Does Howard Kurtz read the Washington Post?

Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

As Karl Frisch noted earlier, Howard Kurtz's complaints about Barack Obama's handling of the BP oil spill are pure theater criticism -- Kurtz stipulates that, "substantively," Obama has done what he could, but complains about the "optics." (When a Beltway journalist uses the word "optics," that's your cue to stop listening. Immediately.) I suspect a large part of the reason why journalists like this style of commentary so much is that it lacks objective standards, so they can just say whatever they want. Like Howard Kurtz's complaints about Obama:

I'm among those who believe that passion is often missing from his presidency.

No one doubts that the guy is whip smart, works incredibly hard and tries to master the policies he pushes. But he often lacks that visceral appeal. When he said he was mad at Wall Street bonuses or AIG, it felt like he was reading someone else's words.

But in terms of the optics, the politics, the sense of outrage, well, no wonder James Carville was angry. The White House just bungled that part.

Watching Obama, I thought, here's a guy who really understands this stuff. But he was flat and technocratic, at least until he invoked his daughter, which for me missed the mark.

Got that? According to Kurtz, the president is passion-free, lacking "visceral appeal," flat and "technocratic" -- until he isn't, at which point he misses the mark anyway. Obama just can't win with this guy.

And when he finished his Goldilocks routine, Kurtz went on to write the single dumbest sentence you'll read today:

When top columnists at the New York Times and Washington Post turn on a Democratic president, he's got problems.

Let that sink in for a second. Howard Kurtz thinks it is unusual for "top columnists" at the Times and the Post to "turn on a Democratic president."

The last time America had a Democratic president, New York Times columnist William Safire called his wife a "congenital liar" and routinely claimed she was about to be indicted. New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd never met a Democrat she wouldn't mock. (Dowd is Kurtz's very first example of a "top columnist" at the Times whose harsh words for a Democratic president are supposed to be surprising. Is he kidding? He must be.) And the Washington Post? Don't get me started on the Washington Post.

Howard Kurtz is the nation's most prominent media critic -- and he is apparently unaware of the absolutely savage treatment Democratic politicians, presidents included, have received from the op-ed pages of the New York Times and his own Washington Post. Amazing.

UPDATE: Just how clueless is Kurtz? Take another look at his surprise at Dowd going negative on Obama:

When top columnists at the New York Times and Washington Post turn on a Democratic president, he's got problems.

Maureen Dowd goes with the Star Trek analogy:

"President Spock's behavior is illogical. ...

Maureen Dowd has referred to Obama as Spock in no fewer than four previous columns during his presidency. She routinely derides him as an emotionless Vulcan. And yet Kurtz is stunned that she has done so, and thinks such criticism is out of character for a New York Times columnist. Does he even read the New York Times?

The Washington Post, The New York Times
Howard Kurtz
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