Caught in the middle of a juicy media fight over appearances on CNN's Reliable Sources
So imagine my surprise yesterday, when I discovered while perusing emails on vacation, that I was not only the 18th most regular guest on CNN's media show Reliable Sources over the past decade, but I was a talking point in the argument over whether host Howard Kurtz program was too clubby or insular.
To be fair, I didn't notice Politico writer Patrick Gavin's piece when it first ran, listing the top 20 guests on Kurtz's show (surprisingly, I was higher than PBS media guy Terence Smith, but appropriately lower than Arianna Huffington and the show's champ, with 33 appearances, pundit/columnist Roger Simon).
I did notice, however, when Kurtz cited me and online media guru Jeff Jarvis as examples of often-appearing guests who aren't part of Washington's clubby group of insider reporters, when refuting the story on his own show Sunday. I was surprised that he didn't use a pretty good defense offered by senior executive producer Tom Bettag when Gavin's story first ran; 33 appearance by one person over a decade of shows isn't really that much.
Indeed, to really judge how clubby Kurtz's show is, you'd have to do a similar analysis of other Sunday shows. I'm willing to bet top recurring guests on Meet the Press or This Week hit 33 appearances far sooner.
And Gavin's own original piece contained an odd note, criticizing Kurtz for not featuring more Washington based media writers -- like, say, him -- when one of the biggest complaints about Washington-based Sunday shows is that they are too focused on the Beltway crowd. So Kurtz is to be criticized for not having a more diverse guest list, AND for not featuring more reporters from inside the Beltway's clubby environs?
As someone who has been on the show a lot, I know I'm not an impartial source. But I haven't been on Kurtz's show for months; sitting in Georgia still on vacation, I can't remember for sure the last time I was on the show and the most recent appearance I can find during a cursory Google search is January.
So if Kurtz is convening a club on his program, it is one that doesn't meet all that regularly.
Still, it's fun to see one's name floated in such stellar company. And if I can help add a little diversity of thought or attitude to a show, I consider that one of my best achievements possible.
Check out Kurtz's defense of his show in the clip below...