Considering it’s not even in syndicated reruns because its constant topical references have aged so badly, I don’t know why anyone thinks that bringing back the ‘90s sitcom “Murphy Brown” is a good idea. I assume that most of its previous liberal audience is now old enough that they’ve gotten wiser and turned into conservatives. And we’re hardly so lacking for TV shows that condescendingly mock President Trump and Republicans that we need to dig this one up out of the TV graveyard. In fact, the reboot’s liberal smugness is so insufferable that it even annoyed Rolling Stone's critic, which is sort of like being called a sore loser by Hillary Clinton.
Normally, I wouldn’t even bother to write about this, but it was pointed out to me that in the review, the critic notes that the upcoming second episode has the character of liberal news anchor Murphy Brown (Candice Bergen) “lecturing Sarah Huckabee Sanders about the fundamental dishonesty of her press briefings.” Okay, now you’ve poked the bear.
First of all, my daughter is one of the strongest, bravest and most honest people in DC, and I’m proud to say she was raised that way. She has to walk out every day and face some of the most hypocritical, dishonest and biased propagandists masquerading as journalists that the world has seen since the old days of “yellow journalism.” They brand as “lies” anything that doesn’t fit their preconceived agenda, then rush to print stories that nobody bothered to source. Then after they’re exposed as “fake news,” they attack President Trump for assaulting the sacred cow of journalism by branding them as purveyors of fake news. Which they plainly are.
But let’s put that aside and focus on the staggering amount of gall that it takes for the creators of “Murphy Brown” to lecture anyone about dishonesty in communicating information to the public. You see, some of us who were around during the first incarnation of this overpraised show recall that its most celebrated episode was, in fact, a shining example of looking viewers straight in the eye and lying to their faces. It was the show that responded to then-Vice President Dan Quayle.
Some background, since it’s likely you haven’t seen this show since Bill dumped Monica: Quayle criticized its creators for having Murphy decide to have a baby without a father around because it was an unrealistic depiction of single motherhood that misled young female fans. The character was rich and famous, and her baby was like a lifestyle accessory that could simply be written out that week if it wasn’t convenient to the story. That’s not what life is like for the vast majority of real single mothers, as study after study has shown. One famous Brookings Institution study found that among people who finish high school, get a full time job and wait until age 21 to get married and then have children, only 2% are in poverty and 75% join the middle class. Quayle was discussing the hardships faced by teenage single moms when he said it didn’t help when TV shows like “Murphy Brown” depict single motherhood as just another lifestyle choice.
The show’s creators, however, took that clip out of context to imply that Quayle was attacking real single moms by attacking Murphy Brown (note to creators: despite those “dumb Dan Quayle” jokes that have aged so badly, he wasn’t the one who didn't know that Murphy Brown wasn’t real.) They brought real single moms on, and self-righteously tried to shame Quayle for attacking these poor, brave women. It was smug, smarmy, utterly shameless and totally disingenuous; a dishonest and deliberate distortion of what Quayle actually said…and of course, liberal Hollywood hailed it as moving and brilliant. In callous defiance of Quayle’s genuine concern for the damage they were doing to impressionable young women, they misrepresented his criticism of their misrepresenting the problems faced by single mothers.
I’ve already gone on long enough about this largely forgotten sitcom whose reboot will also probably be forgotten before long. I just wanted them to know that when it comes to lecturing other people about dishonesty, they are standing in a pit of quicksand.