While members of the media thumped their chests and tore at their hair over Howard Kurtz’s exit from the Daily Beast following his inaccurate piece on Jason Collins’ coming-out essay in “Sports Illustrated,” television viewers were not particularly interested in the Kurtz chapter of the Collins story.
An average of 359,000 people watched Kurtz apologize to his audience on his CNN Sunday show, “Reliable Sources,” in which he regularly takes the media to task for whatever ranygazoo they’ve perpetrated that week.
After opening the show with an apology for the piece, and the slowness to correct his error, Kurtz subjected himself to grilling at the hands of Politico’s Dylan Byers and NPR’s David Folkenflik.
In comparison, the show’s average audience, this calendar year to date, is 477,000.
Just one week before his mea culpa episode, with Boston marathon bombing media coverage on the front burner, Kurtz clocked 518,000 viewers. And, one year ago, on the comparable Sunday, “Reliable Sources” averaged 430,000 viewers.
The 359,000 who watched Kurtz’s self flagellation is, in fact, his smallest audience this calendar year to date, according to Nielsen stats.
In his Daily Beast coverage of Collins’ coming out, and in a video for the Daily Download, Kurtz claimed Collins did not tell the whole story — the rest of the story being that Collins had dated a women for several years and been engaged to marry her, Kurtz maintained.
“I think this really muddies the whole plotline,” Kurtz said in the video.
Except,in the essay Sports Illustrated posted on its website April 29, Collins said he’d dated women and been engaged to be married. WIth the publication of the essay, Collins becamse the first active male athlete in a major U.S. professional sports league to come out as gay.
“It was a mistake that I made and it was sloppy and inexcusable,” Kurtz, who used to work at The Washington Post, said at the top of Sunday’s show; he also expressed regret for his snarky video on Collins’ revelation, which Kurtz called “inappropriate.”
After it was published, Kurtz’s Daily Beast article was changed to say Collins had “downplayed” the detail, after which that was changed to a correction, after which Daily Beast retracted the piece entirely and said it regretted Kurtz’s error. In the wake of that flurry of activity, Daily Beast chief Tina Brown tweeted that the site and Kurtz had parted company, adding, “we wish him well.”
“Why didn’t you have the decency to apologize to [Collins] at that time when you knew what you had written was wrong,” Folkenflik asked Kurtz sternly on Sunday, as only 359,000 watched.