BAD REPORTER

Howard Kurtz Finds It Easier To Criticize Jason Collins’ Coming Out Story Than Read It

Howard Kurtz is the dean of MSM media critics. Which means when he makes a mistake, he backpedals furiously instead of owning up to it. Case in point: Kurtz’s Daily Beast column on Jason Collins, which was a vaguely homophobic attack on Collins for not mentioning in his coming out article in Sports Illustrated that he had been engaged to a woman. Kurtz called this “Jason Collins’ Other Secret.”

Except, of course, Collins did mention it.

Thence began the furious backpedaling. Kurtz refused to admit that his column was based on sloppy reading. No, he dug in his heels on his original angle, which is that Collins was somehow less than heroic in coming out because he didn’t wax at length about his fiance. Instead of killing the column, Kurtz revised it to complain that Collins “didn’t dwell” on his engagement.

“I have to assess a foul for the incomplete nature of the disclosure,” said Kurtz, the only person on the planet to whom it was incomplete. There’s something about Collins having had a fiance that clearly got under Kurtz’s skin.

Compounding Kurtz’s wrongheadedness was the video he did in which he took Collins to task because “”he didn’t tell the whole story.” The issue, of course, is that Kurtz didn’t read the whole story–or quite possibly any of it. He was more intent on finding some reason to criticize Collins because doing so would show he really is an impartial journalist.

After 24 hours of this obfuscation, the Daily Beast finally bowed to the inevitable and pulled the column, but not before Kurtz was lacerated by his fellow journalists.

As for Kurtz, he remains clueless. “I regret the mistake I made in writing about Jason Collins’ essay, and I hope I wasn’t insensitive in discussing it.” he told Buzzfeed. “He did a courageous thing by taking this step, but once he put it out for public discussion, it seems fair to raise questions about the account of his former fiancee, who granted several interviews. Obviously Collins or any other gay person can come out in any way they choose, or not come out at all. I don’t think my analysis was out of bounds, but that’s for others to judge. I did think the comments of ESPN’s Chris Broussard criticizing Collins’ ‘heterosexual lifestyle’ were offensive, and I said so.”

Mighty big of you, Howie. Glad to know you draw the line at blatant homophobia. How about a little self-examination while you’re at it?

UPDATE: Apparently, even in the mainstream media screw-ups have consequences. The Daily Beast has announced that it has “parted company” with Kurtz, which is PR speak for “shown him the door.”