CNN media reporter: Costello deserves all the criticism she's getting

And CNN deserves some too, although their media reporter Brian Stelter didn’t go quite that far yesterday. Give Stelter credit for covering the controversy at all, though; he’s not an ombudsman or Carol Costello’s editor, after all, but just CNN’s media-beat analyst. Stelter provides a fair, if limited, look at Costello’s giggly adolescent delight at hearing Bristol Palin recount an assault in an audio clip, but doesn’t get around to discussing CNN’s responsibility for the segment or Costello’s refusal to apologize on air:

Stelter’s predecessor went a little further. Howard Kurtz, now at Fox, said his former employer should make Costello apologize on air:

That brawl in Alaska involving Sarah Palin’s family has gotten a lot of media attention. And when police audio was released, CNN anchor Carol Costello played it. And, boy, did she think it was a hoot. …

How on earth is that funny? Would Carol Costello have said enjoy if, let’s say, Chelsea Clinton was getting roughed up? Now Sarah Palin is a FOX News contributor. Her daughter Palin — excuse me, Bristol Palin, have both said this is an example of media hypocrisy, and they’re right.

Carol is a good journalist, but to make fun of the woman in this episode, no matter who started that brawl, is horribly insensitive. The good news, Carol Costello has apologized. But she needs to do that on-air.

At Mediaite, Joe Concha thinks an on-air apology may come today. CNN is out of options, Concha writes, and the controversy won’t go away:

In the past 72 hours alone, the Washington Post’s respected media writer, Erik Wemple–who has described Costello as “outstanding” in the recent past–has called on her to apologize on CNN air. Fox’s media analyst–Howard Kurtz–stated on Sunday’s Media Buzz the following: “Carol is a good journalist, but to make fun of the woman (Bristol Palin) in this episode no matter who started that brawl is horribly insensitive.” Kurtz added a need for Costello to apologize on-air as well. Even her network’s own media reporter (Brian Stelter), addressed the issue on Reliable Sources, noting during his commentary that, “If you’re sitting at home shaking your head at the way she handled that, you’re not alone.”

Throw in the growing-in-popularity hashtag (#firecarolcostello) on Twitter, a CNN Should Fire Carol Costello Facebook page, and a boatload of hypocrisy after she called for an ESPN analyst (Stephen A. Smith) to be suspended for insensitive comments he made about women’s abuse during the Ray Rice controversy, and you have an embattled anchor whose only option at this point is to ask for forgiveness on CNN (a mandatory two-week vacation afterward might not be a bad idea, either).

When a CNN spokesperson was asked last Thursday by if the Detroit native will issue a mea culpa on the air, the response from the network at that time was no.

But since this doesn’t appear to be going away, the smart money is that she’ll do just that sooner–as in Monday–rather than never.

If you’ve forgotten Costello’s take on Stephen Smith, it took place in late July, after Smith actually did apologize on air for suggesting that Janay Rice played a role in the incident of domestic violence that put the NFL under the microscope this season. Costello dismissed Smith’s apology as “nice,” but said that making the argument that a woman could contribute to her own victimization by violence deserved a stronger response from ESPN — a suspension:

It is nice that Smith apologized, but I wonder if ESPN will do what it ought to do — suspend Smith. Look, in 2012, the management at ESPN expressed outrage when two employees used the phrase “chink in the armor” when referencing Jeremy Lin, the Asian basketball player. One employee was suspended for thirty days, and the other was fired. So why is ESPN giving Smith a pass?

Actually, ESPN didn’t give Smith a pass. They suspended him for a week, had him issue an on-air apology, and issued a separate apology of their own. CNN has done none of the above with Costello, and Smith wasn’t expressing glee over the attack on Janay Rice, either.

Will CNN hold Costello to her own sanctimonious standards? Clearly, Costello doesn’t hold herself to them.