The Washington Post’s Hypocrite Who Doesn’t Understand Hypocrisy

Washington Post columnist Erik Wemple says he really, really believes that it is bad journalism to write about the pre-marital sex of public figures, particularly before they were public figures. After all, 1) it’s nobody’s business and 2) it’s an invasion of privacy. But Wemple wrote this week that he makes an exception to that rule when hypocrisy is involved. Thus it is OK for Sarah Palin’s slimy biographical hit-man Joe McGinnis to dish about rumors of her dalliances before she was wed, because, Wemple says, in a 2006 Eagle Forum questionnaire, Palin indicated that she supported funding abstinence-until-marriage education programs and opposed teaching sex-education programs. This makes her a hypocrite, he claims, so journalists quoting McGinnis’s invasion of privacy and violations decency is fine and dandy with him.

Wemple is wrong once, twice, three ways:

1. What Palin says years after her pre-marital sexual exploits, assuming there were any, can’t possibly make her a hypocrite. It is not hypocritical for a mature and experienced adult to decide that her conduct in the past was mistaken, unwise and risky, and to advocate policies that discourage it in others. Condemning someone for learning from mistakes and trying to craft public policy based on acquired wisdom is the mark of a fool.

2. Palin didn’t say what Wemple says she did, though even if she did it wouldn’t make her a hypocrite. She was on already on record in 2006  as saying that children should be taught about contraception.

3. Wemple is the hypocrite. He purports to object to journalists engaging in exactly the practice he is participating in against Palin. Why? He doesn’t like Palin. And also because he is a fool and a hypocrite.

We are watching a fascinating example of the phenomenon of cognitive dissonance in action. Though much of the mainstream media have been shamelessly unfair and without decency or remorse in their attacks on Palin since she was first yanked into the national spotlight by John McCain, many journalists are now perceiving the point where her attackers have become so unfair and so loathsome that continuing to be critical of Palin makes those perceptive journalists allies of the truly despicable and untrustworthy, and thus likely to be despised and untrusted themselves. As a result, we have a litmus test for the anti-Palin biased journalists and pundits: if one has the decency to reject the Joe McGinnis book as the trash that it is, then that journalist retains some shred of credibility.

If, however, a commentator embraces the book—like cartoonist Gary Trudeau (currently challenging Charles M. Schultz for the record for the longest duration continuing a comic strip after it has ceased to have humor or relevance), blogger Andrew Sullivan, and Wemple—they have signed on to be accorded the same respect and credibility due to McGinnis, which is to say, none.

13 thoughts on “The Washington Post’s Hypocrite Who Doesn’t Understand Hypocrisy

  1. It is not hypocritical for a mature and experienced adult to decide that her conduct in the past was mistaken, unwise and risky,

    Actually it can be. When I tell my kid not to do something I did at their age, I freely admit it is my voice of experience. I also add how I learned the error of my ways and am sharing that experience with them. If I pretended that I had never done anything, then I would be the hypocrite. Palin has spoken on abstinence.

    Condemning someone for learning from mistakes and trying to craft public policy based on acquired wisdom is the mark of a fool.

    Not when the message is “Do as I say, not as I did”. An alcoholic or addict will never recover until they admit they made mistakes.

    3. Wemple is the hypocrite. He purports to object to journalists engaging in exactly the practice he is participating in against Palin. Why? He doesn’t like Palin. And also because he is a fool and a hypocrite.

    Doesn’t that make you a hypocrite to accuse Wemple of doing to Palin the exact same thing you are doing to him?

    When you have to resort to ad hominems you’ve lost your argument.

    … much of the mainstream media have been shamelessly unfair and without decency or remorse in their attacks on Palin since she was first yanked into the national spotlight by John McCain, …

    She voluntarily accepted the V-P nomination. What killed Palin was her interview with Katie Couric. After that every interview went downhill. Later, when she resigned her Governorship, she was shown as a quitter. THEN, when she started charging grassroots organizations for speaking appearances, she lowered herself even more.

    And while she was feeding the birther movement, she never did show Trig’s birth certificate.
    Palin made her own bed, she may pay in it.

    • It is not hypocritical for a mature and experienced adult to decide that her conduct in the past was mistaken, unwise and risky,
      Actually it can be. When I tell my kid not to do something I did at their age, I freely admit it is my voice of experience. I also add how I learned the error of my ways and am sharing that experience with them. If I pretended that I had never done anything, then I would be the hypocrite. Palin has spoken on abstinence.

      No, it can’t be. The fact that she has spoken on abstinence cannot possibly make her a hypocrite. She has not pretended that she abstained; she hasn’t said anything about it, nor does she have to. Even if she lied about it, that would make her dishonest, not a hypocrite. You don’t know what hypocrisy is either!

      Condemning someone for learning from mistakes and trying to craft public policy based on acquired wisdom is the mark of a fool.
      Not when the message is “Do as I say, not as I did”. An alcoholic or addict will never recover until they admit they made mistakes.

      Wrong, as always, MF. There is nothing whatsoever wrong about saying “Do as I say, not as I did.” Nothing. It is the right thing to say, when what one did was risky, hurtful, unethical or otherwise mistaken. Addiction is irrelevant to the discussion. Please consider my “Mr. Non Sequitur” suggestion.

      3. Wemple is the hypocrite. He purports to object to journalists engaging in exactly the practice he is participating in against Palin. Why? He doesn’t like Palin. And also because he is a fool and a hypocrite.
      Doesn’t that make you a hypocrite to accuse Wemple of doing to Palin the exact same thing you are doing to him?

      How am I doing that? I haven’t asserted that it is wrong to call out hypocrites for being hypocritical. Do you even read what you write? At what point do you start saying, “ I know you are, but what am I?”

      When you have to resort to ad hominems you’ve lost your argument.

      Hypocrisy is an identifiable form of misconduct, and one who engages in it is a hypocrite. A pundit who puts such a manifestly sloppy piece of junk in print is a fool. Since you refuse to engage in respectable argument, but rely on deflection, irrelevancies and political talking points, I couldn’t care less what you regard as a winning argument.

      … much of the mainstream media have been shamelessly unfair and without decency or remorse in their attacks on Palin since she was first yanked into the national spotlight by John McCain, …
      She voluntarily accepted the V-P nomination. What killed Palin was her interview with Katie Couric. After that every interview went downhill. Later, when she resigned her Governorship, she was shown as a quitter. THEN, when she started charging grassroots organizations for speaking appearances, she lowered herself even more.

      None of which either justifies or explains her sexist, biased, wildly unfair treatment from the media. I have criticized her for every one of those incidents you mentioned and more. Those are not unfair. Those are also 10% of what she has been attacked for.

      And while she was feeding the birther movement, she never did show Trig’s birth certificate.

      That’s an idiotic and disgraceful comment, even in the context of the rest of your comments. But it validates my assessment of your methods and motives.

  2. Ahhh, the writer that demands standards from others that he won’t meet himself. There is so much to comment on so I’ll try to abridge it.

    You don’t know what hypocrisy is either!
    Read my comment. I explained myself already, “Actually it can be.” started out the paragraph. That was a subjective answer with qualifications.

    There is nothing whatsoever wrong about saying “Do as I say, not as I did.”
    Only Palin never has said that.

    When you have to resort to ad hominems you’ve lost your argument.

    Hypocrisy is an identifiable form of misconduct, and one who engages in it is a hypocrite. A pundit who puts such a manifestly sloppy piece of junk in print is a fool. Since you refuse to engage in respectable argument, but rely on deflection, irrelevancies and political talking points, I couldn’t care less what you regard as a winning argument.

    You made my point. Instead of arguing facts and opinion, you resorted to demeaning my arguments in order to claim you “win”.

    And while she was feeding the birther movement, she never did show Trig’s birth certificate.

    That’s an idiotic and disgraceful comment, even in the context of the rest of your comments. But it validates my assessment of your methods and motives.

    Palin called for Obama to show his birth certificate. There has been questions about Sarah being the mother or grandmother of Trig. So again, you resorted to shooting the messenger instead of discussing the hypocrisy of the message. Normally a candidate’s family should be off limits. BUT, Palin used Trig as a prop. Asking Palin to prove the parentage of the baby is questioning of HER honesty. And again, you resorted to use ad hominems to make your point.

    If the author made errors then castigate him for those errors. Painting someone with a big brush and calling them a hypocrite fails. Turning the tables on the writer and making the story about him is a time worn tradition when the book is unfavorable. I haven’t read the book and I doubt you have. so what he says is wrong I’ll leave for those who read it.

    • I know your technique. You simply have a group of pet ideological beliefs in which you cannot accept any facts, opinions, or analysis that challneges them, not because they are invalid, but because you have an agenda. I have no agenda. I respond to honest and good faith disagreements and critiques, not intentionally confounding and confusing dumkps of random information. Your argument on this point, especially, is disingenuous and incomprehensible, and the suggestion that because “there have been questions”: about Trig’s parentage Pain is obligated to respond to them is too dumb for words. (I also believe that Obama shouldn’t have responded to the silly Birther accusations.)

      Typical is your comment about reading the book. I don’t have to read McGinnis’s book—I was writing about a specific section of the book which I HAVE read, and a topic that is self-explanatory: rumors about who Palin may have had sexual relations with. The Post hypocrite claimed that such information is not fair journalistic fodder, and he is right. He argues, using incorrect information, that it magically becomes legitimate using an incorrect and unsupportable definition of hypocrite. Both his reasoning and his definition, as well of his facts, were wrong.

      Your arguments are not based on anything I wrote or the actual issue at hand—they are just ideological attempts to mute the facts. That is not what this blog is for. You waste my time, and anyone who reads here. Either address the issues honestly, stop commenting, or I will delete what you write.

      • Your arguments are not based on anything I wrote or the actual issue at hand—they are just ideological attempts to mute the facts. That is not what this blog is for.

        So what are facts? Does one person declaring “These are the facts” make them true? If my comments are “ideological attempts to mute the facts”, might that not also mean I see the world from a different perspective than you or someone else?

        Maybe his facts are wrong. Maybe they are right. I’ve seen no evidence one way or the other. What I do know is that it is extremely unethical to decide guilt based upon a smattering of biased information. Yet, that is what I see here. We both admit we haven’t read the book. Like you, I have no intention to. (Paling doesn’t appeal enough to me to warrant the exercise)

        If you think it would be ethical to delete the writings of someone you disagree with, go for it. Deleting my comments won’t change one thing about what I commented on. Nor will it make your comments any more honest or complete. In my opinion, willful ignorance is the most dishonest form of ethics. The next most dishonest is to claim you know enough facts to be perfectly right.

        Have a good day.

  3. Mr. Fusion: It would behoove you to read the “Rule Book” and other items along the left column of Jack’s blog. Your definitions are wrong; your antipathy to ideas adverse to your own, and your endless, boring, endless, wrong-headed,endless, criticism of Marshall’s statements are unreadable. Just make one intelligent, non-ideological comment and maybe someone other than Jack will actually read it.

  4. At least it turns out that Charles M. Schulz (so spelled) had a reason for doggedly (no pun intended) pursuing his comic strip. He died within days of drawing his last one. I’ve found DOONESBURY to be hilarious, incomprehensible, and everything in between, but if it’s Mr. Trudeau’s connection to a beating heart, I hope he continues to draw.

    • Re: Schulz: You mean money?

      I’d love to see the last Doonesbury you found “hilarious,” but then, I know you go into hysterics over “Beetle Bailey.” The Post moved Doonesbury out of the “funny pages” because it was open to debate whether the strip was ever actually funny. Please do send me that hilarious strip—I can find the incomprehensible ones on my own.

      • Two funny Doonesburys I can think of:

        1. A woman died and is taken to the afterlife by her already-deceased husband. They fade away, saying. “Where are we going?” “We’re already there.” “This is it?” “This is it.” “What hideous drapes.” “Sshh! Mrs. God picked them out.”

        2. The art is many sillhouettes of the white house, so it’s irrelevant. “Mr. President, you know how you gave preferential treatment to women who gave you sexual favors? Well, now there’s a class-action lawsuit with all the women you didn’t try to have sex with.” “I don’t believe this.” “It gets worse.” “Worse?” “There’s only three of them”

  5. Here’s what’s alarming to me ethically. When the lamestream media interrupts national news on TV to report the “breaking news” that Lindsay Lohan MAY have broken her probation again. All the Sarah hooplah is almost just as exciting. Now on to read something by “real” journalists and “real” news.

  6. Mr. Fusion – You and Jack write a lot and at length. In this post, I’d like to ask you about this specific part:

    Given that Webster’s dictionary defines hypocrisy in this way:

    hypocrisy- The practice of expressing feelings, beliefs, or virtues one does not hold or possess: INSINCERITY.

    Given that you wrote the following:

    When I tell my kid not to do something I did at their age, I freely admit it is my voice of experience. I also add how I learned the error of my ways and am sharing that experience with them. If I pretended that I had never done anything, then I would be the hypocrite.

    Then wouldn’t it be fair to say that you are incorrect? To pretend you didn’t do something, as in your example, would be a lie (by omission).

    In your example, using the 1st part as a full-disclosure example and the 2nd part as a non-disclosure example

    However, maintaining the reasoning and justification of the 1st part for the 2nd part – then in the 2nd part, you are not a hypocrite.

    In the first part you reveal that you hold these values because of your experience. By taking the route of the 2nd part, non-disclosure, you are simply omitting the truth (lying), not holding one set of values while railing against your values.

    If you amended your example to be something like: “I tell my kids not to smoke because it’s bad for them and causes cancer, but I smoke every day.” That would be hypocrisy.

    No?

    • Good, Tim. Polite, reasoned, 100% accurate, and much more detailed than my much shorter and snarkier—but true—“You don’t know what hypocrisy is, either.”

      I have learned to my sorrow, however, that where protecting fellow members of the Grand Progressive Brotherhood when they are caught cheating is involved, real definitions or fair argument are not his interest, but rather changing the subject, shifting the focus and refusing to admit the possibility that anyone whose governing philosophy tends leftward could do anything unethical or make a poor decision. (When the object of my criticism is not a progressive of any stripe, however, as it is more than half the time, he is objective and reasonable as you are. I have pondered, in fact, whether there are TWO Mr. Fusions…)

      So good luck.

  7. This is ridiculous! IMHO abstinence only education is chauvinistic and stupid. With that having been said, I’m confident that hundreds of male politicians who had premarital sex have advocated it. I don’t think that we have seen similar pieces on them. This is blatant sexism. It borders on sexual harassment and abuse. Just this once, I’m on Sara Palin’s side!

    Arguing that this is ethical is as silly as abstinence only education!

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