Yes, I know the New York Post has made an art form of in-your-face, outrageous, I-can’t-believe-they-printed-that headlines and front page shenanigans, epitomized by the deathless classic, “Headless Body Found In Topless Bar.”
Yes, I know that Post is owned by Australian schlockmeister Rupert Murdoch, and yes, I know that the Obama-hating market is large and especially enthusiastic after the Tuesday Night Massacre Democrats just suffered under President Obama’s leadership.
And yes, I know that this is essentially a cartoon via photoshop, and that insisting that the Office of the President must retain its dignity after Bill Clinton got through with it and Democrats en masse declared that it didn’t matter how disgusting a POTUS’s “personal” conduct was in the White House as long as poll numbers were high and unemployment was low, so come on, Bill: lead our national convention in condemning how Republicans denigrate women!
I know all that. It doesn’t matter. Barack Obama is the President of the United States, and this kind of personal, disrespectful ridicule insults not just him, but the office he holds, the nation, and every citizen of the United States of America. If this front page were published in France or England, I would regard it as an attack and an insult. Where is the line where legitimate editorial criticism becomes vicious, culture-poisoning disrespect and a breach of ethical journalism standards? I don’t know; we can argue about it. Wherever the line is, this is over it, by a lot.
Naturally, one of the grinning morning hacks on Fox and Friends, Steve Doocy, held this abomination up to the camera and announced that it was posted to the Fox Facebook page. Of course he did. He and Fox News officially endorsed partisan hatred, not for the first time, but at the worst possible time, when rebuilding trust and respect for our institutions is crucial to the nation’s future and welfare.
How can the same underlying point be made without crossing ethical lines? The New York Daily News, itself hardly a model of restraint, was up to the challenge:
The politics, democracy and the United States of America can not run on hate. This is poison. It isn’t funny; it is tragic that so many citizens think it’s funny. For the future, our own salvation, this has got to stop.
It is the equivalent of defecating on the dining room table.