Howard Kurtz Wonders Why Holding Sen. Jon Kyl Accountable For His 'Not Meant To Be Factual' Statement Falls To Late-night Comics


Howard Kurtz asked his panel on Reliable Sources this weekend whether most of the media gave Jon Kyl a pass for his statement that abortion is "well over 90% of what Planned Parenthood does" and his later walk back that it "was not intended to be a factual statement" and then him throwing his press person under the bus for the statement after Stephen Colbert decided to turn Kyl into a national punchline.

After pointing out that there were some on MSNBC who covered the issue, Kurtz asked: "Why is holding a senator accountable left to the late-night comics?" Yes, why is that exactly?

KURTZ: Lynn Sweet, other than a few liberal pundits at MSNBC that beat up on Kyl, it hasn't gotten that much attention in the press. Why is holding a senator accountable left to the late-night comics?

If a Democrat in Congress had so egregiously misstated facts about anything the right cares about or feigns caring about, it would be headline news for weeks. Drudge's flashing lights would have sent Limbaugh and Fox News into an immediate tizzy. Then that politician would be tarred with it for their entire career in politics by the right-wing media and it would become conventional wisdom in the Beltway media after that. But not for Kyl. He'll still be called on for TV and treated like a royal member from the House of Lords. Lie? What lie?

On the flip side, Howard should know that Colbert and Stewart do a better job of holding our politicians accountable than his network does on pretty much a nightly basis when they're on the air. Why is that exactly?

And it appears that the folks over at some of the other highly trafficked blog sites are all up in arms over this segment because CNN didn't bleep Mark McKinnon saying the word bulls**t, as if that's the most important part of it to highlight. I think somehow the viewers at CNN managed to get through it without having to be awoken from their fainting couches after watching this, if they even noticed McKinnon's use of the BS-word at all.

Full transcript via CNN with the bleeped expletive added back in there below the fold.

KURTZ: Jon Kyl went on the floor of the Senate and said, "If you want an abortion, you go to Planned Parenthood, and that's over 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood does." Well, the actual figure, three percent. Kyl's office putting out a statement saying, well, that was not intended to be a factual statement.

That set the stage for Stephen Colbert.


STEPHEN COLBERT: I decided to celebrate Jon Kyl's groundbreaking excuse-planation last night by tweeting 'round-the-clock non-facts about him such as, for the past 10 years, Jon Kyl has been two children in a very convincing Jon Kyl suit.


COLBERT: And Jon Kyl calls all Asians "Neil" no matter what their name is.


KURTZ: Lynn Sweet, other than a few liberal pundits at MSNBC that beat up on Kyl, it hasn't gotten that much attention in the press. Why is holding a senator accountable left to the late-night comics?

SWEET: I agree with you. I would think that the other point that has kind of escaped, and just looking around to see who's been writing about it, do you know that he actually excised that "90 percent" from the congressional record? And that is -- I think maybe there's just a lot of news and not enough people to write about everything.

But when you take something out of the congressional record that he actually said, and it's on video, you get into kind of a serious question where you do push a story out, and I think maybe people just sometimes have to catch up in this world where there is a torrent of news. But when you make something -- what's that word, excuse- planation? That was a great phrase. I think the mainstream press is a little behind on this

KURTZ: Let me let Mark McKinnon jump in as well.

I wonder if it has to do with the fact that Jon Kyl is not exactly a household name. If Michele Bachmann had said this, I bet you everyone would have cove covered it.

MCKINNON: I think that's true, but it's a testament to what's happening now in our politics, that politicians, or somebody who's been around as long as Jon Kyl, could think he could go out and say something that's not intended to be a factual statement and get away with it. And if you turn that around and think about what he was saying, is that it's not intended to be a factual statement, then it was intended to be a misleading statement. I mean, he's acknowledging that it was completely bulls**t.

KURTZ: No other explanation.

Craig Crawford, days later, Kyl finally admitted he misspoke and -- you'll love this -- blamed it on his press person.

CRAWFORD: Yes. And I think that press person needs to go back to press school, coming up with a statement like it wasn't intended to be factual. Why not just say you misspoke or something and let it go away?

KURTZ: Why not say you misspoke? If only politicians and others could learn that lesson, they could save themselves a week of ridicule.

Craig Crawford, Mark McKinnon in Austin, Lynn Sweet in Chicago, thanks for joining us.

It is pretty humorous though that CNN decided to just edit what McKinnon said in their transcript and had McKinnon saying "I mean, he's acknowledging that it was completely bull" instead. If they thought that was going to make their slip with not bleeping it go away, apparently they're sadly mistaken.


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