There are three primary reasons the United States of America is getting steadily disoriented, more gullible, less discerning, cruder and unethical. The first is that our leaders now only care about maintaining power, where once leaders tended to their duty of being what John Adams called America’s aristocracy. Such leaders, not too long ago, modeled the best values and behavior for the public because they carried the most crucial responsibilities, and thus had to be trustworthy. They understood this obligation was theirs because they had the most visibility, and recognized that this demanded positive, admirable, virtuous public behavior. Now our leaders use sophisticated modern marketing techniques to package themselves and ideas like a phony weight-loss remedy, gradually dropping the facades once they are too entrenched to remove. The dispiriting journey make us cynical, less civically involved, and confused.
The second reason is the public’s obsession with celebrities, particular the new, toxic breed that is famous for nothing but beauty, sex appeal, wealth and fame itself. These creatures, whose faces and forms at any time decorate the covers of at least 50% of newsstand magazines, are not merely mocked and gawked at, as their less abundant and less revolting predecessors were in generations past, but are actively admired and emulated despite a striking deficit of any substantive positive qualities whatsoever. The current epitome of this horrifying phenomenon are the reality stars, and the bottom of that fetid barrel is not, as you might guess, the proudly idiotic hillbilly family that spawned Honey Boo Boo (whose teenaged sister, during a recent family appearance on the Steve Harvey Show, ostentatiously lifted her leg to fart mightily and then, giggling, waved the resulting air out to the audience as her relatives roared with laughter, and Harvey stared in unbelieving disgust) but the Kardashians, all eight of them. Not too many of our children want to grow up to be like the Boo Boos, but a shocking number of teens and twenty-somethings admire this attractive, venal, vapid family and want to look like they look ( fit, flashy, ready for Vegas), know what they know (absolutely nothing, except the art of self -promotion), talk like they talk (vulgar and trivial), and, of course, be rich, famous and on TV. This month, one of the younger Kardashians, Kendall Jenner, celebrated her 18th birthday by sending out a breast-baring photo ( arranged by her mother) to the celebrity media. When this engendered some controversy, her father, former Olympian Bruce Jenner (who is only an honorary Kardashian because he actually accomplished something of genuine significance in his life, but is now mostly known for being so shallow and self-destructive as to marry the monstrous mother of Kim, Khloe, and Ko-Ko or Krispy Kreme or whatever the third one is named) supported his little girl by telling media sources that he was “proud” of his daughter’s breasts.
Wait…I’m going to take a shower now, and vomit.
Well, probably vomit first.
The third force pushing Americans down the evolutionary scale is the welter of authoritative-seeming but false pundits online, on the broadcast media and elsewhere. These publicize their warped analyses of the issues of the day that are usually the product of deadlines, rationalizations and ethics deprivation. But these faux experts have a show, a column, a forum, a book, or a reputation, so they are listened to and quoted, planting toxic ideas and values in the Petri dish brain pans of the millions of citizens unfortunate enough to encounter them.
Daily Beast columnist Lloyd Grove is in this last category. How do we know? Well, he is a gossip columnist, which is a hardy clue. The smoking gun evidence, however, is that he just wrote a prominently displayed feature on the liberal commentary website with the title, “Should MSNBC Fire Alec Baldwin and Martin Bashir?” To realize how clearly this non-gag headline (yes, I first assumed it was a joke) is res ipsa loquitur regarding the author’s lack of qualifications to have his opinions published anywhere, let me rephrase, fairly and objectively, what this headline is really asking. which is…
“Should a major broadcast news organization employ both a public affairs program host who thinks it is acceptable journalistic practice to insist, on camera, that someone should shit in the mouth of a former candidate for Vice President of the United States, and another host who is likely on any day to be videotaped screaming obscenities and homophobic epithets?“
Hmmm, tough one! Let me think about it.
Incredibly, however, Lloyd Grove has thought about it, and still concluded that there is no good reason to fire such execrable professionals. His arguments for this conclusion demonstrate a near total ethics vacuum, and a reasoning process based entirely on rationalizations.
His arguments for not firing Baldwin:
- Alec was brought up that way. Yes, and Mike Tyson was brought up to be like he is too, and it would also be irresponsible to give HIM a show on MSNBC. This is the “it is what it is” shrug. It is irrelevant why Baldwin is incapable of not embarrassing his employers on a regular basis: he still is.
- He was provoked. How amazing it is that only Alec Baldwin (OK, and Sean Penn. And Chris Brown…) is repeatedly “provoked” by photographers and reporters into erupting with derisive epithets, and sometimes physical attacks. I recall that Ty Cobb was provoked that time he jumped into the stands and started whomping on a verbally abusive fan who had no arms. Provocation is no justification for that, just as it is no justification for an on-air personality to call someone a “cocksucking fag.”
- It’s not as if Baldwin was literally accusing the guy of being a cock-sucking fag, so this is just political correctness. Yes, Grove actually makes this argument. So if Baldwin, say, gets angry at a six year-old girl in public and calls HER a “cocksucking fag,” that’s perfectly acceptable. Did anyone read this junk before it was posted? Did Grove read it?
- Baldwin was defended by Ann Coulter, the intentionally and habitually offensive conservative performance artist. Coulter, among other things, has suggested from a podium that someone should poison a Supreme Court Justice (Kidding!!!) and, after 9-11, that the U.S should invade all the Islamic nations in the Middle East and convert them to Christianity at gunpoint (I’m not so sure she was kidding.) Of course Coulter would defend Baldwin; so, presumably, would Kanye West, Mel Gibson and Michael Richards—none of which, you may note, host cable TV public affairs shows, for obvious reasons. This is the Rationalization List’s # 31, The Unethical Role Model or “He/She would have done the same thing” carried to lunacy.
- MSNBC should have known this was going to happen. Ah! The Scorpion and the Frog analogy again—but that story suggests that the frog was a fool to trust the scorpion once. I agree: MSNBC head Phil Griffin was an idiot and irresponsible to hire a proven liability like Baldwin in the first place. So Grove argues from this that the frog is obligated to put himself at risk of getting bitten again??
This embarrassing brief, however, is nothing compared to his sterling defense of Bashir, primarily because there IS no non-embarrassing defense for Bashir, who should have been fired the very day of his “let’s shit in Sarah Palin’s mouth” rant.
1. Grove argues that Bashir apologized. So what? The apology was obviously demanded and crafted so that MSNBC would not have to fire Bashir. A sincere apology for embezzlement doesn’t erase the theft; a sincere apology for treason won’t get you back in the State Department, and a sincere apology for crashing a plane because you weren’t paying attention won’t restore your job as a pilot. The issue is trust. Will someone please teach Grove this apparently alien concept? T-R-U-S-T. A broadcast network cannot trust a host that ever, even once, prepares and announces on the air something as gross, unfair, disrespectful, uncivil, hateful and obscene as what Bashir said. Newsreaders have been fired for uttering the word “fuck” on the air as a spontaneous utterance, and rightly so: it is proof of a lack of professionalism and respect for the audience. How much more unprofessional is what Bashir did? Ten times? A hundred times?
2.Grove also argues that Bashir was not at fault, because he had reason to believe that MSNBC was supportive of him escalating his hateful rhetoric, or rather lowering it to the depths. You know what, Lloyd? That proves that Bashir is unprofessional and untrustworthy. If NBC had come to David Brinkley and said, “David, we think it would please our audience if you said on the air that someone should shit in Richard Nixon’s mouth,” Brinkley’s answer, like any true professional’s answer, would be “No,” in all likelihood followed by, “Goodbye.” Grove thinks misconduct in broadcast journalism isn’t a firing offense if the offender can say,”I thought that was what you wanted?” Even if it is unfair in some small way to Bashir, he still has to be fired.
3. Naturally, for someone who reasons by rationalizations, Grove resorts to “Everybody does it,” the “it’s always been this way” variation, arguing that “the MSNBC ethos hardly penalizes vitriol,” and citing various examples. Funny, though: none of the examples involved a host saying that someone should take a dump in the mouth of a current political figure and past Vice-Presidential candidate. This is Grovethink: “It’s unfair to punish this far more unforgivable act, because lesser acts weren’t punished as harshly.” Wow.
4. Then he concludes with this jaw-dropper:
“If Bashir were suspended now or, worse, sent packing, the inescapable conclusion would be that his bosses, far from acting on principle, put their wet pinkies in the wind and waited to see which way it was blowing before bending to outside political pressure.”
This is a deeply unethical, obtuse and irresponsible man. It is principled to employ a host who is liable to say, on the air, something as unprofessional as what Bashir said about Palin! Firing him is “bending to outside political pressure!” No. Lloyd. Firing Bashir signifies teh acceptance of civilized cultural norms and the rejection of hate as punditry, by making a clear and necessary statement to all, loud and clear, that what Bashir did was intolerable, when he did it and in the future.
The one possible benefit to the Bashir/ Balwwin episodes is that are providing us with useful data regarding irresponsible broadcast and journalistic professionals elsewhere. The defenders of these men are similarly untrustworthy, as their standards of acceptable professional conduct are also those of the mob and the gutter—like Alec Baldwin and Martin Bashir.
Source: Daily Beast