Conflict of Interest Kurtz

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Funny if this minor interview would be the event that finally brings attention to the walking conflict of interest that is also known as Howard Kurtz. Dr. Eric Alterman has been pointing out this contradiction for what seems like forever. If Alterman gets around to mentioning this event in his column, I’ll append an excerpt.

When Howard Kurtz invited Kimberly Dozier, the CBS journalist wounded in Iraq, onto his program, “Reliable Sources,” on CNN on Sunday, he was not a disinterested interviewer. Mr. Kurtz’s wife, Sheri Annis, had been paid to serve as a publicist for Ms. Dozier’s memoir, “Breathing the Fire,” which Ms. Dozier had come on the program to discuss.

After the interview, in which he also read aloud from the book, Mr. Kurtz told his viewers that he considered Ms. Dozier “a remarkable woman.” He then added, “I should mention that my wife has done some promotion work for Kim Dozier’s book.”

The interview represented another complicated tangle in the complex world of Mr. Kurtz. He is paid by two of the nation’s largest media entities — The Washington Post Company, which employs him as a media reporter, and Time Warner, which owns CNN — to cover the doings at their news organizations, and those at their competitors’. But several media ethicists interviewed in recent days said that, given the financial arrangement between Ms. Dozier’s publisher, Meredith Books, and Ms. Annis, Mr. Kurtz should not have done this particular interview at all. (Ms. Annis said she was actually paid by a subcontractor hired by Meredith.)

“CNN has a lot of great journalists there,” said Thomas Huang, an ethics and diversity fellow at the Poynter Institute, a journalism training center, who is on leave as an assistant managing editor at The Dallas Morning News. “Why have Howard Kurtz do it, given his indirect relationship with Kim Dozier through his wife?”

Roy Peter Clark, a senior scholar at Poynter, said, “The interview would have had more credibility if somebody else had done it.”

[From CNN Reporter’s Interview Raises Ethical Questions –]

Update: Dr. Alterman didn’t have much to add, other than a bemused chuckle of a paragraph

Yet another conflict of interest for Howard Kurtz? I didn’t realize such a thing was mathematically possible. Kurtz’s tenure at the Post is one of the blackest spots on the legacy of Len Downie as he goes off into the night. No way Ben Bradlee would have stood for it.

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