WeinerGate's Collateral Damage: Howard Kurtz

Now that Congressman Anthony Weiner has admitted to sending out the infamous tweet, it is time to demand explanations from members of the “mainstream press” who, inexplicably, failed to ask the simplest of questions during “WeinerGate.” It took Weiner calling a CNN producer a “jackass” for the rest of the media to finally take notice. Even then they weren’t prepared to challenge the Congressman’s answers and let glaring inconsistencies go. There are plenty of media figures who too quickly jumped to Weiner’s defense and started pointing fingers at people like Andrew Breitbart. I’m sure many articles and blog posts will be written about them in due time. Right now, I’d like to focus on one person.

Howard Kurtz is a well-known media analyst. He has made criticizing the media his career and is presumably an objective critic of the press. He hosts a show on CNN called “Reliable Sources” where he takes on the role of a “journalism cop” policing the media and pointing out what they’re doing wrong and what they get right. He also writes a column at The Daily Beast where he does the same thing. The point here is that he’s supposed to be the guy (or one of them) who steps back and analyzes the news coverage. He’s the one many people turn to when they want to find out how the media becomes part of the story rather than just reports on it. With that in mind, Kurtz has a little explaining to do.

Back on May 30th, two days after “the tweet”, Kurtz took to Twitter to address the people who had been asking him about the story. Here’s how he responded:



(He immediately corrected the use of “twerps”, by the way. He meant to say “tweeps.”)

When I first saw this tweet I was puzzled.

At the time (Monday, May 30th) the only place I’d seen anyone claiming the “whole thing appears to be faked” was in a laughably incoherent post on DailyKos.com – a post so ridiculous I will not link to it. For some strange reason, though, The Daily Beast’s “Cheat Sheet” did link to it along with an excerpt. Surely Howard Kurtz, self-appointed media ombudsman, wasn’t relying on a diary at the DailyKos as the basis for his scolding of people asking questions, right? I mean, there had to be some other evidence to back up his claim. (I’ve asked Kurtz, via Twitter, to clarify his comment several times with no response.)

So here’s the media expert shooing people with questions and dismissing them as kooks jumping to conclusions. Silly peasants! The media was right, according to him, to wait for the facts. You know, the facts the Bigs had and reported on from the start. Now compare Kurtz’ tweet above to an article he wrote the next day:

I don’t know whether Weiner is a victim here or not. Of course the media, and especially the New York press, should look into the matter involving a rising political star. But what we have at the moment is a salacious picture that we’re not sure is Weiner (no face is shown), the congressman claiming he was hacked, and the student in question saying the picture wasn’t from him and she has no relationship with him.

Oh, so the next day Kurtz doesn’t know if Weiner “is a victim here or not”? Read the whole article. No where does he admit that he had dismissed the story as “fake”. Could it be that he was the one jumping to conclusions the day before? Of course not. He’s Howard Kurtz the Media Cop! His credibility is unimpeachable. Right. Sure, Howie.

As of this writing, Kurtz has yet to explain what he used as the basis for his dismissive tweet on May 30th. He has written at least four articles on the scandal and has not explained why he declared the “whole thing appears to be faked” two days into WeinerGate. What we now know is that he was the one jumping to conclusions. Not us. Has the media critic gazed in the mirror and criticized himself? Doubtful. Until he does, publicly, how reliable is he? Right now, we have to assume he used a DailyKos.com diary entry to “debunk” a story the Congressman himself admitted to on Monday.

When the post-mortems are written and the analysis of the fallout is laid out, Kurtz and rest of the “mainstream” media “elite” need to be called to the mat and made to explain why they were so quick to defend what was so obviously not a “hack” of a Congressman’s Twitter account. All those talking heads on the Left essentially saying the same thing: “Weiner is too smart to do something so stupid.” Well, he clearly wasn’t too smart and he did it. These media figures owe everyone else an apology for pretending they were smarter than everyone else.

#WeinerGate was a disaster for the Congressman. The mainstream media’s credibility was also severely damaged – at least with rational people. Howard Kurtz included. From now on, we have to assume that Kurtz takes the craziness posted at DailyKos seriously. How many other “facts” does Kurtz get from that loony bin?

“Reliable Sources,” huh?

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