Last week the results of a study were released that measured the public’s perception of incivility in the media. Not surprisingly, Fox News had the honor of being viewed as the most uncivil news network.
This in itself is hardly news. What is immensely more interesting is that Fox News is actually proud of their exceptional rudeness. Today Fox News published an editorial by the uber-rightist Media Research Center’s VP of Business and Culture, Dan Gainor. The article took exception to remarks by President Obama’s political adviser, David Axelrod, who came out in opposition to hecklers and other rude behavior intended to disrupt campaign speeches. Axelrod said…
“I strongly condemn heckling along Mitt’s route. Shouting folks down is their tactic, not ours. Let voters hear both candidates and decide.”
Axelrod was speaking to fellow Democrats and admonishing them to refrain from the sort of vulgarities that too often mar appearances by candidates from either side. He even went so far as to say that, even if Republicans employ these tactics, polite Democrats ought not to. So how was this plea for civility received by Gainor?
He immediately mocked the left as “the party of Occupy Wall Street fanatics [and] gay glitter bombers,” and assailed them for their “Alinsky-esque tactics.” He embarked on a rant blaming Democrats for every instance of poor behavior, while dismissing any rudeness by Republicans, including the recent episode where a Daily Caller “reporter” interrupted a presidential address.
Then, inexplicably, Gainor went off on a tangent where he seemed to cease to understand what heckling is. Amongst those he accused of being hecklers were Occupy protesters who objected to police abuse, journalists who complained when they were prohibited from covering a public event, and audience members who expressed disapproval of a speaker’s comments.
In conclusion, Gainor asserted that “Axelrod and the left are scared. They saw that Romney fought hard against opponents in the primary,” and he promised that Republicans would fight back. He growled that “if Obama can’t cage his lefty animals, the GOP will respond in kind. You’d think Axelrod would like it.”
That’s the right’s response to a top Obama adviser declaring that all of the childish heckling and rudeness, no matter what side, is inappropriate and should stop. Axelrod even used the word “condemn” to describe his feeling on the matter. Yet Gainor comes away from that statement with the impression that Axelrod “likes” public vulgarity.
It is that sort of incoherent reasoning that makes it nearly impossible to deal with narrow-minded ideologues like Gainor. And it explains why most people surveyed view Fox News as the most uncivil network in the news business. What was unexpected was that Fox would publish an editorial essentially bragging about being more repulsive than any other kid on the block. OK, Fox…you win. Congratulations.