On Reliable Sources, Howard Kurtz continued his pattern of raising the issue of media bias by repeating conservative claims in the form of questions when he asked on November 12 if "journalists [are] quietly rejoicing over the Democratic takeover of Congress." He then wondered: "[W]ill they cover Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid as aggressively as they once scrutinized Newt Gingrich?"
CNN reported a claim by Saddam Hussein's lawyer that the release of the verdict in his trial on charges of crimes against humanity two days before U.S. congressional midterm elections is timed to influence that vote, but CNN did not provide evidence that might lend credence to such an accusation: If true, this would be far from the first time that the Bush administration has timed an Iraq- or national security-related event for political advantage.
Michael Medved claimed that two recent CNN specials, Broken Government and War on the Middle Class, are evidence that CNN "has been anti-[Bush] administration." In fact, both specials included criticism of and attacks on Democrats.
CNN host and Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz suggested that an account of the scandal surrounding Rep. Mark Foley on Harper's magazine's website is evidence that "Democratic operatives" were "involved in spreading the story to the press" and may have had "partisan" reasons for doing so. But Kurtz ignored the evidence in the Harper's article leading to its author's conclusion with "absolute certainty" that "there was never a plan to undermine the G.O.P. or to destroy [House Speaker J. Dennis] Hastert personally," as well as ignoring a report by his own newspaper, The Washington Post.
On CNN's Reliable Sources, National Review contributor editor David Frum baselessly suggested that Democrats, unlike Republicans, "have the impulse to protect and shield their own when their own are guilty," comparing the Democrats' response to allegations that Rep. William Jefferson accepted bribes with the Republican leadership's handling of the Foley matter to make his point.
In discussing former President Clinton's interview with Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday, Howard Kurtz wrote in his column that Clinton gave an "impassioned, finger-wagging answer" to Wallace's question about why he failed to "do more ... and put [Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda] out of business." On CNN's Reliable Sources, Kurtz asserted, "[I]t would seem that ... the former president just went overboard." But in neither instance did Kurtz indicate that Clinton gave a substantive defense of his administration's anti-terror efforts in response.
On CNN's Reliable Sources, Howard Kurtz asserted that CBS News' "Jim Axelrod, and some of the other White House correspondents, sounded almost offended that Bush delivered what they considered to be a partisan speech on the 9-11 anniversary." But there was a reason reporters might have reacted as they did to Bush's speech: Before the address, the White House had repeatedly pledged that Bush's September 11 address to the nation would not be "political," but rather a "reflection" of what the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks meant to him and to America.
On CNN's Reliable Sources, host Howard Kurtz suggested that "liberal hypocrisy" was inherent in Democrats' objections to ABC's "docudrama" The Path to 9/11. Kurtz highlighted radio host Michael Medved's criticism of Democratic objections to the film and appeared to adopt Medved's assertion that Democrats are seeking to "censor" the film. But Kurtz neglected to discuss the "hypocrisy" in the reaction to the film by some conservatives -- including Medved.
On CNN's Reliable Sources, CBS News contributor Gloria Borger acknowledged that the media "are suckers" because of their coverage of President Bush's surprise June 13 trip to Iraq. Borger concluded: "[Y]ou know you're being used, but in a way you kind of like it because it's good pictures."
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In their coverage of Ann Coulter's attacks on the widows of 9-11 victims, both Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz and ABC's Jake Tapper denounced Coulter's inflammatory rhetoric while asserting that her underlying point -- that Democrats deliberately put forward "infallible" advocates in order to squelch honest debate -- is "valid" and "perfectly acceptable." But a closer examination of the specific examples of "infallible" advocates cited by Coulter turns up evidence that, in every case, these individuals have faced strong Republican opposition and, quite often, ad hominem attacks from conservatives.
On CNN's Reliable Sources, conservative blogger Hugh Hewitt pointed to Rush Limbaugh as a model of the type of media figure that could help the mainstream media get Americans' "trust back."
Chris Matthews devoted the first 12 minutes of his 30-minute, NBC-syndicated The Chris Matthews Show to asking his panel 17 questions based on The New York Times article that examined the state of the marriage between Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) and former President Bill Clinton. Matthews asserted that Bill Clinton "doesn't get special press scrutiny." Panelist and Time magazine assistant managing editor Michael Duffy also appeared to validate the Times' decision to publish the story, stating: "I think if [the Times] hadn't done the story, someone else would have." And in an appearance on CNN's Reliable Sources, San Francisco Chronicle columnist Debra Saunders falsely claimed that the Times article only discussed the Clintons' "public social lives," adding that "The New York Times would be derelict if it didn't report on this" because "it's something people want to know about."
On CNN's Reliable Sources, while discussing Rep. Tom DeLay's intention to resign, Howard Kurtz asked conservative Power Line blogger Scott Johnson if "the press" was "to blame for the fact that the congressman is under indictment" in Texas, because "a lot of people have criticized those charges." Later, while discussing media coverage of Rep. Cynthia McKinney's recent altercation with a Capitol Police officer, Kurtz asked Johnson whether "some in the media" have "gone easy on McKinney ... because she's a liberal Democrat." The comments are not the first Kurtz has made suggesting that the media's purported liberalism controls their coverage of political events or scandals.
CNN Reliable Sources host Howard Kurtz noted that Christian Science Monitor reporter Jill Carroll, released on March 30 by Iraqi insurgents who had held her for 82 days, had "been criticized and had her motives questioned by skeptics, critics, and conspiracy theorists here at home." But Kurtz seemed to have forgotten that he had joined numerous right-wing media figures in questioning the motives behind her statements.