It's turned into something of a week for TV hosts, if not to bite, then at least to nibble hard on the hands that feed them . . .
First, as noted here, on Friday Joe Scarborough passed along the comment of an unnamed conservative biggie who wondered "what the hell [Rand Paul] was doing on MSNBC?", where during an interview with Rachel Maddow he caused controversy with his comments on the Civil Rights Act.
Today, it was Howard Kurtz's turn. In the wake of Campbell Brown's withdrawal from CNN, in which she cited her show's poor ratings, Kurtz, host of Reliable Sources also on CNN wondered whether the network's business strategy of offering news in contrast to the opinion-oriented programming on Fox News and MSNBC is "viable." For good measure, Kurtz also managed to suggest that Brown, Connie Chung and Paula Zahn—all of whose CNN shows failed—weren't strong enough personalities to attract an audience during the 8 PM hour, up against the likes of O'Reilly and Olbermann. Ouch!
Howard Kurtz on Sunday actually asked if right-wing pundits are hoping for another successful terrorist attack against our nation in order to harm President Obama politically?
Potentially even worse, this disgraceful question was posed to a far-left leaning blogger who certainly was going to say "Yes."
Discussing the media's coverage of the Times Square car bomb attempt with his guests on CNN's "Reliable Sources," Kurtz asked if conservative commentators risk "looking a little churlish if they complain about a bomb that didn't go off?"
What ensued will likely make a lot of those commentators as well as NewsBusters readers quite upset (video follows with transcript and commentary):
A truly extraordinary thing happened on CNN Sunday: a mainstream media representative actually took Rush Limbaugh's side in a dispute with Bill Clinton.
As readers are likely aware, the conservative talk radio host and the former President exchanged words last week over who was to blame for the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995.
"Reliable Sources" host Howard Kurtz broached this subject in Sunday's second segment eliciting a rather surprising response from Reuters' global editor-at-large Chrystia Freeland:
I have to say, on this one I'm on Rush Limbaugh's side...I'm not accusing Rush Limbaugh of being guilty of too much balance, but I do think blaming the media is a very weak thing for politicians and businesspeople to do. And I think we in the media should really be pretty, pretty careful before we agree with the criticism.
Not surprisingly, Salon's Joan Walsh didn't agree, and once again found herself alone in her perilously liberal views as the cameras were rolling (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Ana Marie Cox on Sunday compared the Tea Party movement to the anti-war women's group Code Pink.
Appearing on CNN's "Reliable Sources," the GQer formerly known as Wonkette wasn't at all bothered by Code Pink co-founder Jodie Evans disrupting Karl Rove's book signing last week.
"It's not infringing on Karl Rove's right to speak to have someone else interrupt him."
She continued, "Code Pink was to Fox News, you know, what the Tea Partiers are to MSNBC now. I mean, Code Pink was the group that the Republicans and the GOP and Fox News wanted to have represent the Democratic Party" (video embedded below the fold with transcript and commentary):
On Sunday’s Reliable Sources on CNN, as host Howard Kurtz led a discussion on media coverage of Democratic Congressman Charlie Rangel’s ethical problems, guest Margaret Carlson of Bloomberg News – formerly of Time magazine and CNN's Capital Gang – seemed to suggest that Rangel would have lost his chairmanship of the House Ways and Means Committee sooner if the mainstream media were not so biased in favor of the New York Democrat.
Kurtz had just led a discussion with Carlson and the Washington Examiner’s Chris Stirewalt on whether ABC’s Jonathan Karl had slanted his coverage of Republican Senator Jim Bunning’s efforts to delay passage of the extension of unemployment benefits, with the CNN host posing the question: "When the television reports go from Senator Bunning on the floor, clearly ticking off his colleagues, to some poor unemployed person who obviously wants to continue to receive checks, are we loading the dice a little bit?"
After the discussion moved to Rangel, Kurtz recounted that Matthews recently wondered whether the New York Times was going after the Democratic Congressman because of his unethical acts or because he had angered them with some legislative action. The CNN host soon added: "But Matthews went on to say, ‘I've loved the guy,’ Charlie Rangel, ‘for years. I feel like recusing myself.’ But do you think this Rangel story got enough attention? All the networks covered it. NBC Nightly News is the only one that did a full story."
The left-leaning Carlson soon acknowledged the media’s negative feelings toward Bunning as a contrast with press affection for Rangel, with either Kurtz or Stirewalt – or possibly both men – voicing agreement that Rangel would have been gone earlier if not for his popularity:
Howard Kurtz asked an interesting question on Sunday's "Reliable Sources": Is it appropriate for Fox News hosts and contributors to be making political speeches at events like this weekend's CPAC?
Given Saturday's extremely successful keynote address by Glenn Beck, as well as the controversial nature of the rising star, such a question seemed inevitable.
But there was still something peculiar about this segment, for although Kurtz mentioned other FNC contributors that spoke at the event including Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, and John Bolton, he failed to notice George Will of ABC News (video embedded below the fold with transcript):
When this arrived at my e-mail inbox Sunday, I thought a usually reliable tipster was playing a joke on me.
But after reviewing the video and transcript of this morning's "Reliable Sources" on CNN, it's become apparent that Howard Kurtz really did ask two of his guests if the press is currently going soft on the Republican Party.
"Every day, every week the media -- and that includes this program -- focus on President Obama," Kurtz said.
"But what about the Republicans? Do they largely get a pass because they're in the minority?" (video embedded below the fold with partial transcript and commentary, h/t Story Balloon):
Conservative talk radio host Hugh Hewitt and liberal publisher Arianna Huffington squared off on Sunday in an epic ideological battle about Fox News's Glenn Beck and former Alaska governor Sarah Palin.
With Howard Kurtz moderating on CNN's "Reliable Sources," the outspoken pair found very little to agree about.
Unfortunately, Kurtz was by no means an impartial host oftentimes letting Huffington off the hook while pressing his conservative guest more strongly on points he didn't agree with (video embedded below the fold with transcript and commentary):
Margery Eagan, a liberal columnist for the Boston Herald, ripped MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann on Sunday’s Reliable Sources on CNN over his “homophobic, racist, reactionary” label of Senator-elect Scott Brown on the night of the Massachusetts special election: “This is crazy...it’s sick.”
Eagan appeared during the lead segment of the CNN program with Jonathan Martin of Politico and conservative CNN contributor Amy Holmes. Anchor Howard Kurtz played Olbermann’s smear of Brown nine minutes into the 10 am Eastern hour, and after asking Holmes for her take, he played a sound bite of Glenn Beck’s recent dead intern crack against Brown. Though Kurtz asked Eagan for her response to the Beck sound bite, she primarily attacked the MSNBC host, lumping in the conservative talk show host in passing.
EAGAN: Listen, I think Glenn Beck and Keith Olbermann have both taken leave of their senses. You know, I was a Martha Coakley fan. I thought she was a great D.A. But I know Scott Brown. He’s a great guy. You can’t help but like the guy. He strikes me as a wonderful family guy. He’s out there mowing the lawn. His wife, Gail Huff, has been a great reporter on Channel 5. Racist? A homophobe? Sexist? I mean, this is crazy. His politics are different than mine, but it’s sick.
Appearing as a guest on CNN’s Reliable Sources on Sunday, TVNewser’s Gail Shister, who was inducted into the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association Hall of Fame in 2008, made a sexual joke about new World News anchor Diane Sawyer that a male guest likely couldn’t have gotten away with. After the Baltimore Sun’s David Zurawik had finished discussing the visual effect of ABC zooming in the camera so Sawyer appears closer to the viewer than previous hosts, Shister began her response with a sexual joke about Sawyer:
Well, first of all, Howie, I personally have no problem being right on top of Diane Sawyer, so that was not a problem for me. I think when you’ve got somebody that classy and visually attractive, why not get up close with her? I don’t think they’re going to stay that close every single newscast. I thought she made a seamless transition. I was pleasantly surprised at how seamless it was.
Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the Sunday, December 27, Reliable Sources on CNN:
Howard Kurtz must have woken up on the wrong side of the bed Sunday, for his "Reliable Sources" review of John Stossel's new Fox Business Network show was uncharacteristically way off base.
After presenting a cherry-picked video clip of Stossel talking about how he wished Nobel Laureate Al Gore would come on the program to debate man's role in global warming, Kurtz asked guest David Zurawik, "[D]oes this continue a trend of partisan people going to partisan networks and putting them on partisan shows?"
After Zurawik's answer, Kurtz carped, "My only problem with that first program is that he basically had one guest for three-quarters of the show, a guy from the Libertarian Cato Institute who is also very skeptical of global warming. And so, except from the studio audience, you didn't hear a lot of contrary voices."
Unfortunately, Kurtz edited out the segment when Stossel read an e-mail message from Gore's representative saying the former Vice President had to decline the invitation to appear on the program because he was too busy (video embedded below the fold with partial transcript):
On Sunday’s Reliable Sources, CNN's Howard Kurtz brought up the scarcity of media attention paid to the revelation that high-profile Democratic Senator Max Baucus nominated his girlfriend to be a U.S. attorney for his home state of Montana, as the CNN host even took to task CNN for ignoring the scandal, calling it a "stunning lapse in judgment," and recounted that he had monitored the news channel on Saturday and did not see Baucus mentioned. Kurtz: "Washington Post has it on page three, New York Times has it on page 33. I watched CNN all day yesterday. I didn’t see any mention of this story, which I thought was a stunning lapse in judgment."
When Kurtz questioned why there was so little media attention, guest Chip Reid of CBS News asserted there was "no scandal" in the story. Reid: "I don’t think it has legs because there’s no sex scandal, and it’s not like Vitter. It’s not like Ensign. There’s no scandal here."
Glenn Beck - he has one of the highest-rated shows on the top cable news network. He's had a number of bestselling books and he's called attention to some unsavory characters working in the Obama administration. Yet - he's somehow considered to be a risky business decision for the powers in charge at Fox News.
"He's talking there about Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu, who did get a provision in order to get her support for breaking the filibuster on the health care bill - $300 million for Louisiana," Kurtz said. "He said she was ‘hooking,' basically called her a prostitute."
A seventeen year veteran of CNN claimed Sunday that Lou Dobbs' surprising exit from the network was because "his opinions are out of lockstep with the rest of the mainstream news media."
Discussing the issue with Howard Kurtz on CNN's "Reliable Sources," Chris Plante, a former CNN correspondent and current talk radio host, said Dobbs, as "the last conservative voice on the channel," no longer fit in.
"They had Glenn Beck, he's gone. They had [Dobbs], now he's gone," claimed Plante.
When Plante said CNN hosts Campbell Brown, Anderson Cooper, and Larry King weren't "completely neutral," Kurtz asked, "Are you suggesting that those hosts lean to the left?"
Plante marvelously responded, "Yes, I am" (oftentimes contentious video embedded below the fold with full transcript, file photo):
The Republicans may have won huge victories in New Jersey and Virginia on Tuesday, but Time's Joe Klein still thinks the GOP is "an extremist shard of a party that is essentially a regional southern party in the country."
I guess the 66 and 60 percent of independents who voted for the Republican gubernatorial candidate in Virginia and New Jersey respectively on Tuesday are also part of this extremist regional southern party.
Alas, such facts didn't enter into the discussion on Sunday's "Reliable Sources" when Klein showed how one's political biases can easily trump logic (video embedded below the fold with partial transcript, relevant section at 4:18, file photo):
Former Fox News contributor Jane Hall said Sunday that one of the reasons she left the cable network was because she was uncomfortable with host Glenn Beck who she believes "should be called out as somebody whose language is way over the top and scary."
Fox watchers know Hall as one of the regular liberal panelists on Saturday's "Fox News Watch" as well a frequent guest on "The O'Reilly Factor" where she was typically paired opposite former CBSer Bernard Goldberg.
On Sunday's "Reliable Sources," with the discussion centering on the White House's battle with Fox, Hall disclosed the decision behind her departure (video embedded below the fold with partial transcript, relevant section at 8:20):
On Sunday, ESPN host and sportswriter Michael Wilbon said conservative talk radio personality Rush Limbaugh is "univerally reviled by African-Americans."
As amazing as it may seem, this was at least the second time Wilbon made this statement on national television.
Unfortunately, the person he said it to Sunday -- Howard Kurtz on CNN's "Reliable Sources" -- didn't bother challenging him about just how absurd a thing this is to say (video embedded below the fold with transcript):
With each passing day, more and more media members are taking shots at the Obama administration's strategy of attacking Fox News.
On Sunday, one of the best observations yet came from Marisa Guthrie of Broadcasting & Cable magazine: "[Obama] can talk to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad but he can't talk to Chris Wallace."
Such was stated on CNN's "Reliable Sources" after host Howard Kurtz played a video of Rahm Emanuel saying just a few minutes earlier that Fox isn't a news organization because it has a perspective (video embedded below the fold with partial transcript):
UPDATE AT END OF POST: Fox officials agree that all this attention is helping ratings.
Three days before Howard Kurtz talked with White House communications director Anita Dunn about the Obama administration's attacks on the Fox News Channel, a number of CNN contributors pointed out how this strategy is helping FNC's ratings while hurting Democrats.
Such was discussed on Thursday's "Situation Room" by a panel consisting of CNN's Gloria Berger, David Gergen, and John King, as well as Politico's Nia-Malika Henderson and Republican strategist Tony Blankley.
Makes you wonder why Kurtz on Sunday didn't ask Dunn about the following tremendously relevant conversation that happened on his own network a few days earlier (video embedded below the fold with partial transcript, h/t Mediaite):
"I think what is fair to say about FOX and certainly the way we view it is that it really is more a wing of the Republican Party...[When President Obama] goes on FOX, he understands that he is not going on -- it really is not a news network at this point. He's going to debate the opposition."
So said White House communications director Anita Dunn on Sunday's "Reliable Sources" in what appeared to be an extension of her shameful attack on Fox reported by NewsBusters' Lachlan Markay Thursday.
Three days later, Dunn was almost seething with contempt as she discussed America's leading cable news network with host Howard Kurtz (video embedded below the fold with partial transcript mixed with commentary):
On Sunday, Howard Kurtz accidentally exposed how poorly the media report on issues of race, and how they not only use implications of prejudice to "[pump] steroids into an ordinary story," they also either ignore important events or badly misreport them due to their own biases.
In the first segment on the most recent installment of CNN's "Reliable Sources," Kurtz and his panel discussed comments made by various press members last week that opposition to Barack Obama's agenda is being fueled by racism.
Kurtz as he normally does had the last word (video embedded below the fold, relevant section at 8:00):
When Glenn Beck reports that a top-level White House advisor has endorsed communism, accused 'white polluters' of poisoning minority communities, called his political opponents a**holes, and believes an American president was complicit in the slaughter of innocent civilians, Beck must have a hidden agenda. When the mainstream media fails to report these facts, it's all an honest mistake.
Or so one might gather from listening to CNN contributor and Washington Post columnist Howard Kurtz. Kurtz continues to waffle between a cynical take on Glenn Beck's outing of Van Jones as a truther conspiracy theorist, and an apologetic approach to the mainstream media's virtual silence on the story until after Jones's resignation.
The Times's Managing Editor Jill Abramson offered a number of excuses for the lack of Van Jones coverage last weekend, chiefly that the paper's Washington Bureau was short-staffed. This did not stop the Times from sending two reporters to Boston for the weekend to cover the non-story of Joseph Kennedy II's Senate run (which he later said would not happen).
Howard Kurtz opened Sunday's "Reliable Sources" with a lovefest for the promotion of ABC's Diane Sawyer to replace Charles Gibson on "World News Tonight."
Mysteriously, there was absolutely no discussion about how Sawyer's "Good Morning America" is constantly second in the ratings to NBC's "Today" show, nor was there mention of how Katie Couric regularly bested Sawyer in the morning but has been a ratings disaster since taking over the "CBS Evening News."
That didn't stop Kurtz and his guests from talking about Sawyer's promotion as if it was sheer genius (video embedded below the fold, relevant section at 11:30):
Howard Kurtz on Sunday accused Fox News's Glenn Beck of attacking White House "green czar" Van Jones in response to the advertiser boycott implemented by Color of Change, an advocacy group founded by Jones.
Such a conclusion seems to stem from all the time Beck spent on his program last week chronicling Jones's activities as well as his background.
What Kurtz conveniently ignored in this installment of CNN's "Reliable Sources" was that Beck did two reports on Jones prior to the start of Color of Change's campaign to get companies to end their sponsorship of Beck.
Ironically, this came as Kurtz chided Beck for not sharing all the facts with his viewers (video embedded below the fold, relevant section at 39:20):
No Republican senator or living president deserves the kind of media attention Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) has received since the announcement of his death on Tuesday.
So stated Emily Rooney, a former executive producer for ABC's "World News Tonight with Peter Jennings," and the current executive editor of WGBH's "Beat the Press."
For those unfamiliar, she is also the daughter of CBS's Andy Rooney.
Appearing on CNN's "Reliable Sources" Sunday, Rooney was asked by host Howard Kurtz what seemed to be a great question, namely, could a Republican senator have gotten this kind of coverage after his or her death (video embedded below the fold with partial transcript):
As Americans flood to town hall meetings and Tea Parties to express their opposition to ObamaCare, media members find it somewhat hypocritical that these same people might have looked upon anti-Bush protests with contempt.
This seeming contradiction was addressed on CNN's "Reliable Sources" Sunday when host Howard Kurtz asked his guests, "[H]asn't Fox, in fact, flipped -- some Fox hosts, I should say -- from slamming liberal protesters to defending these anti-Obama protesters?"
This question arose when Kurtz brought up last week's exchange between Fox News's Bill O'Reilly and Comedy Central's Jon Stewart (video embedded below the fold with partial transcript, relevant section at 8:45):
On CNN Sunday, Howard Kurtz asked his "Reliable Sources" guests if Fox News's Glenn Beck should be fired for calling President Obama a racist.
As he pressed the issue, Kurtz must have forgotten how much attention his own network gave to Kanye West's claim in the wake of Hurricane Katrina that "George Bush does not care about black people."
In fact, in the weeks following the destruction of New Orleans, CNN hosts, anchors, contributors, and guests spoke openly about West's remarks, as well as whether or not the government's response to that disaster was racist.
Despite this, Kurtz asked his guests the following questions Sunday (video embedded below the fold):
There's no doubt about it. Celebrity is the media's top priority.
Michael Jackson's June 25 death overshadowed all other news for almost two weeks.
Nightly news programs on ABC, CBS and NBC featured at least one story each night about Jackson since his death. More than half of those broadcasts aired since June 25 lead with a story about Jackson. A Pew poll found cable news devoted 93 percent of its coverage to Jackson on June 25 and 26. The broadcast networks joined CNN, MSNBC and Fox News in airing Jackson's July 7 memorial from Los Angeles' Staples Center.
Despite a separate Pew poll that found 64 percent of people believe there was too much coverage of Jackson, the media continue to hit the story hard. CNN's Don Lemon even labeled critics of the coverage "elitist," and said, "Michael Jackson is an accidental civil rights leader, an accidental pioneer. He broke ground and barriers in so many different realms in artistry, in pictures, in movies, in music, you name it. So, no, I don't think it's overkill."
CNN daytime anchor Don Lemon appeared on CNN’s Reliable Sources on Sunday to come strongly to the defense of Michael Jackson, whom he saluted twice as an "accidental civil rights leader." Lemon charged that anyone who thinks the Jackson story is overdone is "elitist," and when Kurtz suggested the "civil rights leader" might have been a child molester, Lemon quickly asserted that it was never proven in court and "if you talk to people who were involved in those cases, they don't believe that he did it."
Kurtz invited in Lemon, former Washington Post and New York Times entertainment reporter Sharon Waxman, and Baltimore Sun TV critic David Zurawik. All three thought the Jackson story was not overcovered. (Kurtz claimed on Twitter it was "hard to find a critic" of the overkill on the holiday weekend.)
Lemon suggested there wasn’t much criticism of the overcoverage of Princess Diana’s death (what country was he living in back then?), implying maybe because she was white:
HOWARD KURTZ: Don't you feel deep down that this is overdoing it?