And then there was Kurtz’s treatment of it all on his CNN show. After a news-heavy week for Lara Logan—her blistering press criticism on the Daily Show, her big promotion, a salacious National Enquirer story about her personal life—Kurtz talked only about the last item. This, after having just declared it “not much of a story” in his Washington Post column. Not only that, Kurtz—“the nation’s premier media critic,” you know—asked his guests (in this case, the National Review’s Jonah Goldberg and “author/CNN political contributor” Kelli Goff ) whether the Logan saga was newsworthy, without tackling that question himself. (Zachary Roth has written for CJR about Kurtz’s “buck-passing.”)
The consensus: Not really news! Goff also said: “And I’m completely there with you that I have a hard time believing that this—that after a male correspondent who is risking his life every day in war zones was given a huge promotion, that the lead on the story would be who he is or is not dating .”
Except that Kurtz never said anything at all about Logan’s “huge promotion,” let alone that this should have been the “lead on the story” —either the New York Post’s or his own. And it was Goff, not Kurtz, who thought to ask this: “When did The National Enquirer become a credible source for major news stories in major national publications?”
Kurtz, along with Goldberg, instead rushed to the Enquirer’s defense:
GOLDBERG: The Enquirer has broken a lot of stories.
KURTZ: There have been times when the Enquirer has…
GOFF: But very rarely are they cited as the source.
There was a kernel of something worthwhile that came out of the Reliable Sources segment (again, credit belongs to Kurtz’s guests): the observation that we live in a media environment where networks actively encourage and participate in, as Goldberg said, the “celebrification” of their news reporters; where CNN, for example, plays up Anderson Cooper’s cover-boy status (and, speaking of Paula Zahn, remember that CNN ad that promoted Zahn’s CNN show as “provocative” and “sexy” and included the sound of a zipper unzipping)? An environment where, I’d also add, CBS “puts Katie Couric on a Photoshop diet”, and has her lean against the news desk on her debut night as anchor of The CBS Evening News (shame to hide Those Legs behind a desk).
Not that I’ve (yet) seen CBS actively marketing Lara Logan as their New, Hollywood-Attractive Washington D.C.-Based Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent. Even if other media outlets present her that way.