Howard Kurtz’s apology, delivered on live national television Sunday, has been received as any dramatic apology would be. Some people are buying it. Some aren’t.
On his CNN media news program “Reliable Sources,” Kurtz offered his side of the story on what led to the mea culpa in the first place: Deadline pressure and his own lack of due diligence were to blame for his erroneous report last week that NBA player Jason Collins, who had just come out as gay, didn’t disclose that Collins his prior engagement to a woman. Collins had, in fact, been open about the engagement, mentioning it in a column for Sports Illustrated.
On Friday we questioned whether Kurtz would cover his own ass by covering his own ass on the show. He did. And for the occasion, CNN brought in NPR’s David Folkenflik and Politico‘s Dylan Byers to probe him.
There was plenty of in-house love for Kurtz. In a separate segment on the show, attorney Lisa Bloom was on to discuss coverage of the Jodi Arias case. Before offering her legal analysis, she said she would take a second to “go off script.” She praised Kurtz for “raising the bar” for journalistic accountability (while rattling off her own media resume).
“Kudos to Howard Kurtz,” tweeted Kurtz’s CNN colleague Piers Morgan. “He took his Jason Collins-clanger on the chin today like a Mike Tyson right hook.”
The compliments also poured in from elsewhere. FNC anchor Greta Van Susteren wrote on her Gretawire blog that everyone should “stop slapping Howie Kurtz.”
“Not one of us is perfect. We all make mistakes,” Van Susteren wrote. At the start of the year, Kurtz had to offer a separate apology for wrongly attributing a quote to Van Susteren about then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
At TVNewser, our sister site, Gail Shister wrote after the apology that she hopes CNN head Jeff Zucker will continue to support Kurtz.
On the other side of the fence… was Politico‘s Ken Vogel. When Kurtz was asked on the show about past errors he’s made or about the status of his credibility following his latest blunder, he said he would need to earn back trust with his audience, that he’s “held to a higher standard” than others, but that his mistakes have been “isolated.”
“Why is Kurtz talking about being ‘held to a higher standard’?” asked Vogel on Twitter. “His errors/defensiveness fail under any standard.”
Sharon Waxman at The Wrap wrote that Kurtz’s apology fell short. “The public trust is too precious and too fragile for us to look the other way when a colleague missteps in so fundamental a way,” she wrote.
One viewer of Kurtz’s show remarked on Twitter that “No one is shocked Howard Kurtz reported an erroneous story. CNN’s ‘reporters’ are notorious for doing so. Their motto is speed first, accuracy last.”
Then there were some media bigwigs who, if nothing else, commended Kurtz for taking the heat he deserved.
“I can’t recall the last time a major journalism figure faced up to his mistakes in such a straightforward fashion,” Eric Deggans of the Tampa Bay Times wrote in a blog post Sunday night.
Reuters Social Media Editor Anthony De Rosa echoed the sentiment. “Say what you will about Kurtz, how many people would give their critics this platform on their own show? Good for him,” he said on Twitter. (Side note: Matthew Keys, the recently-fired deputy social media editor from Reuters observed on Twitter: “Kurtz covered my firing last week. This week, Howard covered his own firing.”)
So did NYT lead media columnist David Carr: “Props to Kurtz for allowing two on one.”
Even Richard Grenell, former foreign policy adviser to Mitt Romney and a notoriously barbed-wired (“liberal”) media critic, was impressed with Kurtz. “Kurtz deserves credit for being willing to sit and be judged,” he wrote on his blog.