Howard Kurtz Exposes Bill Press: 'That's a Democratic Talking Point'

August 5th, 2012 4:22 PM

Radio and Current TV host Bill Press got thoroughly exposed on CNN Sunday as a shill for President Obama.

After Press shamelessly uttered the typical liberal line regarding Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's (D-Nev.) unsubstantiated claims about Mitt Romney not paying taxes, Reliable Sources host Howard Kurtz smartly interrupted saying, "That's a Democratic talking point. That's a Democratic talking point" (video follows with transcript and commentary):

HOWARD KURTZ, HOST: Michael Shear, you're co-author of a piece in which you said it was hardly out of character for the cantankerous Harry Reid to hurl a taunting, unsubstantiated accusation at Romney. Well, it took several days, but you made Reid the issue.

MICHAEL SHEAR, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, and I think -- I think when people make unsubstantiated charges with absolutely no proof behind them, you know, one option is to ignore them and -- for the media. That's not possible.

KURTZ: That's not really an option here.

SHEAR: That's not really an option here. He goes to the Senate floor, as you saw.

So, I think the best we can do is to: (a), demand that he give us the proof. And if he doesn't, clearly say as we did in the piece in the first sentence, it's unsubstantiated.

KURTZ: Now, Harry Reid said that he had gotten this from some unnamed person, used to work at Bain. He won't reveal it. He thinks it's true. He told us -- he did this original interview with the "Huffington Post" which reported it straight except for saying it's impossible to verify because they won't give us the source.

Is that the correct way to handle it? Who should be the issue here?

BILL PRESS, CURRENT TV: There's only one guy who can clear this up. It's not Harry Reid. I'm sorry, it's Mitt Romney.

KURTZ: Wait, wait, wait.

PRESS: No, no, I think reporters --

KURTZ: That's a Democratic talking point. That's a Democratic talking point. What I'm asking is how journalists should handle an unsubstantiated charge.

PRESS: I'm going to tell you. I'm going to tell you. Journalists should handle it by going to Mitt Romney and say why only two years, why not 23 years? Why -- you gave 23 years of it to McCain --

KURTZ: So, it's perfectly OK, it's perfectly OK in your view for Harry Reid to throw this out, unnamed source, nothing to back it up, and you just think that's fodder for journalist to attack Reid?

PRESS: I just want to point out, Harry Reid is not a journalist. Harry Reid is a Democratic politician who doesn't want Mitt Romney to get elected. What he is doing may be diabolical, but it's brilliant, because what's Mitt Romney been talking about for the last two days, he's been talking about his freaking tax returns. So Harry Reid is playing hardball.

KURTZ: Maybe diabolical, but --

DEBRA SAUNDERS, THE SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE: We should not be helping him here. I think --

SHEAR: Absolutely.

SAUNDERS: This reminds me when Michele Bachmann said that she met a mother who said her daughter got the HPV vaccine and got mentally retarded afterward. And the media jumped on her rightly and said, show us this woman. We're not even sure that this person exists.

You know, Candy Crowley's a great journalist. But she earlier said that Harry Reid wouldn't reveal his sources. How do we know he has any sources?

The accuser, the burden of proof is on the accuser. And Harry Reid has absolutely not met that burden in any way. I thought Frank Rooney's piece in "the New York Times" today was on the money.

KURTZ: Debra, when you say that we --


KURTZ: -- meaning the media, shouldn't be helping Harry Reid with this unsubstantiated charge, you're not suggesting that we don't report it at all. You're suggesting that we challenge him, be critical of him, be skeptical of him?

SAUNDERS: Until there is proof, the focus is that there's no proof. The focus should be on him, not on someone else. I mean, he's the -- he's the leader of the Senate. He has an obligation to his institution to make wild, unsubstantiated claims. He brings dishonor on that whole House. Unless he can prove what he's saying --


SAUNDERS: -- then he should, then we have to focus on him.

Of course, Saunders was 100 percent correct, and any media member not agreeing with that is only echoing Democratic talking points.

But this raises a larger issue that NewsBusters has addressed for years: once CNN and Kurtz identify a guest is just speaking Democratic or Republican talking points, why invite him or her back on?

Maybe the fact that folks like Press appear on CNN is partially responsible for the network's continually declining ratings.

If CNN wants to be taken seriously as a credible news source by a larger percentage of the nation and not just a farce like MSNBC or Current, it needs to stop giving obvious shills like Press valuable air time.

Makes you wonder how low the ratings of the self-proclaimed "most trusted name in news" have to go before network execs get the point.