RIP: Civility and Principles

In case you haven’t heard, the unmarried 17-year-old daughter of Alaska’s governor is having a baby and marrying the father. But, of course, you HAVE heard that because, even with Hurrican Gustav taking (at last count) at least seven lives and leaving nearly 1 million without power, it was the story getting most of the time and attention of the anchorazzi and blogosphere yesterday (three! headlines on the NY Times web page). And it is okay that you heard. Really. That’s not my point here. If the VP candidate’s daughter is pregnant out of wedlock, that bears a news story. What I am saying, however, is that is where it should stop. At least in a society that still has some level of civility and principles, with a media that still has some bare modicum of neutrality and holds itself to a higher standard than the wags down at the local beauty parlor or barber shop.

Perhaps I have just been naive. While I know that politics in America has sunk to very low levels and personal attacks are, by now, passe and expected, I guess that I always thought that there was still some base level, some line, below which, no one other than the worst of the worst would go. Certainly, our national media would not go there and these types of lies and gossip would not find their way into mainstream conversation. Obviously, I was wrong.

Witness (inter alia) Campbell Brown’s “no bias, no bull” interview with Tucker Bounds, of the McCain campaign, on CNN Monday. Well, “interview” is perhaps the wrong word. In it, Brown did several things, the most offensive of which was to insinuate, directly and more than once, that Sarah Palin is a bad mother for accepting the VP nod knowing that her daughter is pregnant and that people with no sense of decency or privacy (read: liberal bloggers, liberal media types et al) would ruthlessly and incessantly hound this teenager. According to Brown and her liberal cronies, I suppose that anyone else who has a child who has gotten pregnant, gotten in trouble at school, etc. should stay home and not work, not aspire to a better job or (Heaven forbid) public office because some A-hole somewhere might bring it up.

But worse than Brown’s offensiveness and blatant partisanship (her badgering of Tucker Bounds over a point that Brown was wrong about illustrates this) is the reaction to it. You might write Brown off as just another biased reporter but surely people won’t associate themselves with that kind of thought. But, liberals are hailing her as a hero. Rather than censuring Brown, CNN is so proud of her efforts that they have a direct link to the video of the attack on the front page of their website under the heading “Anchor grills McCain aide about Palin.” And, any hopes that I may have entertained about the voters of America being rationale enough to be offended by the coverage and talk surrounding the Palin news (in addition to Brown’s blathering, John Roberts of CNN insinuating that Palin is a bad mother for running for VP with Down Syndrome child, the vile lies spread by Daily Kos and others about Sarah Palin faking her pregnancy, etc. etc. ad naseum) have been blown away by the response of “regular people.” Rather than be offended, it seems that, if you support Obama, you think Palin is a bad mother and her teenager is fair game for the press and speculation in the press about Palin’s fitness as a parent is all proper investigative reporting. Rather than heeding their candidate’s own words, they eagerly jump right in and participate in the personal destruction of this young woman.