Kurtz vs. Gavin: Analysis…

In a must read, Mediaite’s Rachel Sklar looks at the Howard Kurtz/Patrick Gavin dust-up…

I would have thought it was weird to respond so fully to Gavin’s column anyway, given the response Kurtz and Bettag had given in print, and the reasonableness of it, and, going back to Point #1, given that the story actually showcased Reliable Sources as pretty diverse (never mind that it was data-based – as in, the Top 20 over a decade). But my mouth dropped open when I saw (actually read, in the HuffPo exclusive that CNN apparently sent out before the show) that Kurtz had “outed” Gavin for having “repeatedly asked and cajoled” to come on the show — then reading from a private email Gavin sent!

Two things here. First, my mind instantly flitted back to last week, and the protectiveness Kurtz seemed to have for the “unspoken agreement” of keeping “embarrassing” stuff off the record, vis a vis Michael Hastings and Lara Logan. There are differences here, sure — last week Kurtz was asking questions, not making statements (albeit leading ones that established the direction of the interview); also, we’ve seen no indication that Gavin and Kurtz spent a month together in the pressure-cooker crucible of Afghanistan. Still, Kurtz’s own column this week suggests that casual emails being fair game is at the very least an eyebrow raise. Even assuming that such an email was not explicitly off the record, its use should at least have a legitimate journalistic purpose if you’re going to use it — shouldn’t it? Unless of course we want our discourse to be “pathologically cautious and mind-numbingly banal.”

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