Howard Kurtz And The Critic’s Dilemma

David Niven would understand, Howard.

David Niven would understand, Howard.

The Daily Beast has canned Howard Kurtz, the only current official news media critic in captivity, and now CNN, long the home of Kurtz’s “Reliable Sources” panel show that reviews the media’s choice and manner of news coverage during the week, is “reviewing” his status with that show as well. The sudden downturn in Kurtz’s fortunes is, we are told, the result of an accumulation of mistaken stories, missed facts and sloppy reporting of his own. I’ll buy that explanation, but there is more here too.

Kurtz’s departure was overdue. I have followed him for years, and his coverage, as I have pointed out periodically, was unacceptably politically slanted for a quasi-journalism ethicist. A typical performance was when he recently criticized —correctly—Republicans who were (and are) trying to twist the Boston bombing tragedy into an argument against immigration reform. In a reply to a comment on the recent Ethics Alarms post on the same topic, I noted that media commentators who saw nothing wrong with the Democrats using a Newtown massacre that would not have been altered in any way by background checks to push for more gun controls were suddenly applying the correct standards to a similar conservative manipulation of the Boston Marathon attack: Continue reading

An O. Henry Story Comes To Life

James Verone, a.k.a. " the Rosa Parks of health care," a.k.a. "Soapy"

The media thoroughly disgraced itself by hyping the stupid story of James Verone, an out-of-work 59-year-old man with health problems who robbed a bank in Gastonia, N.C., for $1,  and then  waited patiently for the cops to arrest him.“When you receive this a bank robbery will have been committed by me. This robbery is being committed by me for one dollar. I am of sound mind but not so much sound body,”read the note that Verone handed the bank clerk.

Verone grabbed his 15 minutes of fame with gusto, telling the local TV station that he became a thief out of sheer desperation. He needed health care, he said, and had no other way to get it than through the free care provided in jail. The problem with this is that he had plenty of better options than turning to intentionally unsuccessful crime. A hospital in Gastonia, Gaston Memorial Hospital, offers discounts up to 100% to low-income patients. There is also a free health clinic five miles from the bank Verone robbed, and more in nearby Charlotte. Or Verone could have received treatment from of the state-of-the-art medical facilities at the University of North Carolina, whose mandate is to provide “medically necessary health care to the citizens of North Carolina, regardless of their ability to pay.”

Naturally, few of the media reports, calculated to use this idiot’s stunt to shill for government-financed health care, bothered to report any of this. Continue reading