on an inaccurate premise.

    Howard Kurtz:I think it’s a fair point – no one says the NYT or WP “lost” if their endorsed candidates get beat. My readers know that editorial endorsements are separate from news coverage and that newspapers don’t pound away for or against candidates the way a radio talk show host does. And I think readers are capable of deciding for themselves whether Rush’s point is valid or not. By the way, the interview was published on the morning of Super Tuesday, so it was before Mitt Romney dropped out.

    Fairfax, Va.: Huckabee almost literally would require a miracle to get the nomination, so do you see the press pushing for him to get more confrontational with McCain, or will they devote more coverage to the Democrats?

    Howard Kurtz: I don’t believe the press is “pushing” for Huckabee to get more confrontational, but it’s getting hard to ignore a guy who won seven states this week against the party’s overwhelming front-runner. The Democrats have gotten much more coverage than the Republicans in this campaign, according to a series of studies, so it’s a safe bet that Hillary and Barack will dominate in the coming weeks now that McCain is regarded as the presumptive nominee.