The Self Made Pundit
Monday, December 02, 2002
THE KURTZ AWARD FOR UNINTENTIONAL IRONY GOES TO ...: The Washington Post’s media critic Howard Kurtz deserves some kind of an award for his journalistic achievements. It cannot be easy to write media criticism that manages to be both wishy-washy and conservative leaning while never venturing into actual criticism of the media. Yet Kurtz has managed this trifecta of bad political journalism.
As Kurtz noted in his column on Friday, Al Gore has criticized those elements of the news media that regularly repeat Republican Party talking points as “news.” Since Kurtz is a media critic, you might expect him to offer an opinion on whether Gore’s criticism has any validity.
Does Kurtz, the media critic, even entertain the thought that partisan manipulation of our national political discourse might be detrimental to our society? No. Instead, he poses hypotheticals about how even if Gore is right, he shouldn’t be discussing such things:
Let's say Gore is right, that conservative news outlets are trying to blacken the reputations of people like him. Doesn't complaining about it just sound like whining? Or is he playing to his base, the way conservatives have done all these years by moaning about the liberal media?
Perhaps Kurtz just needed the weekend to mull over Gore’s criticisms that right-wing media outlets such as the Washington Times do the bidding of the Republican Party. Kurtz actually addresses the issue in today’s Washington Post.
Kurtz, however, seems to find Gore’s media criticisms to be unwarranted, absolving at least the Washington Times of being a Republican Party mouthpiece. In a column entitled “Right, but Not 100 Percent Right,” Kurtz writes:
Since taking over the Washington Times editorial page last summer, Tony Blankley has thrown some hard rhetorical punches. And it's not just Democrats who have been on the receiving end.
Blankley .... says "The Washington Times is a conservative paper, it's not a Republican paper. We don't hold a brief for either party. We hold a brief for our values and principles.”
It's no surprise that the colorful Blankley, a "McLaughlin Group" regular, is skewering leading Democratic officials. "It's going to be a long two years for Lefty Pelosi and the San Francisco Democrats," he wrote in one signed column. But Republicans aren't exempt from the Blankley Treatment.
Just who are these Republicans the fiercely independent Washington Times is attacking despite their ties to the Republican Party? They are Republican maverick Senator John McCain and ex-Republican Senator Jim Jeffords. Apparently, Kurtz views McCain as a loyal Republican and includes Jeffords on the theory that an ex-Republican is a type of Republican.
If a poll were taken of Republicans in Congress and the Bush administration on who is the biggest traitor to the Republican Party, the only suspense would be in whether McCain or Jeffords finished first. Yet Kurtz views the Washington Times’ attacks on these two Republican Party heretics as demonstrating the paper’s autonomy from the Republican Party.
Let’s add unintentional irony to Kurtz’s other journalistic achievements.