I Would Have Fired Him Before He Got Back to the Office

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.

CNN’s Failed Piers Morgan Experiment

In September of 2010, CNN announced that British television personality, Piers Morgan would be taking over the retiring Larry King’s television spot. King was winding down his long and prestigious broadcast career on a bit of a low note at CNN. His ratings had declined significantly in a time-slot that pitted him up against fiery, ideologically-driven programs on the other cable news networks. The evolution of the genre had left King behind. His mundane and incurious interview style still attracted A-list guests but it no longer attracted viewership.

The decision to bring Piers Morgan aboard demonstrated a conscious effort by CNN to try and catch the wave of fast-paced, often combative programming that the competition was enjoying success with. American audiences had become familiar with the crass Brit from his role as a judge on the reality television series, America’s Got Talent. The show let him promote a blunt-speaking, pretentious persona that mirrored that of American Idol’s Simon Cowell. The clear hope was that Morgan would bring with him a cross-over audience.

Piers Morgan Tonight kept the same interview format that King had used but the CNN marketing department was quick to point out how Morgan’s blazing personality and verbal brazenness would essentially cast him as the anti-King. Words like “unpredictable”, “lively”, and “challenging” were used in advertisements for the show with an animation of a smug Morgan crossing his arms and exuding confidence from every pore.

Things didn’t go exactly as CNN had hoped they would.

Less than a year and a half after the debut of Piers Morgan Tonight, CNN’s prime-time line-up just delivered its lowest rated month in two years. Morgan is earning roughly a third of the viewership that his predecessor Larry King was bringing in toward the end of his run, and Hannity, which airs at the same time on the FOX News Channel, routinely more than quadruples Morgan’s ratings. Even FOX News’ 3am show, Red Eye with Greg Gutfeld, consistently attracts a larger audience than Morgan.

The Piers Morgan Experiment has clearly failed, and it’s just a matter of time before CNN is forced to go back to the drawing board. When they do, I hope they learn from what went wrong. In case they have some trouble figuring it out, maybe I can be of a little help…

In preserving the sit-down, one-on-one interview format, Morgan’s producers should have known that viewers might actually want to hear what guests on the other side of the table have to say. Instead, the standard configuration of the show has been for Morgan to ask a provocative question to his guest, then eagerly interrupt them half way through the first sentence of their answer to explain how he, himself feels about the topic. I can only guess that the justification for the irritating practice was a page borrowed from Bill O’Reilly’s ‘No Spin’ playbook, but guests on Morgan’s show typically aren’t spinning or even debating the host. They’re just trying to complete a thought… and he rarely lets them.

The result is a guest-oriented show that’s all about the host. Thus, when viewers tune in to listen to the advertised guest, they instead are subjected to the imposing personal views of someone they don’t find particularly interesting or thought-provoking.  Let’s face it… Even as sharp-tongued as Morgan is, he’s essentially a run of the mill, lockstep liberal who rarely offers any unique insight. There’s already an abundance of cable news personalities who parrot DNC talking points under the guise of moral responsibility. The market’s saturated with them.

CNN clearly felt that Piers Morgan would bring something unique to their network… an edginess factor that they believed they were lacking. It always amuses me what the liberal media considers to be edgy. To them, edginess is the presentation of liberal viewpoints in a louder, more brazen manner than audiences are used to. They think Bill Maher is edgy. They think Joy Behar is edgy. Real edginess would be doing something outside of their own ideological comfort zone.

Imagine if CNN had the guts to fill that time spot with a show hosted by a fresh-faced conservative thinker like a Michele Malkin or even a Mary Katharine Ham – someone they could build a new audience off of. THAT would be an edgy move, but I’m certain CNN would simply laugh off such a notion, even at a time when they’ve got nothing left to lose. In addition to their prime time ratings being at a two year low, their network as a whole is suffering from its lowest overall viewership in ten years.

The one thing CNN has going for them is that they haven’t permanently tarnished their brand with the same broad stroke of hardcore, left-wing activism that MSNBC has. They’re very much a part of the liberal media, but they also have a chance to show potential viewers that they’re willing to offer up something different. For their own sake, they should consider doing that… and fast!

The Dumbest Media Question I’ve Ever Heard

You know the expression, “You can’t make this stuff up”?  Well, over the weekend CNN gave us just such a moment — an example of bias so blatant and so unprofessional that when I first heard it I thought I was watching a Saturday Night Live comedy routine.

It happened at a news conference in Honolulu, at the end of the APEC summit. CNN White House correspondent Dan Lothian brought up the weekend GOP debate and told the president that several candidates said in their view waterboarding is not torture.  “I’m wondering,” Lothian asked the president, “if you think they’re uninformed, out of touch, or irresponsible.”

(I suspect many of you reading this will think I made that up.  Click here and see it for yourself.)

I actually laughed when I heard the question.  Bias is usually much more subtle, and not nearly as funny.  The president just stood there, silent, for a few seconds.  Even he seemed stunned at the unvarnished bias of the question.  I got the impression he wanted to say, “Come on, man.  I know you guys love me – and for good reason – but this is downright embarrassing.”  Instead, he smiled and asked if it was a multiple- choice question – then said he thought the Republicans were wrong, that waterboarding is torture.  Fine.

My sources tell me that these are a few more questions Dan Lothian may ask the president as the campaign heats up:

“Mr. President, Dan Lothian here from CNN.  First I want you to know that we all love you at CNN and think Republicans are Nazis.  Now to my question:  Do you agree that they’re Nazis or do you think they’re simply morons?”

“Mr. President, should Herman Cain be executed for raping those women?”

“B.  I hope you don’t mind Barack if I simply call you B, my main man.  Mitt Romney is a Mormon.  Should he even be allowed to run for president, especially given the fact that he has 19 wives?  And if he wins, should he be allowed to serve?  I would say, no, B Man.  You agree, right?”

“Good morning, Mr. President.  Here’s some coffee and cupcakes I brought to the press conference for you.  Question:  We took a vote at CNN and decided that the U.S. government should put your face up there on Mt. Rushmore with those other guys who were president.   Are those who oppose this great idea uninformed, out of touch, or irresponsible?”

You think someone at CNN will take Mr. Lothian aside and say, “Honest reporters don’t do what you did, so don’t do it anymore!”  Neither do I.

Morgan Freeman’s New Role: Race Baiter

I’ve always been a big fan of Morgan Freeman’s acting. He’s an accomplished artist whose screen portrayals of good-natured, honest, admirable characters are sometimes Hollywood masterpieces. He plays that type of character so well that he’s been a bit typecast over the years. Yet, I never get tired of his strong performances of men of integrity.

When I see an actor frequently play kindred roles so gracefully and convincingly, I tend to think that I must be watching a bit of the actor himself coming out in his characters. Sure, I understand the naivety of that assumption, but I think it’s probably an instinctual reaction that we’ve all been guilty of at one time or another.

In Freeman’s case, I thought I might have actually been right.

In 2009, I watched him being interviewed by Mike Wallace. The issue of racism came up and Freeman voiced his displeasure with the idea of Black History Month. He felt it was silly and counterproductive to create a sub-category of American History based on people’s skin color, and he voiced his irritation with society’s habit of identifying individuals by their race. When Wallace asked him, “How are we going to get rid of racism?” Freeman pointedly answered, “We stop talking about it.” I thought Freeman’s point was brilliant. He’d reached a conclusion which we often don’t hear from today’s leaders in the black community, yet he seemed to capture the very essence of what the civil rights movement was all about: A color-blind society.

Earlier this week, however, it became clear that Freeman has since changed his mind on racism in America. He told CNN’s Pierce Morgan that the election of Barack Obama has actually made racial matters worse in our country, and he blames that on – you guessed it – The Tea Party. Freeman pointed to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell as an example. He chided the senator for publicly stating his goal of preventing President Obama from winning a second term. Freeman interpreted the meaning of McConnell’s statement as, “We’re going to whatever we do to get this black man, we can, we’re going to do whatever we can to get this black man outta here.” When Pierce Morgan surprisingly challenged Freeman on his claim that racism was the motivator as opposed to partisanship or policy-differences, Freeman bluntly replied, “It is a racist thing.”

Oh what a difference two years makes.

Now, I do agree with one thing Freeman said in the CNN interview. I believe there has indeed been an uptick in racial tensions in this country since the election of Obama… But for a completely different reason.

Things are worse now because our president’s skin color has routinely and shamelessly been used by his supporters as a shield to protect him from legitimate criticism. Every time I think this ridiculous media narrative of ‘If you oppose Obama, you must be a racist’ has run its course, some high-profile elitist from the left throws more fuel on the fire.

I know, I know… In the grand scheme of things, Freeman’s just another opinionated celebrity using the soapbox his career affords him to vent out his political frustrations. I shouldn’t care what he thinks. But I must say that I’m disappointed in the man. It’s not because I’m holding him to the same standards as the noble characters he portrays, but because I found his words from 2009 to be profound and encouraging. Back then, his prescription for ending racism was to abstain from seeking it out and engaging in its over-analysis. Now, he’s promoting just the opposite philosophy. He’s brought racism to the forefront of our political discourse by presuming it in those who disagree with our president.

It’s a sad thing to watch, but I suppose I’ll always have his movies.

Lorena Bobbitt Revisited

I’m not at all familiar with CNN’s correspondent, Alina Cho.  I know she wasn’t all too happy with former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown’s op/ed piece he wrote back in 2008 about the rise of Sarah Palin.  Other than that, I haven’t paid any attention to her…until a few weeks ago.

She recently interviewed Lorena Bobbitt Gallo.  You might remember she was the woman who, after being subjected to domestic violence and sexual assault by her husband, cut off his member.

Ms. Cho introduces Ms. Gallo as “the wife who employed, uh, shall we say, a dramatic response to an abusive relationship with her then husband, John Wayne Bobbitt.”  During the interview, we learn that Ms. Gallo started an organization called “Lorena’s Red Wagon” through which she helps women and children in domestic violence situations.

And then the following question and answer:

CHO: I have to ask you this. As you well know, there was a time when joking about the Bobbitts was a national pastime. I wonder after all of these years – are you finally able to laugh about it?

LORENA GALLO: I finally am. And it took a lot of time, it took a lot of years, and definitely a lot of – I went to psychologists, and thanks to the doctors, the therapies I’m here, and I’ll be able to now basically start all over again and start a new relationship and have a family and basically I can laugh now. But it’s not a subject of laughing matter when we talk about domestic violence, though. It’s a serious problem and what happened to me was very bizarre, obviously. But I was a victim, I’m not a victim anymore, and that’s the message that I come – I have to come across and say it, and domestic violence is a serious issue and it affects 32 million people in the United States and is a worldwide epidemic, it’s a social epidemic that if we don’t do anything about it, then we faced with a bigger problem in the future for our newest generations to come.

I appreciate the fact that Ms. Gallo recognizes domestic violence is a serious issue but the idea she can now laugh about it is outrageous.  But, I’m going to put that aside.

My problem is with Ms. Cho.  What was she thinking?

Could anyone even imagine Ms. Cho asking this question of a man?  “After all these years, can you now laugh about mutilating your wife?”

Let’s take it even one step further.  I recall a horrific crime in California in the 70s committed by Lawrence Singleton who raped a teenager and chopped off her arms and left her for dead.  Well, she survived and he was eventually convicted.  How about if Bill O’Reilly had interviewed him and asked the same question?  “So, Mr. Singleton, tell my viewers, after all these years, can you now laugh about mutilating your victim?”  The outrage would be deafening.

But, I see this double standard over and over in the media.  Another perfect example is the reporting of sexual assault on students by teachers.  When a male teacher assaults a female student, it’s rightfully called a “sexual assault” or “rape.”

I can’t count the number of times when I’ve read or heard reports of female teachers who sexually assault male students.  While criminal charges are brought and are described according to the local penal code, reporters very often describe these assaults as a “sexual liaison,” “sexual relationship,” or “a teacher sleeping with her student.”  Seldom is the teacher described as a rapist or pedophile but often characterized as “blonde,” “20-something,” “hot,” or “good-looking.”

Why the double standard?  Having worked in the area of child abuse law for over twenty years, I can assure you the long-term effects do not differ much between male and female victims.

I think the absolutely worst case involved 34-year old Mary Kay Latourneau, who began assaulting her 13-year old victim, who she eventually married after having two of his children and serving time in prison.  She initially pled guilty to child rape and was given a seven-year sentence but was only required to serve three months under certain conditions, one being that she wouldn’t have any further contact with her victim.  She served the three months, was released and was later caught inside a “steamed up” car with the victim.  She was sent back to prison for 7 ½ years.

What’s disturbing about this story is how it was described in the media.  Tru.tv describes its article as “Mary Kay Latourneau:  The Romance That Was a Crime.”  Gregg Olsen’s true-crime book was entitled, “If Loving You Is Wrong.”  Lifetime’s made-for-tv movie was called, “Mary Kay Latourneau:  All American Girl.”

Can you imagine the same treatment by the media had the criminal been a male and the victim a 13-year old girl?  Of course, you can’t.  It wouldn’t happen.  (Oh, except if you’re a rich Hollywood director named Roman Polanski.)

On a lighter side, tv sitcoms have changed dramatically over the years.  I remember the handsome men who portrayed husbands and fathers in shows like “Bachelor Father” (John Forsythe), “Leave it to Beaver” (Hugh Beaumont), “The Donna Reed Show” (Carl Betz), “My Three Sons” (Fred MacMurray) and “Father Knows Best” (Robert Young).  All these men were masculine, intelligent, successful, hard-working role models for their children.  I think the worst quality these Dads ever possessed may have been absent-mindedness.  Other than a lapse of memory, these fathers/men were not demeaned on early television.  Now, we too often see on sitcoms a bunch of overweight, doofus-looking, low achievers, where every joke is at their expense.

Can anyone imagine women portrayed the same way in sit-coms today?  I doubt it.

I’m sure Alina Cho won’t be fired for her stupid question but I’d bet a man would and NOW would have been picketing outside CNN headquarters.  I doubt we’ll see honest reporting of sexual assaults by teachers regardless of their gender.  I also doubt we’ll ever see a handsome and witty man married to a slovenly, dopey woman on a tv sitcom.  I wonder why the feminists aren’t seeking equality in these areas.  Hmmm.

I don’t get it, but if you do, God bless you.