Does Howard Kurtz believe in the soccer-joke defense?

February 13, 2012

CNN’s Howard Kurtz gets credit for devoting a segment on his Reliable Sources show to CNN’s Roland Martin and his suspension over homophobic tweets. On Super Bowl Sunday, Martin tweeted:

“If a dude at your Super Bowl party is hyped about David Beckham’s H&M underwear ad, smack the ish out of him! #superbowl”

And:

“Who the hell was that New England Patriot they just showed in a head to toe pink suit? Oh, he needs a visit from team #whipdatass”.

Kurtz called them “a couple of jokes — bad jokes, to be sure.”

That’s courageous stuff right there. Because in characterizing the Martin tweets as jokes, Kurtz appears to align himself with Martin’s very own defense, which is that he was just joshing about soccer: “As I said repeatedly, I often make jokes about soccer in the U.S., and my crack about David Beckham’s commercial was related to that and not to anyone’s sexuality.” That’s a line of defense that comes straight out of an early-1980s high-school football locker room.

So is Kurtz really standing behind the soccer-joke defense? When asked that very question, he dodges: “I thought Roland’s tweets were an insensitive attempt at humor, but I don’t believe he intended them to be offensively anti-gay. I’m glad he apologized.”

No longtime media critic wants to cozy up to the soccer-joke defense.

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.
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