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Analysis

Howard Kurtz Gets Clock Cleaned, But Who’s the Dirty Old Perv Now?

I’m getting tired of this. Yet I’m also fascinated. Another day, another round of punches for Fox News’ media correspondent Howard Kurtz.

“Howard Kurtz is a Cad, Part IV” screams a post published Sunday by “Ken” on the site All things Democrat. (Sunday tends to be a holy day in which people tend to avoid lying, cheating and being overall perverts, but maybe Ken has been taking a long nap.)

“Ken” recaps their interest with Kurtz, which he says began with the Boston Marathon bombing and Kurtz’ despicable coverage of praising CNN owning up to its mistakes but bashing Fox News for following CNN. They stroll through a number of Kurtz’ screw ups, including the Jason Collins debacle, in which Kurtz said the gay athlete hadn’t revealed his engagement to a woman when, in fact, he had.

Eventually “Ken” makes it around to Part IV of their exhaustive “series” of Kurtz bashing in which he says he wasn’t surprised Kurtz was hired by Fox News, as if it’s a bad thing to be fired by Daily Beast‘s Tina Brown and then snagged by the nation’s highest rated cable news network. “Some folks were surprised when Kurtz was picked up by Fox, but not me,” Ken wrote. “Fox, with their situational ethics and blatantly partisan outlook and Kurtz, being a cad, seem like a natural fit from my perspective.”

“Ken,” seems to have forgotten that he’s coming from nationally “blatantly partisan” perspective, in this case, Democratic. The site, founded in 2006 by progressive Wisconsin Dem Doug Marquartd, claims to have bloggers who provide (cough cough) “smart analysis and opinion on the latest political news, issues and hot topics of interest to Dems.”

Which leads them to Part IV of their series: “Ken” nails Kurtz for being a “dirty old man” and for “leering at at pictures of someone who is related to someone that is in his field of expertise.”

For the purposes of his story, he explains, he will use Kurtz’ own tactics to write about his family members.

Holy sh-t is this about to get good.

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Afternoon Reading List 08.30.13.

Kate Upton, regarding Syria – Taylor Bigler, the Entertainment Editor at the Daily Caller, was recently able to sit down and clairvoyantly connect with world renowned super-hottie Kate Upton, whose appearance in the 2011 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition, as you may already know, actually earned her Nobel Prizes in both Bathing Suits and Peace back in 2012.  Using Bigler’s finely honed telepathic abilities, the 2016 Vice Presidential hopeful (for both of the major parties) weighs in on the developing situation in Syria through a slideshow of her old photographs, captioned with the thought provoking insights that have made her all but entirely a shoe-in for at least four more Nobel Prizes for this young laureate.

Why you should read/watch:  Because its Kate freaking Upton, that’s why. Also, it’s pretty funny.

Bros for Obamacare: The latest edition of Health Reform Watch, which is WaPo‘s regular health policy column written by reporter Sarah Kliff, illustrates an unexpected trend that is becoming more prevalent among young adults in America.  Research shows that young adults are more concerned about their health coverage needs and less on the cost than might’ve previously been assumed.

Why you should read: After reading the headline, I was instantly under Kliff’s clever guise. I thought this article would lead me to learn about sort of frat-boy buffoonery clause written deep in the fine-print of Obamacare that could affect my health care cost… err… ehmm…I mean, their healthcare costs.  Instead,  I found a detailed explanation for why the administration is setting its sights on convincing young adults to sign up for Obamacare.  Those who also happen to be in that age group should give it a read and see why they’re so desired.  Also, there’s a picture of a fat guy jumping into a pool.

 

In Defense of Howard Kurtz (Not Really)

When I see so much self-righteous dumping on Fox News media correspondent Howard Kurtz it makes me feel all uppity. Sure, we’ve written a ton on his self-pimping and hypocritical ways over the years. So we’re not immune to knocking him. Still, this week I want to find something, anything, to say about him that would be favorable or show some other side to the journalist once hailed as the nation’s premier media writer.

This week he wrote about WaPo Ben Bradlee‘s daughter-in-law Pari Bradley for wearing a “Swiss cheese” bra. “Do the pictures go too far?” he asked. But all sense of irony is lost on him. Has Howie gone blind? Has he seen the anchors at his own network? You can’t watch Fox News and not notice that many of the female anchors tend to don skimpy, tight clothing that shows off their legs or breasts. And you must realize that they are instructed to do so.

His former newspaper of 29 years, WaPo, reduced his work to a “hallowed middle ground he has spent his entire career clinging to.” Gawker castrated him, said he was having a mid-life crisis and wondered intensely about his relationship to The Daily Download‘s  and now Fox News colleague Lauren Ashburn, who appears to trail him wherever he goes. And others dumped, dumped and dumped. Strangers called him things like “sourpuss pervert” and “old pervert” and said he had a face like “old oatmeal.” WaPo‘s Sally Quinn, also mother-in-law to Pari, told Media Matters that he’s an “old geezer.” Even NPR‘s reasoned David Folkenflik remarked on Twitter, “Howie’s going to do just fine at Fox.” Who says America doesn’t have a big heart?

Pari has since taken her pictures down: “This content is currently unavailable.”

I asked a colleague, don’t you think people are being a little self-righteous here? The response I got: “I think they’re spot on.” Which only fueled my fury. Why can’t people leave Howie (and Miley) alone? Like WaPo‘s Clinton Yates argued, why can’t Miley be herself? And why can’t Howie?

Then I came to from my fugue state and took to his Twitter feed to find out if there was any possible way to defend Howie. (I’m really pulling for you here, man. Come on, help a media reporting sister out, will you?) Read more

What’s Simon Maloy Tweeting?

In a new feature, we examine the tweeting habits of DC journalists. Up first: Media Matter‘s Simon Maloy.

After sifting through a week’s worth of tweets (177 to be exact, on average 25 per day) from Maloy, we found that they generally broke down into five categories: unnecessary, negative, nonsensical, worthwhile and then some that we really weren’t sure about. Much of Maloy’s Twitter feed read like a nonsensical waste of time with a few surprising tweets of value.

Here are a few examples from each category.

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Howard Kurtz Gets Unintentionally Ironic

In the new Fox News First morning newsletter by Chris Stirewalt today is a promo for Fox News media writer Howard Kurtz. To be sure, the newsletter is reminiscent of Politico Playbook in that it highlights their own, including Chief White House Correspondent Ed Henry and Karl Rove. Here Stirewalt has Kurtz wondering whether Al Jazeera America, which launches today, can be — cough cough — unbiased. Come on Howie, considering the network who’s wondering, seriously?

AL JAZEERA AMERICA DEBUTS
Al Jazeera, a network that many Americans still associate with Usama bin Laden videos, launches its American channel in about 50 million homes today. The new outfit is spending heavily on bold-face names like Soledad O’Brien. Today Howard Kurtz asks: Can it shake its reputation for bias and fulfill its promise of more serious news and less fluff?

WaPo’s Rubin to Pexton: ‘Hahahahahahaha’

WaPo’s ex-Ombudsman Patrick Pexton had some raw advice for the publication’s new owner Jeff Bezos in a story for Washington City Paper this week. Among his suggestions: Fire right-wing blogger Jennifer Rubin. He whined about how terrible he thinks she is, and said he received more complaints about her than anyone — because that’s exactly what newspaper publishers don’t want in a writer, to make waves and increase web traffic, right?

We asked for her reaction. Her response to FBDC? “Hahahahahahaha.”

An excerpt from Pexton’s column in WCP:

“Jennifer Rubin. Have Fred Hiatt, your editorial page editor—who I like, admire, and respect—fire opinion blogger Jennifer Rubin. Not because she’s conservative, but because she’s just plain bad. She doesn’t travel within a hundred miles of Post standards. She parrots and peddles every silly right-wing theory to come down the pike in transparent attempts to get Web hits. Her analysis of the conservative movement, which is a worthwhile and important beat that the Post should treat more seriously on its national pages, is shallow and predictable. Her columns, at best, are political pornography; they get a quick but sure rise out of the right, but you feel bad afterward.” — …Rubin was the No. 1 source of complaint mail about any single Post staffer while I was ombudsman, and I’m leaving out the organized email campaigns against her by leftie groups like Media Matters.”

(Note to Rubin: We’ve always enjoyed your nerviness. To bring Media Matters into the argument–even while “leaving them out”–only muddies Pexton’s argument. They are big on email campaigns, small on thought. Of course they live to hate bloggers like you — that’s called breathing over at MMFA HQ.)

All Hail Jeff Bezos?

Our national what-will-Jeff-Bezos-do-with-WaPo watch continues, this time as PBS’ Media Shift blog imagines—as so many others have already done–what an Amazoned newspaper might look like.

You can dissect their thoughts for yourself, but it has to do with Amazon’s suggestion algorithms—the bits of code that tell you since you bought books X, Y and Z you’re going to love books A, B and C—and how those ideas can translate to customized news products for every reader.

The thing is, what Amazon and many other websites such as Netflix or Facebook or Google do in terms of surfacing relevant content aren’t new ideas. We’ve known how to statistically measure the strength of correlation between two things (saying, for example, if you like this then you’ll probably also like that) since at least as early as the 1880s, when Pearson’s correlation coefficient was developed. Though Amazon and Google and Facebook and all the others have expanded on the concept since then with troves of data Pearson probably never imagined, super fast computer, elaborate, custom code and newer formulas, the basic ideas are the same as they’ve always been. They’re not magic. They’re just math.

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TWT Writer: WaPo’s Soul Died Long Ago

As WaPo writers are still reeling from the shock of having their newspaper sold this week, TWT columnist and Drudge‘s Charlie Hurt took a stab at it this morning, recalling the treasure it once compared to what it is now.

He writes that this week’s sale to Amazon’s Jeff Bezos is a jolting reminder that “newspapers have committed themselves to a slow and painful suicide.” He talks about growing up in a one-stoplight town and picking up 12 pounds of newspaper for his father from the post office. At least to his 10-year-old mind, the stories he once read in WaPo had a magical effect.

“There were stories of mysterious crimes, intrigue at the morgue, aching romances and towering greed among vastly wealthy people. There was all the clandestine lurking between two superpowers on the brink of nuclear annihilation. And there was always the simple stories about mundane life that were so beautifully written. In those days, no one was better at that than The Washington Post.” 

After recollecting one story in particular, his compliments come to a thudding halt.  Read more

Attack of the Poorly Sourced Piranhas

As a twist on the old saying goes, reports of my firing have been greatly exaggerated.

Or else they were just flat out wrong. But why let facts get in the way of a good story?

On Friday I took a day off. Vacation and comp days aren’t exactly a strange phenomenon. But Rebecca Schoenkopf, publisher of Wonkette who has been known for reporting and writing while on the sauce, and for making no sense whatsoever, on Friday published a story saying that “a source” had told her I was going to be fired. “Betsy out at Fishbowl as of this afternoon,” she posted on her site. Rebecca didn’t spell this out, but her “source” was a guy makes it his business to pass around a bogus naked Craiglist ad of one of my writers.

This is the kind of “sourcing” Schoenkopf (pictured at right) used to write her “story” Friday afternoon. Schoenkopf never called or wrote me to ask if it was true. She never even called my employer until her story was out and clunking across Twitter like an elephant with severely bruised shins. There’s nothing worse in journalism than being sloppy and wrong.

Regular reporters took awhile to give the “news” any merit. Meanwhile, some on Twitter called Rebecca “powerful” in that she could make something happen that well, wasn’t happening. And oh boy, there was Mediaite‘s “White House” Correspondent Tommy “Carl Berstein Jr.” Christopher hot on the case. He called. I never answer his calls. He wrote, “Betsy, I just got a tip that said you’re leaving FBDC as of this afternoon. Is that true?” I asked to go off record. He said OK. I wrote him back, “No, Tommy. Not true. I know it’s unheard of, but I’m just taking a simple day off. I do get vacation and sick days. Do you?” Like an eager porpoise, he promised to write me back and fill me in if he heard anything more. Gee, thanks Tommy! How kind of you to inform me on my own life via a man who creates phony X-rated Craigslist ads. What no preachy trial race reporting today? Oh, that’s right. His editors scolded him a few weeks back on his George Zimmerman “coverage” and told him to tone it down. Bernstein Jr. really muckraked on this one. He phoned and emailed my coworkers, who, of course, had nothing for him. Good work Tommy!

Next up to the plate: Washington City Paper‘s Will Sommer. Sommer wrote, “Hey Betsy, So, people are saying you’ve been ousted at Fishbowl. Any truth to that? I’m getting it from the same guy who sends around photoshopped nude pics of one of your writers, so I’m not sure how seriously to take it. Thanks.” I also requested to go off record with him. He agreed. I told him I was taking the day off. Sommer did not write a story.

The last of The Three Stooges… Read more

Project Fishbowl: The Hill’s 50 Beauties

This morning we enter Project Fishbowl to closely examine The Hill’s 10th Anniversary “50 Most Beautiful People List.” This year saw a few changes as they allowed White House Administration people to enter the fray in addition to political types on Capitol Hill and K Street. There’s also a dandy new layout that allows for easy viewing and flipping through the winners. Here we offer our raw reviews of the beauties – FishbowlDC style. Warning: To the easily offended (you know who you are) you might want to skip this because we won’t apologize.

In no particular order… let’s begin.

Piranhamous:  Very sexy in that ‘lock you in his basement’ kind of way.  Too soon?

Peter: I think I recognize this guy from my grandma’s “Shop Teachers of the Mid-Atlantic” calendar she had in 1984.

Anonymous journo: So, the West Wing was allowed on this year’s list. But who said anything about daytime TV shrinks?

Justin: Right out of GQ, obviously.

Betsy: Bald and plump with a “Magnum, P.I.” stache. Literally doesn’t get any better than this.

Piranhamous:  Caught on Camera!  Stephanie Green’s pearls attack curling-iron-haired cutie!!!

Peter: That necklace is made of human teeth.

Anonymous journo: Glad she listened to the flight attendant and fastened her seat belt.

Justin: The necklace scares me a bit—or a lot. But I love the smile.

Betsy: How many “cuties” can one list have? Please, STOP the usage of that word. Serious question: Can a necklace self-strangle a human being?

Piranhamous: Jai from Queer Eye for the Straight Guy proves there is life after reality TV.

Peter: They let Billy Elliot on the list! His face screams, “Bro, do you even pirouette?”

Anonymous journo: Oretga’s face never moves. Even during his daily Capitol Hill parkour workouts (involves jumping off balconies and buildings).

Justin: But did he stick the landing? I can’t pass judgment without this vital piece of information.

Betsy: Who let Pee Wee Herman on the list? Is that even appropriate?

Piranhamous: I loved his rendition of the National Anthem at the NBA Finals.

Peter: “And Emmanuel Lewis as Webster…”

Anonymous journo: Where’s the yearbook quote?

Justin: Just… no. Our society already exploits children way too much, I won’t be a part of it.

Betsy: Has someone called Child Protective Services or checked the milk cartons? This can’t be legal. Read more

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