Kurtz: Jon Stewart Is No Conservative Shill

Earlier today, Howard Kurtz held his weekly chat where he covered such topics as bias in the media, the credability of bloggers, and the abundance of election coverage. Some excerpts:

    Philadelphia: Why does the media have such a right-wing slant? Do you really think people want to hear about John Edwards hair, or Hillary’s laugh? Why not tell us about the Lieberman-Kyl amendment? Tell us what that bill means as far as war with Iran. Talk about issues instead of fluff.

    Howard Kurtz: The Hillary’s laugh mini-flap began after she did a lot of belly-laughing during her five Sunday show interviews last weekend and Jon Stewart made fun of it on the Daily Show. Others, including me, picked it up from Jon, and I don’t think he’s been accused of being a right-wing tool.

    Baltimore: Howard, I’m a longtime daily reader of your column, but I continue to be puzzled by one aspect of it — the amount of weight and credence you provide to bloggers. I don’t see much difference between bloggers and radio call-ins: Anyone with an opinion can do it. But whereas you give heavy exposure to the likes of Arianna Huffington, you rarely cite someone like Rush Limbaugh. Why the difference? Also, by interspersing quotes from bloggers along with mainstream heavyweights like The Washington Post, the New York Times, etc., I think you give them a legitimacy they don’t really have. Your thoughts?

    Howard Kurtz: I’ve been quoting bloggers for all the years I’ve been writing this online column. I believe they’ve become an important part of the conversation. Some are provocative, some are brilliant, some are shrill and demogogic, but they are fast and often get to the meat of issues and trends before the mainstream media. They also provide, from the left and right, a valuable counterweight to the MSM. And they have opened up the process to more than just credentialed journalists who work for the big newspapers, magazines and networks. Huffington Post and InstaPundit, to take two examples, are among the most popular Web sites out there, so why not include them? And in case you haven’t noticed, lots of journalists (at places like the Post, NYT, Time and the Atlantic) are now doubling as bloggers.

    Portsmouth, N.H.: I know elections are like crack to the media, but the coverage has to be crowding out actual news, isn’t it? I’m starting to think “oh, God, just get it over with” — and I’m from New Hampshire, where our vote counts and all that. It must be agony to the people who live where their votes don’t matter. Would you consider begining a daily countdown to the next election, kind of like the Iranian hostage crisis countdown? (“Only 878 more days…”)

    Howard Kurtz: I’m sure it feels that way to lots of folks. I don’t know how much other news is being crowded out — the Bush administration doesn’t have a whole lot of domestic initiatives left, and the war is still covered fairly heavily. We are now heading into a three-month stretch where the campaign really matters, where the runup to Iowa and New Hampshire will probably determine the nominee in each party. I suspect that millions of ordinary folks (that is, those who have lives) will begin tuning in around December, having ignored most of the sound and fury of the previous 12 months.