Monday, June 07, 2010

Some thoughts on Helen Thomas' retirement

I suppose I should be happy. The left got caught in their own hypocrisy and someone's career was ended as a result. I don't find that at all satisfying, really. There is something deeply disturbing about all of this. Several somethings. Let me see if I can put a finger on it.
  • This was not some quasi-journalist talking head like Keith Olberman or Rush Limbaugh. This was a "real" journalist with a long and distinguished career for a distinguished news organization. That she felt comfortable letting out something like that is a sad commentary of where journalism has gone. I don't harbor some rose-colored notion of a "Golden Age of Journalism" when reporters gathered and reported facts in an unbiased manner. But there is something wrong when journalists so easily decide to make news instead of reporting it.
  • There are no doubt many on the right who are chalking up a scalp over this. "Bravo us! We finally caught one of them in the same sort of thing they get on us over, and we made it stick!" What a rotten world we are creating for ourselves where we lay in wait for one another trying to catch them being their worst selves.I don't want to live in that world. People make mistakes. You take anyone who makes a living by talking, and eventually you are going to catch them in a moment when they talk too much and think too little. The result is that the only people who will be able to take and hold power are those who can completely disconnect their words from their thoughts. Those people should never have power!
  • There are people who make their living by regularly saying much, much worse than anything Thomas said. Because they call themselves comedians and entertainers they get a pass. Again, do we really want to live in a world where people can say anything they want without fear so long as they put a laugh-track to it? Do we really want to live in a world where people don't actually make us laugh so much as race one another to the depths of vulgarity, incivility, and depravity in an effort to make us laugh at our own discomfort?
  • Our political domain has degenerated to the point of resembling the very Israeli-Palestinian conflict at the center of this whole incident. Each side unleashes political violence on the other, confident that they are only defending themselves, and that the other side started it. Who actually started it is so obscured by now that it's largely irrelevant. As I tell my squabbling children, I'm not interested in who started it. I'm interested in seeing who is going to have the courage to stop first.
  • The very battlefields that our two warring political factions choose to do battle in and the tactics they choose to employ tells me that it stopped being about who has the better ideas some time ago. No one is really interested in helping America anymore. It's about beating the other side. It's scorched earth politics. It's two drunken giants doing battle on an anthill. They're too drunk on piety to do much real harm to one another, but we poor ants are getting caught in the middle and crushed.
  • There are no real neutral sides in the battle. That Thomas was allowed to go that far unchecked indicates that there was no one interested in stopping her. I won't go so far as some as to accuse all the mainstream media of being in the left's pocket, but I feel it's quite safe to say there are very few journalists remaining interested in just presenting the facts and letting each citizen make up their own mind. Each journalist has their ideology, and will carefully select facts to push their audience in that direction. They'll even find subtle and not-so-subtle ways of telling their audience what to think. This is why I think bloggers are doing so well right now. To quote from Gilbert and Sullivan's "The Pirate of Penzance": "I don't think much of our profession, but contrasted with respectability, it is comparatively honest." Listen to any blogger or journalist for long and you'll detect their agenda. But the majority of bloggers will never pretend they have no agenda at all.
  • No one will learn a thing from Thomas' fall. No one is going to step back from the battlefield and question whether or not this is all worth it. They'll continue the fight, tooth and nail, while the house burns down around them. I would welcome this if I thought for a moment they would destroy only each other and leave everything else still standing. Unfortunately, I see them dragging the rest of us down with them.
No, I am not happy that Helen Thomas finally went too far and went down in flames. There is nothing to take any satisfaction in here. There is nothing encouraging about any of this. I see things only getting worse.

I need to go read something cheerful before I go to bed.

1 comment:

Benneducci said...

Giants on the anthill, huh? You know, if they start shouting "Who are you?" and "What do you want?", I'm gonna take my ball and go home. ;)