Fahrenheit 9/11” has received overwhelmingly positive reviews. But to read Howard Kurtz online this morning, you wouldn’t know it. He allows critics of the film more than 2,000 words on his Washington Post blog to bash the film.
OK, you say, that’s fine to hear the other side, as minuscule as it might be in terms of critics. But read Kurtz regularly and you detect a conservative bias in his columns, both online and in print, and in his weekly online chats.
Does his wife make him do it?
But before we look at why, let’s look at just the recent record.
Calling his piece this morning “Moore: Genius or Liar?”, Kurtz makes it sound as if most critics are panning the movie.
What’s most fascinating about the Michael Moore coverage is that while conservatives are shredding his film, even many liberals say that it’s a heavy-handed piece of propaganda filled with exaggerations, if not outright falsehoods.
The other day on his online chat he was asked to comment about possible bias against Bush in the Iraq War coverage.
Well, [reporters] certainly deserve respect. That doesn’t mean their coverage should be above criticism. It’s certainly true that the murders, bombings and attacks have gotten a huge amount of coverage, understandably, and that this has overshadowed some of the quieter signs of progress, such as building schools or extending electricity. It’s hard to strike the right balance when people are being killed every day and when journalists themselves have become targets.
In other words, he suggests that reporters are covering the violence only because they are subject to it.
In his column Monday, he devoted one of the items to a media group that is trying to prove there is a liberal bias and quotes from the group’s web site, citing “[c]omplaints that some journalists were too hard on Ronald Reagan, too easy on Bill Clinton and too critical of Ken Starr.” Too easy on Clinton? That’s laughable enough to question the seriousness of the group.
The very next piece is designed to cast doubt on the credibility and objectivity of Jackie Bensen, a reporter for the local NBC affiliate in Washington who lives with a police officer. You can tell the agenda of the reporter when at the top of the piece he writes, “She sees no problem with the fact that she lives with an assistant D.C. police chief, Peter Newsham, who oversees ethics investigations and disciplinary reviews as head of the department’s Office of Professional Responsibility.”
Meaning, of course, that he does see a problem with it.
“It’s ironic that Kurtz would suggest a conflict of interest between a couple. Kurtz is married to Sheri Annis, who is a GOP public relations strategist supporting the re-election of George W. Bush. Annis also was part of Arnold Schwartzneggar’s brain trust in his recall election. She also worked on a California voter proposition that would force immigrant children to speak English in school. She appears regularly on Chris Matthews’s “Hardball” program as a conservative pundit and writes for the National Review. She also worked on a campaign to stop “living wage” laws. She even calls her company Fourth Estate Strategies.
Not a bad idea, of course, when your husband is a prominent member of the Fourth Estate as a Washington Post columnist whose work is seen daily and, in another bit of irony, hosts CNN’s Reliable Sources, which is a program that is supposed to look critically at the media, his Post being one of the 800 lbs. gorillas of the industry.
I wonder if Kurtz minds if I infer that he “sees no problem with” that.
Editors’s Note: This article was edited for punctuation and grammar after it was originally posted.