Media Critic Kurtz Says Networks Relevant; Journalists 'Put Our Feelings Aside'

March 13th, 2008 5:28 PM

Who's watching the watchers? Well, the Media Research Center, and Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz says he's "sort of like the internal affairs cop." But just how tough is he? You can be the judge reading his column.

"We try to hold them accountable, exactly what they do to politicians - why did you do that? Why did you make that mistake? Why did you jump the gun?" said Kurtz, who's also the host of CNN's "Reliable Sources," in a March 12 appearance on "The Colbert Report." Kurtz was on to plug his new book, "Reality Show," about television news.

Host Stephen Colbert baited him: "The three big anchors still really matter, and I agree. ...Who are they, again?"

But seriously - Kurtz said the ABC, NBC and CBS news shows reach a lot of people - one of the reasons the Media Research Center monitors them.

"They have a big megaphone, 25 million combined viewers every night," Kurtz said. "A lot of people say they're dinosaurs, but y'know, they go on the campaign trail, they go to Iraq. Remember when Hillary Clinton was inevitable? We all said she was inevitable. First thing she did - Charlie [Gibson], Brian [Williams], Katie [Couric], she wanted to sit down for 3 ½-minute taped interviews."

"We were all wrong" about Hillary being inevitable, Kurtz admitted. He defended the media's focus on Obama by saying Clinton's Democratic rival was "the hot story" and gave "Saturday Night Live" credit for turning the coverage in a tougher direction.

After "Saturday Night Live" made fun of journalists for adoring Obama, Colbert said, the media became part of the story.

"The press not only got to talk about her, but talk about themselves, which is their favorite subject," Colbert said.

"We're a very self-absorbed profession," Kurtz agreed.

When Colbert asked about journalists "liking" Obama or Clinton more, Kurtz answered, "We are trained professionals. We put our feelings aside."