Howard Kurtz, still covering for his bosses

Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

Last October, Washington Post/CNN media critic Howard Kurtz insisted "My track record makes clear that I've been as aggressive toward CNN -- and The Washington Post, for that matter -- as I would be if I didn't host a weekly program there."

In fact, Kurtz's track record -- particularly his kid-glove treatment of CNN president Jonathan Klein, who endorsed Lou Dobbs' promotion of Birther conspiracy theories -- directly undermines that assertion, as I pointed out at the time. As for Kurtz's "aggressive" coverage of the Post, that leaves something to be desired as well. Here's a refresher:

Just a couple of weeks ago, news broke that Post executive editor Marcus Brauchli apparently misled The New York Times over the summer about his knowledge of the Post's marketing of controversial (and since abandoned) dinner parties at which corporations would pay for access to Post reporters. In his defense, Brauchli claimed he hadn't misled the Times; the Times reporter had misunderstood him.

But then, the Politico's Michael Calderone revealed that Brauchli had told him the same thing he told the Times, and that Calderone had interpreted it the same way the Times had. That's quite a blow to Brauchli's defense -- it seems improbable that two different reporters at two different news organizations misinterpreted two different Brauchli statements in precisely the same way.

Calderone tried to reach Brauchli for comment, but Brauchli wouldn't talk to him. Brauchli did, however, give Kurtz an interview. In the article Kurtz wrote for the Post, he noted Brauchli's assertion that the Times had misunderstood him. But Kurtz didn't mention Calderone's revelation that Brauchli had told him the same thing the Times said Brauchli told them.

That's a key fact, and one that does a great deal to undermine Brauchli's defense. But Kurtz left it out of his article. Brauchli, of course, decides whether Kurtz continues to stay on the Post's payroll. And now Kurtz insists that he doesn't pull his punches when it comes to the Post. Yeah, right.

Incidentally, Kurtz won't answer questions about his treatment of Brauchli, either. And Brauchli won't answer questions about Calderone, or about why he would only talk to Kurtz.

That brings us to today's Washington Post, which features an article by Howard Kurtz about the paper's new policy for journalists' participation in events the Post company sponsors. Here's Kurtz' explanation of the background:

Post Publisher Katharine Weymouth apologized in July for an aborted plan to stage a series of off-the-record policy dinners at her home, with sponsors paying up to $25,000 to break bread with administration officials, lawmakers, business leaders and Post journalists. Executive Editor Marcus Brauchli also took responsibility for not blocking the plan, which the paper's ombudsman, Andrew Alexander, described as "an ethical lapse of monumental proportions."

But once again, Kurtz politely avoids mentioning Brauchli's apparent lie to multiple reporters about his knowledge of the scheme. Some things never change.

The Washington Post
Howard Kurtz, Marcus Brauchli
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