November 29, 2007

HOWARD KURTZ ON CNN AND THE PLANTS: Nice that he’s covering it. But Kurtz reports it in a way that gives a false impression about yours truly:

Conservative bloggers, some of whom deride CNN as the “Clinton News Network,” ripped the network yesterday. At Instapundit, Glenn Reynolds wrote: “Once again, CNN demonstrates an inexplicable failure to background-check pro-Hillary questioners.” Scott Johnson of PowerLine wrote that “CNN has shown itself unable or unwilling to act as an honest broker.” James Joyner, at Outside the Beltway, said: “If lone bloggers can vet these people in less than half an hour, surely CNN’s crack journalistic team should have been able to do so between the time they selected the pool of questions and the airing of the debate?”

I’ve never called CNN the “Clinton News Network.” (I’m not even a “conservative blogger” except in the sense that I’ve supported the war, but nowadays that’s all “conservative” means to most people). And there’s a bigger problem.

CNN’s problem isn’t just bias — it’s a failure of professionalism. Frankly, if bloggers ran some sort of event and were infiltrated in this fashion, the usual media-ethics suspects would be tugging their beards about blogger irresponsibility and praising the superior layers of editors and fact-checkers at Big Media outfits like . . . CNN.

But we learn that CNN did use Google:

He said CNN never spoke to Kerr and had Google, which owns YouTube, bring the retired general and about a dozen other questioners to the debate because their videos were likely to be used, although no final decision had been made.

Using Google for plane tickets is okay. But next time, try using them for . . . Googling. As a commenter at Kurtz’s observes: “What should be noted about this issue is that CNN probably has a whole army of interns and low-level producers who could vet the possible questioners. They ‘could spend hours Googling everybody’, while the top level hacks concentrated on choosing the ‘best’ questions.”

Meanwhile, I’ll just repeat what I said earlier: If Fox hosted a Democratic debate and many of the most pointed questions turned out to come from Republican activists, but Fox didn’t disclose that, do you think it would pass unremarked?

UPDATE: Roger Simon comments: The Presidential Debates are a National Joke.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Good grief.

MORE: Another line from Kurtz’s comments:

So let me get this straight… in the Democrat YouTube debates, the “undecided questioners” are Democratic activists and in the Republican YouTube debates, the “undecided questioners” are Democratic activists.

Well, at least they’re consistent.

Heh. Indeed. And a couple of readers note that the media is sometimes more fastidious about who’s asking the questions.

STILL MORE: “Because of the irony.”