The News Media’s Election Year Ethics, Part I: The Right and Neil Munro

Shut up, Neil.

While some on the left were making the ignorant and race-baiting claim that reporter Neil Munro’s rude interruption of President Obama as he announced his end-around Congress on the Dream Act was inspired by bigotry, conservative media outlets were making the equally absurd, but perhaps less offensive, claim that criticism of Munro was another example of how Obama is accorded kid gloves treatment by his allies in the mainstream media.

The main piece of evidence presented for this is an old clip from a Reagan statement about the Iran-Contra affair, in which reporters shouted out questions to Ronnie as he ended his remarks and turned the mic over to Attorney General Ed Meese. It is a forced, dishonest and pointless comparison:

  • President Reagan had obviously finished his statement and was introducing another speaker. Munro interrupted President Obama’s remarks, and has admitted as much. The reporter’s question to Reagan was aggressive but not outside standard reporter practices of the period, especially with Reagan, who jovially permitted shouted questions outside of formal press conferences, though he often ignored them. Munro literally cut off the President of the United States as he was speaking.
  • In addition, Munro’s question was unprofessional and antagonistic, a classic “when did you stop beating your wife?” query: “Why do you favor foreigners over American workers?'” A rude question, asked rudely. Indefensible.
  • Using the Reagan clip, even if it were comparable to Munro’s interruption (which it is not ), at best embodies the unethical rationalizations of “They started it!” and “Everybody does it!” Munro was wrong. He should apologize.

The conservative media exposes itself as biased, disrespectful and unfair by not admitting the obvious. Whether or not Presidents try to control press access, whether or not reporters get frustrated when no questions are allowed, there is never any justification for not according the President of the United States the respect due his office. When he is talking, citizens, including reporters, are obligated to shut up and listen.


Spark: Sean Hannity (radio)


Graphic: Salon

Ethics Alarms attempts to give proper attribution and credit to all sources of facts, analysis and other assistance that go into its blog posts. If you are aware of one I missed, or believe your own work was used in any way without proper attribution, please contact me, Jack Marshall, at

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