KURTZ TAKES ON BIRTHER MADNESS…. Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz has steered clear of the Birther stupidity, despite the media’s willingness to legitimize the right-wing conspiracy theory. Kurtz’s apparent reluctance to call out Lou Dobbs, among others, has itself drawn some criticism.

To his credit, Kurtz tackled the nutty story today, and did so in such a way as to criticize the media’s handling of the baseless “controversy.” In fact, Kurtz called the claims “ludicrous” and noted “there is no factual basis for them.”

Roger Simon added that the media is looking for excuses “not to act responsibly” and not to “use any judgment.” Both Simon and Kurtz agreed that this is “tantamount to giving airtime to flat-earth people,” but Simon was right to add, “[T]here’s a racial element to this story, too. Some people, quite frankly, cannot accept the fact we have a black president … and some of them are seeking to delegitimize his presidency.” These nuts, Simon said, are getting “much too much” assistance from major news outlets.

Lauren Ashburn of USA Today added, “[I]t’s unethical of the media to be taking this issue and putting it front and center when all of the proof is there to the contrary.”

Lou Dobbs’ name was used a few times in the four-minute segment. One assumes he’ll respond by blasting Kurtz and his panel for being part of what he’s described as “a national left-wing media conspiracy.”

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Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.