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Kurtz: Obama Should Receive Same Level Of Skepticism As Bush

Earlier today, Howard Kurtz held his weekly chat where he covered such topics as Chris Matthews’ responsibilities as a journalist; CNN’s hologram gimmick on election night; and the level of skepticism the Obama administration will receive from the press. Some excerpts:

Reston, Va.: Hi Howard. During the Chris Matthews/Joe Scarborough exchange, Matthews said it was his job as a journalist to help Obama succeed. I don’t know which I found more astounding — that Chris Matthews said that it is the job of a journalist to help Obama succeed, or that Chris Matthews considers himself a journalist! Do you think others in the Fourth Estate share his intepretation of their role?

Howard Kurtz: Uh, no. Well, there may be some liberal commentators who view their role that way, just as some conservative commentators were Bush cheerleaders until they soured on the president. Matthews is a commentator and talk show host and entitled to his opinions, of which he has many. What was striking was that Scarborough was asking him about a relatively minor point – whether the leaking of Rahm’s name before he had accepted the chief of staff job showed disorganization on the Obama team’s part – when Chris saluted the president-elect and declared that he wanted to help Obama succeed.

Brooklyn, N.Y.: What did you think of the CNN hologram gimmick? It was so absurd, and frankly the hologram illusion is significantly diluted — if not eliminated — when seen via a TV set. And what is the advantage to the hologram … that we can see their feet? But I must commend Wolf Blitzer who managed to conduct these interviews with something of a straight face.

Howard Kurtz: I poked fun at it yesterday on my show with Jessica Yellin, appearing, I should add, in non-hologram form. It was a bit of a gimmick – Wolf could have just as easily talked to her on a video screen, as we all do with remote interviews – but it sure seemed to attract a lot of attention, including from Jon Stewart.

Washington: Do you think reporters should treat Obama with the same level of skepticism they treat Bush? Or less? Or more?

Howard Kurtz: The same level of skepticism would work for me. I don’t think we should adjust the level of skepticism depending on who occupies the Oval Office. Now obviously, the media give a little breathing room to a new president who is just beginning his term and asembling his administration. But before long, journalists want to know whether he is fulfilling the promises he made in the campaign. That’s what I tried to address in this morning’s column: both how the press will treat President Obama and how he will deal with a media establishment that he often kept at arm’s length during the campaign.

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