From the September 27 edition of Fox News' Media Buzz:
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From the September 14 edition of Fox News' The Kelly File:
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Fox News host and resident media critic Howard Kurtz questioned Jorge Ramos' journalistic integrity in the wake of the Univision anchor's contentious press conference questioning of Republican frontrunner Donald Trump, concluding that Ramos was little more than "a heckler."
During an August 25 press conference in Dubuque, Iowa, Ramos pressed Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on his promise to forcibly remove millions of undocumented immigrants, and presumably in some cases their American-born children, from the United States as part of a sweeping and expensive redesign of the American immigration system. Trump's initial reaction was to have his security team escort Ramos from the room, before eventually engaging in a minutes-long argument with the journalist over the feasibility and legality of his plan.
Ramos' actions during the press conference have been widely criticized at Fox News. On August 26, Fox contributor and Daily Caller editor-in-chief Tucker Carlson claimed that Ramos is "not a reporter," but rather "an editorialist" and "an activist" whose questioning of Trump was not protected by the First Amendment. Fox host Bill O'Reilly complained that media were not "report[ing] this story honestly" before proceeding to lecture Ramos on journalistic etiquette and concluding that the Univision anchor was not "an objective purveyor" of the news. During an interview with Ramos, Fox host Megyn Kelly asked if he could "understand Trump's side" of the dispute, citing a seemingly unrelated legal battle between Univision and Trump's Miss USA beauty pageant.
On the August 30 edition of Fox News' Media Buzz, host Howard Kurtz used his program as a platform to continue Fox's campaign against Ramos as well as its defense of the Republican frontrunner. Kurtz allowed conservative columnist Mercedes Schlapp to forward the unsubstantiated claim that conservative and mainstream media "both agree that Jorge Ramos was out of line." Washington Examiner correspondent Susan Ferrechio accused Ramos of interrupting other reporters to get his point across, before Kurtz concluded that Ramos was acting like more like "a heckler" than a journalist:
KURTZ: Jorge Ramos is the chief anchor of Univision, chief news anchor, which is the largest Spanish-language network in the country. And so, he clearly has opinions on this issue, but he's not paid to go and disrupt events. I mean, I thought at times he seemed like a heckler -- like a heckler.
The ejection of Ramos from Trump's August 25 press conference garnered national headlines and was roundly condemned by Spanish-language media, but the reaction among right-wing media personalities has been to instead attack Ramos for speaking out of turn. Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh denigrated Ramos as a "shill" and "activist" who was merely attempting to elevate the profile of his network, and Erick Erickson called Ramos a "thug" and dismissed him as "a self-absorbed, self-righteous leftwing activist."
From the August 28 edition of Fox News' Happening Now:
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From the August 3 edition of Comedy Central's The Daily Show:
In a report on the Murdoch restructure of Fox News' parent company, Fox's Howard Kurtz glazed over the 2011 phone hacking controversy that implicated the Murdoch family in England -- a stark contrast to Kurtz's critical reporting of how Fox News avoided coverage of the scandal while he worked for CNN.
Rupert Murdoch is reportedly planning to step down as CEO of Fox News' parent company 21st Century Fox. According to CNBC, Murdoch's son James will take over as CEO and son Lachlan will assume the role of "executive co-chairman" of the company in coordination with their father. James Murdoch previously resigned his role as the head of News International -- which published several tabloids and newspapers abroad -- amid the widespread scandal over phone hacking at News of the World, a since-shuttered UK tabloid he oversaw. As part of the fallout from that scandal, Murdoch also resigned his position as chairman of UK satellite broadcaster BSkyB.
On the June 14 edition of Fox News' Media Buzz, host Howard Kurtz used news of the company restructuring as an opportunity to highlight Rupert Murdoch's career, praising him for bringing "huge changes to the media landscape," including "conquering the world of British newspapers, revolutionizing TV sports here in the states, launching the fourth American broadcast network, and of course building a hugely successful and profitable cable news network." To highlight Murdoch's influence, Kurtz added that "when something goes wrong like the phone hacking scandal at the now defunct News of the World, he gets the blame."
Kurtz's report glazing over Murdoch's involvement in the phone hacking scandal and mentioning it only as a way to highlight the former CEO's influence stands in stark contrast to the way Fox's media critic covered the scandal while working for CNN.
In July 2011, as the host of CNN's Reliable Sources, Kurtz criticized Fox News for underplaying coverage of Murdoch's phone hacking scandal which involved Fox's then-parent company News Corp., and said that news networks that avoid covering their own controversies create "a double standard" and "undermine your credibility":
KURTZ: I feel very strongly about this. I mean, we do it on this program all the time when CNN has controversy, I always cover it. And otherwise, what you're signaling to viewers is there's a double standard. We're only aggressive when some other organization is in trouble. And I think that can undermine your credibility.
Kurtz has made a habit of ignoring controversies related to Fox News during his employment at the network, despite promising to bring an "independent brand of media criticism" to Fox.
From the May 27 edition of Fox News' The Kelly File:
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From the May 17 edition of Fox News' MediaBuzz:
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Clinton Cash author and Republican activist Peter Schweizer acknowledged that, contrary to earlier reporting, there is no similar book in the works on the personal finances and policy decisions of former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, a claim journalists have previously cited to legitimize Schweizer's forthcoming book on the Clintons.
There are at least 20 documented errors, fabrications, and distortions in Schweizer's forthcoming book Clinton Cash, where the conservative author speculates about allegedly unethical ties between the Clinton Foundation and actions Hillary Clinton purportedly made as secretary of state. His allegations of impropriety by the Clintons and their family foundation have been picked apart by ABC News, BuzzFeed, MSNBC, NBC News, and ThinkProgress, among several other news agencies, and Schweizer has even been accused by one of his sources of taking comments "badly out of context" in hopes of slighting the Clinton family.
Bloomberg Politics reported on April 23 that in contrast to the "left-wing clamor that Schweizer is simply out to get Hillary Clinton," "Schweizer is working on a similar investigation of Jeb Bush's finances that he expects to publish this summer." Politico and CNN subsequently reported this would be a "book" on Bush.
But days later, Schweizer admitted that no similar book on Jeb Bush will be published. On the May 3 edition of Fox News' MediaBuzz, host Howard Kurtz asked about accusations that the book is "pursuing an agenda" based on his conservative political affiliations and activism. Schweizer acknowledged that while he's been researching Bush's finances, there are no plans to publish a book similar to Clinton Cash:
KURTZ: To be fair, you have been digging into Jeb Bush's finances --
KURTZ: -- So the Clintons aren't the only ones you're going to be looking at. But that's not going to result in a book, as I understand.
A spokesperson for Schweizer's current publisher, HarperCollins, previously told Media Matters that it has no plans to publish a book on Bush's complex finances. Instead, it expects Schweizer to issue a follow-up report at his far-right think tank, the Government Accountability Institute.
See the full segment here:
Right-wing media are rushing to champion Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) after he officially announced his bid for the 2016 Republican nomination for president.
Fox News media critic Howard Kurtz downplayed the bloody arrest and subsequent national media coverage of a black University of Virginia (UVA) student, arrested during an alleged dispute over his ID, claiming "such arrests are common in this college town."
The Washington Post reported that Virginia's Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) is under scrutiny after the violent arrest of UVA student Martese Johnson, who "sustained head injuries that left him with bloody streaks down his face" following St. Patrick's Day celebrations near the UVA campus in Charlottesville. Photos of Johnson's bloody face sparked widespread outrage and protests over the use of excessive police force.
During a segment on March 20 edition of Special Report, Kurtz criticized the national media attention claiming that this was a local story with "no evidence that race was a factor" in the arrest. Kurtz later downplayed the arrest as typical, asserting that "bartenders tell us such arrests are common in this college town."
Fox News host Howard Kurtz offered an erroneous defense of the flawed 1992 New York Times story that is widely credited for sparking the Whitewater investigations.
During the 1990s, Hillary and Bill Clinton were extensively investigated for their role in Whitewater -- a land deal gone awry in the 1970s and 1980s -- but all of the probes determined that no wrongdoing occurred on the part of the Clintons.
The impetus for national interest in Whitewater was a March 8, 1992, front page story in the Times authored by investigative reporter Jeff Gerth that scrutinized the Clinton's real estate dealings. Political opponents then seized on Whitewater to kick off years of investigations in a fruitless effort to pin wrongdoing on the Clintons.
On the March 15 edition of MediaBuzz, Kurtz reported that Gerth had contacted him to defend his "100 percent accurate" 1992 article, which had been criticized on the show the previous week by Daily Beast writer Michael Tomasky. According to Kurtz, "Gerth is right" to defend the article, which reported that "the Clintons bought land in Arkansas with the owner of a state-regulated [savings and loans company]":
KURTZ: On last week's program, The Daily Beast's Michael Tomasky criticized the New York Times story back in 1992 that broke the Watergate scandal, excuse me, the Whitewater scandal, saying it had been documented to most people's satisfaction that many of the details in the story didn't hold up. Well the author, investigative reporter Jeff Gerth, got in touch to say the article, which said the Clintons bought land in Arkansas with the owner of a state-regulated S&L that failed, and Hillary Clinton and her firm represented the S&L, was 100 percent accurate and the Clintons never asked for a correction. Gerth is right. It's hardly his fault that Whitewater came to stand for so many spin-off allegations.
But Gerth and Kurtz are wrong. Jim McDougal, the Clinton's business partner, did not own a state-regulated savings and loans company when he bought land with the Clintons. (McDougal would later be convicted of fraud relating to business dealings he undertook as the operator of savings and loan association Madison Guaranty.)
Fox News media critic Howard Kurtz failed to substantively discuss new allegations that Fox's Bill O'Reilly fabricated several details of his reporting career while offering no criticism of the embattled host.
Since the last edition of Fox's weekly media criticism program, MediaBuzz on February 22, O'Reilly has faced cascading allegations that he lied about hearing the suicide of a figure connected to John F. Kennedy's assassination, that he had falsely claimed to have witnessed the execution of nuns in El Salvador, and that he greatly exaggerated a story about being "attacked by protesters" during the L.A. riots.
But during the March 1 edition of MediaBuzz, host Kurtz failed to specifically mention any of these new allegations against O'Reilly and instead vaguely referenced "questions raised by Mother Jones and others about whether he has embellished some of his reporting," describing the allegations as a "flap." The only analysis offered by Kurtz was to read from a portion of an official Fox News statement, saying, "Fox News said in a statement that Bill O'Reilly has already addressed several claims leveled against him" before adding that "a couple media sites have noted his ratings have actually gone up in this past week, even when not talking about this controversy." He later agreed that not everybody has as large of a platform to defend themselves as O'Reilly does, but offered no criticism of his Fox News colleague:
From the February 13 edition of Fox News' The Kelly File:
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In September 1992, then-presidential candidate Ross Perot accused two female journalists of "trying to prove their manhood" following a TV segment that was critical of him. Perot, who had previously exited the race only to re-enter it, bristled at the scrutiny and deflected from the substance of the questions raised by whining that the style of the two women associated with the report was inappropriate or unbecoming.
Things have since improved for female TV anchors and journalists, but not nearly as much as they should have considering that criticism still tends to focus on style rather than substance. Today, most use euphemisms like "tone," "pushy," "toughness," or "not pressing enough" to criticize and undermine the credibility of female journalists.
On his February 8th show, Howard Kurtz, host of Fox News' MediaBuzz, actually defended the appalling behavior of Senator and potential 2016 GOP presidential contender Rand Paul, in which he condescended to, shushed, and told a female anchor to "calm down" during an appearance on CNBC. Co-host Kelly Evans was critical in her line of questioning, beginning the interview by asking Senator Paul about comments he'd made in a radio interview with conservative host Laura Ingraham just prior to appearing on CNBC where he said that he believed vaccinations "for the most part...ought to be voluntary."
In his analysis, Kurtz accused Evans of having a "chip on her shoulder" for starting the interview with this question. This, despite the fact that the question on vaccinating children was becoming something of a litmus test for potential GOP 2016 contenders, many of whom spent the week tripping all over themselves to walk the line between public safety, common sense and anti-science rhetoric. Evans actually gave Senator Paul (who is also a physician) the opportunity to clarify his comments, who initially gave a sarcastic non-answer, "I guess being for freedom would be really unusual? I guess I don't understand the point, why that would be controversial." Senator Paul's condescending tone continued from there, scolding Evans several times during the interview. Evans did interrupt as Senator Paul attempted to run down the clock with a classic politician non-answer in response to questions about reports suggesting that the long-term consequences of tax holiday legislation he'd introduced with Senator Barbara Boxer could potentially cost the federal governement money in the long run. Visibly agitated and thrown off his game, Paul resorted to shushing Evans in a manner that I last heard when a friend was trying to quiet her agitated baby. The interview ended with a final scolding from Paul and a respectful apology from Evans.
While many reviews acknowledged Paul's sexist behavior -- Kurtz himself said "shushing a host, especially a woman, did not exactly look gentlemanly" -- the Fox News host nonetheless blamed Evans for aggravating Senator Paul. Kurtz suggested that while the substance of the interview was legitimate, her "tone" was the problem. Kurtz chose not to focus on the behavior of a grown man and potential presidential candidate so quickly thrown off by a legitimate question that he resorted to deflecting by shushing and scolding. Instead, despite Senator Paul's attempt to bully Evans by telling her to calm down and attacking her credibility as a journalist, Kurtz suggested that Evans was the problem, because she "alienated" her guest. What Kurtz didn't acknowledge is that, as reporters are supposed to, Evans was part of advancing the story. The next day, Senator Paul went so far as to release a photo of himself getting a vaccination in an attempt to quell the mess he created with his comments the day before.
Just two months ago, Kurtz and his colleagues at Fox News were among the loudest to complain that the eight non-TV female journalists President Obama called on during his 2014 end of the year press conference actually weren't tough enough. The flutter created throughout Washington, D.C., that a president "only" called on women was insulting and annoying enough. The substance of the press conference ranged from President Obama's newsworthy comments regarding Sony's decision to pull The Interview from theaters, to the fate of the president's legislative agenda, the Keystone XL pipeline, and the beginning of normalizing relations with Cuba. Immediately afterwards, Fox News' White House Correspondent Ed Henry complained about the topics covered and that some of the questions posed by his female colleagues "just didn't press him."
Sexist criticism of the press conference did come from many directions including this tweet from Roger Cohen of the New York Times: "Questions only from women fine but WH might have advised male correspondents they could split on vacation early. #maledowntime."
But it was Kurtz's blog post for Fox News -- titled "Where Were the Tough Questions" -- that was particularly offensive. Kurtz diminished the questions posed by the female reporters, equating their style with substance by suggesting that the press conference was a dud because, "This is not unrelated to the fact that he (President Obama) skipped the front-row TV correspondents--Jonathan Karl, Ed Henry, Major Garrett--who tend to ask more confrontational and, yes, theatrical questions." While suggesting that stylistically TV journalists tend to ask more "theatrical" questions, Kurtz failed to include names of female White House TV correspondents.
While Kurtz criticized these female reporters for not being tough enough and CNBC's Evans for being too tough in her interview with Senator Paul, he thought his Fox News colleague Bill O'Reilly got it just right in his contentious 2014 Super Bowl interview with President Obama. O'Reilly continuously interrupted the President of the United States with questions about various debunked Fox conspiracy theories. The Atlantic described it this way: "O'Reilly would ask Obama if he had done something scandalous. Obama would say no, that's just factually wrong. O'Reilly would defend himself, saying he was just asking questions about what many believe. Obama would insist that they only believe it because Fox News treats it as fact. And O'Reilly would insist that he isn't behind it, he's just asking questions."
In defense of O'Reilly, Kurtz said, "Your interview wasn't nasty, it was aggressive ... Sure, you interrupted the president a lot but you had to do that because he's the master at running out the clock with lengthy answers."
In other words, a female reporter has a chip on her shoulder for being aggressive in an interview, while a male reporter is just doing what he had to. Watching Kurtz's defense of Rand Paul's shushing made me think of former New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson, who was reportedly fired in part for being too "pushy."
Kurtz's sexism underscores the trap women face, one that needs to be called out at every turn: it's not about trying to be like men, it's about redefining the way it's done.