Howard Kurtz’ MediaBuzz show again discussed the media coverage of the missing Malaysian jet, Flight 370, today. Kurtz correctly complained about irresponsible speculation that has filled so much airtime. But when Kurtz’ own Republican guest presented an unfounded theory as fact... crickets.
Kurtz introduced the segment with the following:
Television’s coverage of the missing plane seemed out of control in the first week but in the last few days, it’s gone at times into another galaxy as the endless hours of airtime and the chase for ratings has produced more speculation, more conspiracy mongering and just plain weirdness.
In addition to regular panelist Lauren Ashburn, the two guests were Julie Mason, host of Sirius XM’s The Press Pool, and Republican operative Richard Grenell.
Mason’s bona fides include 10 years as a White House correspondent and service on the White House Correspondents Association Board. Her current show “focuses on political coverage through the eyes of beat reporters, columnists, bloggers, and commentators.” Grenell’s? He’s basically a PR guy who has served as spokesman for four Republican Ambassadors to the U.N. under George W. Bush.
That’s not to say Grenell’s credentials are not very impressive, they are. But he has largely – if not entirely - worked with the media as a Republican partisan. In pairing him with Mason, Fox producers neatly set up a situation where Grenell could (and would) use his appearance to advance a Republican agenda without any Democratic counterweight.
There was every reason for Fox to expect Grenell to do exactly that. It's exactly what Grenell did on the Hannity show just a few days ago. Not only that, Grenell had baselessly fear mongered that if Flight 370 had fallen prey to terrorists, the U.S. was the real target.
Sure enough, Grenell repeated his evidence-free speculation to Kurtz. Grenell said the missing jet has “incredible implications for U.S. national security.” He added, “If this plane was taken over by terrorists, we are the targets. The United States will be the target if it comes back.”
Even Sean Hannity directly challenged Grenell’s theory. But Kurtz asked blandly, “Is it always responsible to put opinions that are not backed by facts on the air?”
Grenell veered away from the question to make the discussion overtly partisan – via an attack on the mainstream media, a neat GOP twofer.
(R)eporters have completely taken the line of the White House. This is “The Malaysians are in charge of the investigation.” We don’t see a curious White House. We don’t see a curious press corps. The simple fact is, the Chinese government railed against the Malaysian investigation. The only people that pointed that out were what you call opinion journalists. The journalists haven’t pointed that out. … They’re sticking to the White House line.
Kurtz offered a mild pushback, saying he has read “a couple of stories on how badly the Malaysian government has botched this thing.”
But Mason wasn’t having any of it. "Well, how can a reporter in Washington cover the search for an airplane? That’s kind of ridiculous. But they’re not taking the White House line. We cover politics. We don’t cover plane crashes," she retorted.
“No, you don’t cover politics,” Grenell replied. “You’re supposed to cover the government, not politics.”
Mason shot back, “It’s hilarious when someone like you is telling me what I’m supposed to be doing.” Later she said, “Reporting the White House line isn’t following the White House line.”
But Grenell’s real goal was obviously President Obama. “Why aren’t we having reporters at the White House saying, ‘Where’s Obama? Get off the golf course and start investigating and using our technology to find out where the plane is!’”
Of course, no way would Mason, as a journalist, opine on President Obama’s behavior. So the accusation went unanswered.
However, Mason burst out laughing. It spoke volumes.
But really, it was Kurtz’ and/or Ashburn’s job to smack down Grenell’s partisanship. And neither did. So, not surprisingly, he ramped it up as the discussion continued.
By the way, for you Sirius XM subscribers out there, I highly recommend Mason's program for a truly fair and balanced - and highly intelligent - look at our political press coverage.
“But Grenell’s real goal was obviously President Obama. “Why aren’t we having reporters at the White House saying, ‘Where’s Obama? Get off the golf course and start investigating and using our technology to find out where the plane is!’”
It’d be nice if someone asked Grenell how he felt about Dubya’s decision to call off the search for bin Laden? Maybe he needs a reminder about bin Laden’s role in an actual terrorist attack against the US (since he seems so concerned about the Malaysian plane’s becoming a part of a “terrorist plot”) Maybe Grenell might offer his opinion on how Dubya (who needed a nearly TWO-MONTH vacation after barely six months on the job) handled the whole 9/11 deal—considering he ignored a PDB that actually warned of a likely terrorist attack sometime in September. Of course, none of that matters. Dubya was a GOP President. And white. So his “sins” were/are ignored.
I would imagine that to the feeble minded Fox base that there’s a LOT of similarities to those names.
All have 3 syllables, end in a vowel, and roll off the tongue in a Muslim-y kind of way.
There just HAS to be a sinister connection.
I expect Darryl Issa to be on this very soon.