Howard Kurtz warns cancel culture is 'clearly spinning out of control,' reaching the 'point of absurdity'

"Media Buzz" host Howard Kurtz told "America's Newsroom" Friday that while Americans should be more sensitive during a period of "national agonizing over racism and police brutality," so-called "cancel culture" is "clearly spinning out of control" if the target is a squad of cartoon canines.

"Look, I’d say this was 'Looney Tunes,' but then Bugs Bunny might get canceled and that Elmer Fudd with the shotgun -- clearly excessive violence," Kurtz joked to Ed Henry days after Warner Bros announced it would disarm Fudd in a new "Looney Tunes" cartoon series on HBO Max.


Kurtz described a bleak future for works that could find themselves subject to "cancellation" in the future, pointing to HBO's momentary decision to pull "Gone With the Wind" from the HBO Max film library. The 1939 film has long been accused of glorifying slavery in the American South.

HBO has since promised to return the film to its streaming service alongside “a discussion of its historical context and a denouncement of” its racist depictions.

Clark Gable, left, and Vivien Leigh in a scene from "Gone with the Wind." (Turner Classic Movies via AP)

Clark Gable, left, and Vivien Leigh in a scene from "Gone with the Wind." (Turner Classic Movies via AP)

"It's absurd. It's a product of its time," Kurtz remarked. "Where it's going is, I'm afraid, that old books, old plays, old songs could end up being trashed because somebody today is offended."

"Should radio stations be barred from playing '[The Lady] is A Tramp?’" he asked. "I mean, it does reach levels of absurdity that I think don’t match the serious discussion we are trying to have in the wake of the tragic killing of George Floyd."

However, Kurtz added that one debate that should be take seriously concerns Confederate symbols.

"You have NASCAR banning Confederate flags at its events ... some in the militarythough not the president -- want to rename bases for Confederate generals who were traitors, who were fighting to preserve slavery," he pointed out.

That said, cancel culture and "so-and-so-is-over-party" Twitter hashtags have also resulted in what the Fox News media analyst calls "confession culture."

"Anna Wintour, the Vogue editor at Condé Nast, apologizing to her staff for not hiring enough black employees and running stories and images that are hurtful or intolerant, maybe some in the white media power structure [are] having to grapple with a painful past," he stated.

"But, on this point, people who cheer because they want something canceled because their sensibilities are offended: this is insidious. It can go both ways, and it can go out of control," Kurtz warned.

"Sensitivity? Sure. But, it does seem to me we reaching the point of absurdity," he told Henry.


"I would much rather not be debating whether this statute should come down, whether this Disney theme park ride should be renamed, or a group should be renamed," he added, referring to country act Lady Antebellum's decision to change their name to "Lady A."

"Let's get into the serious business of reforming the police, not defunding the police, but, you know, how you translate the anger on the streets that we’ve seen in the protests into actual reform," Kurtz concluded. "That’s a hard thing to do. This other stuff is easy. And I do think it is getting a little bit ludicrous."