Unethical Quote of the Week: Howard Kurtz

“Gun owners often say they want the government to leave them alone; why then are some clamoring for Gregory to be prosecuted?”

—-CNN Media ethics watchdog Howard Kurtz, in a column defending “Meet the Press” host David Gregory’s on-air violation of a D.C. gun law



This is quite a spectacle, a real time unraveling and self-discrediting of a media ethicist because of biases he either cannot resist or doesn’t detect. Kurtz’s core ethical fallacy in ridiculing calls for Gregory to be held to account for a knowing, intentional, blatant and broadcast breach of a criminal law is so obvious it is stunning that he cannot see it. Kurtz is arguing that the law shouldn’t be enforced against law-breaking journalists “practicing journalism,” because they are special and deserve to be privileged, and because journalism is so important that it trumps the law. This is offensive to fairness, equality and justice, but because Kurtz is himself a journalist, he cannot see how intrinsically unethical his position is. He cannot see the most basic conflict of interest of all, self-interest, in himself.

In addition to being irresponsible and unethical, Kurtz’s statement is also desperately illogical. I don’t usually do this, but I’m going to turn this post completely over to law professor Ann Althouse, who exposes what is wrong with Kurtz’s quote as well as it can be done.  It also is a good opportunity to introduce you to her blog, which is routinely excellent.

Now go here, please.

Listen to Ann.

3 thoughts on “Unethical Quote of the Week: Howard Kurtz

  1. His analogy fails precisely as described in the other blog:

    When Right to Keep and Bear Arms advocates want the government to ‘leave them alone’, they are calling either for Fewer regulations, no New Regulations, OR more Common Sense regulations — they are not calling for the government to ignore illegal behavior.

    Kurtz’s applies the call to ‘be left alone’ to David Gregory by implying that the call also includes the government ignoring illegal behavior.

    Of course, the unacademic, emotionally driven types will never see that distinction.

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