Howard Kurtz, the media critic who finds enough time to criticize all media and still write puff pieces about Matt Lauer for The Daily Beast, just didn't have enough time to read eight paragraphs of one of the most important articles in the media this week. So Kurtz tried to protect readers from that big sneaky first openly gay major American team sport athlete, Jason Collins, calling him out for something Collins was actually completely upfront about in his history-making Sports Illustrated cover story, which millions of other people actually took the time to read. This time, like so many others, it was Howie who got caught in his own trap.
Kurtz, who hosts CNN's Reliable Sources while somehow holding on to the title of Washington bureau chief at Newsweek/Daily Beast, wrote a post on his Daily Beast media criticism blog originally titled "Jason Collins' Other Hidden Secret" that, when it went live Wednesday afternoon, originally began like so:
One of the reasons that Jason Collins’ coming out packed such an emotional punch is that he appeared to be telling all.
He had always struggled with being gay, the NBA player said to Sports Illustrated and George Stephanopoulos, drawing rave reviews for his candor and a congratulatory call from President Obama.
Except that he left out one little part.
He was engaged. To be married. To a woman.
And it's true! Jason Collins was engaged to a woman at one point. Kurtz goes on to tap out a few quotes the woman, Carolyn Moos, had offered earlier in the week to the reliable sources over at TMZ, as well as Kurtz's CNN colleague Piers Morgan. She was shocked. She had found out about Collins's sexuality around the same time as everyone else.
It's also in the eighth paragraph of the essay Collins co-wrote for SI, which has been online in full for two days now (emphasis ours):
When I was younger I dated women. I even got engaged. I thought I had to live a certain way. I thought I needed to marry a woman and raise kids with her. I kept telling myself the sky was red, but I always knew it was blue.
The Daily Beast quickly changed Kurtz's post — the word "Hidden" was removed from the headline, and the "left out one little part" part was switched to "downplayed one detail" — but Kurtz and his editors took more than enough time to append a correction at the bottom of the post. It now says: "An earlier version of this story erroneously said that Collins had not mentioned his engagement in the initial interview."
But the updates don't change the tone or Kurtz's intent, which were tabloid-y at best, from a man who loves to hate on the tabloids, and can no longer pull the excuse that he's too busy being the king of all media watchers to actually watch the media. Howard Kurtz was trying to shame Jason Collins for lying to us. Plenty has been written about how carefully Collins's SI story was prepared — including from SI itself, immediately — but Kurtz came piling on, sounding less like a media critic than like Lebron James after former NBA player John Amaechi came out in 2007: "With teammates you have to be trustworthy," James said at the time. "And if you're gay and you're not admitting that you are, then you are not trustworthy. So that's like the No. 1 thing as teammates — we all trust each other. You've heard of the in-room, locker-room code. What happens in the locker room stays in there. It's a trust factor, honestly. A big trust factor."
Well, not a lot of people trust Howie Kurtz anymore. He does "work a zillion hours a week," as he told The Huffington Post's Michael Calderone, so he didn't have enough time to double check these facts. (Calderone also implies a curious relationship between Kurtz and a board member at the Daily Download.) But is that really an excuse for hating on Pete Williams when everyone respects his journalism? Is that an excuse for being wrong about Anthony Weiner, and guns, and a whole lot of other big stories lately? A lot of people don't think so:
Kurtz offered this mea culpa on Twitter later Wednesday afternoon:
Apologies: Jason Collins did mention his engagement in SI article. But he didn't tell the full story--his ex says she just learned he's gay— HowardKurtz (@HowardKurtz) May 1, 2013
So did the rest of the world, Howie. Now stop playing catchup.