In a multimedia package, Howard Kurtz this weekend examined how certain beats in journalism (say, for instance, the Supreme Court) can be hard to explain to the idiots who newspapers call “readers” and television news networks call “viewers.”
In his newspaper column today, Kurtz talks to legal experts (the same ones, mind you, who told us Michael Jackson was guilty and that Edith Clement was the President’s nominee) about how Court life is “hard work,” as some would say.
“The Supreme Court deals overwhelmingly with abstractions, and ideas and abstractions are not easy to convey on television,” CNN’s Jeff Toobin tells him. By way of excusing the media’s poor coverage, Toobin says, “The culture of the Supreme Court is so full of restraint and inaccessibility.”
[This is the point where Jon Stewart would make a face of shock and diasppointment and then shake his fists, shouting something about “growing” and “cojones” and “doing your job.”]
Then yesterday on his CNN show, “Reliable Sources,” Kurtz talked with USA Today’s Joan Biskupic about how our “instant culture” responds to the plodding minutae that is Court life. She discussed how the life has changed in the age of television as it tries to respond to the nomination of Judge John Roberts: “Everybody expects to have the answer right away. How many people have had the time to read all of his opinions, to read what he’s testified to, and to go back through a lot of public files out at the Reagan Library that are available to sort of assess this man? It’s almost as if with TV and the blog now, both of which I completely support, there is an expectation that we’ll know right away what is he all about.”
Looking ahead to September, when the media might have both the Rove investigation and Supreme Court nomination hearings to cover, Kurtz observes, “Let’s see if the media can walk and chew gum at the same time.”
We’re gonna with “no” on that one, Howie.