Kurtz: Press “Negligent” In Silence Over Biden Availability

Earlier today, Howard Kurtz held his weekly chat where he covered such topics as press access to Joe Biden; the newly surfaced radio interviews with Barack Obama; and the media coverage of the debunked story of a McCain staffer being attacked in Pittsburgh. Some excerpts:

Dunn Loring, Va.: Much was made of Palin’s refusal to address the press, but now that it’s been a month since Obama has faced a press conference and Biden has shown he will cut off any station that asks him tough questions, The Post has ignored the issue of press accessibility. Why the different standards?

Howard Kurtz: I said on Reliable Sources yesterday that the press has absolutely been negligent in failing to make an issue of Joe Biden failing to take questions from his traveling press corps since Sept. 10. Now that Palin, who had been in something of a bunker, is giving more interviews (Brian Williams and Chicago Tribune last week, several instances of talking to the reporters traveling with her), where are the stories about Biden’s inaccessibility? It smacks of a double standard. Obama, by the way, did take questions from reporters last week before going to Hawaii to visit his grandmother.

Dunn Loring, Va.: Could you explain how The Washington Post can justify sending plane loads of reporters to Alaska to investigate Palin while refusing to review past Obama radio interviews where he discusses his desire to redstribute Americans’ wealth?

Howard Kurtz: I don’t know what radio interviews you’re talking about, but let me make two points.

One, can we stipulate it’s responsible journalism to send reporters (actually a handful, who wouldn’t even fill up a two-engine plane) to look into the record of a vice-presidential nominee who was largely unknown to the vast majority of Americans until two months ago?

Second, the progressive tax code has been redistributing the wealth since its inception, since the wealthier pay more. Some contend that the Reagan and Bush tax cuts redistributed income toward the wealthy. It’s fine to criticize Obama’s plan to rescind the Bush cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans, but that hardly amounts to socialism.

Ashley Todd Question: I have a question about Ashley Todd — the imaginary-backwards-B-race-baiter. I live in the neighborhood that she claimed the attack happened in, and everyone I knew immediately was sure the whole thing was a hoax. I actually know people who were driving and walking by the ATM at the time she claimed the attack happened who (obviously) saw nothing.

I’m relieved the hoax was outed, but I’m curious what you think the follow-up will be by the media. The fact that reports showed up on Drudge and FOX before any local media outlets says a lot to me. Now some people in the media are claiming that Republican National Committee folks gave quotes to the press about what the imaginary attacker said before they really should have had any information on it. Was this hoax perpetrated from a higher level than just Todd herself? Will there be more stories about this in the media, or will it just die a quiet death? At least one good thing came out of the whole incident: I now have the easiest Halloween costume ever!

Howard Kurtz: I think the media showed rare restraint in that suspicious-sounding case. Most organizations didn’t touch it, even with the big Drudge headline, although just about everyone jumped on it after Todd was exposed as a hoaxer. It is true that a McCain campaign official in Pennsylvania tried to spread the word to reporters in an effort to hurt Obama, and that’s pretty troubling given that the woman’s allegations hadn’t been confirmed by police.