Howard Kurtz Ridicules Media Freak Out on Sequester

CNN's Howard Kurtz mocked the media – including his own network – on Sunday's Reliable Sources for uncritically channeling government hysteria over the sequester cuts.

"[I]f the press had put in, let's say, 10 percent of the effort that was devoted to investigating, I don't know, Beyonce's lip syncing into the actual measurable effects of these budget cuts, I think we would have seen a somewhat different picture," quipped Kurtz.

"I think there is room for a lot more skeptical reporting about the impact of these budget cuts," he continued. One of the examples of media hype that he provided was CNN anchor Suzanne Malveaux reporting that "planes won't fly, trains are going to suffer, troops are going to feel the belt tightening in all branches of the service."

Even uber-liberal Cenk Uygur, a former MSNBC host, agreed with Kurtz's take: "'Everybody is getting fired. The world is on fire.' I don't believe the government. I think that they're hyping it up. I think it's politics."

As NewsBusters reported, CNN's hysteria included comparing the cuts to the asteroid, calling them a "man-made disaster," and relaying White House talking points hyping the effects of the sequester.

A transcript of the segment, which aired on Reliable Sources on March 3 at 11:12 a.m. EST, is as follows:

HOWARD KURTZ: Let me get to the substance here in our remaining time. I want to play for you a montage of clips of how television is covering, and has been covering up until they took effect Friday at midnight, the so-called sequester budget cuts.

(Video Clip)

BILL PLANTE, CBS News White House correspondent: The White House stepped up its campaign to pressure Republicans, enlisting the Secretary of Homeland Security to suggest that layoffs could make it more difficult to prevent terrorist attacks.

ED SCHULTZ, MSNBC host: 10,000 teachers could lose their jobs. Airport security could be cut by $323 million. 70,000 kids would be kicked off Head Start.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN anchor: It means planes won't fly, trains are going to suffer, troops are going to feel the belt tightening in all branches of the service.

KIMBERLY GUILFOYLE, FOX News: Sequestration isn't going to mean Armageddon for America. But the press and political class, mostly on the left, are trying to tell you otherwise.

(End Video Clip)

KURTZ: You're nodding your head, Tim Carney. A lot of the reports, particularly on television, adopting the Obama line that the sky is going to fall?

TIM CARNEY, The Washington Examiner: Yep. And that the sky is going to fall, that cats and dogs are going to be sleeping together, all that stuff. And I mean, I saw NBC, I think they have an editorial policy to use the word "massive" when they're talking about sequestration.

KURTZ: Well, that's a lot money.

CARNEY: It's less than three percent of a cut. And so, yeah, I think they're way overplaying it.

CENK UYGUR, "The Young Turks": I actually agree with Tim, again, on this issue. You know, I love Ed, but, come on. "Everybody is getting fired. The world is on fire." I don't believe the government. I think that they're hyping it up. I think it's politics.

KURTZ: I think there is room for a lot more skeptical reporting about the impact of these budget cuts. Washington Post had a great front-page story the other day, which taking to task, among other things, Education Secretary Arne Duncan who said, quote, "There are literally now teachers who are getting pink slips." A little investigation showed that was not the case.

We will see what the impact is, but if the press had put in, let's say, 10 percent of the effort that was devoted to investigating, I don't know, Beyonce's lip syncing into the actual measurable effects of these budget cuts, I think we would have seen a somewhat different picture.
 

Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro was a News Analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division from 2010 through early 2014