Back in April, Fox News media guy Howard Kurtz ripped his home team for failing to give proper airtime to the racist comments of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy. That was an instance of the independence that he promised when he moved from CNN to Fox News.
Then came yesterday. In a segment on the coverage of the Ray Rice controversy on his show “Media Buzz,” Kurtz asked USA Today columnist Christine Brennan whether she felt that “some in the media” had been treating the Rice thing as entertainment.
Brennan wasted little time covering herself in integrity and courage, launching a strike directly at her hosts: “Certainly, yes,” she said. “Talking about driving ratings and clicks, I mean, I’ll have to say it: We’re here at Fox, but ‘Fox & Friends’ the other day, the banter about well, this proves that you should take the stairs.”
As most know by now, the “take the stairs” banter arose last Monday on the set of “Fox & Friends.” After discussing the latest video showing now-former Baltimore Ravens running back Rice slugging his then-fiancee (now wife) in the elevator of an Atlantic City hotel, co-host Brian Kilmeade quipped, “I think the message is, take the stairs.” Fellow co-host Steve Doocy responded, “The message is when you’re in an elevator, there’s a camera.”
To Brennan’s rip against “Fox & Friends,” Kurtz jumped in: “That was an unfortunate misstep, and I was glad that they came back the next day and said, ‘We didn’t mean to give the impression that we take this lightly.’ ”
Brennan: “Yeah, but boy, they did! You can say the next day, but how do those words come out of your mouth after you’ve seen the videos?”
It’s never easy watchdogging your own network, especially a place like Fox News, where loyalty is such a family value. Yet if there’s one moment where Kurtz could flaunt his independence, “take the stairs” looks like a good one, given its egregiousness and the absence of anything approaching an apology. Perhaps Fox News staffers know not to mess with the most idiotic show on the cable news dial.