In his weekly "Critiquing the Press" chat at washingtonpost.com, Post media reporter (and CNN "Reliable Sources" host) Howard Kurtz oddly suggested that when bar patrons insist on turning off Fox News, a nice, less polarizing compromise would be Comedy Central. (When the left-wing Stewart/Colbert "fake news" is on?)
New York, N.Y.: True Story. Recently I am sitting at an airport bar reading my paper. Fox News is on the TV. A couple walk up to the bar, sit down, and tell the bartender that if he wants their business he needs to turn off Fox News. The bartender walks over to the TV when another man at the bar says 'don't turn on MSNBC!' The bartender looks around not sure what to do. He turns the TV off and goes back to serving drinks. I guess this is what we've come to.
Howard Kurtz: Another sign of the polarizing times. Maybe Comedy Central would be a safer choice. '
This exchange spurred a reply about intolerant liberals and whether the news magazines would ever be as fierce toward the Democrats as they were against Newt Gingrich 12 years ago. Kurtz insisted Newt was more confrontational than Granny Pelosi:
Connecticut Panhandle: RE the Fox News haters: The couple who refuses to watch Fox News needs to be tolerant for a variety of news sources. The left has their own bigotries as well.
I'm still waiting for the hard-hitting stories similar to those about Speaker Gingrich (AKA Gingrinch TIME cover).
Love your Columns!
Howard Kurtz: Thanks. I raised on my show yesterday whether Nancy Pelosi would be subjected to the kind of scrutiny that Newt Gingrich was when he became speaker in 1995. Obviously, Newt was much more of a confrontational figure. And Pelosi did take some knocks over her failed attempt to install Jack Murtha as her deputy. We'll see how long the current honeymoon lasts.
But even that claim was challenged by conservative chatters:
Nokesville, Va.: There's no doubt that Gingrich was a "confrontational figure." But he also faced a confrontational media that did those Newt-bashing covers the other questioner mentioned. (Pelosi was out there pledging to "drain the swamp" of Republican corruption, and said the president was inept and incompetent, which seemed to ruffle no media feathers.) Why has Pelosi not been on a news mag cover, if she's so historical? Or do the media types not really think she's meritorious enough to get the full "milestone" rollout?
Howard Kurtz: Well, her swearing-in led all the network newscasts and got prominent front-page play in all the big papers. It's only been a few days, so the newsmags could still give her the cover treatment. Time could not, because it switched to Friday publication last week, meaning that the magazine was unable to cover Pelosi's ascension.
This new Time from Friday doesn't seem to have any article on Pelosi or the new Democratic majorities at all. It has an article on John Edwards and an article on conservatives and who they might favor in 2008. Would Howard Kurtz argue that Time was unable to cover an event the day before its deadline, but it's quite able at covering a presidential vote that's more than a year away?
Speaking of milestones: Pelosi's swearing-in didn't even make Time's "Milestones" feature this week.