Howard Kurtz on Sunday used a Keith Olbermann tactic of selectively editing and cherry picking from a Rush Limbaugh radio transcript to make the conservative talk show host look racist.
In a "Reliable Sources" segment dealing with the embattled Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele, Kurtz played a highly-edited clip of statements Limbaugh made Tuesday about this issue.
Unfortunately, just as MSNBC's Olbermann did on his "Countdown" program, Kurtz never told his viewers that Limbaugh was referring specifically to comments that the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Cynthia Tucker made on last Sunday's "This Week" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
HOWARD KURTZ, HOST: Now, Rush Limbaugh also loves to stir controversy by design. And this week, he talked about the president and made a bit of news. Let's take a listen.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: That's exactly the same thing you could say about Obama. He wouldn't have been voted president if he weren't black.
Somebody asked me over the weekend why does somebody earn a lot of money, have a lot of money? I said because he's black. If Obama weren't black, he'd be a tour guide in Honolulu or he'd be teaching Saul Alinsky constitutional law or lecturing on it in Chicago.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
KURTZ: Of course here we are talking about Rush.
But did you find those comments to be more than just the usual Limbaugh rhetoric?
ROGER SIMON, POLITICO: You mean did I find them to be racist and repugnant? Yes, I found them to be racist and repugnant.
KURTZ: Why racist? Can't a case be made just on part of this that if Obama was a white freshman senator, he wouldn't have beaten Hillary for the nomination?
SIMON: I think anyone who beat Hillary for the nomination had something going for him besides race. And let's be fair. His race was not going for him. We only said that after he won.
He had to win in states where there was almost no black population. If he had lost in Iowa, the first Democratic contest, he would have been through. There are no black people in Iowa. He convinced white people that he really was an agent of change.
KURTZ: That's a good point.
Is it, Howard?
Let me bring up a better one, like why you didn't include the context of what Limbaugh said Tuesday.
As NewsBusters reported Wednesday, here's what came IMMEDIATELY BEFORE what Kurtz played for Simon and his viewers:
RUSH LIMBAUGH, HOST: Cynthia Tucker, ABC's This Week, Sunday, roundtable, they discussed Michael Steele. And, by the way, this woman is the editorial director of the Atlanta Urinal and Constipation, and she has been for a long, long time. "Cynthia you once called Michael Steele an affirmative action hire gone bad." By the way, she can say this because she's African-American. Here's what she said.
CYNTHIA TUCKER, ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION: Michael Steele is a self-aggrandizing gaffe-prone incompetent who would have been fired a long time ago were he not black. Of course the irony is that he never would have been voted in as chairman of the Republican Party were he not black.
LIMBAUGH: Same with Obama.
TUCKER: It is very ironic since the Republican --
LIMBAUGH: Stop the tape a second.
Didn't you think that was relevant, Howie? Wasn't it an important piece of information that Limbaugh was specifically talking about what Tucker said concerning Steele and how one could make the same case for Obama?
Apparently not, for Kurtz never said one word about what Tucker said last Sunday, nor did he ask his guest if he felt THAT was racist? I wonder why.
To remind readers, this is what Limbaugh was referring to:
JAKE TAPPER, HOST: Cynthia, you once called, let me underline "You" once called Michael Steele an affirmative action hire gone bad. What's your take on this?
CYNTHIA TUCKER, ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION: Well, Michael Steele is a self-aggrandizing, gaffe-prone incompetent who would have been fired a long time ago were he not black. Of course, the irony is that he never would have been voted in as Chairman of the Republican Party were he not black. Let's remember how the Party wound up with Michael Steele. In November 2008, the Party was devastated that the Democrats had elected the nation's first black president while the Republican Party was stuck with being seen as largely the party of aging white people, with good reason. A party that was hostile to people of color, especially blacks and Latinos. So the Party needed a new face, preferably a face of color, and they didn't have very many officials to choose from. So, they came up with Michael Steele. And it is very ironic since the Republicans have been so critical of affirmative action, to watch them stuck with their affirmative action hire that they dare not get rid of because that would generate even more controversy.
Unfortunately, Kurtz didn't think that was relevant.
Sadly, this is EXACTLY what Olbermann did on Tuesday thereby making Kurtz on this occasion no better than one of the most despicable people in television news today.
As readers are aware, I have a lot of respect for Kurtz, but this was NOT a banner moment for him -- not by a long shot.