Conservative Talk Radio Double-Reverse Hypocrisy: Laura Ingraham

Laura Ingraham, for my money, is the most civil and entertaining of the far right talk show hosts. She does not engage in off-the wall rants, like fellow lawyer Mark Levin, she does not intentionally provoke the Left with politically-incorrect eye-pokes, like Rush Limbaugh (though he is awfully good at this, and sometimes very funny), and her passion for dignity and decorum in the culture is admirable, though Laura’s sense of what is smut and “poison” seems to have been formed while watching re-runs of “Father Knows Best.” Today, however, she hit the hypocrisy jack-pot while complaining about Jimmy Kimmel’s low-life performance as the MC at the White House correspondents’ dinner, and the unseemly tenor of the annual event generally. To be fair, she was absolutely right about a great deal:

  • The event is a national and international embarrassment. When it was a private affair allowing the White House to show appreciation for the hardy crew of journalists that dogs its occupant’s every move, allowing the President to josh with the reporters and let his hair down if he had any, an argument could be made that the event was harmless at worst, and beneficial at best. Now that the dinner is broadcast on cable TV, however, it has become increasingly cringe-worthy, as the Chief Executive is required to play stand-up comic next to the likes of Kimmel, diminishing his stature and making foreign cultures even more contemptuous of the U.S. than they already are. It should be held privately, or not at all.
  • The President should not be subjected to a performance that includes vulgarity and crudeness. Kimmel was both vulgar and crude, as he always is—don’t blame him, blame the fools who hired him. The President should not sacrifice respect and dignity to appear “cool.” Then again, this President does not comprehend Presidential leadership, and apparently never will. I am not a Reagan worshiper, but Ronnie would have been livid at an entertainer who resorted to such words as “asshole” in his presence. JFK would have made heads roll, and Ike would have had to restrain himself from having Kimmel shot.
  • For the President to be seen and heard joking about life and death issues, policies and episodes is offensive. He is the one American who has to be perceived as taking these matters seriously…always.

The last is where Laura hit an iceberg. She played an audio clip of a White House spokesperson earlier this year declaring how serious the recent Secret Service scandal was (You remember, don’t you? South American hookers and all that?) being taken on Pennsylvania Avenue, and they played Obama’s scripted joke from the dinner making light of the episode. She then segued into the hypocrisy of the mainstream media, which happily gives this President, whom they all voted for, carte blanche to make such irreverent gags, but who attacked President Bush for his “searching for the weapons of mass destruction” video routine at one of his White House dinners. Good one Laura…wait, what? You didn’t criticize President Bush’s routine then. You’re being more of a hypocrite than they are. Not only are you applying a double standard to the Presidency according to who’s in the office, you’re criticizing journalists for applying the exact same double standard you are!

And here’s strike three on Ingraham: Bush’s joke was inexcusable, Obama’s was just a mistake. The WMD fiasco got the U.S. into war and led to the deaths of thousand of soldiers and civilians, American and Iraqi. There is no comparison to President Obama’s quipping about the Secret Service episode.

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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  jamproethics@verizon.net.

Guess Who Invited Donald Trump to the White House Correspondents Association Dinner?

OK, who's the wiseguy that brought the skunk to the picnic?

I missed it, but the Washington Post of April 28 revealed who it was that invited Donald Trump, fresh from a month of trying to make the President’s citizenship a campaign issue while denigrating Obama’s integrity, legitimacy, and honesty, to the annual light-hearted White House Correspondents Association dinner, where the President is always a featured “performer.” It was buried in the gossipy Style section, but there was the culprit. Who invited him?

The Washington Post invited him, that who.

Inviting Trump to that event is in approximately the same good taste as inviting blogger Pamela Geller to a Park51 (a.k.a. “the Ground Zero Mosque”) controversy, or allowing a group of “Truthers” to crash a testimonial to Dick Cheney.

What could the Post have been thinking? “He’s a fascinating figure to Washington right now!” the Post’s representative breathlessly explained on the 28th. We are to assume, then, that if the dinner was being held this week and Osama bin Laden hadn’t been dispatched (most respectfully, of course) to Davy Jones’ Locker, the Post might have invited Osama’s bullet-riddled corpse to slump at its table.

The Post was stirring the pot, is what it was doing, and that is not the media’s proper of ethical role. If the intention was to set up Trump, who had been called everything from a joke to a fool to a thug to a racist by various Post writers only days before, to be insulted to his face by host Seth Myers and the President, that is taking sides in the news rather than reporting it. If it the intent was to position volatile elements together in the hopes of sparking a story, that is unethical  journalism too.

The paper got both results that it presumably desired: Trump was a sitting duck at the dinner, and then he embarrassed himself by later complaining about the skewering he so richly deserved. It also, not for the first time, showed how rusty those old ethics alarms are at the offices of Washington, D.C.’s most prestigious newspaper.

[Thanks to sharp-eyed Post reader Robert Sher.]

Trump’s Lament

Can't you read the sign, Donald?

Was Donald Trump treated rudely and unfairly at the White House Correspondents Dinner, where he was made the target of sharp barbs by both President Obama and MC Seth Myers?

Trump thinks so, telling Fox and Friends, “Well, I really understood what I was getting into — I didn’t know that I’d be virtually the sole focus. I had no idea it would be to that extent, where you know, it was just joke after joke after joke. It was almost like, is there anyone else they could talk about?”

Trump is a poor sport, a whiner, a humorless fool, and deluded to boot. He spent the previous month accusing the President of the United States of being a liar, a fraud, a usurper, a poor student, and an illegal alien, appealing to the worst instincts of the most extreme Obama-haters and political foes. His conduct was most charitably and frequently defined as “a joke,” though it was worse than that. He comes to the Correspondent’s Dinner where the President has his one chance to skewer others the way comedians regularly skewer him, having provided by his own boorishness and hucksterism enough material to supply ten stand-up routines, not only claims to be surprised at the extent of his roasting, but is offended that he has to take his medicine. Continue reading