Signs and Wonders
Howard Kurtz
Associated Press/Photo by Evan Agostini, file
Howard Kurtz

Signs and Wonders: Daily Beast devours another Collins casualty

Newsworthy

Collins casualty. CNN’s Reliable Sources host Howard Kurtz has been fired by The Daily Beast for a relatively innocuous error he made in his coverage of the Jason Collins affair. Collins is the NBA basketball player who recently confessed that he is sexually attracted to other men. While the mainstream media celebrated that confession, Kurtz rightly called attention to the “forgotten woman” in the story: Collins former fiancé Carolyn Moos. Kurtz’s error was that he incorrectly accused Collins, in his confession published by Sports Illustrated, of leaving out the fact that he had been engaged. In fact, disclosure of the engagement got a short mention in Collins’ article. Kurtz later apologized for the error, but stood by his original point: That Collins may have been, to use the politically correct vernacular, “true to himself,” but he had been and continues to be deceitful toward others. But The Daily Beast’s Tina Brown, proudly progressive in her public demeanor, used the minor error as an excuse to can Kurtz, who now awaits the verdict of CNN, where his contract will soon be up for renewal.

Weird science. Kiera Wilmot, 16, mixed household chemicals in a small water bottle that later exploded at her Bartow, Fla., high school. No one was hurt in what one of her friends called a “science experiment gone bad.” Unfortunately, her actions did not generate an equal and opposite reaction, but one that was disproportionate: She was expelled and arrested. Even the school’s principal, Ron Pritchard, thought the punishment extreme. He said Wilmot is "a good kid" and has "never been in trouble before. Ever." He added: “She made a bad choice. Honestly, I don't think she meant to ever hurt anyone. She wanted to see what would happen [when the chemicals mixed] and was shocked by what it did. Her mother is shocked, too.” I’m not excusing her actions. The girl made a mistake and should face consequences. And given the violence we see in public schools, I can understand the school system’s vigilance. But this sort of draconian punishment is what happens when we can no longer trust ourselves—and I’m talking about the adults here, not the child—to make sound and moral judgments. I’m hoping she gets a little leniency, and I’m also hoping the statute of limitations has run out on some of the stupid stuff I did when I was 16.

Arming bears. Last Christmas, Dick’s Sporting Goods told its customers they were too irresponsible or too stupid or too immature to purchase a Troy Carbine. Those who pre-ordered the guns had their orders cancelled and their money returned. Dick’s customers returned the insult by shopping elsewhere. Gun and ammo sales shot through the roof in recent months, but Dick’s sales have not. The company’s sales dropped 2.2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012 compared to 2011. Slow sales caused investors to turn bearish on the company’s stock in the first quarter. Though the market was up nearly 10 percent in the first quarter, and some of its retail competitors were up even more, shares of Dick’s fell 10 percent in the first quarter. 

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Change of heart? Sen. Max Baucus is one of those Democratic senators who helped pass Obamacare. But he just announced he is not running for reelection and that apparently liberated him to tell the truth. He calls Obamacare a “train wreck,” in this report from The Hill.  Implementation issues and cost are causing even supporters of the program to have second thoughts. One of the unintended (but predictable) consequences of Obamacare is its impact on the decision-making of employers. They are cutting back on full-time workers in order to avoid Obamacare’s mandates. Even the liberal Los Angeles Times is beginning to understand the problem, acknowledging that “part-timers will lose pay amid healthcare act’s new math.” This “new math” is one reason Diane Swonk, chief economist of Mesirow Financial said, ''What's the biggest drag on the economy? The government. 'If the government simply did no harm, we could be at escape velocity.''

Warren Cole Smith
Warren Cole Smith

Warren, who lives in Charlotte, N.C., is vice president of WORLD News Group and the host of the radio program Listening In. Follow Warren on Twitter @WarrenColeSmith.

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