"Independent" media critic, Howard Kurtz' gloss over of the Hannity show's fake Obamacare victims was so ridiculous it was almost funny. If it weren't so serious.
As I've previously posted, Sean Hannity trotted out six people (three couples) last week to tell their stories about the "disastrous" "train wreck" that is Obamacare, according to Hannity. But a Salon.com writer did the research Hannity must have counted on his viewers not doing and found that none of them were the victims Hannity purported them to be.
The ploy was discussed on CNN's Reliable Sources (Kurtz' previous show before coming to Fox) where it was deemed nothing less than propaganda.
As Erik Wemple in the Washington Post put it, Kurtz "had no choice but to at least mention" what had happened on his weekend Media Buzz show. But Kurtz spun the deception as just a matter of opinion. Thrown into the "other side" of coverage of Obamacare and the government shutdown.
Actually, it was even worse than that. Kurtz tried to paint the Hannity falsehood as a more legitimate form of opinion than the editorializing from NBC's supposedly objective reporter, Chuck Todd. Kurtz played a clip of Todd saying Senator Ted Cruz was from another planet. After agreeing with his pal Lauren Ashburn that Todd had used "some harsh language," Kurtz turned to conservative guest Mary Katharine Ham and said:
Now, on the other side, Mary Katharine, Sean Hannity has drawn some criticism. Salon did a piece that said that he had three couples on, talking about how they were hurt by Obamacare. And the “Salon” reporter called up these couples. One was a businessman who had laid off people, but his business was so small, it wasn’t covered by Obamacare. The other two said their premiums were going up but they hadn’t checked to see what they might or might not, I should say, save under Obamacare.
Now Sean Hannity is an opinion guy, no question about it. So he’s not in the same category. But could it be said that various news outlets were pushing their own agenda during this 16-day debacle?
Excuse me, but trying to pull a fast one on your viewers is nothing like opining and Kurtz ought to know that. Nevertheless, he allowed Ham to keep pushing the false equivalence.
HAM: Well, I think that’s what happens. And, frankly, I think the right feels that because most of the mainstream media is leaning left, and I think pretty obviously so during this, that it is their duty to push this other side and to point out that when the president shuts down parks and puts priority on certain things that maybe he doesn’t need to put priority on, shutting down to hurt people, that that is an important story that the media is missing.
So is Ham excusing deceit because it's in the service of a conservative sense of balance? Kurtz didn't seem to feel the need to probe.
Juan Williams raised an objection. But he never said a word about Hannity's underhandedness. Williams said, "I think there is some responsibility on the part of news media to make sure that people have a sense of the larger picture. And when they say, 'Oh, you know what? These folks say that they have to shut down the government on principle,' why doesn't somebody say, 'What principle? Wait a minute, why aren't you governing?' I think it is the obligation of media to point when people are misbehaving."
Except when that misbehavior occurs on Fox, apparently.
By the way, in a Mediaite interview shortly after it was announced he'd be joining Fox News, Kurtz promised he'd be independent enough to criticize his new network.
“I think all three of the cable news networks have their strengths and weaknesses,” he said. “I’m not going to shy away from talking about that just as I have not shied away from occasionally having to critique some of my past employers.”
“Fox wouldn’t have hired me if it wasn’t interested in my independent brand of media criticism,” Kurtz noted. “So, I’m very comfortable that I’ll have the freedom to criticize anyone I need to in my new role.”
It's also worth noting that in this same show, Kurtz came up with another phony equivalence that just happened to make Fox's erroneous report of Congressman Bill Young's death look less egregious.
Whether or not he's constrained by Fox News management or just blind to the faults of his home team, Kurtz' "independence" seems about as genuine as the "fair and balanced" slogan he works under.
Kurtz is better off leaving this fraudulent “news” outlet. It’s the worst “news” organization in the history of broadcasting. The suits are complete idiots, and so are the studio crew and on-air talents.
Like I commented on the other story, no one pays two shits worth of attention to him beyond pointing to him as the smoking gun on what Fox will spin/ignore. Simply not worth the time past that, for the same reason it’s hard to write up names like Gutfeld and Miller- There’s nothing left to be said past how the other people react, and most of his stunts are real “in other news…” fare.