While WaPo media columnist and CNN host Howard Kurtz claimed to be “just poking fun” on his CNN show “Reliable Sources” on Sunday, a segment sent shock waves around town as several D.C. journalists were steamed watching him go after Politico‘s Patrick Gavin. He even slapped on screen an e-mail Gavin once wrote to him.
In that e-mail, Gavin proposed that Kurtz have him on as a guest to discuss the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. “Maybe in the next decade,” Kurtz said sarcastically on his Sunday show.
Kurtz has gotten flak on this mattter from Mediate, Gawker, Media Matters and The Atlantic’s Andrew Sullivan.
Why did Kurtz do it? He was irked by a story Gavin wrote two weeks ago detailing the Top 20 guests Kurtz has had on his show in the past decade. The story said the show had a “clubby feel” to it in that Kurtz has the same 20 guests on again and again. The story said Kurtz has never had a D.C. media writer (such as former City Paper and now TBD’s Erik Wemple and Yahoo! News’s Michael Calderone). Gavin wrote that Kurtz has D.C. gossip columnists on his show from WaPo, but no other publication. Gavin admitted to falling into both categories.
Question for Kurtz: Are all ordinary e-mails to you now fair game for your show and column?
After taking criticism from Mediaite’s Rachel Sklar(“Oy @HowardKurtz, you read @PWGavin’s email on air?? What about those ‘unwritten rules’ you seemed so protective of last week??”), Kurtz tweeted on Sunday: “@pwgavin is a good guy and entitled to his criticism (however misguided). We were just poking a little fun today on the teevee.”
Oddly, Kurtz’s actions come on the heels of him publishing this WaPo column over the weekend, writing, “Everything is supposed to be “transparent” these days, but is every word you utter — or e-mail, or text, or tweet, or mutter within earshot of a reporter — now fair game? And couldn’t that drive our discourse toward the pathologically cautious and mind-numbingly banal?”
Question #2 for Kurtz: In the past when Gavin has pitched to be on the show have you responded favorably and/or encouraged him to continue pitching you?
Kurtz tone has markedly shifted from his Sunday program, even saying he’ll have Gavin on before a decade passes. He does dispute Gavin’s numbers story concerning his guests. He replied to questions (see after jump for a complete list of questions) posed by FishbowlDC today: “I tried to deliver my response with a light touch and I hope people didn’t take it as anything more than that. Patrick’s e-mail to me wasn’t off the record, and as he himself says, he’s pretty unabashed in trying to book himself on television shows. I would never reveal anything anyone told me off the record. I admit to being proud of the way that Reliable Sources reaches out to a wide range of guests, including some who have never or only rarely been on TV. Our numbers were different than Gavin’s, and in any event I felt free to mention anyone who has been on numerous times. I encourage journalists to approach me about being on the program — including Patrick in the past — and yes, we’ll probably have him on without waiting a decade.”
So far, Gavin isn’t retaliating. He had no further comment for FishbowlDC other than what he remarked to HuffPost over the weekend. He tweeted Sunday: “Oooo…finding some fun old emails from @howardkurtz (fear not, Howie: Won’t go there…)”
Read about Kurtz’s interview with ex-WaPo blogger Dave Weigel and big blunder Kurtz made on the story after the jump…