Kurtz Starts Weekend Early With Lighthearted Fare

It takes a talented writer to paint Michelle Malkin as the voice of reason, while portraying some liberal bloggers as violent, racist, knuckle-dragging misogynists out to destroy her.

It really takes a talented writer to paint conservative commentator Michelle Malkin as the voice of reason, while at the same time portraying some liberal bloggers — and liberals, in general — as violent, racist, knuckle-dragging misogynists out to destroy her. But the Washington Post’s Howie Kurtz — in a piece so lightweight that we could have sworn it was written by MarketWatch’s transcriber-in-chief Jon Friedmanmanages to do just that in the Post today.

Yes, the mouthpiece for your biased, liberal media fawned over MSM-basher Malkin this morning in a piece pegged to absolutely no news hook, while reading like Kurtz threw a dart at a dartboard full of names of people he’s been meaning to profile, but didn’t really feel like putting too much work into it.

I’m not going to list all the criticisms that have been leveled against Malkin in the past. Her spotty track record and hate-filled tirades against the usual cast of right-wing bogeymen is well known.

But there are a couple things worth pointing out in Kurtz’s lighthearted, one-sided look at her. He mentions her book In Defense of Internment: The Case for ‘Racial Profiling’ in World War II and the War on Terror only in passing, but the tome, which defended the forced imprisonment of Japanese Americans in the United States during WWII, and calls for more of the same today in an effort to fight terrorism, deserves more than a brief mention if you’re going to do Malkin’s controversial views any justice.

Speaking of doing a subject justice, aside from paraphrasing a single liberal blogger, Kurtz never bothers to talk to anyone who disagrees with Malkin (except for Wonkette’s West Coast editor, who in a content-free utterance just calls her “psychotic”). Instead, Kurtz relies on Malkin’s husband, a business partner, a friend from the New York Post and conservative blogger Andrew Sullivan for comment. And that, friends, does not a profile of a rabid ideologue make.

Sullivan does say that “sometimes you just can’t believe what she writes — it’s so out there, and in certain respects quite disgraceful.” It’s a start, but it’s also the end of any critical evaluation of her work. Sullivan then picks up a complaint that Malkin herself leveled earlier in the piece — that those mean, nasty liberals are racist, sexist morons who can’t stand to see a woman succeed. Sullivan says that “she’s been subjected to some pretty horrifying bigotry from the left, based on her gender and ethnicity and ugly stereotypes. You can’t engage in the kind of rhetoric she does and not expect some blowback.”

I’ve seen Malkin’s posts where she prints some of the hate email she gets. It’s vile. But any writer who posts contact information along with their work is going to get their share of wackos writing in. It doesn’t make it right, but it comes with the territory. It doesn’t mean that liberal bloggers are nasty, or that liberals hate Asians, or women — it just means that there are some stupid people out there. Malkin told Kurtz that critics will “ridicule my looks, ridicule my ethnicity, go after my family … There’s a strong sexist strain among my liberal critics, who think it isn’t possible I could have gotten anywhere without my Svengali husband, or some white man, embedding ideas in my head.”

Well, that sure sounds like those close-minded liberals, doesn’t it? Then it must be true! If Kurtz wanted to profile someone whose story actually offers a news peg, he would have been much better off profiling Amanda Marcotte, one of the bloggers who recently — and with much fanfare — resigned from the John Edwards campaign for writing posts that some Catholics apparently found offensive. Marcotte also recently posted some threatening, violent and blatantly sexist missives she received from conservatives, proving that no side has a lock on hate, even while Malkin and her sort regularly play on xenophobia and bigotry to peddle their books. (Dinesh D’Souza, anyone?)

I could go on and on. It’s not wrong for Kurtz to profile Malkin, but as a media critic he of all people should know that fluffy puff pieces are exactly what profiles of controversial figures shouldn’t be. For sure, Malkin deserved her say, and she got it, but to fail to contextualize anything she said, and quote husbands and friends extolling her virtues while shutting critics out, makes for a better press release than a profile.

Has America ever needed a media watchdog more than now? Help us by joining CJR today.

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