The Washington Post‘s ombudsman Andrew Alexander wonders whether there is a conflict of interest when it comes to TV columnist Howard Kurtz who also hosts a weekly show on CNN — a network he covers. Alexander asks, “Would The Post allow a reporter who covers energy to be paid on the side by a big oil company?”
Kurtz, a workhorse of a reporter, has a sizable following in print, online and on the air. But being paid by CNN presents an inescapable conflict that is at odds with Post rules. They state that a reporter or editor “cannot accept payment from any person, company or organization that he or she covers.” There can be exceptions for some groups, such as broadcast organizations, “unless the reporter or editor is involved in coverage of them.”
Kurtz, the Post media writer since 1990, got approval to appear on “Reliable Sources” about 15 years ago from then-Executive Editor Leonard Downie Jr.
“My track record makes clear that I’ve been as aggressive toward CNN — and The Washington Post, for that matter — as I would be if I didn’t host a weekly program there,” Kurtz told Alexander.
This morning on “Reliable Sources,” Kurtz showed he’s not afraid to criticize CNN, while on CNN. At the end of a segment discussing how much, or little, coverage the comments of a congressman have been getting, Kurtz concluded “All right. Well, I think it should have been more of a story on CNN as well.”