Kurtz Goes to the Well

Plugs his book in his column, again

In his Washington Post media column this morning, Howard Kurtz tackles the great go-to topic for media critics with nothing in particular to write about: media bias.

After interviewing Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly (batting from the right) and MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann (digging in on the left side of the plate), Kurtz marvels that, when it comes to discussing what’s wrong with the American media, the two “appear to be living in parallel universes.”

It was a fresh reminder, as if any were needed, that nearly everyone in America has a highly opinionated view of the media — not just talk-show hosts who provoke and pronounce for a living, but viewers, listeners, readers and Web surfers as well. Some think mainstream journalists are biased to the left; others view them as patsies for the Bush White House; and still others find them arrogant, celebrity-obsessed or just plain irrelevant. But are many of these folks simply viewing the news business through their own ideological lens?

Short answer: Yes, yes they are, Howard.

Now that we’ve got that cleared up, I’d like to see Kurtz turn his gaze inward, and explain why he keeps plugging himself in his columns and on his CNN talk show. About midway through today’s piece, we’re reminded that he is the “author of a new book on the network news wars, Reality Show,” a book for which he actually interviewed himself on his CNN show last month. I don’t blame the guy for wanting to sell books, but the full-court press in his column, and on his CNN show, takes the concept of a synergy to a smarmy new level.

Now, I hate to bring this down on the head of a fellow SUNY Buffalo alum, and a member of what The New Republic’s Christopher Orr recently called the “post-Buffalo media superelite,” a group for which I apparently—and insultingly—didn’t make the cut, (I mean, I grew up only a couple blocks away from the fabled boyhood home of Tim “little Russ” Russert!) but the issue of self-promotion seems to be a much more interesting topic than rehashing the liberal/conservative media wars. Particularly if you have nothing of import to add to that debate.

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Paul McLeary is senior editor of Defense Technology International magazine, and is a former CJR staffer.