Kurtz: CNN Tooting Its Own Horn

Earlier today, Howard Kurtz held his weekly chat where he covered such topics as tonight’s CNN/YouTube debate, journalists’ confidentiality agreements, and Howard’s own Facebook exploits. Some excerpts:

    Washington: Howard, for all the hype CNN has given itself with its partnership with YouTube, my understanding is that CNN will screen questions beforehand and select the “best” of them. My question is, then, how is this really different from debates where viewers either e-mailed or called in questions for selection? Or is CNN just tooting its own horn here?

    Howard Kurtz: Well, there’s certainly some horn-tooting going on. And I raised that very question on my show yesterday with Anderson Cooper and CNN’s Washington bureau chief, David Bohrman. They say CNN has to exercise some editorial judgment rather than just show the most popular video questions (as in most viewed on YouTube) because the No. 1 video in popularity asks whether Arnold Schwarzenegger is a cyborg. They also say a strict popularity ranking would be subject to the campaigns stuffing the virtual ballot box to manipulate what gets on.

    I’m more skeptical of the degree to which the video questions will really differ from what you’d get from a studio audience, aside from cooler video. CNN argues that anyone in the country can get a question on, while town hall debates are limited to a small invited audience. Well, anyone with a Webcam, that is.

    St. Louis: Howard, I’m curious as to your opinion on the appropriateness of Robert Novak now naming Thomas Eagleton as the source of negative comments about McGovern, now that Sen. Eagleton has died? Are confidentiality agreements with sources null and void upon death?

    Howard Kurtz: I think there’s a broad consensus among journalists that confidentiality pledges end with the subject’s death. Bob Woodward had long said that he would identify Deep Throat after the man’s death, which of course became moot when Mark Felt decided to go public with Vanity Fair.

    New York: What ever happened to your adventures on Facebook? Have you picked up any sources or actual friends? Or both?

    Howard Kurtz: I am still having Facebook adventures, just haven’t written about it lately. It’s a good arena for hearing from people with whom you might not ordinarily come into contact, and when I put up my Washington Post articles, some of these people post comments in a way that provides good feedback.