During his online "Critiquing the Media" chat on Monday, Washington Post media reporter Howard Kurtz agreed with criticism that today's story on immigrant "victims" of mortgage lenders didn't seem to assume that borrowers are in any way responsible for failing to make their mortgage payments. He even agreed with the online questioner's suggestion there was "subtle racism" in the tone of the story:
Northern Virginia: Howard, question regarding the headline and terminology used in today's Post story on foreclosures. In both the current washingtonpost.com headline and the lede the term "victim" is used. The word implies predation and an I see an implication that these people aren't smart enough to understand what they're signing when they apply for mortgages. Am I reading too much into this or is there a subtle racism to writing about immigrant "victims"?
Howard Kurtz: I couldn't agree more. I think it was a mistake to describe immigrants who are having their homes foreclosed upon as "victims" when there's no suggestion in the article that they were defrauded. We can have sympathy for them, sure, as we would for anyone losing his or her house. But don't they bear some responsibility for taking out high-interest loans for houses they could not really afford?
Just so people wouldn't think that Kurtz was lining up with Tom Tancredo or something, Kurtz also agreed with a questioner who was bothered by Fox News describing a guest as a "Democrat strategist" without the crucial tic at the end:
Fox News: Dear Howard: I love your chats -- enough so to skip my usual lunchtime gym workout!
Speaking of which, last week at the gym someone had on Fox News. They were asking Dem and Rep strategists about Gonzales. When introducing the Dem strategist, the anchorman gave his name and then described him as a "Democrat strategist." Putting aside why the strategist didn't object, my question is how can Fox be "fair and balanced" if it refers to the Democratic party by a perjorative only otherwise used by some conservative Republicans? Thanks.
Howard Kurtz: Don't get flabby on my account! I didn't see the segment and don't know who said it, but the "Democrat" formulation really bugs me. Bush recently said he wasn't aware that he uses it and wasn't trying to needle the other party.
In the Monday political chat, Post reporter Dan Balz seemed a bit supportive of the Clintons, insisting that Hillary Clinton's health-care proposals aren't really "government-managed" solutions, as the questioner suggested:
Alxandria, Va.: Dan, Hillary Clinton said on ABC this morning that she's very eager to get the country back on the path to government-managed universal health care. Is it me, or when she talks about this, doesn't she sound like she's selling something that's not a lot different than the last time, the "fiasco"? Is it all about "same message, different tactics"?
Dan Balz: I've heard Sen. Clinton talk about health care a lot over the past few months, including Saturday in Las Vegas. I've not heard her make a case for a "government-managed" health care system. She and others say they want to see universal coverage, but she has talked about various ways to get there. One obviously is to piggyback on the Medicare system and expand it to cover all Americans, but Clinton has been careful to say that is something that could happen only if there is clear political support for it. Other options include employer mandates -- requiring all businesses either to provide insurance or pay into a pool to help subsidize the purchase of insurance by individuals -- or individual mandates -- requiring all individuals to buy or have insurance. She is quite focused on developing political consensus on this issue, in large part because of what happened to her and her husband in 1993-94.
And then there was this question on Gonzales vs. Janet Reno:
Haymarket, Va.: Do Democrats truly believe that Janet Reno was a more independent Attorney General than Gonzales? Her utter failure to name an independent counsel in the illegal-money-from-China case certainly looks like she knuckled under to White House pressure. And nobody in the media demanded her resignation after incidents like Waco, did they?
Dan Balz: Remember, however, there was an independent counsel in the Whitewater case, which ultimately led to impeachment because of Monica Lewinsky. President Bush is far closer to Alberto Gonzales than President Clinton was to Janet Reno.