As major media figures slink off with their pants around their ankles the remaining journalists are stuck with the truth.
It seems a lifetime ago when in reality it was just this past Easter. That’s when Bill O’reilly began absorbing a fusillade of accusations concerning sexual impropriety. It led to his ouster as the highest-rated personality at Fox News. In the wake of Chairman Roger Ailes leaving for similar reasons in 2016 it was fodder for the competing news nets.
The outrage and the condemnation that was hurled by pundits across the news spectrum was enough to make one think they were sitting in the church pews while absorbing a sermon from a preacher in “Footloose”. Then in just the past few weeks a few things have occurred.
- Mark Halperin
- Charlie Rose
- Matt Lauer
- (More to certainly follow)
Interestingly (and by that I mean “predictably”) the tone and timbre of the delivery of the coverage of these revelations has changed. The feel of the reports of the men misbehaving take on an obligatory feel. Gone is the energy of delivering the bad news, and absent are the extracurricular lectures about impropriety and comportment. This is because the media has found itself stuck having to abide the outrage it has so comfortably hurled for over a generation.
For this they can thank one corpulent Hollywood titan. When the revelations of Harvey Weinstein’s decades-long rampage through the entertainment complex came to light the journalists of this country became stuck. The normally Hollywood-friendly media was confronted with having to report on the salacious details of an ally, due to the overwhelming evidence preventing the normal excuse-making from taking place.
Weinstein’s potted-plant-debauchery has opened the floodgates, and as the ensuing fallout stretches across numerous industries journalists are beginning to fall with regularity. The announcement that NBC titan Matt Lauer was fired immediately broke early this morning, and the panel of MSNBC’s Morning Joe became a societal petri dish from which you could not look away, nor even blink.
Stoic, wide-eyed faces delivered the news of Lauer’s release in somber fashion. That they did not want to deliver these reports is self-evident. That they had to deliver it however is the revealing aspect. The media has been on a regular drumbeat for years about how the Right, Republicans, and conservatives have been waging a “War On Women”. Conservatives are accused of being demeaning, sexist, misogynistic, and worse.
The press has been untiring in its lectures about why this is wrong and how unacceptable the mistreatment of women is. Yet here is where they have bound themselves to today’s stories: as they have delighted in firing the theories and accusations at the right they are confronted with actual proof of this behavior from underneath their own roofs. It is one thing to accuse a GOP tax plan as an act of “hatred towards women”, but then you need to stay on message when the host of The Today Show is found to be locking women in his office so he can wave his genitalia like the hands of eager fans outside Rockefeller Plaza.
Most telling is the now familiar tagline with these stories; the revelations of Lauer have brought out numerous testimonies of how “everyone knew”. With the instances of the three names above we are seeing a pattern emerge with media malfeasance. We manage to get both versions of the men reported; it was all a well-known story, and the people working closest to the individuals were completely oblivious. There was word on the street, but those who spent the most time in their company had zero indication of what went on. Call me dubious.
This actually exposes media malpractice on multiple levels. How can the co-workers call themselves journalists if they were so in the dark? How could those who were actually in the know NOT report on the activities? How could anyone file news reports implying the mistreatment of women while allowing this behavior to perpetuate? Because women were not the focus; their plight was a political cudgel.
The endless reports on the “GOP War on Women” was never about the victims. It was about demonizing political enemies. In the exact fashion that “Racism!” was an instant hand grenade for messaging, sexism was a shorthand to use as a way of tainting an agenda, a policy, or an individual. To accuse sexism was to instantly cast a dark motivation upon a story. However now the accusers are being presented with concrete evidence of the very behavior they have insisted deserves condemnation, and it is arriving on the sticky hands of their own allies.
The press has painted itself into a corner and have become tied up with a Gordian knot. They have spent years casting one side as perpetrators of hateful and unacceptable thinking, and so they become forced to report on it when their own are actually engaging in activity that fits their description. If they do not follow through they become exposed as abjectly insincere, and their narrative evaporates faster than alcohol in a braising pan.
What is not fully realized is their admitting how so many knew, all while they lectured vehemently, exposes they do not sincerely believe their own sermonizing. It exposes the convenient professional sloth they employ once their own kind were seen behaving like this. They excused it, and allowed it to go on, all so they could continue to accuse the other side of this very behavior. This means they knowingly allowed females to be preyed upon for the political expediency of demonizing the other side of the aisle — all in the name of safety for women.
We may be witnessing the media being brought down by their own farce.