This isn't something you see every day: a member of the media scolding colleagues for criticizing conservative talk show hosts such as Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, and Mark Levin.
Yet, that's exactly what Howard Kurtz did on CNN's "Reliable Sources" Sunday as he took on all the recent carping and whining about the message being relayed over the airwaves by the Right's strongest voices.
Kurtz even went after the so-called conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks (video embedded below the fold, relevant section at 36:50):
HOWARD KURTZ, HOST: Talk show hosts sound off for a living. That's their job. And the rest of the media spend an awful lot of time talking about them. But how influential are they really?
First there was Rush Limbaugh on the cover of Newsweek. Then it was Glenn Beck on the cover of time. Ever since President Obama took office, conservative talkers have seized the spotlight. Whether it's Beck cheerleading the Tea Party marches, or Rush calling for the Obama administration to fail, or Sean Hannity leading the charge against ACORN, they have had an impact. Keith Olbermann may call them "The Worst Persons in the World" on any given night, but that just confirms that they are big targets.
Lately, though, the talk show titans have been drawing some flak from the right. Former Bush speechwriter David Frum has been outspoken in criticizing Limbaugh. And New York Times columnist David Brooks is taking on the whole gang.
(Played videotape of Brooks recently on "Meet the Press" complaining about Beck, Limbaugh, and Mark Levin. Then played videotape of what Republican strategist Mike Murphy said about Fox News and MSNBC on "Meet the Press" last week.)
Limbaugh says Brooks is just jealous. Besides, he told Politico, "how many Americans know who David Brooks is?" And Mark Levin, another conservative radio host, dismissed Frum as "irrelevant" and "incoherent."
But what about the larger point? Limbaugh, Beck, and Hannity have no party machinery. You don't measure their clout by any one election. Their power lies in influencing the debate on everything from Afghanistan to ACORN, from the Olympics to Obama himself. And that, without question, they have done.
And if liberals, or conservatives like David Brooks, don't like what these high-decibel pundits say, or think they're peddling misinformation, they should go after them in the media marketplace, not with boycotts or name-calling or screaming or shouting, but on the battlefield of ideas.
Sounds almost like he was quoting Limbaugh, Beck, Hannity, or Levin concerning this very matter, doesn't it?
Nicely done, Howard, although you should be careful calling Brooks conservative, for you'd be hard-pressed to find a REAL conservative that would agree with the Times columnist being so labeled.