Yesterday, Howard Kurtz held his weekly chat where he covered such topics as Senator Clinton’s rounds on the Sunday talk shows, Dan Rather’s handling of what he believed to be President Bush’s National Guard documents, and the decision by the New York Times to discontinue its online subscription service. Some excerpts:
- San Francisco: When was the last time, in your memory, that anyone got to appear on all the Sunday gabfests on the same day? Sen. Clinton, who made no news that I heard, promised no exclusives and yet got all the networks and cable news to agree to have her. How does that work, exactly?
Howard Kurtz: It’s happened a few times, and in fact is known as the Full Ginsburg, named after Monica Lewinksy’s onetime lawyer, William Ginsburg, who pulled off the feat in 1998. Hillary has stayed off the Sunday shows since declaring for president, so they all jumped at the chance to have her, even though no one was happy at having her everywhere at once.
Princeton, N.J.: But Howard, has there ever been any proof that the facts alleged by Rather about Bush’s “service” were not true?
Howard Kurtz: It doesn’t work that way. If you go on national television with what purport to be 30-year-old National Guard documents, you have to prove them to be true, not say that the burden is one someone else to disprove them. Especially when the source of the documents admits that he lied to you and can’t prove where the memos came from, and the late commander’s secretary said she didn’t type them. It’s not as if Bush’s problems with the Guard were a secret at that point, but Rather claimed to have new information in the form of these documents.
Katy, Texas: TimesSelect has come to an end. Any overriding reason? What was the subscription numbers?
Howard Kurtz: The overriding reason was that the Times was limiting access to some of its biggest stars, and thereby forfeiting not just more page views but greater advertising revenue that would have come with those page views. As it stood, 225,000 people signed up for the $49.95-a-year service, which brought the company an additional $10 million in annual income. That’s a nice chunk of change. But it’s hard to be one of the few newspapers charging for content when everyone else is doing it for free. Rupert Murdoch is now saying he may drop the subscription fee for WSJ.com when he takes over the Journal.