In our 24 news hour culture which promotes vile, so-called-discourse as a means of discussing controversial topics, there are those who are equally as culpable as the propagators of misinformation protected as expert opinion: the bystanders.
The bystanders are the other experts, panelists, or anchors who do nothing to challenge the opinions of their dangerous and inflammatory peers, but cheer them, remain silent, or offer meek retorts instead of speaking out against statements that are just plain wrong.
I am going to provide three example of this, but it happens just about everyday where talk over substance is the mode of operation.
On an August episode of “Out Numbered,” the hosts were talking about congressional opposition to First Lady Michelle Obama’s nutritional standards in schools. One of the panelist, Fox’s medical expert whose name I don’t want to use because he has earned undeserved notoriety from this exchange:
“What is (Michelle Obama) eating?” he asked. “She needs to drop a few."
“You did not just say that!” co-host Harris Faulkner said while the other women had their mouths drop open.
“We’re taking nutritional advice from who?” the doctor opined. “Let’s be honest. There’s not Frenchs fries? That’s all kale and carrots? I don’t buy it.”
Then they continued on to other pressing matters.
Harris might deserve 1/8th of a point for at least saying something, but it was not nearly forcefully enough especially given that it is her show, and what is wrong with her co-hosts? Does the cat have their tongues? Even Harris’s meek response should have been replaced with a more resounding one, calling out the doctor (who is a psychiatrist, not a nutrition expert) for his slander of the first lady. By not doing so, she might as well have endorsed his views.
Because of the controversy of the segment, they invited back the good doctor and at least, thank God, stood up for themselves when he told the four women that in addition to Michelle Obama, they needed to lose a few pounds.
"I'll tell you what the bottom line is," co-host Sandra Smith said. "In future appearances, maybe think about what you're going to say before you say it."
"It thought about it this time!" the Good Doctor insisted. "Listen if I came here on the couch and had a drink and you smelled it on my breath, wouldn't you say, 'Hey, … what's going on?'"
"I wish you were drinking now because that would explain this crazy behavior," co-host Kimberly Guilfoyle lamented. "Hell, no, you didn't just tell a Puerto Rican woman she needs to lose five pounds."
Perhaps you are thinking, who cares, it’s just about the First Lady’s weight? However, this perhaps minor issue is one example, but there are many more.
This brings me to another Fox News frequent contributor who I also won’t name, because he doesn’t deserve the praise he’s received from fascists from the following exchange on Fox’s “Cashin In.”
The topic at hand was ISIS and American Muslims. The contributor who will be referred to now as Miss Piggy (sorry Miss Piggy!) said:
“We should have been profiling on September 12, 2001. Let’s take a trip down memory lane here: The last war this country won, we put Japanese-Americans in internment camps. We dropped nuclear bombs on residential city centers. So, yes, profiling would be at least a good start. It’s not on skin color, however, it’s on ideology: Muslim, Islamists, jihadist. That’s a good start but it’s only a start. We need to stop giving Korans to Gitmo prisoners, we need to stop having Ramadan and Iftar celebrations in the White House. We need to stop saying the enemy is not Islamic. They are.”
The Japanese Internment is considered to be, next to murdering the Native American populations and slavery, the third worst thing the American government has ever done. The U.S. government apologized for interning the Japanese. It was horrible.
Now Miss Piggy is a financial analyst. Why is he commenting on international affairs? Because Fox News asks him to, that’s why. But what’s most troubling about Miss Piggy’s comments is that no one challenged them. The show has a host, Eric Bolling, and two other panelists who seemed to think was he said was perfectly fine. Miss Piggy did end up giving the definition of a half-hearted apology a week later. However, the panelists and Bolling never said a word.
How amazing would it be if Bolling had responded to the apology, "Thanks Miss Piggy. And I apologize to our viewers for not pointing out that your comment was inappropriate, callous, and had no added value when discussing ISIS."
Perhaps Bolling’s lack of response is no surprise giving his own idiotic “Boobs on the Ground” comment made about Major Mariam Al Mansouri, the UAE’s first female fighter pilot who led its airstrikes against ISIS at the end of September. Bolling also apologized, twice in fact, for his sexist comments crediting his wife and US female military members for helping him see the light. Who didn’t say much of anything: the other four panelists sitting at the table including the female reporter who so proudly reported on Major Mansouri.
I'm going to use cable news rhetoric now: To the bystander panelists and reporters, you are a joke. Perhaps journalism is mostly dead anyways on cable news channels, but if it’s not, you are hammering the nail in its coffin by not challenging slander, racism, and sexism on your shows. How do you look in the mirror every day? I guess it’s the pay check that helps you, because it’s certainly not credibility that’s getting you out of bed.
You know it’s a sad day in broadcast journalist when Ben Affleck is the star panelist from the past few months, calling out Sam Harris and Bill Maher for their “Islam is the problem” statements on Live with Bill Mauer. While the show is partially scripted comedy, like the Daily Show, Colbert Report, and the John Oliver Show, the writers and hosts are often more informed about the issues and appropriately reactive to them than many of the panelists and anchors of the Fox News (?) Channel.
Here’s the exchange:
Maher: But you're saying the idea that someone should be killed if they leave the Islamic religion is just a few bad apples?
Affleck: The people who would actually believe in that you murder someone if they leave Islam is not the majority of Muslims at all...
Thank you Mr. Affleck for standing up to the host and his sidekick. Perhaps you could do a training at Fox News in between promoting Gone Girl and Batman.