The Incestuous Press Corps

The New York Times definitely has the best coverage of the Newsweek story today, with their ability to throw a bunch of reporters at the same story in Jon Klein-like “flood the zone” coverage.

There was, however, this odd juxtaposition: The Post’s nearly-full page A3 coverage today was bylined by, as usual, media writer Howard Kurtz, who also wrote about the original story yesterday.

Kurtz, though, makes a surprise appearance in the NYT’s coverage too: In Charles McGrath’s profile of Isikoff, he includes an innocuous quote about Isikoff from “his friend Howard Kurtz.” What’s up with that? Giving interviews about a guy while you’re writing about him?

We talked with Kurtz this afternoon, and he said that while he’s known Isikoff for quite a while–their paths first overlapped at the Washington Star and they came to the Post in the same group of eight reporters hired by Bob Woodward after Time Inc. shut down the Star in 1981–he’s covered Isikoff many times before and objected to the Times’ characterization as a “friend.” Kurtz said he was trying to be helpful to a fellow reporter working on a profile, and that the “friend” label was solely the work of McGrath.

“I’ve known Mike Isikoff for a long time…but I didn’t characterize him as a ‘friend,’ and I’d object to that chracterization,” he said.

Remember you read it here first: Kurtz hates Isikoff and is trying to destroy the latter’s career.*

* Preceding statement may be a misinterpretion of preceding quote. We make no guarantees. Our anonymous source isn’t sure. Well, he was sure, but then he felt some pressure so now he’s having some second thoughts, and well we didn’t really do that much reporting on this anyway, so if he’s not sure anymore, we’re not sure anymore. And well, if we’re both not sure, perhaps that’s a problem, so we apologize for any damage this might have caused. But we stand by the statement, unless of course it’s false in which case a good first step would be to retract it. Thus, at this time, based on further examination we’re retracting that statement because we can no longer vouch for its veracity.