From Joe Coscarelli at Press Clips (blog) at the village VOICE:
As interest in Anthony Weiner’s penis and the dirty messages that brought it out to play begins to wane, we focus instead on the media coverage of Anthony Weiner, thereby proliferating Anthony Weiner coverage. Hm! It’s a conundrum, especially for those who go on television to proclaim, “The degree of piling on: the way it hijacks cable news, the way it hijacks the morning shows, the way it is all over the Internet says to me that we are more interested in covering salacious topics than matters of the economy, on matters of war and peace,” while simultaneously writing for a news organization doing just that. Oh, hello there — Howard Kurtz, is that you? Why yes, it is.
Weiner Fatigue: Unsurprisingly, Anthony Weiner accounted for 17% of news coverage for the period from June 6-12, according to the News Coverage Index of the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism. That’s the fourth most unavoidable news story starring an elected official since January 2007, behind Rod Blagojevich’s Senate seat for sale, Eliot Spitzer’s prostitutes and Larry Craig’s “wide stance.” The economy and the Middle East each accounted for 11% of news, according to the same report, with Weiner also earning the honor of “top newsmaker” above Barack Obama and Sarah Palin.
Howard Kurtz, the former media critic for the Washington Post and currently the Daily Beast’s Washington bureau chief, played the scold instead and as a result gets called a “hypocrite.”
From the Atlantic WIRE:
The Atlantic Wire writes:
Kurtz the media critic is simply aghast at the excesses of the political press corps. Kurtz the D.C. bureau chief is part of a web site that has covered every tiny incremental advancement of the Anthony Weiner story, including a running slideshow of Weiner’s every shirtless and semi-nude photo and a story about the “pun-filled responses” titled “Weinergate’s 9 Best Moments.” It would seem something would have to give.”
I am not in charge of the site’s Weiner coverage,” he told the Wire, “but I wouldn’t deny for a second that The Daily Beast has aggressively jumped on this story.” The above links say otherwise.
From the Atlantic WIRE:
Howard Kurtz should get over himself. For 20 years, Kurtz earned his bread tsk-tsking the excesses of the mainstream media for The Washington Post. His standard biography kept him at arm’s length from the newsroom. As the “About the Author” section of his most recent book, Reality Show: Inside the Last Great Television News War, put it: “Howard Kurtz is the media reporter for The Washington Post and also writes a weekly column for the newspaper and a daily blog for its Web site.” His distance from the actual crafting of the news of the day gave him the breathing room for sanctimony. But, now, as Washington bureau chief of The Daily Beast, he’s lost that privilege.
Kurtz the media critic is simply aghast at the excesses of the political press corps. Kurtz the D.C. bureau chief is part of a web site that has covered every tiny incremental advancement of the Anthony Weiner story, including a running slideshow of Weiner’s every shirtless and semi-nude photo and a story about the “pun-filled responses” titled “Weinergate’s 9 Best Moments.” It would seem something would have to give. Asked about the tension, Kurtz first minimized his role. “I am not in charge of the site’s Weiner coverage,” he wrote by email, adding, “but I wouldn’t deny for a second that The Daily Beast has aggressively jumped on this story.”
But that sense that he’s part of the machine (as is The Atlantic Wire) feasting on the page views generated by a guy’s dumb mistakes hasn’t come across in his recent television appearances. On Wednesday, Kurtz the media critic appeared on CNN’s In the Arena with Eliot Spitzer (insert irony here) to assess the media’s coverage of the “sexting” scandal engulfing Rep. Anthony Weiner. Predictably, he scolded the media: “The degree of piling on: the way it hijacks cable news, the way it hijacks the morning shows, the way it is all over the Internet says to me that we are more interested in covering salacious topics than matters of the economy, on matters of war and peace. It’s not a novel statement on my part. But I’ve never seen it spin at this velocity and get this far out of control.” Three days prior, Kurtz opened his own show CNN’s Reliable Sources with a panel discussion on the appropriateness of covering the Weiner scandal. “Are journalists enjoying this tangle tale just a little too much?” he asked CUNY journalism professor Jeff Jarvis and Gawker writer Maureen O’Connor. Yesterday he devoted nearly his entire broadcast to the same, navel-gazing media-on-media criticism. “It’s on 10,000 Web sites in half an hour,” he told Jane Hall, an associate professor of communications at American University. “It seems to me… that there aren’t gatekeepers anymore… Is there a point where it just becomes excessive?”
Though he may not be running the Weiner coverage (and if not, one wonders if he ought to defend his territory as bureau chief), Kurtz has played a hand. He is on record saying he hunted down Kirsten Powers, Anthony Weiner’s ex-girlfriend, to have her write a negative article on the embattled congressman, which he personally edited.
But in his television appearances, Kurtz the media critic makes it clear that media companies should be held responsible for their excesses (which is basically the whole point of his show, Reliable Sources). […] If that’s the case, why doesn’t Kurtz the bureau chief steer the Daily Beast’s coverage away from Weinergate? Is his title as an editor meaningless? Even if he’s just following Tina Brown’s orders, one suspects he could at least steer his own coverage away from the scandal. Yet here he is in today’s column explaining how hard he’s worked the Weinergate beat: “On the afternoon that Anthony Weiner tearfully confessed to all manner of X-rated misadventures, I furiously scribbled notes and banged out a story for The Daily Beast—one of several on a seamy saga that, as they say, has nothing but readers.” After giving similar coverage to John Edwards, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Dominque Strauss-Kahn, he adds, “I can defend every one of these stories, which involve public officials and questionable-to-serious allegations,” he wrote today. But it’s worth asking a larger point: If even Howard Kurtz the bureau chief can’t live up to the standards of Howard Kurtz the media critic, what’s the point in making the argument at all?
My take is this: today’s media is a collection of people, for the most part, who are lazy. Instead of covering the boring important stuff that actually affects citizens of the country and the world, their default is sleaze. If it’s sleazy, it’s easy. Why bother having to learn stuff in order to ask intelligent question when they can go for the reality-TV crap? What Anthony Weiner did was stupid, and it was yucky. However, I’d bet my bottom dollar that a surprising percentage of people (both men and women) have done similar things. He didn’t break any laws, and he didn’t hurt anyone except his wife and himeself. The Democrats who threw him under the bus (including President Obama) should be ashamed of themselves. What they should have said when asked about it is Congressman Weiner didn’t break any laws like David Vitter did, and Vitter is still in the Senate, and Weiner never hypocritically passed himself off as a “Family Values” politician, like Vitter and John Ensign and others have done. It’s a personal issue that he and his wife are dealing with. Given them some breathing room. Don’t you guys have more important things to cover?
As for the press, I am so sick of hearing them say that Weiner had to resign, because he was a distraction. The reason he was a distraction is that they were constantly flapping their lips about him and nothing else! Yes, the story was lots of fun with all the innuendo (his name is Weiner!! Oooh!!), but the talking heads on TV and the bloviators in the printed press are supposed to be a little more mature than junior high school boys.