Howard Kurtz Defends His Defense of Fox in Sherrod Debacle

In Howard Kurtz’s latest column (8/2/10), the Washington Post media reporter bemoans the new media atmosphere as a “search-and-destroy culture” that is “as likely to vilify journalists as political and corporate leaders.” Kurtz counts himself among those vilified journalists, citing recent criticism over his defense (7/22/10) of Fox News‘ handling of the Shirley Sherrod debacle:

I know what it’s like to be caught in the crossfire. When I reported that Fox News did not air the Sherrod video until after she had been fired, I got hammered by the left, and some commentators just ignored the chronology. (And conspiracy theorists pounced when I left out that a Fox online story had run an hour or so before the firing–hardly the reason that Sherrod was canned.)

Those “conspiracy theorists” apparently include FAIR, which pointed out Kurtz’s oversight on this blog two weeks ago (7/23/10). But FAIR is not alone; the L.A. Times (7/24/10) and Media Matters (7/29/10) made similar points.

Do you really have to be a “conspiracy theorist,” though, to think that a White House that’s worried that a story will appear on Fox News would keep an eye on Fox‘s websites? As FAIR noted in its original criticism:

If the question is whether Sherrod was “done in” by Fox, you have to ask a question that doesn’t seem to concern Kurtz: How did the doctored videotape come to the attention of the Obama administration? As the Media Matters timeline discloses, many blogs and conservative websites, including and Fox Nation, were discussing Sherrod’s “racism” hours before her resignation. Isn’t it likely that the Fox News website was among the most prominent of these; and, in turn, isn’t it possible that that’s where the White House learned about the story?