Washington Post/CNN media critic Howard Kurtz held an online Q&A today. In light of last week's Q&A held by Post executive editor Marcus Brauchli, in which Brauchli ducked tough questions in favor of queries about fonts and byline formats, I submitted two questions to today's Kurtz Q&A:
You reported a week ago that Post exec editor Marcus Brauchli says the NYT misunderstood him over the summer; that he didn't say he had been unaware the Post's salon dinners were marketed as off the record. But Politico's Michael Calderone says Brauchli told him the same thing he told the Times, and he interpreted it the same way.
Have you asked Brauchli about this? It seems hard to believe that 2 different reporters at 2 different news orgs would misinterpret 2 different Brauchli comments precisely the same way.
So, CNN did a 4-hour immigration special. CNN's Lou Dobbs is one of the nation's leading critics of immigration policy. One of the experts interviewed for the special specifically criticized Dobbs' reporting. And CNN edited that criticism out before airing the interview.
Now, those two questions have something in common: They both raise issues that are uncomfortable for people who sign Howard Kurtz's paychecks. Actually, they have something else in common: Kurtz didn't take either of them.
Kurtz did take a question about the hugely-significant Steve Phillips ESPN sex scandal, a throwaway about the name of his television show, a conspiracy-theory rant about the government and media "terrorizing" people about H1N1, a few questions about sports programming, a comment about the Post's redesign, and several questions about CNN's competitors Fox News and MSNBC.
Obviously, these WaPo Q&As exist largely to promote the Post and its work. It's a shame some Post employees don't also see them as an opportunity to be accountable to their readers and take tough questions.
(It should be noted that some WaPo Q&A participants don't seem to duck difficult questions. Perry Bacon's last few sessions are an example. I've been pretty critical of several of his comments during Q&As, but he deserves credit for responding to pointed queries from readers.)