Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz is married to a publicist, and one would expect the press scold to studiously avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest with regard to her clients, who pay in hopes of getting their story into newspapers like the Post and onto TV shows like Kurtz's Reliable Sources at CNN. In fact, both Kurtz and wife Sheri Annis have been rather brazen about advancing one another's interests. As the Times notes this morning, Kurtz on Sunday interviewed for his TV show a CBS journalist who had written a memoir about her time in Iraq, and who just happens to have hired Kurtz's wife to do publicity. Kurtz went so far as to read aloud from her book before noting his conflict briefly at the end of his segment. His wife, it seems, has been even less ethically careful:
Among the news organizations she telephoned, she said, were The Baltimore Sun and Newsweek (which is owned by The Washington Post Company), which both published articles. She also contacted this reporter and identified herself, in part, as "Howard Kurtz's wife."
It's tough to work as a press scold, as Kurtz must, when your wife is trampling press ethics so blatantly, trying to leverage her access to you to advance her own financial interests. This transgression alone, however, would not be enough to crucify Kurtz, given that it is the work of a family member and not the columnist himself. Throw in Kurtz's own bad judgement on CNN, however, and the media pontificator looks seriously wounded.