Earlier this week, Howard Kurtz held his weekly chat where he covered such topics as the New York Times’ coverage of John McCain, media coverage of Barack Obama, and the divulging of Prince Harry’s deployment to Afghanistan. Some excerpts:
- Arlington, Va.: A few days ago, the New York Times had a front page article dealing with the possibility that John McCain was not a natural born citizen under Constitution and therefore not eligible to run for president. McCain was born in a military hospital on a U.S. naval base to American parents in the Canal Zone, a long-time U.S.-administered area that was not deemed to be under the control of Panama. Although I have no intention of voting for McCain, I am disturbed that Times deemed such fluff worthy of front page coverage. Is there any news judgement left in New York?
Howard Kurtz: I don’t believe it was on the front page, and I didn’t take it seriously as an issue, more of a piece on a constitutional quirk. One interesting bit of fallout is that Senator Obama offered to co-sponsor legislation making clear that anyone born to U.S. servicemen stationed overseas is automatically deemed an American citizen. Otherwise that would be horribly unfair to men and women serving our country.
Arlington, Va.: Obama’s a cokehead? Including that quote — without comment — seems way over the line. It’s one thing to write about the press being too easy on Obama. I agree they have been; just as they have been too easy on McCain. It’s quite another to “balance” that with scurrilous, defamatory spin and name-calling. Don’t you owe your readers an apology?
Howard Kurtz: Part of my job is to tell you what’s being said out there in the blogosphere and on talk radio, which is occasionally over the top. That includes those making an issue of Obama’s adolescent drug use (which he was the first to disclose in his autobiography), the use of his middle name and so on. (Remember that some Hillary surrogates also made reference to Barack’s past drug use until they saw it was backfiring.) I’m not endorsing this stuff, but it’s not my job to pretend that it doesn’t exist.
Chevy Chase, Md.: I thought your discussion on Sunday about Prince Harry’s Afghanistan deployment was excellent, and your guest was right on! Why should the press not protect information about such a deployment? The press does not have to reveal all these things and endanger safety. Glad you seemed to share that view. Comment?
Howard Kurtz: I don’t see a strong argument on the other side. Imagine if some British tabloid had revealed the news and Harry’s unit had been ambushed and many casualties resulted. Can you imagine the reaction? It wasn’t like the story wouldn’t come out eventually, since his deployment was only for 14 weeks.