Vogue’s Credibility–and Howard Kurtz’s

In the same column (2/16/09) that he cites Sam Donaldson’s reputation as a “blowhard liberal,” the Washington Post‘s Howard Kurtz has an item in which he complains that “the Vogue cover story on Michelle Obama, by editor at large André Leon Talley, is nothing if not laudatory.” Kurtz writes:

The Talley article mentions briefly that Obama showed up “at a fundraiser I co-hosted last year.” That would be a $1,000-a-head fundraiser–“An Evening With Michelle Obama”–also hosted by Vogue editor Anna Wintour and designer Calvin Klein.

Wouldn’t the story have had more credibility if written by someone who hadn’t helped the Obama campaign raise money?

Wouldn’t Kurtz’s criticism have more credibility if he acknowledged that fashion magazines are not exactly known for their hard-hitting attacks on the celebrities they profile?

Kurtz’s subhead for the item–“Coziness in Vogue”–suggests that the article is a sign of the times, part of his ongoing “Obama Adulation Watch”…which he continues under that heading in the same column, with an item about a New York Times blogger who reports that women often dream about having sex with Barack Obama.

This kind of media criticism is barely above the level of Jonah Goldberg. If Kurtz is trying to evaluate what kind of honeymoon the press is giving Obama, shouldn’t the fact that cable news allowed Republican lawmakers to dominate the debate over his stimulus plan carry more weight than the ethical lapses of Vogue?

About Jim Naureckas

Extra! Magazine Editor Since 1990, Jim Naureckas has been the editor of Extra!, FAIR's monthly journal of media criticism. He is the co-author of The Way Things Aren't: Rush Limbaugh's Reign of Error, and co-editor of The FAIR Reader: An Extra! Review of Press and Politics in the '90s. He is also the co-manager of FAIR's website. He has worked as an investigative reporter for the newspaper In These Times, where he covered the Iran-Contra scandal, and was managing editor of the Washington Report on the Hemisphere, a newsletter on Latin America. Jim was born in Libertyville, Illinois, in 1964, and graduated from Stanford University in 1985 with a bachelor's degree in political science. Since 1997 he has been married to Janine Jackson, FAIR's program director. You can follow Jim on Twitter at @JNaureckas.