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Kurtz Slams Times for Bone Spurs Hit Piece: A ‘Different Standard’ for Trump Reporting

Fox News host calls journalistic standards 'too flexible'

Fox News host and media critic Howard Kurtz rebuked The New York Times for tossing aside “journalistic standards” and running a story full of “speculation” about whether or not a doctor helped President Donald Trump avoid serving in the military years ago during the Vietnam War.

The Times’ Steve Eder tracked down the daughters of the late Dr. Larry Braunstein, who may or may not have given Trump a “courtesy” bone spurs diagnosis to avoid the war as a favor to Donald Trump’s father, Fred Trump.

The Times reported that Braunstein, who died in 2007, rented his office space from Fred Trump.

“I know it was a favor,” Dr. Elysa Braunstein claimed.

She and her sister, Sharon Kessel, spoke with Eder for the piece.

Eder wrote, “Elysa Braunstein said the implication from her father was that Mr. Trump did not have a disqualifying foot ailment. ‘But did he examine him? I don’t know,’ she said.”

Eder also noted that “no paper evidence has been found to help corroborate the version of events described by the Braunstein family.”

Yet these disclaimers didn’t stop mainstream media outlets and liberal pundits from running wild with the daughters’ claims, and Kurtz (pictured above left) rebuked them for their speculative reporting on claims that lack evidence.

“The doctor’s been dead for a decade, so we can’t ask him,” Kurtz noted Thursday on Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom” as he pointed to the lack of evidence.

“So how did it land on the front page?”

Fox News’ Rick Leventhal replied, “Well, because the sisters made the claim and The Times wanted to write the article, I guess? I mean, if this was a court case, it would be tossed out by the judge in the first five minutes.”

Kurtz argued the story “should have been tossed out by the editors” because no evidence could be found to corroborate the daughters’ claims.

“I think a reporter or [the] reporters who worked on this should have been told to keep digging. But the fact is, you can’t — it shows you that there is a different standard when it comes to reporting on Donald Trump,” Kurtz said.

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Although Kurtz admitted that “it is certainly possible” that Trump “dodged the Vietnam draft” with a fabricated medical diagnosis, he also emphasized that the story in The New York Times didn’t come close to proving this claim.

“No. In fact, the story kind of acknowledges when you read into the guts of it — they don’t have it. It is essentially speculation,” Kurtz said.

Eder also noted in his piece that the two daughters are Democrats and don’t like Trump.

“I’m not saying they are making it up. I am saying they don’t know,” Kurtz said, adding that there “used to be at least journalistic standards in this country.”

“And there are times when you smell a story. You think it’s true, and you just know in your heart it’s true, but you can’t quite prove it. And you have to wait until you have that piece of paper, the document, the first-hand evidence,” Kurtz said. “All of that is missing from this New York Times story, which says maybe the paper wanted it to be true. But it simply hasn’t proven it.”

“I’m not saying they are making it up. I am saying they don’t know,” Kurtz said, adding that there “used to be at least journalistic standards in this country.”

Kurtz said journalistic standards have become “way too flexible” during the Trump administration’s time in office because “there is such a business model now for major news organizations to be opposed to this president.”

As a result, “a lot of things get on the air” and “a lot of things get into print that might not have 10 years ago, that might not have if it was a different president whose initials weren’t D.J.T.”

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PoliZette writer Kathryn Blackhurst can be reached at [email protected].