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A Pissing Match Between Two Media Scribes

A fight between two grown men in media is always worth watching.

In one corner: WaPo‘s Erik Wemple. Dirty blond curly hair. Medium build. In the other: The Baltimore Sun‘s David Zurawik. Balding. Glasses. Skinnyish.

Are you rrrrready to RRRRumble?

Over the weekend, Wemple castrated Zurawik by critiquing his critique of NBC’s newest star, Chelsea Clinton, on CNN’s “Reliable Sources.” Wemple called him “childish and misanthropic.” He said Zurawik’s take on Chelsea was “rehearsed.”

Z’s quote: “Steve Capus, the president of NBC News, in his shameless hype for this journalistically bankrupt decision, said it’s as if Chelsea has been preparing all her life for this thing. Based on the first show we saw, if that’s true, it’s been a largely wasted life. And as mean as that might sound, I don’t take it back, really.”

On Monday Zurawik fired back with a complete ass kissing of CNN “Reliable Sources” host Howard Kurtz, saying that WaPo used to have “best media reporter in the country in Howard Kurtz” in the first line of the story. Now they have that shithead Wemple, he lamented. He also tried to reattach his testicles by making a big stink out of Wemple not calling him for comment. He called Wemple a “water carrier” for the Clintons and suggested that calling him for comment might have at least made him seem like a reporter. As if that would have made Wemple’s analysis of Zurawik’s analysis any different.

(Brief memo to Zurawik: First of all, on which planet is self-pimping Kurtz the best media reporter in America? Kurtz is a longtime media reporter, but the best? Does the best attribute anti-Obama administration quotes to Nancy Pelosi that aren’t hers? Does the best think he’s talking to a congressman when he’s talking to an aide and then try to cover the whole thing up? Does the best wait five days to cover the Weiner sex scandal, reasoning that it’s sometimes prudent to wait? We know you’re a regular on Kurtz’s Sunday show, but WTF Zurawik?)

Getting back to the pissing match, Wemple was riled by Z’s accusation of being in bed with the Clintons. “So I’m now a ‘water carrier’ for the Clintons?” Wemple asked in an interview with FBDC. “It’s clear that Z, the ultimate reporter, perhaps didn’t check out this item and this item.”

He continued, “It’s instructive to follow his logic: If I cite any objection to Z’s stating that Chelsea Clinton has lived a ‘largely wasted life,’ I am carrying water for her. Not, mind you, just sticking up for basic decency. Because anybody who dissents from the notion that Chelsea Clinton has lived a ‘largely wasted life’ is just a suckup for the Clintons.”

The fight continues…Please note, Zurawik phoned us back last night with a reasonable excuse for his tardiness and we returned the call today. If and when the conversation happens, we’ll bring you his remarks. Stay tuned…

Questions for Wemple:

1. Is there bad blood between you and Zurawik, meaning a history of bad relations? No bad blood between me and the Z man. I have enjoyed most of his comments, till he went over the top. 2. What do you think of his charge that you didn’t call him — do you think that’s valid? Had Z garbled or imprecisely articulated his personal attack on Chelsea Clinton, then perhaps I should have rung him up. But he made his hateful comment clearly and emphatically. I do a lot of reporting for my blog, but when you’re doing five or so posts per day, you’re not going to call everyone you mention. When someone like Z puts comments on the public record, they’re fair game for dissection by others. In such cases, there’s no requirement to reach out and ask, ‘Hey, did you really mean what you said?’ Just as there’s no expectation that a book reviewer contact the book’s author or a music critic contact the band.  The “he didn’t call me” charge is often deployed as a way of distracting from the issue, which in this case is what Z said about Chelsea Clinton.
3. Do you think Zurawik is sucking up to Kurtz to keep getting invited back to the program? I cannot speculate as to Z’s motives in bombing Chelsea Clinton. Perhaps he knows that being a flamethrower will earn him repeat invites to chat on cable tube. Perhaps he really feels that if what Capus said is true, Clinton has wasted her life. Who knows.
4. Will you ask Zurawik out for cupcakes to make up? I don’t eat cupcakes, under any circumstances.

 

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