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Fox News’ Howard Kurtz: As Capable as a Head of Lettuce

Reuters media columnist Jack Shafer joins the bandwagon of writers kicking Fox News’ Howard Kurtz in the gut these days. Only he’s slightly more gentle about it, saying Kurtz’ capabilities are intact, now if only his new producers over at Fox News would get their shit together.

Shafer wrote this week that when Kurtz “parted ways with CNN in June” (i.e. after he made all those weird errors and The Daily Beast‘s Tina Brown canned him and Fox News started to look like a greener pasture) he had a chance at a new lease on media reportage. Shafer writes, “he had a chance to retool the media-news-and-criticism formula he purveyed on the network for 15 years. Instead, he has dressed his old CNN show in Fox bunting.”

But he’s no new ideas, writes Shafer. “My assessment of MediaBuzz is by no means universal, but I am certain I am right.” He compares the “Reliable Sources” and now MediaBuzz brand to NPR’s “On Media” and kind of gives Kurtz  a lukewarm compliment.

“It’s not that ‘On the Media’ hosts Brooke Gladstone and Bob Garfield are better wranglers than Kurtz – although their questions might be smarter and their sense of ‘media’ a tad broader. It’s that instead of depending on the live, or live-to-tape approach generally taken by ‘Reliable Sources,’ ‘On the Media’ is tightly edited.”

A few graphs later, in yet another pseudo non-compliment for Kurtz, he equates him to a head of lettuce.

“‘Reliable Sources’ has achieved similar coherence only when devoting an interview to a single subject in the news, the best recent example being Kurtz’s one-on-one with the voluble Glenn Greenwald. Of course, a head of lettuce could extract a good interview out of Greenwald, so let’s not give Kurtz too much credit.”

It’s not that Shafer doesn’t like what you do, Kurtz. It’s just that he thinks you and your producers should get off their asses and try something different. It’s 2013. Have at it!

Something interesting to think about.. Shafer writes that none of the tryout hosts have brought anything new or interesting to the table, or in his words, “have produced a distinguished episode” highlighting what he says are “structural” problems. In fact, some have tried different formats, such as on-the-street, Skype and in the newsroom interviews. But had his buddy, WaPo‘s Erik Wemple, been among the contestants (he’d been in talks with CNN but nothing more) would he have trashed him too?

Read the full story here.

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