Howard Kurtz calls out ‘sheer media partisanship’ over ‘absurd’ backlash to Fetterman NBC interview

The backlash from corporate media following NBC News reporter Dasha Burns’ transparent coverage of her interview with Pennsylvania Senate candidate Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D) could only be summed up in one way according to Fox News host Howard Kurtz, “sheer media partisanship.”

(Video: Fox News)

Last week, Burns previewed her sit-down with Fetterman noting the candidate’s need to use a closed captioning device following lasting impairment resulting from a stroke earlier in the year. At issue was her inclusion of the detail that, “In small talk–before the interview, without captioning–it wasn’t clear he was understanding our conversation.”

“It’s sheer media partisanship, there’s no other way to put it!” Kurtz exclaimed on Fox News’s “Media Buzz” Sunday. “Some anchors and pundits are rushing to defend John Fetterman, who unfortunately suffered a stroke as he was winning the Democratic Senate nomination in Pennsylvania. And they’re taking aim at an NBC reporter who was just doing her job and a very good job at that.”

“Fetterman, who is running against Dr. Oz, has journalists provide him with closed captioning on a monitor so he can more easily process their questions. NBC’s Dasha Burns did just that in Fetterman’s first, in-person TV sit-down,” Kurtz continued, “and there were moments when he was struggling.”

As covered by BizPacReview, leftists like podcaster Kara Swisher and New York Magazine’s Rebecca Traister slammed Burns because they reportedly had different experiences when they interviewed Fetterman following his stroke. It became a pile-on of condemnation with many accusing the reporter of being an ableist when the reporter had offered no opinion on whether or not the candidate was fit for office.

The Fox News host countered those critiques that included one person saying, “Your job as a reporter is also to adequately contextualize things & not perpetuate harmful stereotypes. Disability isn’t disqualifying and basic disability accommodations shouldn’t be treated as some shocking revelation. Shame on you for helping further stigmatize our community.”

“Burns didn’t suggest otherwise,” Kurtz went on. “But there’s been plenty of stories and segments ripping her for her remarks.”

Included among them was the lieutenant governor’s wife Gisele Barreto Fetterman who played the victim card on behalf of herself and her husband as she demanded “consequences” for Burns’ reporting.

“I don’t like saying ‘rage’ because I think that’s a really unhealthy feeling,” Mrs. Fetterman who reportedly has been diagnosed with ADHD said. “And when you feel those things, it only harms yourself. But I just, you know, what a disservice that she did to not only my husband, but to anyone facing a disability and working through it. And I don’t know how there were not consequences, right? I mean, there are consequences for folk in these positions who are any of the isms. I mean, she was ableist and that’s what she was in her interview. It was appalling to the entire disability community and I think to journalism.”

NBC News didn’t see it that way and stood up for Burns with a spokesperson stating, “Dasha is a widely respected beat reporter on the Pennsylvania Senate race and has provided in-depth reporting from the state for the better part of the last year. We stand behind her extensive coverage of all the important dimensions of this year’s Senate campaigns.”

As Kurtz concluded, “NBC and Dasha Burns were transparent with the audience, but that was rejected by some in this process who just want John Fetterman to win that Senate seat.”


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