Friday, October 25, 2013

On Pointing And Giggling at the Kid Across the Aisle

Did anybody else watch NC Republican precinct chairman HenryMitchell interviewed on the Daily Show Wednesday night?  The aim of the interview was to impugn North Carolina’s new voter registration laws.  During the course of the discussion, Mitchell made some pretty outrageous statements; mostly stupid-ass racist remarks, but nothing we haven't heard before.  But the interview WAS manipulated, "cut and pasted," if you will, to make it look worse than it was.  (This IS Comedy Central after all, not the Ifill/Woodruff report on PBS)

What was more shocking (to ME) than the guy's racist comments was his uncensored assertion about exactly WHY North Carolina was instituting voter reform:  "The law is gonna kick the Democrats in the butt." (Due to the suppression of voting blocs most likely to VOTE Democrat.)  He was so comfortable with that idea, he had no issue with declaring it in no uncertain terms on national television.  I'm sure it never occurred to him that what he was saying was proof positive of the illegality and unconstitutionality of the law and its intent.

So it comes out yesterday that Mitchell resigned in the wake of the airing of the interview.  And the Republican officials with whom he was associated have thrown him under the bus, calling his statements "offensive, uninformed and unacceptable of any member within the Republican Party." 

What to think about this?  Honestly?  I kind of feel sorry for the guy.

I'm sure his views did not exist in a vacuum.  I do NOT believe he came up with these "renegade" statements all on his own, at the spur of the moment.  My feeling is that the world he lives in is heavily populated with folks who believe as he does and are neither afraid nor ashamed to verbalize their views at any time, in any place. Despite his protestations to the contrary, I don't think this man had any idea how this was going to play out on a national broadcast that "leaned to the political left."  

Mr. Mitchell lives in the Neverland created by Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Glenn Beck--the world of which we got an intimate, disturbing view on election night 2012.  On that night, the nation witnessed the live meltdown of a news broadcast when the right-wing talking heads realized that their candidate was receiving a drubbing for which they were completely unprepared.  They had immersed themselves so deeply in their own press that they were utterly blind-sided when reality intruded into their universe.    

Politically slanted commentary disguised as news has become the norm, and it's the single biggest stake being plunged into the heart of America.  People can now spend their entire lives preaching to their own choir and choosing a reality that matches their personal fears and bigotries.  Our hopelessly polluted national news stream not only allows them to do this, it actively encourages it.  This is what persuades a man to go on national television and speak confidently from his personal reality, only to be made to look like an utter fool by the opposing political ideology that arranged the interview. 

Do I in any way condone Mitchell’s statements or comfortable state of home-boy bigotry?  No, I do not.

But I DO feel that this entire undertaking was a cheap shot that, when you really think about it, is more representative of the problem than the solution.  Mitchell and his ilk are not the primary villains here.  Partisan media ARE. 

Are we now forever condemned to be spoon-fed a steady diet of political satire--ENTERTAINMENT--when we hunger for news?  When we are literally dying for lack of untainted, untwisted, unspun information?  Is it too late to go back to the good old days of the “who, what, when and where,” of the golden age of journalism, without having to steer to the right or the left to obtain the “facts?”   I hope not.  Or things in this country are not going to get better soon.               

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