I'm not sure what got into Howard Kurtz Sunday morning, but the Washington Post/CNN media analyst, and "Reliable Sources" host, really laid into the press for their horrible coverage of the presidential campaign.
Maybe more surprising, Kurtz voiced his displeasure with both print and television news coverage, as well as what was being written and said about the candidates on both sides of the aisle.
So go get some popcorn, and prepare yourself for a media bashing guaranteed to put a smile on your face:
KURTZ: Barack Obama gave a major speech this week in which he proposed a $210 billion plan to create construction and environmental jobs, and also to create a national infrastructure investment bank. Hillary Clinton also talking about the economy this week at a GM plant. She talked about going after excessive oil company profits and creating a $50 billion energy fund.
No mention of this on the networks. A fleeting mention on cable. A little bit more on newspapers.
When guests Chip Reid of CBS, Steve Roberts of George Washington University, and Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times all tried to defend media's position, Kurtz was having none of it:
But Steve, isn't that just a tremendous default by the media to say, well, you know, these candidates, not a huge difference between them, so basically we're going to check out on the issues?
Great question. Here was Roberts' almost insulting answer:
No, I'm not defending it. I'm explaining it. But also, I think there's another thing to remember. If people want to know the differences, and want to know, they can go to their Web sites. This is a very different media environment now. You're not limited to learning about these plans from what's on the nightly news. You can go and get anything you want, at any length you want, with two mouse clicks.
Unbelievable. So, the media can lay down on their jobs now because if folks want to find the truth, they can get on the Internet.
Great, Steve. I'm all for that.
Maybe all you folks ought to just cash in your chips -- no offense, Chip! -- and we'll let talk radio and the blogosphere take over the role of disseminating information to the public.
All those in favor, say "Aye."
But there was more, for Kurtz was still displeased...and rightfully so:
But shouldn't I as a voter know that Barack Obama has proposed a $200 billion plan to create jobs so I can judge whether or not I want to support him, whether I don't want to support him? When people say we cover the horse race, Hillary's lead is shrinking in Ohio, what are the superdelegates going to do, this is what they mean.
Exactly. Now read the pathetic answers from the peanut gallery:
REID: And it's more than that. It's not just the difference between Barack and Hillary. You can say, oh, they're so minimal, we barely need to cover them. There are differences between Barack...
SWEET: I didn't say that we didn't need to cover them. I'm just pointing that out.
REID: Oh, I know. But there are differences between Barack and Barack.
He has shifted his positions recently. That economic speech that he gave recently is a good deal more populist and anti-trade than he has been in the past. And it is our obligation to get out there and report on it.
KURTZ: Why am I hearing and reading so little about that?
REID: Darn good question. And I think it's because we're more interested in the horse race at this point, and because there isn't that compelling need, apparently, for us to get out there.
ROBERTS: And remember, you said -- you used the word "conflict," right? Particularly television, you can't put a budget on TV. You can't put an 18-point program on the environment on TV.
Why the heck not? Shouldn't this election be about issues, and not the personalities?
Or are these folks so concerned that the candidates' positions are so vacuous and undifferentiatable that actually talking about the issues would pull the curtain back on the empty suits in the race?
Fortunately, Kurtz still wasn't finished, and raised possibly his best point:
Newspapers don't get off the hook here. The eavesdropping bill, where Congress so far has not extended the powers that President Bush wanted, Hillary and Obama did not vote on that because they weren't in town, but they both oppose an extension. John McCain supported it. This got a mention at most.
Outstanding point, Howard, especially since national security and the war on terror will certainly be an important issue this election.
Yet, as Kurtz accurately pointed out, the press seem thoroughly disinterested in the three candidates' positions on this crucial espionage bill. Kind of pathetic, wouldn't you agree?
Regardless, kudos are indeed in order.
Bravo, Howard. Although I felt you did a terrible job on your interview two weeks ago with Keith Olbermann, this was one of your finest hours.