Kurtz: Media Should Be “Agressive And Skeptical” Toward President Obama

Earlier today, Howard Kurtz held his weekly chat where he covered such topics as Caroline Kennedy’s awkward exit from consideration for New York’s vacant Senate seat; the tone of the media in covering President Obama; and the media craze over Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich. Some excerpts:

    Rhode Island: Here’s one thing I don’t get about the Caroline Kennedy almost-appointment: presumably, she had highly-skilled, experienced, highly-paid advisers throughout this process. It appears that at no point did said adviser(s) ever walk her through a mock interview or press appearance, or prepare her for a lucid response to a predictable question (such as, “Why do you think you’re qualified to be senator?”)

    I still believe that she is an intelligent, accomplished woman, but it’s a mystery to me how this rollout proved to be such a disaster, when you consider the seasoned political types she has access to.

    Howard Kurtz: I don’t know who was advising her, but she didn’t get very good advice. I don’t know if they staged any mock interviews, but she could hardly have done worse. And, in fact, Caroline’s botching of the situation continues to this day. She pulls the plug on her Senate bid after midnight with a vague statement about “personal reasons,” while rumors, political accusations and irresponsible reporting swirl around her? She doesn’t go before the cameras? She grants no interviews? As I wrote last week, Kennedy’s Senate bid ended the way it began–badly. Which doesn’t let the press off the hook for some of the unsubstantiated allegations that have been published about her.

    Richmond, Va.: I watched your show the weekend before the inaguration and you seemed to suggest that the press must have an adversarial relationship with Obama. Why? Can’t the press cover a president without trying to cut his throat? Also, you seemed to give Bush a lot more grace. Also, why? I think most Americans believe in a strong press but also believe Obama should be given a chance.

    Howard Kurtz: Of course the president should be given a chance. I just think the media should be as aggressive and skeptical toward President Obama as toward other administrations. And I do think the tone of the questioning at the first White House briefings has been more challenging than much of what I saw during the campaign.

    Re: The Blagojevich Blitz: Please explain to me why the TV shows are falling all over themselves to interview Blagojevich? This man is an “alleged” criminal, with a history of corruption that, while not unique in American politics, is certainly right up there as among the worst. He sounds and acts … um … quite loony, and, really, it is shameful (and Illinois looks laughable) that he is able to take his corruption and turn it into celebrity. Are the media just as loony for allowing him to use them? And BTW, what does he think his appearances on TV will accomplish? That the public will pressure the Illinois legislature to “forgive him his trespasses”?

    Howard Kurtz: He is the governor of Illinois. He is at the center of a huge scandal involving Barack Obama’s Senate seat, among other things. He has been impeached and is facing removal from office. What journalist wouldn’t want to interview him? Blagojevich also happens to be colorful, self-absorbed, quotes poetry, compares himself to Mandela and Gandhi, and says he considered naming Oprah to the seat. By interviewing him, you’re giving people some insight into the personality of this man who was caught on federal wiretaps saying all kinds of bleeping things, and who would rather go on The View than defend himself at the Senate trial in Springfield.