Howard Kurtz, tonight:
Howard Kurtz, January 29, 2005:
Columnist Charles Krauthammer heaped praise on President Bush's inaugural address. But, he says, he had nothing to do with shaping the speech.
Weekly Standard Editor Bill Kristol also lauded the speech. He says he did not consult on the speech itself but discussed with two White House officials "themes for the second term and included in that, themes for the inaugural."
Both conservatives are unapologetic about having privately offered advice to top White House aides, saying that is perfectly proper for commentators.
Krauthammer and Kristol have drawn some criticism since a Jan. 22 Post article described them as among those consulting on the inaugural address.
Liz Spayd, the paper's assistant managing editor for national news, said: "We stand by the story we wrote. We have a firsthand source who says it was crystal clear a primary purpose of the meeting was to seek advice on both Bush's inaugural and State of the Union speeches."
So, when Howard Kurtz writes about a media figure helping write a speech for a Democratic president, he portrays it as evidence that the media is liberal -- but when two media figures, one of them employed by his own newspaper, help a Republican president write a speech, he doesn't give any indication that he thinks it has anything to do with the question of media bias.
This is a key reason why the myth of the liberal media has taken hold: People like Kurtz -- and Washington Post ombudsman Andrew Alexander -- are more likely to frame discussions of questionable media performance as evidence of bias when the performance in question could suggest liberal bias than when it could suggest the opposite.