Or, perhaps the title should be: BIRTHER MCCARTHYISM EXPOSES PRESS AS CRAVENLY SHAMEFUL RATINGS SKANKS. Either title suffices I guess, and neither meets the criteria for shocking news.
Still, watching Trump parade around the various network shows, including CNN, whether as part of another bottom-feeder publicity stunt, or because he indeed has had a psychotic break of a proportion necessary to believe he could be elected president, flattery-fattened by a retinue of sycophants and servants no doubt, there is no excuse for the TV press becoming an accomplice in the spreading of vicious, and well-confirmed lies about the president’s birth.
Yes, they limply challenge him with several of the known facts…once, and then after he simply ignores them, proceed to let him spew like Vesuvius the most bilious, scurrilous and morally depraved accusations virtually untouched. Freedom of speech provides one the right to express an opinion. It obligates no one to tolerate a public lie, nor to be gentle in the face of one. And gentle is clearly what TV interviewers have been, their behavior ranging from lazy to indifferent to fawning to deferential. It’s just another day at the office for everyone, him and them. The show bookers keep him soundly in the bull pen of potential guests for a next time, the interviewer can claim to have confronted him, the network gets a ratings spike it likes, and a venomous smear receives one more opportunity to gain traction and credibility through public, high-profile repetition.
When do these successful smears allowed to flourish as the result of media indifference end? The McCarthy era demonstrated the stakes and consequences of a failure among many, including the press to stand up to concerted efforts to smear, and to the scurrying vermin engaged in smearing. The lies about John Kerry’s naval record were accorded the same rocket thrust of acceptance as the result of a similar failure of media to forcefully challenge an easily disprovable lie, whose falsity was known to virtually everyone.
Members of the TV press and its interview squads should understand it is a conspicuous journalistic failure on their part when the lie about Obama is not demolished to the face of the person delivering the lie. If you want to stop a lie, if you believe it matters that a lie is permitted to mutate into truth through lack of adequately ferocious challenge, you must make it clear to its purveyor their lie will not be tolerated, nor will they be spared public humiliation for attempting to purvey it. And yes, that is the job of the press, if anything ever was.
Test yourself, TV interviewers with these few questions: Should a charlatan not be publicly chided for telling the lie and selling the smear, and called a liar to his or her face? Is it the job of the TV press to afford gentility and politesse to one offering as fact a definitive and malicious lie? Should obeisance to the faux respectability of celebrities or to celebrity politicians spreading moral fungus be considered journalistically professional, as it pervasively now appears to be?
Frankly, I’m glad I don’t have to actually hear the likely answers.