Kurtz: Clinton Still Strong After Negative Coverage

Earlier today, Howard Kurtz held his weekly online chat where he covered such topics as Brian Williams’ appearance on Saturday Night Live, the media’s coverage of Hillary Clinton and the entertainment writers strike. Some excerpts:

    Washington: Howard, I’m curious as to whether you saw Brian Williams on “Saturday Night Live,” and what your thoughts were? The question I have is did Williams really do himself or his profession any good with his appearance? To me, it just seems to move him from being a serious journalist to just being another celebrity.

    Howard Kurtz: As I mentioned earlier, I thought he was funny. (There’s a lot in my book about the debate at NBC over whether Williams should be looser on his newscast — and how he turned down an offer to guest-host SNL last season because he was worried about looking silly.) I think most people can make the distinction between an anchor having fun on Saturday night and coming back on Monday evening with a serious newscast. Anchors are already celebrities; that’s the nature of television. One intriguing point: I asked yesterday on “Reliable Sources” whether Katie Couric would have gotten far more criticism for hosting SNL. Terry Smith of PBS (and formerly of CBS) said that unlike Williams, she would have been roasted. And I agree.

    Warrenton, Va.: Has negative media coverage of Hillary Clinton increased in the past week, since the last Democratic Party debate? Has this had any poll impact? I think she has lost, for instance, a net of 10 points against Obama in the Washington Post-ABC poll released today, although she continues to hold a large lead. Also, is more negative coverage of Clinton in the Democratic nomination race likely to make it easier and more credible for Republicans to attack her in the 2008 general election campaign? Thank you.

    Howard Kurtz: Hillary Clinton got horrible coverage last week following her debate performance. There is no question she made significant stumbles, but I also questioned whether the uproar in the media (many members of which had practically been begging Obama to attack her to make it a more competitive race) was resonating more within the news business than with the public at large. The polls out today from Newsweek and the WP confirm that Hillary remains in a very strong position.

    Pittsburgh: If the writers’ strike runs for a prolonged period, how do you think a lack of fresh episodes of programs with political humor (Stewart, Colbert, late-night talk shows, “Saturday Night Live”) will affect the presidential campaigns? Which candidates do you think actually benefit from such material? By the way, I loved Horatio Saenz in a guest appearance as Bill Richardson on “Saturday Night Live”!

    Howard Kurtz: I don’t know if it will affect the presidential campaign, but it will bum out an awful lot of viewers. And now that Colbert has been kept off the South Carolina ballot, what will he do to put bread on the table? You can’t live on Doritos forever.