It’s been a rough year for Howard Kurtz, but you wouldn’t know it by today’s launch of “MediaBuzz” on Fox News Channel.
After his sudden departures from CNN’s “Reliable Sources” and Tina Brown’s Daily Beast, Kurtz appears to have made a seamless transition to Fox News. “MediaBuzz” projected authority, energy and pace.
Clearly, Kurtz was in his comfort zone. Most of his guests were familiar faces from his 15-year run at “Reliable Sources” – David Zurawik of the Baltimore Sun, Washington Post’s Nia-Malika Henderson, media entrepreneur Lauren Ashburn.
In fact, Ashburn, a Fox News contributor, had so much face time, she served as a de facto co-host. Along with appearing in the opening two segments, she co-hosted “Digital Download,” and was on set with Kurtz for his sign-off.
Kurtz has a complicated history with Ashburn. His involvement in her new venture, Daily Download, a Daily Beast competitor, did not endear him to Brown, who later fired him. Ashburn showed up regularly on “Reliable Sources” and followed Kurtz to Fox News.
I couldn’t help but notice that Ashburn, like so many Fox News females, is blonde.
Ditto for guest Michelle Cottle, Washington reporter for The Daily Beast, and Fox’s Jamie Colby, who anchored a news break during the show. The only non-blonde was the Post’s Henderson, who is African American.
“MediaBuzz” opened with a lively panel discussion on media criticism of President Obama’s handling of Syria. Kurtz used the opportunity to take a shot, albeit a mild one, at his new employer. (Since joining the network in June, Kurtz had been criticized for avoiding negative assessments of Fox.)
After MSNBC contributors Robert Gibbs and David Axelrod, both former Obama officials, were lambasted by a panelist for being mouthpieces for the President, Kurtz said it was “fair to question” whether Fox regulars Karl Rove and Rick Santorum were also “pushing an agenda.” At Fox, that passes for napalm.