A story appeared a few days ago that I deliberately avoided talking about in hopes that the people trying to turn it into a big deal would start to feel ashamed of themselves and reel it in. Instead, it’s just gone on and on, and gotten louder and louder. I feel I have to talk about it, but I’m going to do so by saying as little about the details as possible.
The story involves a little-known Trump White House staffer who, according to a leak, made a callous remark during a private meeting about Sen. John McCain, who is suffering from last-stage brain cancer. I won’t quote it, but she allegedly implied that his opposition would not be a factor because he will not live much longer. I don’t know if she actually said that, or the tone of her comment (was it mocking or disrespectful or simply coldly pragmatic?) But it sparked the usual howls of outrage and demands from the left that she be fired for slandering an American hero.
That prompted conservative news outlets to start digging into the records and finding far worse, unfair things that had been said about McCain by the left, including some of the very same people feigning outrage on McCain's behalf now. As an example, here’s a link to a story about comments made about McCain by Al Franken before he became a Senator. I could link to a lot more, but one should be more than enough.
This story turned into a full-blown media frenzy that’s still consuming airtime days later. Yet, nobody is saying what really needs to be said about it. So here goes:
Why did anything need to be said about this at all? Did any of the people who claim to be offended on behalf of Sen. McCain and his family ever consider that they were making it 1,000 times worse by giving it so much attention? Even if the leak turns out to be true, it was an unfortunate comment in a private meeting by a lower-level staffer. That is not news. The proper response wasn’t a media frenzy. It should have been a quiet reprimand and a reminder that some things, like showing compassion for a fellow human being suffering with a terminal illness and his family members, are more important than political gamesmanship.
All the fuss over it was stunningly hypocritical: people who claimed to be outraged that someone would say something hurtful about McCain in private amplified it into a 24/7 news story guaranteed to be seen by him and his family. They feign being offended that anyone would place politics over showing respect for Sen. McCain, yet they will gladly shine a spotlight on insults to McCain if it can inflict political damage on the Trump Administration.
Are there no news editors left who have a iota of taste, class, empathy or just common decency; who can look at a story like that and say, “A dumb private remark by an unknown underling is not newsworthy, plus publicizing it would cause pain and disrespect for a terminally-ill American hero. We have higher standards than that. Go find some real news to report.”
Maybe it’s the age we live in, when the Internet has given everyone a soap box to say whatever they want, but many people, from that White House staffer to her gleeful critics in the media, seem to have forgotten a very important lesson:
Just because the First Amendment gives you the right to say any stupid thing that pops into your head, that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to say it.
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