Kurtz: ABC Debate Unbalanced Against Obama

Yesterday, Howard Kurtz held his weekly chat where he fielded questions on such topics as the recent debate hosted by ABC News, the controversy surrounding the Post’s article on Sen. McCain’s temper, and the possible broadcast of Howard’s CNN show in high definition. Some excerpts:

    New York: Howie — thanks for taking my question. Do you feel George Stephanopoulos and Charlie Gibson deserve the critisism they are getting? Seems to me that that they do, because they created a dynamic that did not allow for enough debate on the real issues, and have interfered in the campaign process. I am an Obama supporter but I have felt that the media (particularly MSNBC) have been completely biased against Hillary. The net effect of all of this is to force the campaign to be driven by the media and not by the candidates. Thoughts?

    Howard Kurtz: As I’ve written, I thought the first 40 minutes of that debate was totally unbalanced against Obama. That is really beyond dispute; the response of Stephanopoulos and others at ABC is, well, he’s the front-runner.

    But I don’t buy into the notion that the “real issues” weren’t discussed. First, the second two-thirds of the debate dealt with Iraq, Israel, taxes, gun control and affirmative action, among other subjects. Second, the early inquisition on Jeremiah Wright and the “bitter” remarks — and Hillary’s nonexistent Bosnia sniper fire — are subjects that dominated the campaign coverage for weeks, and help shed light on the elusive question of character. I absolutely could have done without the flag pin question, especially since ABC used a woman who had told the New York Times that she could not support Obama because he didn’t wear a flag pin.

    Columbia, Md.: As the news media critic at The Washington Post, I suppose you will be able to tell everyone what exactly was newsworthy in the “article” about McCain’s “temper” that warranted above-the-fold front page treatment yesterday. Even Obama’s “bitter” comments only made page four.

    Howard Kurtz: I thought it was a bit overplayed, given that it’s not exactly a new issue, but it was an extensive piece of enterprise reporting that goes to the question of how John McCain handles himself. And I learned some things from it.

    Potomac, Md.: I have this great new HDTV and our local cable company just added CNN HD to our system. I was looking forward to seeing your show on Sunday is stunning High Definition, yet was disappointed to only find it in standard Definition with bars on the sides. The only other show I watch on CNN is Lou Dobbs, and he is in high definition — why isn’t your show? Who do we have to talk to at CNN to make sure they upgrade your show to high definition in the near future? The best shows on CNN should get the best video!

    Howard Kurtz: I will get on it right away! Although even my substantial makeup may not do enough to hide my flaws in high def.