Howard Kurtz, The Washington Post's media critic, has a long piece today lamenting how dangerous it has become for journalists in war zones. He cites as examples the Gaza kidnapping of the two Fox journalists as well as yesterday's missile attack by the Israeli air force on an armored vehicle in Gaza (prominently marked "PRESS") which was carrying journalists from Reuters (the Israelis claim it was accidental). Kurtz solemnly notes that war journalists "risk their lives and put their families through great stress simply to tell the rest of us what is transpiring in faraway lands."
In addition to his Post column, Kurtz also hosts a CNN show called Reliable Sources, devoted to discussing the media. One of Kurtz's favorite guests is Powerline blogger John Hinderaker. Hinderaker wrote a post last night about the missile attack on the Reuters journalists and this is what he said (emphasis added):
Given Reuters's coverage of the conflict in Lebanon, it would perhaps be understandable if the Israelis started firing on Reuters vehicles. Which is what Reuters now says they did.
It would be "understandable if the Israelis started firing on Reuters vehicles." Why? Because of their "coverage of the conflict in Lebanon." Shouldn't someone who defends and justifies violent attacks on journalists because of what they write be considered out of the mainstream, too reprehensible to be given a CNN platform? Why would CNN want to put someone on its broadcasts who advocates violent attacks on journalists due to what they write? And if arguing that Reuters journalists are legitimate war targets who can and should be shot at doesn't render someone an untouchable right-wing extremist -- more accurately, a sociopath -- what would be sufficient to justify that characterization?
For whatever reasons, the media continues to be perfectly amiable with people, including Hinderaker, who advocate that journalists (such as the NYT's Jim Risen and even Kurtz's own colleague, the Post's Dana Priest) be imprisoned for the articles they write about the Bush administration. That's odd enough. But are they really going to continue to provide platforms to people like Hinderaker who explicitly justify violent attacks on journalists due to animosity towards their employers over the content of their journalism?