On Sunday, Howard Kurtz accidentally exposed how poorly the media report on issues of race, and how they not only use implications of prejudice to "[pump] steroids into an ordinary story," they also either ignore important events or badly misreport them due to their own biases.
In the first segment on the most recent installment of CNN's "Reliable Sources," Kurtz and his panel discussed comments made by various press members last week that opposition to Barack Obama's agenda is being fueled by racism.
Kurtz as he normally does had the last word (video embedded below the fold, relevant section at 8:00):
My two cents is the President told NBC, "The media love to have a conversation about race," and I agree with it. You take any story -- it could be Jeremiah Wright, it could be Henry Louis Gates, it could be the Duke rape case -- and once you inject race into that -- as the media sometimes have no choice but to do, but sometimes love to do -- it's like pumping steroids into an ordinary story. It makes it live on for weeks and weeks and months and months. You know, a white Harvard professor gets arrested in a dustup with a police, or a misunderstanding with a police officer in Cambridge, it's a two-paragraph story. It happens to a black professor, particularly probably one like Gates, and we all jump on it.
Unfortunately, what Kurtz failed to point out was that in two of the examples he gave -- Duke and Gates -- the press's own prejudices and biases caused them to badly get the story wrong.
After all, media members were quick to assume the white Duke lacrosse players were guilty of raping a black woman, and never apologized for their error to the families whose lives were destroyed by their negligence when it was proved she made it all up.
As it pertains to Gates, Obama-loving press outlets never questioned whether the President's background, experiences, and prejudices drove him to capriciously characterize the Cambridge police department as having acted stupidly well before he had all the facts.
What REALLY would have been a teachable moment concerning that incident would have been the news media asking America's first black president whether his own biases led him to act stupidly.
Alas, that didn't happen, and Kurtz didn't mention it Sunday.
As for Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Obama's involvement with that controversial church had been exposed by conservative journalists MANY months before the mainstream media began grudgingly covering it.
Unfortunately, Kurtz on Sunday didn't expose this hypocrisy either thereby exposing one of his own.
But these weren't the only delicious ironies in Kurtz's two cents, for here's another one:
You know, a white Harvard professor gets arrested in a dustup with a police, or a misunderstanding with a police officer in Cambridge, it's a two-paragraph story. It happens to a black professor, particularly probably one like Gates, and we all jump on it.
This is fascinating, for a few minutes earlier, Kurtz said:
Rush Limbaugh the other day took this incident on a bus in St. Louis where a bunch of black kids beat up a white kid and said, "This is what happens in Obama's America." So a lot of people are throwing around this race question.
So, taking Kurtz's previous statement, a white student getting beaten up on a bus by a group of black students should largely be ignored by media deserving at best a two-paragraph story.
However, if this had been white students beating up a black kid on a bus, the press would have pumped steroids into the incident to make it "live on for weeks and weeks and months and months."
Sadly, Kurtz missed this truly obvious hypocrisy, and as this was the third in only seven minutes, appears to have badly struck out on this issue.
In the end, the media are so incompetent when reporting matters pertaining to race that even when one of them tries to analyze the coverage of this controversial subject he can't do it fairly.