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Washington Post media columnist Howard Kurtz has published a column discussing attempts by blogger Andrew Sullivan (disclosure: a good friend) to get to the bottom of the (admittedly bizarre) “Trig Palin is not Sarah Palin’s baby” rumors. When Kurtz’s piece first went up, he reproduced two private emails that Sullivan sent to the McCain campaign–without any mention of how he got them. Then, as exhibit “A” in the case against Sullivan, Kurtz cited a blog posting by Jonathan Last at his Galley Slaves blog.
Later, Kurtz amended the online column to mention that the emails came from McCain campaign deputy PR manager Michael Goldfarb–who, before he came to work in camp McCain, was the Web editor for the Weekly Standard, where he was Last’s colleague. It appears the McCain camp has been shopping the Sullivan emails for some time. I contacted Politico‘s Michael Calderone, who regularly writes on media coverage of the McCain campaign, to ask if he’d seen them; he would not confirm that it was Goldfarb who offered him the materials, but did tell me that he had the emails and did not see the news value in publishing Sullivan’s private press query. Calderone is certainly right about that. (Sullivan’s response to the story also makes for interesting reading.)
It looks to me that Kurtz took the bait from Goldfarb and then, judging by that quote from the Last blog post, swallowed even more bait. For a media critic, Kurtz seems pretty uncritical, particularly when it comes to the biases of his sources–at least his sources in the McCain camp.
Howard Kurtz has not responded to requests for comment in connection with this piece. If he does respond, I’ll update the post.
More from Scott Horton:
Six Questions — October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm
Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”