A lot has been made in recent days about...actually, I won’t give his name, because since he’s clearly an attention seeking goon, I won’t give him any. But, the actions of that Daily Caller correspondent on the White House lawn are just the latest symptoms in a corrosion of respect that is currently riddling the American political process.
It’s not something I say lightly, but at the moment it seems the level of debate in United States is as unhealthy as it has ever been. As usual the main culprits are the far right, getting more and more established as mainstream as days go by. Since Barack Obama took office a shrill, well-organised rump of extremists have hysterically come at him with sticks on a daily basis in a way far above and beyond what other Presidents have had to endure in recent times.
Politicians at the highest level should of course have a thick skin, but what the right have flung at the President in his first term, from calling him a commie/Nazi to insisting he wasn’t born in the country to making thinly veiled jibes at his ethnicity, is nothing short of malevolent bullying. And the right wing media hyenas are judge, jury and executioner in their witch hunt.
While simultaneously crowing about the need to bring America back to a time where authority was respected, people were decent and God was feared, the vanguard of conservative vitriol are deeply unedifying, toxic and unchristian. And while they do all this, they also try and pretend as if they have the moral high ground.
This couldn’t have been more evident than when Tucker Carlson, a man previously most famous for wearing a bowtie and getting his ass handed to him by Jon Stewart on a show that was promptly cancelled, attempted to justify his reporter’s action by claiming he was trying to his job, high-handedly suggesting that his guy is some kind of Dirty Harry-style maverick reporter, the only one who has the guts to stand up to the fancypants, emigrant loving elite. Either Carlson is deluded, cynical beyond all belief or an idiot, and I’m not sure which is worse or more dangerous.
To their credit, a great deal of Fox correspondents decried the reporter’s conduct as disrespectful and impertinent, but by the same token they also have to take responsibility for the fact that people like Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly and Michelle Malkin and Megan Kelly have driven the standard of debate in the US so low into the ground that cheap hacks like we saw last week end up going deeper still to try and get themselves recognised. It’s a race to the bottom with no end in sight.
The prevailing wind among the right-wing media at the minute seems to be that the ends justify the means. The President needs to be opposed and questions need to be asked, and as long as you do that (and get some big attention into the bargain) who cares how sneaky, snide, hysterical, rude or undignified you are while you’re doing it? A bit of pride in method wouldn’t go amiss. Or pride in general, for that matter.