The New York Times’ Katherine Q. Seelye has a profile of Reliable Source’s Howard Kurtz. Seelye spends quite a lot of space examining Kurtz’s dual roles at The Washington Post and CNN and how that has led to the notion expressed in some circles that Kurtz has an inherent conflict of interest problem (a notion I subscribe to regardless of how impartial he tries to be)….
David Bohrman, vice president of CNN and Washington bureau chief, said that Mr. Kurtz was “as tough as anybody” on the network, adding that his dual roles at The Post and CNN served as a useful “check and balance,” because if he were “throttled or stifled at one place, he has another platform to get it out.”
Mickey Kaus, who is a blogger on Slate.com and a frequent critic of Mr. Kurtz, says that he has been an honest reporter and is equally tough on The Post and CNN, but that his dual positions create an inherent institutional conflict that exists regardless of how fair he may be and how much he discloses his various roles.
“The conflict is that he works for one of the giant corporations that he covers - CNN - and that corporation has made his career,” Mr. Kaus said. If he makes CNN mad, he said, it could hurt that career. “Len Downie is in denial about it,” Mr. Kaus added.
Mr. Kurtz brushes off charges of conflict of interest and says the proof of his independence is evident in his work.
“The biggest conflict I face,” he said, “is writing about The Washington Post, which I do periodically and, I think, rather aggressively. I don’t think you can find a media writer in the country who has taken on his own organization as many times and on as many difficult issues as I have. And when I write about CNN, which I have also not hesitated to criticize, we disclose that at the paper.”