Kurtz: Booing Politicians Is A Baseball Tradition

Earlier today, Howard Kurtz held his weekly chat where he covered such topics as the drop-off in coverage of the Iraq war, Hillary Clinton’s Bosnia gaffe and President Bush’s reception at the National’s game on Sunday. Some excerpts:

    Huron, S.D.: Mr. Kurtz, with the political campaigns seeming to dominate the media spotlight, the Iraq War has taken second seat in reporting and analysis. With most voters tethered to a position on the war, for or against, is the press again trying to nudge the direction of the race for president? I don’t want to hate Clinton, Obama or McCain anymore … I want the war to be ended! I lament the loss of reporting because of financial constraints. When violence declines, the surge is working … when violence escalates, the surge is working. How do I find out who is right? It is a much larger issue than what my pastor may say from the pulpit on Sunday. Thanks, and endeavor to perservere.

    Howard Kurtz: The coverage of the war has dropped precipitously — down to 3 percent of available news space and airtime this year, according to the Project for Excellence in Journalism. (This was as of a couple of weeks ago.) War coverage made a comeback last week, first because of the 4,000th American death, reflecting the media’s fixation with round numbers (was the 3,998th death any less newsworthy?) and also because of the bloody battle in Basra. My sense is that when the violence subsides, news organizations (particularly television) are happy to cut back on coverage on the theory that many viewers are sick of this five-year-old war. But when the casualty count jumps, the war makes it back onto the radar screen.

    Washington: Thanks for the chats. I was wondering about the Hillary Bosnia flap. Sen. Clinton quit the claim, saying she “misspoke” after video footage and the memories of others on the trip didn’t jibe with her memory. However, what she said was a misstatement was repeated fairly regularly for a couple of days and defended by Hilary’s people on her staff. In short, it has the look of more than a misstatement, but a diliberate attempt to mislead. While I clearly have a bias here, I am wondering why reporters didn’t ask her more about the chronology of the claim?

    Howard Kurtz: The fact that Clinton repeated the sniper story several times strongly suggests it was more than a slip of the tongue brought on by fatigue. The Post did a good job here; first Sinbad (who was on the trip) told a Post blogger that there was no sniper fire or danger, and then fact-checker Michael Dobbs awarded the Clinton story four Pinocchios. It was days after that that CBS’s Sharyl Attkisson played the video of the 1996 stop in Tuzla, making it a certified television story. But I wonder why she and other journalists who were on the trip didn’t blow the whistle sooner; they were, after all, eyewitnesses.

    Houston: Re: Boos, I really wish that had not happened last night — it really was not necessary to boo the President. From the TV, the boos certainly stood out. I was very proud of my two children, 17 and 19 years old; neither are fans of the president, but they immediately said that the booing was wrong.

    Howard Kurtz: At the same time, it’s an old tradition when politicians show up at ballparks.