I tried, dear reader, I honestly tried.
I’ve been working mightily to channel my inner Dale Carnegie these past few weeks trying to affirm what’s good, avoiding criticizing others, and acting with kindness. But less than a month away from the Jewish Day of Atonement, God decided to test me with an avalanche of liberal hypocrisy to see if I could rise to the challenge.
I couldn’t. Fell off the Carnegie wagon so hard I nearly suffered a concussion.
Here are just some of the stories that broke me (and the week isn’t yet over).
The Multicolored Faces of Justin Trudeau
Oh Canada! (my former home and still native land).
The prime minister of the country New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof declared “a moral leader of the free world” has some Mac’s premium egg nog all over his cherubic white face. Turns out the moral judger-in-chief has a penchant for putting on blackface and brownface makeup.
Here’s three things I can authoritatively affirm about Justin Trudeau:
— The Trudeau apple didn’t fall far from the Margaret Sinclair tree;
— Trudeau doesn’t have a racist bone in his happy socks wearing body;
— Trudeau’s shouts of outrage would have been clearly heard from Newfoundland to British Columbia had another Canadian public figure been caught wearing blackface and brownface makeup.
Canadians overwhelmingly embrace multiculturalism, so they are understandably surprised by their leader’s racial insensitivity, particularly if they are unfamiliar with America’s cultural practices. While logic suggests it would be President Trump and his supporters putting on mocking blackfaces, it’s actually Democratic leaders, liberal popular comedians, and TV hosts who see considerable humor (or humour for my Canadian friends) in this sort of behavior.
Among those who have been exposed: Democratic Virginia governor Ralph Northam, comedian Sarah Silverman, talk show hosts Jimmy Kimmel and Jimmy Fallon, Ted Danson, Billy Crystal, and Joy Behar.
Given the pervasiveness of blackfaces by such prominent people, one might conclude it was once deemed acceptable. But as former NBC Today show host Megyn Kelly learned, asking what’s wrong with wearing a blackface will ruin your career even if you never yourself wore one but are known to have conservative views.
The National Post’s Christie Blatchford does a superb job calling out the hypocrisy of Justin Trudeau. Other Canadian columnists have adopted the self-righteousness of the U.S. media and want to make Trudeau’s costume practices a major issue in the upcoming election.
“This election is about who voters should trust to lead this country in difficult times,” said the Globe and Mail’s John Ibbitson. “How can they trust a leader who committed a racist act and then kept it hidden, hoping no one would find out?”
Fortunately, some Canadians keep things in perspective. “Justin Trudeau is constantly doing ridiculous things, but this episode is more ridiculous than offensive. If he had done it in today’s context, it would be much more offensive, as things have evolved since then,” said Kim O’Bomsawin, a leading Indigenous filmmaker.
It’s my hope that most Canadians agree with O’Bomsawin and demonstrate that being liberal means being tolerant of the mistakes and misjudgments of others. It would be a great lesson for Trudeau – and many proclaimed liberals on this side of the border.
A parting thought: It would be an awfully powerful gesture of tolerance if Canadians demanded that the CBC, the government-funded network, invited Megyn Kelly to anchor an evening news broadcast.
The Selective Piety of WaPo’s Erik Wemple
It’s admirable that Washington Post media critic Eric Wemple has an issue with Fox News hiring former Trump press secretary Sara Sanders because she was caught telling a few falsehoods. It’s unfortunate Wemple does not expect the same standards from NBC and CNN.
NBC employs former Obama foreign policy advisor Ben Rhodes, who boasted how easy it was to deceive reporters. “Most of the outlets are reporting on world events from Washington. The average reporter we talk to is 27 years old, and their only reporting experience consists of being around political campaigns. That’s a sea change. They literally know nothing,” Rhodes told the New York Times.
Former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe joined CNN despite being fired from the FBI for lying about authorizing an aide to talk to the Wall Street Journal about the agency’s probe into the Clinton Foundation. An inspector general report said McCabe “lacked candor” in discussing the matter afterward inside the Justice Department.
There have been reports that McCabe could be indicted. If that happens, he could provide CNN live coverage of his arrest while simultaneously offering analysis.
Coincidentally, I just rewatched “Network,” Paddy Chayefsky’s satirical film about network news that was released in 1976. At least it was satire in 1976. This scene no longer seems implausible.
No Such Thing as Off-the-Record (Lesson 2)
I’m teaching you well!
I recently posted an item explaining there is no such thing as an off-the-record conversation with a reporter. Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly, the New York Times reporters responsible for the newspaper’s Penisgate debacle, offered up another case study on the subject.
Pogrebin said in an interview at the National Press Club that the duo secured an interview with Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh for their book but ultimately couldn’t agree on the terms his intermediaries wanted:
We have debated whether to talk about this. But it is what it is — which is, he wanted us to say we hadn’t spoken to him, and we even went to negotiate the phrasing of that, where we even were willing to say nothing, not to talk about who we spoke to, not to talk about our sources. But he wanted a line in there saying we did not, and we felt that to mislead our readers in a book about, that very much deals with issues of truth, would probably not be a good foot forward.
It’s admirable that Pogrebin and Kelly refused to mislead readers. What isn’t admirable is violating a longstanding rule that any negotiations sources have with reporters about off-the-record conversations are also deemed off-the-record.
Pogrebin and Kelly play by their own rules. There’s also a longstanding practice not to name victims of sexual attacks. In their book about Kavanaugh, the duo identifies a woman who an attorney supposedly said had the justice’s penis thrust in her face at a booze filled college party. The woman wouldn’t talk to the duo, nor would the attorney who made the allegations. But friends of the alleged victim said she had no memory of the incident.
With Pogrebin and Kelly, an alleged sexual assault victim doesn’t deserve anonymity if she doesn’t remember it and won’t meet with reporters to confirm their book’s narrative.
The Golden Age of Journalism?
I attended a panel discussion on Wednesday moderated by NBC’s Lester Holt entitled, “Freedom and Diversity – Whose Voice is Included?” It was, as I feared, a lovefest for reporters to boast about what a great job the industry is doing.
“This is the golden age of journalism,” declared the Associated Press’s Errin Haines Whack.
As the session wrapped up, I was heartened by the comment of Sewell Chan, the deputy managing editor of the Los Angeles Times, who acknowledged the media needs to regain the public’s trust.
Acknowledging a problem is the first step towards solving one. The media needs more leaders like Chan.