The Washington Post

Howard Kurtz abandons caution on heckler controversy

Frequent watchers of Howard Kurtz’s CNN show “Reliable Sources” can hear the low hum of tension inside the host’s skull. A longtime newsman, Kurtz tries to show balance in mediating among guests and distributes his opinions only via quarter-teaspoons, in a feature titled “Media Monitor.” Opinions and outrage are what the guests are for.

A glorious exception came Sunday, when Kurtz was discussing the interruptions of Daily Caller reporter Neil Munro at President Obama’s Friday afternoon session on immigration policy. In a tete-a-tete with Matt Lewis, another Daily Caller writer, Kurtz scoffed at the notion that Munro had acted legitimately: “He had no business interrupting the president,” Kurtz said to Lewis, who countered that Munro’s approach was the only way to put some questions to the president. Bah, reacted Kurtz: “I understand you’ve got to defend your guy, but . . . it’s a ludicrous answer.” The host at one point even said, “Come on!”

Asked why he doesn’t unload like that more often, Kurtz responds:

My views are often embedded in the way that segments are framed and the way I challenge guests, as well as in the Media Monitor part of the program. But I don’t view Reliable Sources as a soapbox. My primary role as host is to illuminate important media issues and make sure that guests with differing opinions have a chance to be heard. When they say things that are unsupported or absurd, I’m not shy about calling them on it.

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.


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