It’s one thing when some jerk heckles the President of the United States at a rally on the campaign trail. But when the jerk is a journalist and the heckling takes place in the Rose Garden at the White House, well, that’s another matter altogether.
As you probably know by now, the other day Neil Munro a reporter from the Website Daily Caller decided to interrupt the president with an accusatory question during the president’s remarks about a change in immigration policy.
“Why’d you favor foreigners over Americans?” Munro shouted. To which the president replied: “Excuse me, sir, but it’s not time for questions.”
“Are you going to take questions?” Munro asked.
“Not while I’m speaking.” Obama said.
In the big scheme of things, this is not a big deal. Jerks, after all, will be jerks.
What bothers me, though, is the response from Tucker Carlson who runs the Daily Caller — and what it represents.
“This is what reporters are supposed to do,” he told the Huffington Post. “They’re supposed to get their questions answered.”
Not while the president is in the middle of a speech, Tucker!
Carlson’s Website tweeted this: “We are very proud of, @NeilMunroDC for doing his job.”
And Matt Lewis, a Daily Caller contributor and frequent cable TV guest, said this to Howard Kurtz on CNN: “There was going to be no question and answer [after the president’s remarks]. This was the only chance he had to ask a question. The press corps should be a little bit less deferential to authority and a little more aggressive.”
“He had no business interrupting the president,” Kurtz correctly pointed out. “This is not a question of being deferential. … Come on.”
“Where in the Constitution does it say that you can’t ask questions?” Lewis asked, getting a tad annoyed. “This is protocol and it’s etiquette, but it’s not constitutional. He did the right thing.”
What makes this little dopey episode troubling is that it’s a pretty good example of how conservatives can be just as annoyingly foolish as liberals. When a reporter threw his shoe at President Bush in Iraq, there were more than a few liberals who thought it was funny. That this Iraqi showed such blatant disrespect for the President of the United States — their president — didn’t matter. They despised President Bush, so they chuckled.
Now we have Tucker Carlson and Matt Lewis, two bright guys who ought to know better, defending this stunt. Instead of giving Munro a gold star, Carlson should have fired his reporter before he even got back to the office. Lewis should be embarrassed for justifying the rudeness by saying “it’s not constitutional.” A lot of things aren’t unconstitutional, but they’re still wrong. A third grader can figure that out.
This tells us a lot about how polarized we’ve become. Some on the Right feel they have to defend their own no matter what. If liberals are against it, conservatives are for it. And some on the Left wouldn’t acknowledge that a conservative is right if he said the sun rises in the east. The worst sin of all these days, I guess, is giving ammunition to the enemy. Or giving the impression that you are.
The reporter, Neil Munro, didn’t humiliate the president. But Munro, Carlson and Lewis humiliated themselves. And so did anyone else who hates President Obama so much that they think that rude, arrogant reporter did the right thing.