Howard Kurtz (Fox News)

Howard Kurtz: Fox News is the real victim of the Charleston massacre

"We don't even know if Roof watched Fox News!" he said, rebutting an argument no one actually made


Scott Eric Kaufman
June 22, 2015 8:30PM (UTC)

Fox News media analyst Howard Kurtz used his latest Media Buzz column to do what he always does -- defend his employer against those who rightly point out its transparently strong ties to the Republican Party and its pathetically weak ones with reality.

"After a psychopath opened fire at a black church in Charleston, some people could not resist the urge to score political points," Kurtz wrote, apparently oblivious to the fact that that's exactly what he's doing. "This is becoming a disgusting spectacle after these increasingly common mass shootings. And it is reprehensible."

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The offending statements were made by a friend of one of those killed by 21-year-old white supremacist Dylann Roof, and for a moment, that gave Kurtz pause -- but only for a moment.

"I was inclined to cut Rutherford some slack because he was very emotional and lost a friend in that church," Kurtz wrote. "But then he doubled down in an interview with Bill O’Reilly." In that interview, Rutherford defended his statement that Roof "watches things like Fox News," and just as O'Reilly did in the segment itself, Kurtz either misheard Rutherford's statement or cynically chose not to hear the fact that he said Roof "watches things like Fox News."

"I shouldn’t even have to say this," he said. "We don’t even know if the shooter watched Fox." The fact that Rutherford never claimed he did is beside Kurtz's point, which is that other people on other networks routinely use tragedies for their own political gain -- and that it needs to stop, because "it's appalling and ugly and has no place in civil discourse."

Kurtz attempted to be even-handed in his assessment, writing that "both sides have a history of engaging in shameful rhetoric over the years," but the only example he gave of a conservative engaging in rhetorically shameful behavior was Charles Cotton claiming that Clementa Pinckney's support of gun control made him complicit in his own death. All of his other examples -- Rutherford, Hillary Clinton chastising Donald Trump over his "rapist" remarks, Bill Clinton blaming Rush Limbaugh for the Oklahoma City bombing, and liberals attacking Sarah Palin for the Gabrielle Giffords shooting -- are of liberals ostensibly taking advantage of a tragedy to push their agenda. So while he is, technically speaking, being "fair" inasmuch as he criticizes "both sides," it's not difficult to notice that he's being anything but "balanced" in his choice of examples.


Scott Eric Kaufman

Scott Eric Kaufman is an assistant editor at Salon. He taught at a university, but then thought better of it. Follow him at @scottekaufman or email him at skaufman@salon.com.

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