Times Asks if Howie Kurtz Was Unethical

kurtz052908 Times Asks if Howie Kurtz Was UnethicalJacques Steinberg at The Times poses a question: Did Howie Kurtz do anything wrong when he brought a client of his wife’s onto his show? Kurtz’s wife, Sheri Annis, did PR work for Kimberly Dozier’s memoir, Breathing the Fire, which was the centerpiece of an interview Dozier had with Kurtz on his CNN show, Reliable Sources. Kurtz made a brief disclosure at the end of the show, but even so, is it kosher?

Steinberg finds some Poynter hand-wringers to say no, though even their criticism is sort of tepid:

"CNN has a lot of great journalists there," said Thomas Huang, an ethics and diversity fellow at the Poynter Institute. "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."

That’s pretty mild finger-wagging. Kurtz and CNN explained that they discussed it before the show aired, and agreed if a disclosure was made, all was fine. So he did. It’s a bit stinky, yes, but there’s a reason it, as the Times headline states, "raises ethichal questions" and does no more than that.