When the Spin Goes Too Far
I don’t usually go off on my television guests, but I did just that the other day.
When the spin gets ludicrous, I can lose my usual patience.
For the record, I like having people who disagree with me on CNN’s Reliable Sources. The program isn’t a soapbox for my opinions. I give everyone a fair chance to be heard.
But when the Daily Caller’s Matt Lewis was in the studio on Sunday, I don’t think he really believed what he was saying. He was giving me talking points—absurd talking points—to defend his conservative website.
At issue was how the Caller’s Neil Munro had heckled Barack Obama when the president made his announcement on halting some deportations of younger illegal immigrants. I say heckled because an angry-looking Munro interrupted the president’s televised statement, kept on talking as Obama said he wasn’t taking questions, and talked over Obama again toward the end of his statement. It was a monumental act of rudeness the likes of which we’ve never seen before.
Munro, who has written critically of immigration reform, went to the Rose Garden to create a moment. And on that score, I guess it worked.
But please spare me the argument, which Lewis tried to mount, that this was aggressive journalism. It wasn’t journalism at all. It was a disrespectful stunt.
This was no Sam Donaldson moment. Even Donaldson denounced it. So did many commentators on Fox, for that matter.
Obama wasn’t taking questions otherwise? True. He does that sometimes, as did George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan. Imagine the right’s fury if a liberal blogger had interrupted Reagan like that.
I’m all for journalists shouting questions at presidents and other politicians—after a statement, at a fundraiser, while working a rope line. But not while the man is delivering a televised address. Criticize Obama all you like, but respect the office.
And don’t have your allies claim afterward that this was some kind of profile in courage. It was anything but.
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