Kurtz: Media Will Always Be Stuck On Stupid

Earlier today, Howard Kurtz held his weekly chat where he tackled such issues as the media’s penchant for ‘stupid stories,’ Ken Silverman’s journalistic ethics, and the commutation of Scooter Libby’s sentence. Some excerpts:

    Atlanta: Howie, a non-HuffPost question. Do you think that one of the positives of the presidential race starting so early is that the media will get burnt out on the stupid stories? I figure by November Hilary and Bill’s marriage will have been beaten to death (a subject which we already have too much information on), reporters will be tired on John Edward’s hair, the Obama Girl will be old news and not worth reporting, Rudy’s crazy marriages/relationships will have been thoroughly disected — I can go on an on with the useless data. With all of this garbage out of the way, I’m thinking that the media will focus on the issues by fall, or certainly by the primaries. Do you think I’m being naive here?

    Howard Kurtz: Yes. Once we exhaust the current supply of stupid stories, we will go on to new stupid stories, the likes of which we can only guess at right now.

    Port Ewen, N.Y.: Yesterday, I caught the end of “Reliable Sources” and you seemed to be saying that you disapproved of Silverstein’s investigative methods when reporting on lobbying in Washington. Today I watched him on C-SPAN, and frankly I don’t understand what your objection is. I can’t see these lobbyists responding truthfully to a knock on their front door. Thanks.

    Howard Kurtz: My objection is that journalists who lie and fabricate to get a story, however important the story, are crossing a line that I don’t think should be crossed. Silverstein laid this all out in his piece, and I quoted him as saying that readers of Harper’s magazine will have to decide whether they are comfortable with his methods. I agree.

    Fairfax, Va.: Why do so many media reports on the Libby commutation avoid focusing on the very reasonable possibility that the purpose of commutation rather than pardon was to protect Libby from having to testify perhaps implicating Bush or Cheney if subpoened by Congress? And why can’t reporters in the mainstream find the courage to state as a matter of fact and not simply their opinion that Bush has thumbed his nose at the American legal process?

    Howard Kurtz: I think the reporting on this issue has made abundantly clear what Bush did with regard to the legal system (although other presidents have issued controversial pardons — see Clinton, Bill, and Bush, George H.W. — and it is within their constitutional rights). We can’t know what was in the president’s mind, but I’ve seen some accounts point out that by not granting Libby a full pardon, Bush enables him to avoid congressional testimony by invoking the Fifth.