What you haven't heard anybody mention, but I think could be an aspect of why Kurtz got this wrong, was that though Collins' coming out declaration was hailed by the mainstream media as heroic in nature (and certainly was historic), there were definitely countervailing voices from conservative opinion makers who not only thought too much was being made of it all, but took an interesting angle to find fault with the NBA player.
Both Rush Limbaugh and Dino Costa (a sports talk show host on "Mad Dog Radio" on Sirius-XM) blasted Collins, saying he wasn't heroic, but in fact was sort of a bad guy by leaving his ex-fiance high and dry (Collins had a seven-year relationship with a woman before breaking up in 2009). Kurtz, who likes to maintain that he is always above board and fair, seems to have taken those talking points with him when he ran with his story line, bashing Collins for not mentioning her. The problem for Howie was that Collins did. On his show, he came clean in admitting he'd erred.
“On Monday I read the ‘Sports Illustrated’ article by Jason Collins, the first pro male-team athlete to come out publicly as gay. I read it too fast and carelessly missed that Jason Collins said he was engaged previously to a woman and then wrote and commented that he was wrong to keep that from readers when, in fact, I was the one that was wrong.”
Kurtz continued: “My logic between what happened between Jason Collins and his former fiance and what was and wasn’t disclosed — in hindsight, well, I was wrong to even raise that and showed a lack of sensitivity to the issue. Also, I didn’t give him a chance to respond to my account before I wrote it and in addition my first correction to the story was not as complete and full as it should have been.”
Kurtz then turned to two media reporters who turned the tables on him. NPR's David Folkinflik and Politico's Dylan Byers took turns grilling the famed media critic. Byers was particularly aggressive, calling out Kurtz for previous errors.
Kurtz is no longer employed by the Daily Beast, but he maintains (for now) his gig at CNN. And presumably theDaily Download, a new venture that many critics maintain is one reason why he might have erred in the first place - that he's simply stretched too thin.
In any event, he's not the first person who read a story too quickly and then commented on it. But it's a whole different story when you have the platform that Kurtz has (or had) online and on television. There is some speculation that he's no longer safe at CNN.
Every reporter has made mistakes. It's nothing that any of us who do this for a living are happy or proud about it, but it happens. Hopefully when it does, it's not too huge, and a correction can be made promptly.
But when it's the country's most highly visible media critic who screws up, it's a big story. So on Sunday morning, Howard Kurtz did the correct thing on his own Reliable Sources show on CNN to apologize to Jason Collins, the 12-year NBA veteran who who last week became the first player from a major American sport to come out publicly as gay.
Kurtz' error waswriting this in a piece on the Daily Beast, an institution he now no longer works at after this past week:
"I'm sure it wasn't easy becoming the first male athlete in a major sports league to come out as gay," Kurtz wrote. "But I have to assess a foul for the incomplete nature of the disclosure. Did Collins think his longtime squeeze was just going to stay silent?"
Uh, the problem was that Collins had mentioned his ex-fiance in his now famous Sports Illustratedletter coming out to the world.
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