Kurtz: Media Should “Trust But Verify,” Not Assume Every Politician Lies

Earlier today, Howard Kurtz held his weekly chat where he covered such issues as media bias during the primaries, John McCain’s appearance on The View, and cynicism in the media. Some excerpts:

Boston: Why is it bad for the primaries and conventions to be anchored by partisans? I mean, especially with primaries, the only objective thing of note is the result. If you need to fill more then 15 seconds of TV time, why not go partisan?

Howard Kurtz: It is fine for partisan pundits to be ON the broadcasts, offering their views (and even better when they’re balanced by partisans of the opposite persuasion). But the anchor role is very different. The anchor is the quarterback, the person who frames the debate. And if that person is a liberal (or conservative) commentator, it skews the coverage in unmistakable ways, as we saw at the conventions.

Washington: Howard, do you consider “The View” interview of John McCain (two comedians, the wife of a pro quarterback, and a reporter who was famous for asking “what kind of tree would you be”) some of the best journalism/interviews this political season? Could, say, some of the folks at CNN learn something from this (McCain thinks Roe v. Wade should be overturned, he thinks his false ads against Obama are true, Palin opposed earmarks as a governor, and Palin would reform some vague Washington). I mean, they actually asked follow-up questions.

Howard Kurtz: The View is a curious mix, a gossipy chat show that also deals with real issues. And good for Joy Behar and company for trying to pin down McCain. But keep in mind that most of the panelists are liberals.

Re: “Claims to have attended”: One thing that’s struck me about how the media operates, especially the pundits, is that a person is allowed to get on TV and claim X, and then say “disprove me if you don’t believe me.” Perhaps that’s a reason for the contempt, because the rest of the world operates on a different principle.

Howard Kurtz: I think we should be skeptical. Trust but verify and all that. But I don’t think we should become so steeped in cynicism that we assume every syllable out of a politician’s mouth is a lie.