July 19th, 2009
03:10 PM ET
12 years ago

Reliable Sources: Journalists remember Cronkite

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Former colleagues of legendary CBS anchor Walter Cronkite paid tribute Sunday to the personable traits and journalistic smarts of the man often hailed as the “most trusted man in America.”

Cronkite died Friday at the age of 92.

Related video: An anchorman's legacy

Howard Kurtz sat down with some of Cronkite's former colleagues on Reliable Sources Sunday to discuss what Cronkite meant to journalism.

Don Hewitt, creator of CBS's 60 Minutes and former executive producer of CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite, has dealt with many of the biggest stars in journalism. He said he never had to massage Cronkite's ego. "He never got full of himself. America was full of Walter Cronkite. Walter was very modest about himself and maybe the best news guy I ever worked with."

Filed under: State of the Union
July 12th, 2009
03:40 PM ET
12 years ago

Reliable Sources: Frost opens up on Al Jazeera English, Nixon

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Sir David Frost has been anchoring a news program Frost Over the World since 2006 but until just recently, virtually no one in Washington could watch.  The problem?  The legendary journalist – best known for his incisive interviews with former president Richard Nixon – works for al Jazeera’s English channel and cable providers only began carrying it in the nation’s capital on July 1.

On Reliable Sources Sunday morning, Frost told Howard Kurtz why Al Jazeera English may have gotten a bad rap from its association with its Arabic counterpart, famous – or infamous, depending on your point of view – for carrying many of the video and audio messages from Osama Bin Laden.

"Every company... delighted at those Osama bin Laden tapes. You see, they'd drop them through the letter box. They seem to be dropping them through our [Al Jazeera English's] letter boxes now. But from that, I mean, once they decided to use them, and there are lots they didn't use. But I mean once they decided to use them, so did the BBC, so did ITV, so did CBS, NBC, ABC. Everyone wanted them. And they just happened to be the lucky recipients," Frost said.

"Al Jazeera English came along and it immediately, people see it, they realize that it's independent, that it's international, that it's for the south as well as the north. And you can see it's not about Osama bin Laden any more than any other network is."

Filed under: State of the Union
June 28th, 2009
06:52 PM ET
9 years ago

Reliable Sources: Journos spar over Obama presser question

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Tensions flared between “new media” reporters and print and television journalists last Tuesday when President Obama called on Nico Pitney, HuffingtonPost.com national editor, to ask the second question during a news conference at the White House. The President has called on bloggers in the past but Obama seemed to be aware of the nature of Pitney's question, which the blogger had solicited from Iranians via the internet, before he even asked it.

On Reliable Sources Sunday, Howard Kurtz played the exchange and posed the question directly to Pitney: "You said the White House notified you that you would probably get a question. Everyone assumes what we just saw was orchestrated."

Pitney denied having planned out the exchange with the White House and said the criticism from other reporters stems from "jealousy" and "hypocrisy."

"From beginning to end, there was no planning involved," Pitney told Howard Kurtz.

Dana Milbank of The Washington Post, also on the panel with Pitney, wasn't buying the explanation.

"Nico, the night before, sent out an email to his colleagues saying, 'Some big news. The White House called earlier this evening and asked if I could ask a question of President Obama. I'm about to post a solicitation to the blog, Facebook/Twitter. It seems fairly likely that this is going to happen. I'm pretty sure it's going to happen, but it's not 100%.’ “

Milbank said he is not comfortable with the current relationship between the White House and parts of the press corps.

"The White House shouldn't be calling a person the night before, we are going to call on you if you ask a question on a particular question asked a certain way."

Pitney later said that given the situation, he wanted to make the most of it.

June 28th, 2009
11:30 AM ET
12 years ago

Reliable Sources: Was coverage of Jackson's death too much?

WASHINGTON (CNN) - When the news broke Thursday of Michael Jackson's death, cable television immediately went into 24-7 rolling coverage, magazines scrambled to put out commemorative issues, and the network newscasts devoted large parts of their broadcasts to the passing of "The King of Pop".

But the media faced a couple of tough questions: whether to talk about the unseemly aspects of Jackson's life along with his heralded musical and performing talents, and whether to cover the Jackson story ahead of other major stories such as the unrest in Iran, the infidelity of South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, and the death of actress Farrah Fawcett.

Howard Kurtz posed these questions to a panel of entertainment journalists Sunday morning on Reliable Sources.

Filed under: Michael Jackson • State of the Union
June 14th, 2009
03:15 PM ET
12 years ago

Reliable Sources: Media-museum murder link?

WASHINGTON (CNN) - It seemed like deja vu on the opinion shows on cable television this week. Ten days after the killing of Dr. George Tiller, a Kansas physicians who performed late-term abortions, a resurgence of partisan finger-pointing flared up once again on cable. This time it’s over whether James von Brunn, who is accused of killing a security officer at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington and is linked to white supremacist groups, was motivated by political views of the extreme right.

Keith Olbermann said on MSNBC, "Von Brunn’s rhetoric sounds a lot like Rush Limbaugh’s." Limbaugh responded on his radio program that Von Brunn "is a leftist, if anything. This guy’s beliefs, this guy’s hate, stems from influence that you find on the left, not on the right."

On Reliable Sources, CNN's Howard Kurtz asked three top journalists whether cable television and other outlets for commentary should be held to a higher standard when it comes to making insinuations about who is to blame when a hate crime occurs.

Time Magazine's senior political analyst Mark Halperin called the coverage in the aftermath of the shooting at the Holocaust Museum "a freak show" and said the opinion show hosts on cable television "are committing an absolutely irresponsible act."

"Cable TV does what it does," Halperin said. "People need to step forward, responsible people, politicians, civic leaders, and the media, and say 'we're not going to take an act of violence and turn it into a political football.'"

Halperin said the President should "be stepping forward more than he has to lead a bipartisan dialogue."

Jim Geraghty of the National Review said it's important for media personalities to resist the urge to insinuate that people with opposite political views have extremist views.

"It's always very tempting to say that those who disagree with you aren't just wrong or mistaken, but are actively evil and insane...It's a temptation that is on both sides of the aisle...It's cheap point scoring to say 'this is why you shouldn't listen to Bill O'Reilly or Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck because all of their listeners are just potential terrorists," Geraghty said.

Filed under: State of the Union
June 7th, 2009
04:51 PM ET
12 years ago

Reliable Sources: For journalists, how close is too close?

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/06/07/art.rswolffe0607.cnn.jpg caption="Journalist Richard Wolffe sat down with CNN's Howard Kurtz on Sunday's Reliable Sources."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Author and former Newsweek journalist Richard Wolffe is refuting charges that he acted more like Barack Obama's campaign spokesman than as a journalist covering Obama's presidential campaign. It was Obama, himself, who suggested that Wolffe write his book Renegade: The Making of a President. Wolffe, however, denied that writing the book meant trading objectivity for access.

"It certainly meant that I would have an access and a relationship with him and his inner circle that gave me an insight into him and his campaign that was I think better than anybody else," Wolffe told Howard Kurtz Sunday morning on Reliable Sources, adding that the newspapers that reviewed Renegade didn't seem to have problems with his reporting. "We were reviewed in The Washington Post and The New York Times. They're not pushovers, and they found the book to be fair and there were plenty of things they liked about it."

In Renegade, Wolffe chronicles Obama's frustration with Vice President Joe Biden's gaffes, and Obama's feelings toward comments former President Bill Clinton made in the press. The public does not often get to see a frazzled Obama, but Wolffe reported that Obama called some of Bill Clinton's comments "bald-faced lies."

Kurtz asked Wolffe why the normally cool-headed Obama would go on the record with such a potentially heated charge.

Filed under: President Obama • State of the Union
June 7th, 2009
01:45 PM ET
12 years ago

Reliable Sources: The media aftermath of Dr. Tiller's murder

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/06/07/art.rstiller0607.cnn.jpg caption=" Kathleen Parker and Bill Press discussed the murder of late-term abortion provider Dr. George Tiller on Sunday's Reliable Sources."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - After any tragedy, it's not uncommon for finger-pointing to occur, and the aftermath of Dr. George Tiller's killing was no exception. Tiller, a doctor in Kansas who performed late-term abortions, was shot to death in his church last week. Prior to the incident, Fox News anchor Bill O'Reilly harshly criticized Tiller's practice dozens of times. O'Reilly called the doctor "Tiller the baby killer" and said that he "has blood on his hands."

Within 24 hours of Tiller's death, a heated debate broke out over whether O'Reilly's words could have incited the violence. MSNBC's Keith Olbermann urged viewers to turn away from O’Reilly and Fox News Channel saying the network will, “never restrain itself from incitement to murder and terrorism.”

At the same time, O'Reilly did denounce the violence on his program and claimed the killing would be a launching pad for his critics. "When I heard about Tiller's murder I knew pro-abortion zealots and Fox News haters would attempt to blame us for the crime." O’Reilly also defended his previous commentary about Tiller. "Every single thing we said about Tiller was true."

What responsibility do prominent media personalities have in this context? Reliable Sources host Howard Kurtz discussed the issue with two well-known commentators: Bill Press, a longtime radio talk show host on Sirius Satellite Radio, and Kathleen Parker, a syndicated columnist for the Washington Post Writers' Group.

Filed under: Abortion • State of the Union
May 31st, 2009
11:33 AM ET
12 years ago

Disecting Sotomayor coverage

(CNN) – The Supreme Court nomination of Sonia Sotomayor by President Obama last week sent the right wing media into a frenzy over a speech Sotomayor gave in 2001 where she said "a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life."

Sotomayor was called a racist by Fox News' Glenn Beck and Tucker Carlson, as well as by conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh, while being hailed by President Obama and the liberal media as "inspiring."

Howard Kurtz sorted through the punditry Sunday morning on Reliable Sources with Bloomberg News Chief Political Columnist Margaret Carlson, and WOIA radio show host Blanquita Cullum.

Margaret Carlson contended that the cable pundits were the center of attention because they helped to create the controversy regarding Sotomayor.

"It's hard to cover silence. In the first couple of days, the elected leaders didn't know what to do. They couldn't find anything. Their comments were very restrained. And so, where do you go? You go to the noise. You don't cover the dog that doesn't get run over."

Cullum explained why the conservative pundits have been more vocal this week than their liberal counterparts.

"When you're in the majority, you vote. When you're in the minority, you talk."

Related Video:

Filed under: State of the Union
May 17th, 2009
02:06 PM ET
12 years ago

Reliable Sources: Pelosi's presser performance

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/05/17/art.reliable4shot0517.cnn.jpg caption="A trio of journalists weighed in Sunday about Speaker Pelosi's recent press conference on CNN's Reliable Sources."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D-CA) performance at Thursday's press conference received a harsh evaluation from Reliable Sources’ political panel Sunday morning.

Pelosi said Thursday that the CIA "was misleading the Congress."

Roger Simon, chief political columnist for The Politco, told CNN's Howard Kurtz that Pelosi may have dug herself in an even deeper hole.

"If she had hung a sign around her neck saying 'I am lying,' she could not have done worse...She was terrible."

Pelosi has been under fire this week for conflicting statements she made on whether or not she was briefed by the CIA about so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques," such as waterboarding, being used on terror suspects.

Simon said the media's performance wasn't any better than Pelosi's.

Filed under: CIA • Nancy Pelosi • State of the Union
May 10th, 2009
01:14 PM ET
12 years ago

Reliable Sources: Obama's search for 'empathy'

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/05/10/art.jklein0510.cnn.jpg caption="Time Magazine columnist Joe Klein weighed in Sunday on the President's announcement that he is search for a Supreme Court justice who has empathy for people's hopes and struggles."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The pundits on cable were hot and bothered by one of President Obama’s requirements for a Supreme Court Justice.

“I view that quality of empathy, of understanding and identifying with people's hopes and struggles, as an essential ingredient for arriving at just decisions and outcomes,” Obama said last week at a White House press briefing.

Washington Times columnist Amanda Carpenter explained conservatives’ concern about the “empathy” issue on Reliable Sources with Howard Kurtz Sunday morning. Several conservatives on cable, radio and in print argued that “empathy” is a code word for “liberal.” On Fox News, Sean Hannity said that Democrats “want the courts to take over and engage in social engineering.”

"Empathy, it's an emotive term. I mean, Barack Obama is calling for a judge who will take their emotions into account when making a judicial decision," Carpenter told Howard Kurtz.

"This is hilarious," TIME Magazine’s Joe Klein said in response. "This is 'Exhibit A' of what I was just talking about. The Republicans, when they hit the word 'empathy,' are being hateful and ugly."

Filed under: State of the Union • Supreme Court
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