Howard Kurtz Doesn't Know Why 'So-called Liberal Media' Ignore Left's Disappointment With Obama
CNN's Howard Kurtz is either astonishingly naive or so strongly in the tank for Barack Obama that he's willing to ignore the totally obvious to assist the President's reelection efforts.
On Sunday's "Reliable Sources," Kurtz actually discussed with far-left guests Joan Walsh of Salon and John Aravosis of Americablog.com - without ever disclosing the painfully inconvenient truth! - why the "so-called liberal media" don't report divisions within the Democrat Party especially left-wing disappointment with the current White House resident (video follows with transcript and lots of commentary):
HOWARD KURTZ, HOST: So, Joan, let me tee it up for you. Is it true that the beltway press isn't terribly interested in these debates and arguments on the left?
JOAN WALSH, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, SALON.COM: You know, I would go beyond that, Howie, and I would say that the beltway media doesn't take enough interest but, moreover, likes to kind of kick the base and loves nothing more than when President Obama stands up to the base or the dissatisfied part of the base -- let's say that -- on these budget issues and on these tax and spending issues. That is seen as a sign of manhood in the beltway, when Democrats do that to liberals and progressives.
KURTZ: Well, look, is this the so-called liberal media we're talking about that enjoys seeing Obama --
WALSH: I don't believe that we have a liberal media. So, we can have another segment on that. I don't believe the media are liberal.
I think that there is a status quo beltway consensus, and people who think our tax rates should be higher, people who are really super concerned about our jobless recovery, the number of people still left out, people who are still losing their homes. That whole progressive economic side of things is barely covered. And when President Obama does something to sneer at his base, or when Robert Gibbs calls us the "professional left" and acts like we are a bunch of communists, the beltway media applaud.
And so it's a really dysfunctional relationship, which is why we have the blogosphere, which is we have our own media at this point.
KURTZ: Speaking of the blogosphere, John Aravosis, look, the media are always looking for signs of civil war in the Republican Party. A bunch of freshmen defect from John Boehner's budget deal, that's a big story. Among Democrats, not so much.
For the record, Kurtz is 57 years old, and a graduate of the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. Prior to his move to the Daily Beast last year, he had written for the Washington Post for 29 years and has been the host of "Reliable Sources" since 1998.
With all this experience, he doesn't know why media go gaga over signs of civil war in the Republican Party, but when it's Democrats, not so much?
Let me give the esteemed Mr. Kurtz a hint: it's because the liberal media always want to give the appearance that there are divisions in the Republican Party whilst doing their darnedest to make it seem that the Democrats are totally united in their views.
This is especially important when there's a Democrat in the White House. for the last thing the press wants is for the public to think that anyone in Obama's Party disagrees with him. The more so-called journalists can depict Democrats as being 100 percent behind the president, the more likely that'll be the case.
It's called trying to create a self-fulfilling prophecy, and the idea that Kurtz didn't even consider this Sunday only adds to his hypocrisy:
JOHN ARAVOSIS, FOUNDER, AMERICABLOG.COM: No. You know, it's been interesting the last few years, because on the left, I think dissatisfaction with Obama began pretty early, certainly with the gay community, and then it spread out I think to other communities as well, other parts of the Democratic base.
And you have never really seen any, I think, deep coverage of what is actually going on in terms of Obama's relationship with his own party. And I would go so far as to say I shouldn't have even just said the base.
I talk to folks on the Hill. And whether they are moderate senators, or moderate chiefs of staff, I should say, or others, they are just as unhappy with the president as a lot of us are, but it's not being reported.
No, it certainly isn't. Yet watch what Kurtz offered as an explanation rather than what should have been incredibly obvious to a so-called media analyst:
KURTZ: And the reason it's not being reported, John, would it have to do with something like this -- is there a media mindset that, well, liberals may whine about Obama, but they're really not going to have any choice but to support him next year, so why should we pay attention?
No. It's because there is a media mindset that if they report liberals whining about Obama, others on the left and in the middle might become similarly disappointed leading to further declines in the President's poll numbers.
Honestly, is Kurtz really this obtuse, or was he just being a good Democrat shill Sunday?
ARAVOSIS: I think it's more than that. I think that, as Joan was saying, there is a little bit of a -- not a disaffection, but a little sense of, oh, the left, you know they're unhappy.
KURTZ: They're so cute.
ARAVOSIS: Yes, they're so cute, but look at those Tea Party people. They're crazy. Wouldn't they be fun to cover? And I think the media almost thinks it's more fun to cover right disaffection than left.
Sure it's more fun for the media to cover the Right's disaffection for Republicans - and more to the point. The more they do this, the more they believe moderates and conservatives will become similarly dissatisfied with the GOP leading to Democrat success at the polls.
Alas, nobody involved in this segment was seeing this forest in front of them including the host:
KURTZ: Joan Walsh, is there a media mindset that says that what the left wants, whether it's the public option on health care, or higher taxes for at least some Americans, is politically unrealistic, and therefore we shouldn't devote a lot of column inches to it?
Did Kurtz really just say that the media aren't interested in covering higher taxes?
This has been all the focus in the media for years, especially in the past few days since Obama proposed letting the Bush tax cuts expire at the end of next year. Every Sunday political talk show supported the President on this issue.
Exactly where has Kurtz been to have missed this?
WALSH: I think that's definitely part of it. And I don't know why people in the media get to decide that.
The tax rates we had during the Clinton administration are now apparently off the table when they were part of -- not the only thing, but they were part of bringing us a kind of unprecedented prosperity. But somehow, to suggest we go back to that, makes you kind of a crazy radical. And so, yes, there is a kind of bias for the status quo, a bias for what's perceived as being in the middle. And I think, actually, what you asked about -- well, the left is going to go with Obama anyway, I think that is part of it.
I think that we have seen these polls lately that say in the end, Democrats accept, for the most part, accept that Obama is going to compromise, whereas Republicans want no compromise. So it's also kind of a problem with the Democratic mindset, that we're the people who say, well, God, we don't want the government to shut down. And what if people don't get their welfare checks or soldiers aren't getting paid? OK, we'll compromise.
I mean, it's amazing to me that John Boehner made that deal and then -- you know, last Friday night, that progressives were upset about, and then he can't even get his own full caucus to get for it. He's got to go and get 81 Democrats.
KURTZ: But that's a good point.
And John, wasn't the media focused during the whole budget negotiation, what would satisfy John Boehner and the Tea Party conservatives, not what would satisfy the left wing of the Democratic Party?
Of course they were, for the press were busy depicting Boehner and the Tea Party as being radical extremists trying to starve women, children, and seniors. Why would they bother talking about what the left-wing wants when they can summarily bash the right-wing?
No matter how obvious, nobody involved in this segment even considered such a possibility:
ARAVOSIS: The media was, but I would posit that part of the problem though was the Democrats. It wasn't as if the president set a bottom line. And we all know that president. When he sets a bottom line, he's just not going to buckle.
No. I mean, everybody knew the president tends to give in too much, so that even, frankly, his speech this week, the president gave a great speech, I thought. He really laid down the line on all of these issues -- Social Security, Medicare, et cetera. But we know he doesn't really stick to his word, whereas those crazy Republicans, they don't give in. So the Democrats --
KURTZ: So this whole approach --
ARAVOSIS: Parts of it are the Democrats' fault, I would argue.
KURTZ: One thing that you and Joan seem to agree on is there is bias in the mainstream press -- and I'm sure a lot of people disagree with this -- towards the status quo, maybe even toward the center- right.
Yes, he really did say "there is bias in the mainstream press...toward the center- right." Readers are once again reminded that Kurtz considers himself a media analyst:
KURTZ: Does this drive you nuts?
ARAVOSIS: Well, it does because of what Joan I think had said, was sort of the lack of respectability in the sense that it almost is a sense in the media that people on the left aren't serious, that they are either not seriously taking on the president, or their actual views themselves are not serious because, oh, they're just crazy lefties, and they don't like to -- my favorite is when the media says the only reason you're upset with Obama is because you're a liberal and liberals just don't believe in compromise, and that's crazy.
Well, no. Liberals believe in compromise when it's necessary. They don't believe in compromise as God.
KURTZ: You know, there have been a few stories about this. "The Washington Post" ran one about liberals being upset with the president, Joan Walsh. But in terms of that budget deal and the negotiations that led up to it, it was the same thing in the lame-duck session when -- the compromise on the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy.
There is this recurring theme among people not just on the left, but particularly on the left, that Obama is too passive, that he gets into negotiations too late, and then he surrenders too much.
You got into a Twitter fight about this, on this very subject, did you not?
Interesting narrative - Obama surrenders too much, like accepting $38 billion in spending cuts out of a budget that has risen by $1.1 trillion since his Party took over Congress is a surrender:
WALSH: I did. I got into a couple of Twitter fights.
I mean, one thing that I do want to say is that we really can't generalize about the base. The thing about the Democratic Party right now is that there are a lot of bases. There are a lot of pieces of the Obama puzzle, so that, for example, African-Americans tend to be pleased with him.
Now his standing with African-Americans dropped from the 90s to 85, the lowest it's been. That's very interesting to me. But for the most part, African-Americans are happier than the rest of the base.
You know, liberals, even polls week to week, month to month, show liberals -- 79 to 85 percent of liberals are happy. So, you know, those of us who get to go on TV have a responsibility to say, I speak for me, I have these values, I have -- I care about progressive economic politics, I'm unhappy for these reasons.
KURTZ: But do you get a pushback from people on your side of the political spectrum when you criticize the president because you think he gave away too much?
Another astonishingly obtuse question from Kurtz. The point of this segment was that the media aren't reporting left-wing disappointment with Obama. As such, of course Walsh gets pushback when she criticizes the President.
Makes you wonder what got into Howie's Wheaties this morning for him to miss so many things that were obvious:
WALSH: Oh, absolutely I do. And that's what's great about Democrats. We argue, we debate, we fight. There are people who feel that this president is doing all he can with the Congress that he has, that even the Democrats he has are Blue Dogs. Even last year, when he had, allegedly, for a half hour, 60 votes, he didn't have 60 votes. He had Joe Lieberman and Mary Landrieu and Ben Nelson.
WALSH: You know, he's never had a mandate, even among Democrats for progressive policies, and that we are all being a little too impatient with him.
ARAVOSIS: But what's interesting though is on the left, you do see that a number of sort of the media types, or I'll say maybe progressive media types such as Ezra Klein with "The Washington Post," Matt Yglesias with Think Progress, people who tended to be more in Obama's camp, have gotten much more critical of late about the budget deal. So, you're seeing, yes, some people defend him, but it's fewer now I see.
KURTZ: Right, but I continue wonder why that isn't more of a story for those of us who aren't in any ideological camp. We love fights, we love arguments, we love dissension, but we seem to love it more --
ARAVOSIS: Especially with the election coming up. It's interesting.
KURTZ: -- on the right.
Yes, the media most certainly do love fights, arguments, and dissension when they're on the right, and ignore them when they're on the left.
Why Kurtz was totally clueless about the reason - or at least unwilling to voice it on the air - further diminished his credibility as a so-called impartial media analyst.
Shame on you, Howie. You're much better than this.