kf's Big Plamegate Scoop

A mostly political Weblog.
Nov. 29 2005 4:02 AM

kf's Big Plamegate Scoop

Pay attention this time, dammit!

(Continued from Page 4)

P.S.:  Alert reader C.S. questions this Seelye graf--

He draws salaries from two of the most important media companies in the country: CNN, which is owned by Time Warner, and The Post, which is owned by The Washington Post Company. Such arrangements do not violate Post policy. In fact, The Post has quite liberal rules regarding extracurricular work by its reporters and editors. [Emph. added]

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It's one thing for a reporter to do extracurricular work and get paid for it, C.S. notes. But most WaPo reporters who moonlight for, say, Vanity Fair, don't report on Vanity Fair as part of their regular beats. Is Seelye really right that it's not a violation of "Post policy" to draw a salary from a company you cover? Those are some liberal rules! New vistas of possible revenue opportunities crowd the imagination. No wonder reporters at the Post can afford to buy houses in the D.C. market. ... [You're writing about the Washington Post Company here. Don't you draw a salary from that very same company?--ed No I don't! ... Oh, wait. WaPo owns Slate, doesn't it? But--

1) Every reporter who's paid has a conflict with whatever institution pays him. That's unavoidable. Kurtz's problem is that he has a second, gratuitous conflict with the giant conglomerate the Post pays him to cover.

2) Kurtz's second conflict is especially huge. If the Post fired him, after all, he could get a job with another paper within an hour. The Post doesn't have much leverage (as their see-no-evil treatment of Kurtz suggests). But if CNN cancelled Kurtz's show, the other TV networks wouldn't exactly be falling over themselves to snap him up. Not even MSNBC! (Though Kurtz does have a career interest in keeping MSNBC's Rick Kaplan happy, too, just in case. That makes it worse.) CNN has leverage.

3) Hypocrisy Angle #1: I don't think all writers have to be free of all conflicts. Everybody has conflicts. Life creates conflicts. Conflicts can be good--they tend to come with inside info and perspective. As long as a conflict is disclosed, readers can usually make up their minds. But WaPo, like most MSM organizations, does pretend to prohibit conflicts in order to achieve neutrality and "objectivity." WaPo editor Len Downie famously doesn't even vote. After ostentatiously purging such petty conflicts it's hypocritical to then ignore Kurtz's elephantine conflict.  As reader C.S. argues,

It's one thing to say "We violate our policies in this unusual case, just as we violate our rules governing quotations when Woodward wants to 'reconstruct' White House conversations. But these are great reporters and they've earned waivers to our rules." It's another to say: "Nope, no issues here at all."

4)Hypocrisy Angle #2: Kurtz himself, as WaPo's media reporter, has made it his business to ding other journalists for conflicts far less significant than his own.

Update: Kurtz is discussed here, a video dialogue in which I talk rather too much about my deep dark personal beef with Kurtz.Not that there's anything wrong with it! ... Backfill: See also this post. ... 10:33 P.M. link

Everybody's For McCain: On NBC's Chris Matthews Show yesterday, David Brooks said conservatives had warmed to John McCain, and Matthews said he'd heard the same thing. ... Let's see. Conservatives are for McCain. Liberals like McCain. Centrists love McCain. Doesn't that mean McCain might, er, win? Who's going to vote against him?  In a general election, it seems like McCain would come close to being elected by acclamation! It will take all the genius of the American political system to make sure he isn't on the ballot. ... Update: The Cook/Riehle/Tarrance poll confirms the point--McCain's a winner among Democrats and independents. If he gets the Republicans ...  8:02 P.M.  link

On CNN, Tom Maguire looks perfectly normal. How bizarre. 6:26 P.M.

Note to hapless LAT publisher Jeffrey Johnson: Instead of reviving Robert Scheer's dormant career by firing him, or having your telemarketers boast that you've extirpated liberal Michael Kinsley's insidious influence, why not pay attention to the bias on the pages people actually read--like the embarrassing deception in the second paragraph of Friday's front-page, two-column-headline lead story, which seemingly proclaimed that "no Democrat was a firmer ally" of Bush's war against Saddam than Rep. John Murtha, when in fact Murtha had been a critic of the current Iraq war in 2002, before it started? Funny how those propagandistic mistakes in the news pages never get made in a pro-Bush direction, isn't it? ... P.S.: Your editorial page is now run by Andres Martinez, Kinsley's handpicked recruit. Doesn't the mean Kinsley continues to exert his evil influence right under your nose? I think it does!...P.P.S.: Kinsley wrote a great abortion column yesterday. It wasn't a liberal column; it was an anti-liberal column. Too bad it ran in the Washington Post and not your paper. (Are you really clueless enough to think that Kinsley was pushing the LAT to the left? Have you ever heard the expression, "neoliberal"?) ... P.P.P.S.: That Murtha error smells like an editor's mistake to me. That's why your absurd anti-Kinsley spiel won't convince anybody. The L.A. Times' peculiar bias--a chloroform-like combination of liberalism and lifelessness--runs deep in the paper's DNA, in layers and layers of editorial middle-bureaucracy. Short of laying off 80% of the staff, you will not root it out in our lifetimes. Conservative readers know this. ... 2:50 P.M.

Murtha Commands the Dawn? Someone who works for Ralph Nader once described to me a brilliant technique of his: When he heard a rumor that the government was about to do something, he immediately called a press conference and demanded that it be done. Is that what Rep. Murtha has now done?  Just askin'. ...

P.S.: Nader's press conferences would arguably have had the effect of delaying the government's impending action, because who wants to seem to be taking orders from Nader? Murtha's move may have the same effect, for a slightly different reason: Murtha has now established exactly the worst context for a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq. By making his (understandable) teary concern about the injuries to our soldiers his central motivation, he makes it seem, if we pull out now, that the Sunni/Zarqawi strategy has worked--that we've been run out of Iraq because we couldn't tolerate the casualties the insurgents were inflicting. That will encourage Al Qaeda operatives around the globe. Isn't it a lot better if we start to withdraw, after a successful Iraqi election, while plausibly claiming that we've done our job? That's why Hastert's stunt yesterday to put down Murtha's proposal was amply justified. It makes it easier to withdraw if it doesn't seem to be a response to Murtha's cry of pain. ... 2:06 P.M.

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