Howard Kurtz Defends Criticized Michelle Malkin Profile

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By: Dave Astor

Eric Boehlert, in a column posted on MediaMatters.org Tuesday, criticized Washington Post media writer Howard Kurtz and the Post in general for having a “crush on right-wing bloggers.”

Kurtz, when reached today by E&P, disputed Boehlert’s piece. “I have a long history of profiling commentators, columnists, and bloggers on both sides of the ideological divide,” he said.

Boehlert’s Tuesday piece was written primarily in response to Kurtz’s mid-February profile of right-wing blogger Michelle Malkin, who also does a column for Creators Syndicate.

“Under normal circumstances,” wrote Boehlert, the meeting between Kurtz and Malkin “would have been an awkward affair. Kurtz was there to profile Malkin for the paper’s Style section, yet Malkin in her writings had made it clear she despises the mainstream media and holds the Post in contempt. She has written that the paper’s managing editor displays an ‘anti-American mindset’ and has specifically singled Kurtz out for being a dishonest and incompetent reporter.

“Talk about tension. The lunch and the subsequent feature could have set off some real fireworks with Kurtz not only defending his work and the Post’s reputation, but pressing Malkin hard to explain her wild and often fact-free allegations against journalists. Instead, the profile … was published as a Valentine’s Day week mash note presenting Malkin as a pugnacious, on-the-rise pundit who has her liberal critics up in arms.”

Boehlert continued: “It would be one thing if Malkin were currently enjoying her victory lap — if she’d been dead-on about Iraq and about the defeatists on the left who didn’t have the foresight to back a wildly successful invasion of Iraq. But … she has been wrong about Iraq in every conceivable way. …

“As for the articulate bloggers on the left who opposed the war from the outset and who insisted the White House had not made a coherent case for launching a pre-emptive war? The Post couldn’t care less about them. Then again, the Post editorialized relentlessly in favor of the war and was proven just as wrong as the Malkins of the world. So perhaps the newspaper is simply embarrassed and doesn’t want to honor, let alone acknowledge, the liberal bloggers for fear it would simply highlight the paper’s own glaring foreign policy incompetence.”

Kurtz declined to react to Boehlert’s comments about the Post in general but addressed the comments about his Malkin piece. “What a shock that an ideological liberal doesn’t think a journalist should give a fair hearing to a conservative blogger,” he told E&P. “There was plenty of criticism of Michelle Malkin in my piece along with interviews that conveyed her point of view.”

The Post writer added that “some on the left can’t stand Malkin” and thus don’t want to see “balanced reporting” about her.

Kurtz said liberal commentators he’s written about include, among others, Paul Krugman (columnist for The New York Times and New York Times News Service) and Arianna Huffington (co-founder of The Huffington Post group blog/news site and a Tribune Media Services columnist).

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