Incivility, Media, and the Left

Among all the political/cultural double standards that liberals and Leftists get away with, none is greater than the incredible incivility and disrespect they continually show for conservative politicians, celebrities, and traditional institutions with whom they disagree. Liberal behavior towards conservatives is so outlandish that it borders on the absurd, yet they are almost never seriously called to account for it or pay a truly lasting penalty for it. If the liberal media cover the offending action at all -- which they often don’t -- it is done more in a “See? You can’t accuse us of not covering it, now don’t ask us again” fashion than in a serious attempt to hold the offender fully accountable on the public stage.

Michelle Wolf’s recent attack on Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders at the White House Correspondents Dinner is a prime example. In a truly vile, shocking, tasteless display, Wolf demeaned Sanders’ appearance and professional competence in an incredibly mean-spirited way. This wasn’t good-natured roasting -- it was intended to embarrass and hurt Sanders, to humiliate her in public. There was a little bit of obligatory “tut-tutting” afterwards from the liberal media, but also at least as much rationalization and defending of Wolf. Point is, conservatives simply don’t do this to liberals, nor would the mainstream media let them off the hook if they did.

However, let a conservative make even the slightest cultural misstep or utter the most innocuous of unartful phrases and the liberal media and Leftist punditry pounce with unrestricted vengeance, determined to extract the maximum penalty from the guilty party. There are no explanations allowed, no extenuating circumstances to consider, no context to be evaluated. A misstatement from a conservative is considered to be intentional by the liberal media and immediate, unarguable, permanent guilt is assigned.

A few years ago MSNBC host Martin Bashir made an unbelievably disgusting remark about Sarah Palin, yet suffered no immediate consequences for it. He half-heartedly “apologized” for the remark a day or so later, fully expecting the matter to be done and forgotten. Only when the uproar from conservatives continued did NBC finally fire Bashir. But they certainly had no intention of doing so until faced with the public outcry. Bashir obviously felt fully confident and shielded enough to make the remark in the first place and then felt perfectly comfortable that he’d get away with it. It’s impossible to even contemplate the liberal media hysteria that would ensue if a Fox News host had said the same about Michelle Obama or (apples to apples) Geraldine Ferraro.

When examining the “What if a conservative did/said this about a liberal?” comparison, it’s all too obvious that conservatives are quickly and unconditionally branded as racists, homophobes, anti-gay, anti-immigrant, misogynist, intolerant, unsophisticated and simplistic for saying things that liberals get away with completely.

Can anyone seriously doubt that if some marginal, third-tier comedian like Kathy Griffin had held a picture of the severed head of Barack Obama, that that person would not immediately be shunned and held in utter, unsparing contempt by the national media? Yet only after the conservative grassroots backlash began against Griffin did the major liberal media follow suit, reluctantly, in the days following. CNN took the minimum obligatory action and removed Griffin from hosting an upcoming New Year’s program. Yet within the year, she was back on “The View,” proudly proclaiming to the delight of the show’s liberal hosts, “I rescind my apology! I take it back!” followed by a classless two-word expletive, the kind never, ever said in public by a high-profile conservative about a liberal president. But not only did she say it, everyone cheered, and no corner criticized her for it.

What is to be made of all this? That there are double standards of decorum and acceptable public discourse for conservatives and liberals is well-known and easy to document. To wit:

  • Global Warming sceptics are not merely wrong, they “should be jailed.”
  • Conservative politicians like Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnel don’t just hold the wrong views, they are “demons” according to public statements by prominent Democrat Maxine Waters.
  • Conservative guest speakers like Ann Coulter and Ben Shapiro are routinely threatened with violence for even daring to show up for their scheduled talks.
  • A NY Times reporter says people who support traditional marriage are unworthy of respect and deserve incivility.
  • A professor from Michigan publishes an op-ed entitled, “It’s OK to Hate Republicans.”

Really? Disagreement isn’t enough -- they should be treated badly, hated, even jailed? Don’t debate the issue with facts, throw them in jail if they disagree with you. The national liberal media ignore nearly all of these occurrences. One can only imagine their reaction had a conservative professor published an article titled, “Why Everyone Should Hate Progressives.”

The real take-away is that this kind of intolerant, one-sided, unintellectual hate speech perpetrated by liberals -- where arguments are based on empty sentiment rather than a serious, sober discussion of facts -- has been legitimized by the national liberal media to such a degree that today’s younger generations have taken the cue that it is acceptable for crass, dismissive emotionalism to replace rational, patient conversation. Today’s media consumers -- whether that media is experienced on-line, watched, listened to or read on paper -- are being taught in no uncertain terms that it is permissible to attempt to assassinate the character of those with whom you disagree, rather than to engage them in reflective, substantive debate.

Unfortunately, the spillover from this is being felt in all corners of public interactions, from the instantaneous rudeness between customers and service providers, to the lack of respect for traditional institutions, and perhaps most unfortunately, the rapid wearing away of the veneer of courtesy that had always been shown to older Americans by younger Americans.

And it’s predominantly one-sided: conservatives are not calling Democratic politicians “demons,” they are not physically attacking liberal guest speakers on college campuses, they are not holding photos of the bloody severed heads of their political opposition and they are not suggesting on high-profile news programs that liberal politicians be forced to ingest excrement. The liberal media give this anti-conservative behavior a pass, almost every time. When the liberal media do criticize, it’s in the most minimal obligatory manner, as little as they can get away with. And people take notice, especially younger people. The media are teaching them what is socially-acceptable behavior by the nature and tone of their coverage. They are teaching them the wrong lessons.

Remember that cliché, the “Coarsening of our Culture”? Sure, it’s no mystery. Today’s liberal media have sanctioned it.

Among all the political/cultural double standards that liberals and Leftists get away with, none is greater than the incredible incivility and disrespect they continually show for conservative politicians, celebrities, and traditional institutions with whom they disagree. Liberal behavior towards conservatives is so outlandish that it borders on the absurd, yet they are almost never seriously called to account for it or pay a truly lasting penalty for it. If the liberal media cover the offending action at all -- which they often don’t -- it is done more in a “See? You can’t accuse us of not covering it, now don’t ask us again” fashion than in a serious attempt to hold the offender fully accountable on the public stage.

Michelle Wolf’s recent attack on Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders at the White House Correspondents Dinner is a prime example. In a truly vile, shocking, tasteless display, Wolf demeaned Sanders’ appearance and professional competence in an incredibly mean-spirited way. This wasn’t good-natured roasting -- it was intended to embarrass and hurt Sanders, to humiliate her in public. There was a little bit of obligatory “tut-tutting” afterwards from the liberal media, but also at least as much rationalization and defending of Wolf. Point is, conservatives simply don’t do this to liberals, nor would the mainstream media let them off the hook if they did.

However, let a conservative make even the slightest cultural misstep or utter the most innocuous of unartful phrases and the liberal media and Leftist punditry pounce with unrestricted vengeance, determined to extract the maximum penalty from the guilty party. There are no explanations allowed, no extenuating circumstances to consider, no context to be evaluated. A misstatement from a conservative is considered to be intentional by the liberal media and immediate, unarguable, permanent guilt is assigned.

A few years ago MSNBC host Martin Bashir made an unbelievably disgusting remark about Sarah Palin, yet suffered no immediate consequences for it. He half-heartedly “apologized” for the remark a day or so later, fully expecting the matter to be done and forgotten. Only when the uproar from conservatives continued did NBC finally fire Bashir. But they certainly had no intention of doing so until faced with the public outcry. Bashir obviously felt fully confident and shielded enough to make the remark in the first place and then felt perfectly comfortable that he’d get away with it. It’s impossible to even contemplate the liberal media hysteria that would ensue if a Fox News host had said the same about Michelle Obama or (apples to apples) Geraldine Ferraro.

When examining the “What if a conservative did/said this about a liberal?” comparison, it’s all too obvious that conservatives are quickly and unconditionally branded as racists, homophobes, anti-gay, anti-immigrant, misogynist, intolerant, unsophisticated and simplistic for saying things that liberals get away with completely.

Can anyone seriously doubt that if some marginal, third-tier comedian like Kathy Griffin had held a picture of the severed head of Barack Obama, that that person would not immediately be shunned and held in utter, unsparing contempt by the national media? Yet only after the conservative grassroots backlash began against Griffin did the major liberal media follow suit, reluctantly, in the days following. CNN took the minimum obligatory action and removed Griffin from hosting an upcoming New Year’s program. Yet within the year, she was back on “The View,” proudly proclaiming to the delight of the show’s liberal hosts, “I rescind my apology! I take it back!” followed by a classless two-word expletive, the kind never, ever said in public by a high-profile conservative about a liberal president. But not only did she say it, everyone cheered, and no corner criticized her for it.

What is to be made of all this? That there are double standards of decorum and acceptable public discourse for conservatives and liberals is well-known and easy to document. To wit:

  • Global Warming sceptics are not merely wrong, they “should be jailed.”
  • Conservative politicians like Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnel don’t just hold the wrong views, they are “demons” according to public statements by prominent Democrat Maxine Waters.
  • Conservative guest speakers like Ann Coulter and Ben Shapiro are routinely threatened with violence for even daring to show up for their scheduled talks.
  • A NY Times reporter says people who support traditional marriage are unworthy of respect and deserve incivility.
  • A professor from Michigan publishes an op-ed entitled, “It’s OK to Hate Republicans.”

Really? Disagreement isn’t enough -- they should be treated badly, hated, even jailed? Don’t debate the issue with facts, throw them in jail if they disagree with you. The national liberal media ignore nearly all of these occurrences. One can only imagine their reaction had a conservative professor published an article titled, “Why Everyone Should Hate Progressives.”

The real take-away is that this kind of intolerant, one-sided, unintellectual hate speech perpetrated by liberals -- where arguments are based on empty sentiment rather than a serious, sober discussion of facts -- has been legitimized by the national liberal media to such a degree that today’s younger generations have taken the cue that it is acceptable for crass, dismissive emotionalism to replace rational, patient conversation. Today’s media consumers -- whether that media is experienced on-line, watched, listened to or read on paper -- are being taught in no uncertain terms that it is permissible to attempt to assassinate the character of those with whom you disagree, rather than to engage them in reflective, substantive debate.

Unfortunately, the spillover from this is being felt in all corners of public interactions, from the instantaneous rudeness between customers and service providers, to the lack of respect for traditional institutions, and perhaps most unfortunately, the rapid wearing away of the veneer of courtesy that had always been shown to older Americans by younger Americans.

And it’s predominantly one-sided: conservatives are not calling Democratic politicians “demons,” they are not physically attacking liberal guest speakers on college campuses, they are not holding photos of the bloody severed heads of their political opposition and they are not suggesting on high-profile news programs that liberal politicians be forced to ingest excrement. The liberal media give this anti-conservative behavior a pass, almost every time. When the liberal media do criticize, it’s in the most minimal obligatory manner, as little as they can get away with. And people take notice, especially younger people. The media are teaching them what is socially-acceptable behavior by the nature and tone of their coverage. They are teaching them the wrong lessons.

Remember that cliché, the “Coarsening of our Culture”? Sure, it’s no mystery. Today’s liberal media have sanctioned it.