Hey Kurtz: We're mad about journalism

PalinPortrait LargeHere we go again, again, again and again. Yes, your GetReligionistas are about to jump on Charlie Gibson and ABC News -- again -- about that serious error that took place in his interview with Gov. Sarah Palin. Actually, we also need to jump on one of Gibson's defenders, which would be the all-powerful Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post. I should stress that I am a huge fan of Kurtz and there are probably more of his books in my Washington Journalism Center course bibliographies than any other mainstream writer. I do not enjoy knocking one of my favorite mainstream journalists.

I know that there are readers out there who thing this blog has become a bit obsessive about this matter.

Grupetti says: September 14, 2008, at 11:47 pm

Terry, GetReligion seems to have become a one-note Samba regarding this one mistake by Gibson. . . . Do you really want to keep up your image as a strictly partisan endeavor?

Yes, we will keep on dancing, when it comes to complaining about this error (thanks, by the way, for noting that Gibson made a mistake). Words matter. Mistakes matter. For that matter, doctrine matters. For us, this is about journalism, not partisan politics. With that in mind, let's look at the latest from Kurtz.

But when Palin seemed puzzled by a question about the Bush Doctrine -- which has several possible meanings -- Gibson explained what he meant without making it sound like a gotcha moment. Earlier, however, he did follow up on her answer about not hesitating to become McCain's running mate by wondering: "Didn't that take some hubris?"

Some conservatives criticized Gibson for raising religion by asking Palin whether she considers the Iraq conflict a "holy war." But how can it be unfair to ask about her own words, in a church, that "our national leaders are sending U.S. soldiers on a task that is from God"?

Apples and oranges, there.

Gibson did ask many perfectly valid and hard questions. Amen. Bravo. His handling of the "Bush Doctrine" subject verged on being unfair, because the term is so vague anyway, but the line of questioning was more than appropriate. His latest column also raises some interesting points about sexism and MSM coverage of, well, her physical appearance.

It was also more than appropriate to go hard on her, when it comes to Iraq. I would argue that it was also fair to ask her what she meant, during her remarks at the church. But -- again -- as many have noted, it is not fair to actually tear her words out of context (YouTube video here) and have her say the opposite of what she, in fact, said.

missthebullseyeKurtz is still missing the mark. He apparently does not know what he is talking about, when it comes to traditional Christian theology about prayer and the will of God. The same goes for whoever wrote that script for Gibson.

Once again, here is Steve Waldman of Beliefnet.com -- who nails it.

GIBSON: You said recently, in your old church, "Our national leaders are sending U.S. soldiers on a task that is from God." Are we fighting a holy war?

PALIN: You know, I don't know if that was my exact quote.

GIBSON: Exact words.

Well, no. Palin asked members of the church to pray "that our leaders, our national leaders, are sending [U.S. soldiers] out on a task that is from God. That's what we have to make sure that we're praying for, that there is a plan and that that plan is God's plan." That's very different. She's asking them to help insure that the war is part of God's plan, not declaring that it was. ...

This is a journalism issue. I would feel the same way of GOP spinners were cutting off the first half of a Barack Obama quote to make him say the opposite of what he actually said, on some point where doctrine intersects public life.

We still need a correction from ABC News. The same goes for the original Associated Press report.

Now, I think, we need a correction from Howard Kurtz, who could do so much to clarify what is happening in this case. He is an excellent reporter and writer. Kurtz needs to get this one right.

CARTOON: Posted at the conservative Culture and Media Institute.

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