Recently, we’ve witnessed a rash of controversies about various media figures being fired, or “blackballed,” or disrespected, ostensibly due to their political beliefs or because they thought their 140 character musings on Twitter were either privileged communications or shouldn’t count against them if they tweeted something idiotic.
Andrew Sullivan sees the dark hand of oppression at work:
Froomkin was fired for opposing torture a little too passionately; Weigel was forced out because his private emails revealed he was not acceptable to the partisan right; Frum is cut off from conservative blogads funding; Moulitsas is barred from MSNBC for criticizing Joe Scarborough; and Octavia Nasr is fired for offending the pro-Israel lobby over a tweet expressing sadness at the death of a Hezbollah leader.
Notice a pattern here? We’re all on notice, I guess. I’m extremely fortunate to work at a place where open exchange of views and ideas is valued, not penalized.
Froomkin was not fired “for opposing torture a little too passionately.” The idea that Sullivan presents this reason as fact is due entirely to his own pet theory for why Froomkin was let go by the Washington Post:
“Dan’s work on torture may be one reason he is now gone. The way in which the WaPo has been coopted by the neocon right, especially in its editorial pages, is getting more and more disturbing. This purge will prompt a real revolt in the blogosphere. And it should.”
Note that Mr. Sullivan appears to be a lot less certain in the immediate aftermath of Froomkin’s dismissal. Instead of the declarative statement made today about Froomkin’s opposition to torture being the sole reason for his being let go, at the time, Sullivan thought it “may one one reason” he was dismissed.
And was Weigel forced to resign because he pissed off the right? Or was it perhaps because the emails revealed the fact that his animus toward many conservative personalities brought into question his ability to write about the right in a professionally detached manner? I’m not even talking about not being biased. Weigel’s bombast - once publicized - would make it impossible for him to be taken seriously as a journalist.
Frum was cut off from Hawkins conservative ad network because John didn’t think that David was a conservative. His ad network - his opinion. I disagree with it but equating the public functions of the Washington Post with the private nature of Hawkins ad network is nonsense. Would Tom Friedman be able to join the Liberal Ad Network? It would be interesting to see. And if Friedman would have been rejected, would that be evidence that our thoughts were being “policed?”
The tweets of Kos and Ms. Nsar are the kickers. Moulitas evidently tweeted about the death of a Joe Scarborough intern as a “scandal” for the former congressman and was surprised that after viciously biting the hand that feeds him, he would be banished from MSNBC.
Are you kidding me?
Even more clueless was Nasr who innocently said nice things about Hezballah’s spiritual leader Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah. She called his death “sad” which might raise an eyebrow but is hardly a firing offense. But it was her characterization of Fadlallah being a “giant” that she “respected” that got her into hot water. Respecting someone who had devoted his life to wiping Israel off the face of the earth? Someone who approved of suicide bombings against women and children? Her subsequent “explanation” only made things worse. She tried to explain that her respect for the dead, terrorist supporting giant was based on his attempts to wipe out honor killings, writing that the Ayatollah thought the practice “primitive and nonproductive.” I guess beheading infidels and blowing up innocents was “modern and productive.”
Sullivan must have been joking when he called her response “nuanced,” right? Nasr’s views are not out of the ordinary if one happens to think that Hezballah is more than just a terrorist group/political party out to seize power from the Lebanese government. (Nasr tried to separate Fadlallah from Hezballah in her apologia by saying that he was respected by other religious leaders and even beyond the borders of Lebanon. This was true. He was also a religious and political fanatic - a fact that escaped Nasr’s “nuanced” journalism.)
Her tweet made it clear that she was incapable of seeing the role played by Hezballah in her Middle East beat with sufficient skepticism and objectivity. What’s sort of scary is that CNN was unaware of her views for 20 years. I’m not sure that calls into question all of CNN’s Middle East coverage, but it should wake up the network to how their coverage is shaped.
The lesson of all these cases of media malpractice? Don’t make a public idiot of yourself. If you feel the need to prove yourself to be a clueless, partisan git, try old fashioned diary writing. At least that way, you’re guaranteed to stay off the internet.