Howie Never Lets Us Down

Having left a void in our lives yesterday, Howard Kurtz made up for it by holding his weekly chat a day later. He covered leaks to the press, NBC’s decision to label Iraq a “civil war,” and the coverage of this years fizzled hurricane season, among other things. Some excerpts:

    Raleigh, N.C.: In Sunday’s NYT piece by John Burns, he explicitly names the motive of the leakers.
    It really stuck out to me. Is this new? If so, what is the reason for it? Do you have an idea how many and which news organizations have adopted this practice? Is it a good idea in your view?

    Thanks for taking our questions.

    Howard Kurtz: It’s actually not new. It’s what the NYT and WP have said they strive to do but often don’t live up to. Although I didn’t think the explanation was particularly illuminating in this instance.

    The story was about a classified report saying the Iraqi insurgency was now financially self-sufficient through illicit oil sales, kidnappings and other ventures. The key sentence: “A copy of the seven-page report was made available to The Times by American officials who said the findings could improve understanding of the challenges the United States faces in Iraq.”

    New York, N.Y.: As I’m sure you know, NBC News, the LA Times, and other news organizations are now calling the fighting in Iraq a Civil War. Will this force other networks to follow suit? I fear we are going to spend the next several weeks debating what to call this thing, instead of debating what to do about it.

    Howard Kurtz: You know, I see this as a very incremental development. All the networks have been saying things like “sliding toward civil war” and “on the verge of civil war.” I don’t think dropping the qualifiers is a dramatic move that is causing people at home to slap their foreheads and say, “Civil war?!! So THAT’S what it is!”

    Baton Rouge, La.: To celebrate the end of the Hurricane Season, Drudge highlighted the “Inconvenient Truth” that a lot of the MSM contributed a heap of scaremongering about killer storms yet to come that, upon further review, added up to nothing.

    Thoughts? Comments? Any hope that we can hold the biggest offenders accountable? Thanks.

    Howard Kurtz: I think the annual forecasts of whether it’s going to be a big hurricane season (or cold winter, or whatever) are essentially useless and don’t understand why they get any coverage at all. Why not predict the stock market, while we’re at it?