Yesterday, Howard Kurtz held his weekly chat where he covered such topics as the “liberal media,” revelations in Scott McClellan’s book, and media coverage of the presidential campaign. Some excerpts:
- Somerdale, N.J.: Howie, yesterday on your show and today in your column, you inject the phrase “liberal media” into the discussion. I was wondering if you believe that the mainstream media is liberal. If you don’t, then why perpetuate the myth?
Howard Kurtz: In both cases I was quoting Scott McClellan, who writes that “the liberal media didn’t live up to its reputation” during the runup to war (not that he was doing anything but spouting the administration line). I have observed that liberal commentators — who hardly represent the entire media — have embraced the McClellan book, while conservatives are trashing him, sometimes in very personal terms.
Dunn Loring, Va.: Deb Riechmann of the AP wrote an article today on Scott McCellan that stated that a criminal investigation found that Scooter Libby and Karl Rove were responsible for the leak of Valerie Plame’s identity. Why hasn’t The Post reported on this investigation and made the reports available to the public? All The Post has written is that Richard Armitage was responsible for the leak and that an investigation indicated that Libby made a false statement to the FBI. One more example of The Post covering up for Bush.
Howard Kurtz: Excuse me, but the role of Rove and Libby has been the subject of roughly 10,000 articles in The Washington Post, give or take a few, to the point that some people would emit screams when they saw another one. According to Nexis I wrote at least 40 myself. And there were times when *I* wanted to run screaming from the room.
Savannah, Ga.: In David Broder’s Sunday column, he mentioned a Pew study on the media coverage of the presidential candidates. It said that only 7 percent of the coverage focused on policy and only 2 percent examined the candidates records. The vast majority of the coverage dealt with the horse-race, delegate counts and the like. Do these numbers seem reasonable to you? Do members of the media take criticism like this seriously? Will they adjust coverage accordingly?
Howard Kurtz: No. The media have been criticized on these grounds for the last 20 years and the situation hasn’t changed much. Keep in mind, though, that this is not a monolith and that newspapers, while addicted to the horse race, publish more substantive stories about policy differences than, say, are carried on TV. Plus, between Iowa and Ohio & Texas, it was a helluva horse race that never really slowed down, except for the lull before Pennsylvania.