Earlier today, Howard Kurtz held his weekly chat where he covered such topics as the upcoming presidential debate, the vilification of the media in this election, and William Ayers as a campaign issue. Some excerpts:
Annandale, Va.: Going into this week’s debate, do you think that Obama and Biden are setting a trap for McCain by challenging him to raise the connection between Obama and Bill Ayers face-to-face. It seems to me that if McCain falls for it, he has opened the door for Obama to bring up McCain’s connections to The U.S. Council for World Freedom (with its Iran Contra connections) and the Keating 5, let alone Palin’s connection with the Alaska Independence Party and its radical founder. With this in mind, do you think McCain will fall for it?
Howard Kurtz: I don’t know. It doesn’t seem to me the Ayers attacks are getting much traction, at least based on the latest polls. Nor does Obama need an excuse to bring up anything he wants about McCain’s past. But these he-was-friends-with-a-bad-person tactics seem to have less resonance at a time when people are truly worried about their jobs, their homes and their retirement accounts.
New York, N.Y.: Isn’t it a dangerous game — not only for the media, but also for democracy — that McCain/Palin are running so hard against the press, these days? They are instilling in their “base” the notion that nothing reported by the establishment media (or MSM, as they call it) can be trusted. Only right-wing propaganda sites can be trusted to bring them the “truth” (“fair-and-balanced,” eh Kurtz?). so… where does that put journalism and the truth? In a very precarious position. No?
Howard Kurtz: You know what? We’re used to it. Remember the 1992 bumper sticker, “Annoy the Media–Reelect Bush”? His son’s White House has been beating up on the press for years. And it’s not just the right: Hillary and her aides constantly complained about unfair and sexist treatment during the primaries. We in the media are quite good at dishing out criticism, and we ought to be able to take it. Sometimes our detractors are right, but more often they’re just trying to score political points at our expense.
Washington, D.C.: Has anyone talked to poor Bill Ayers? Not that I feel sorry for his Underground Days (I lived two blocks from the infamous Greenwich Village bomb disaster and heard it go off), but he did apparently rehabilitate himself — but seems to be pretty invisible throughout this awful hoofera.
Howard Kurtz: Ayers does not seem to be doing interviews. I think, with Richard Daley vouching for him, he seems to be accepted in Chicago’s education establishment. It doesn’t mean he’s rehabilitated himself, at least not in my view. That would have required an acknowledgement and apology for the bombings he engaged in.