The topic? News of the World and the hacking scandal that shut the British tabloid down.
Kurtz says the media is pushing the “ethical envelope” for a public with an insatiable desire for “juicy stuff.” The ex-WaPo media writer says “the line between high-minded and low-road journalism has all but vanished.” He writes that stories like WeinerGate (which Kurtz didn’t cover until five days into the scandal), Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Casey Anthony are crowding out stories on health care and the deficit. He lazily provides obvious examples of stories of the past, including Jayson Blair‘s fabrications for the NYT.
The dirty tactics that newspapers and news organizations use to get their stories is a valid, even interesting, story. But scandal overshadowing more serious-minded stories of the day is even more telling. Evidence of Kurtz’s main points won’t be found in WaPo. A quick scan of this morning’s blogs shows that most are devoted to the deficit and the debt talks. WaPo‘s homepage has three stories on the deficit and budget deal and one on former Gov. Mitt Romney and health care reform. Not exactly salacious material for a story on the world domination of juicy gossip.
Kurtz’s home, The Daily Beast, meanwhile, is an all-night buffet of scandal and dirt. Stories abound on everything from Roseanne‘s new reality show “Nuts” to former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin‘s declaration, “I can win in 2012″ to Will and Kate in LA and Rep. Michele Bachmann‘s hubby Marcus Bachmann‘s “gay cure.” The headline for Newsweek is quite a stunner. It reads simply, “Murdoch’s Watergate?” Nope, nothing salacious there. And The Daily Dish’s lead item today is probably our favorite. It concerns testicles and author Shalom Auslander contemplating the removal of his balls.
Kurtz’ morning Beast column no doubt helps wipe out the terrible sleaze: “Debt talks back on.”
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