Kurtz Watch: Disclosure And Hypocrisy

Howard Kurtz is engaged in a battle with himself over when full disclosure is dangerous or admirable. In his article for the Washington Post, he frets that there is too much incivility on the Internet. He cites recent episodes where comments at the Huffington Post (which were deleted) and at Little Green Footballs (which left them up) exceeded the boundaries of Howie’s morality. He concludes that it is the Internet’s culture of anonymity that is responsible for the problem:

“What is spreading this Web pollution is the widespread practice of allowing posters to spew their venom anonymously. If people’s full names were required — even though some might resort to aliases — it would go a long way toward cleaning up the neighborhood.”

Kurtz doesn’t explain why full names, even aliases, would result in a change of demeanor. But if he is truly interested in cleaning up the neighborhood, then why did he himself quote an anonymous blogger last month who called the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, a bitch? He also refuses to explain how he magically stumbled on this blog that was less than 24 hours old, with only one posting on it. I guess he thinks it’s OK to be a profane, anonymous blogger if it suits his purposes.

If that’s not enough hypocrisy for you, on his CNN program, Reliable (?) Sources, Kurtz complained that reporters appeared biased when they pressed White House press secretary, Tony Snow, for answers. The issue they were pursuing was whether White House operatives should testify openly, before Congress, under oath, or be “interviewed” privately, unsworn, and with no transcript of the proceeding. The fact that Kurtz considers the reporters biased just because they prefer openness from the administration is just another example of the selectivity of his principles. He objects to citizens who express themselves freely, but he favors public servants who refuse to do so.