The False Attack on Jason Collins by the Coward Howard Kurtz

Apparently, CNN's veteran media "reporter" can't read.

Photo Credit: David Shankbone / Creative Commons

The Daily Beast’s Howard Kurtz thought he scooped the world yesterday. The veteran media "reporter," and host of CNN's Reliable Sources, wrote a blog post based on the premise that Jason Collins, the first ever openly gay NBA player, left out a vital detail in his Sports Illustrated coming-out story: that he was once, hold your breath, engaged to a woman.

“…he left one little part out,” Kurtz wrote. “He was engaged. To be married. To a woman.”

Well, as it turns out, the world scooped Kurtz. Anyone who actually reads the Collins’ piece will quickly learn the NBA center not only disclosed his engagement in perhaps the biggest sports story of the year; it's right up top. On the first page. In the eighth paragraph:

"When I was younger I dated women. I even got engaged. I thought I had to live a certain way. I thought I needed to marry a woman and raise kids with her. I kept telling myself the sky was red, but I always knew it was blue," Collins said.

There are three possible explanations for Kurtz’s false column: (1) He didn’t read Collins’ piece, (2) He skimmed Collins’ piece, or (3) He read Collins’ piece and honestly thought he could lie without anyone noticing. Any of these scenarios should seriously contest Kurtz’s continued employment as a journalist.

But it gets worse. After several media outlets jumped on Kurtz, and his own commenters called him out, someone quietly changed the story to say Collins “downplayed,” rather than “left out,” his engagement. Later, The Daily Beast printed a correction. But somehow, the piece headlined, “Jason Collins’ Other Secret,” remains on the site. Never has there been a looser definition of “secret.” 

Kurtz apologized on Twitter, but stands by his story, based on the fact that Collins didn’t disclose every detail of his personal life:

And here’s the ugliest part of Howard Kurtz’s egregious debacle. Somehow, Kurtz thinks Collins owes us an account of every detail from a previous personal relationship. The man just came out on a national stage, working in a profession that hasn’t always been friendly to the LGBT community. Collins devotes the majority of his piece to describing the difficulties of living in the shadows in the hyper-masculine, often homophobic environment of the NBA. Yet, Kurtz feels entitled to more.

“It turns out he didn’t tell the whole story,” the media reporter said in a Web show. “I feel shortchanged.”

The contrast couldn’t be starker. Just days after Jason Collins’ act of undaunted courage, Howard Kurtz responds with selfish cowardice.

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Steven Hsieh is an editorial assistant at AlterNet and writer based in Brooklyn. Follow him on Twitter @stevenjhsieh.