Howard Kurtz needs to be reminded he's an editor. This week, The Daily Beast and Newsweek Washington bureau chief slammed the media for its "Mormon fixation" concerning GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney. You know what publication offers lots of coverage on Mitt Romney's Mormonism? The Daily Beast and Newsweek.
On Monday, Kurtz complained that the media was overplaying Romney's Mormon issue in order to "inject a note of dramatic divisiveness into an otherwise tepid candidacy." Singling out Politico, he wrote: "The floodgates have opened. Politico’s lead story on Sunday was headlined 'Mitt Romney’s Mormon Issue Returns.' Other candidates were asked about the [Robert] Jeffress rhetoric on the talk shows, and as the new week began it was the hot topic on television and online. Will the press keep pounding away at this anti-Mormon outburst? Why, 50 years after JFK broke the Catholic barrier, is a candidate’s religion again emerging as a major issue?”
The criticism didn't sit well with Politico reporter Alexander Burns, who passive aggressively retweeted a four-month old tweet from Kurtz, recalling the media critic's refusal to address Congressman Anthony Weiner's scandal before it blew up: “To twerps demanding I cover Anthony Weiner Twitter scandal: Whole thing appears to be faked. Sometimes it pays to wait for the facts.” The criticism doesn't sit well with us either, considering that his publication has covered Romney's Mormonism just as obsessively as everyone else.
Just last week, they published a story titled "Mitt Romney's Evangelical Problem" on "the religious right's Mormon anxiety." (in subject matter, it's practically identical to Politico's story.) On Tuesday, they published a lengthy story highlighting Rick Perry's frigid relations with Mormons. In June the magazine published a cover story on the rise of Mormonism in American pop culture (with Romney as the focal point). The Daily Beast's Cheat Sheet has followed every incremental Mormon controversy and their video team has been on the beat as well.
As Washington bureau chief for both Newsweek magazine and The Daily Beast website, political stories would traditionally come under his direction, as editor-in-chief Tina Brown announced last October when he was hired. "In this new role, Kurtz will oversee the two-year-old site’s coverage of Washington and will report and write regularly on politics, media, and the intersection of the two." We raised this issue with Kurtz last time he criticized the media for obsessing over Weinergate, which The Daily Beast was covering obsessively. He shrugged it off. "I am not in charge of the site’s Weiner coverage." That's probably the case for the publication's Mormon coverage as well, despite his editor title. At the least, his Monday column could've disclosed that neither Newsweek nor The Daily Beast had gone easy on the Mormon issue either.