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.