Concha: From Political Hacks to Hootie, Hyperbolic Reactions to Garner Case
They say there’s three parts to every vacation: Anticipation/planning, the actual vacation, and reaction/reflection. And for many, the reaction/reflection part oftentimes is a traveler’s favorite part of the experience.
Same goes in cable news, as we also have anticipation/planning (hype), the actual story unfolding in real time, and reaction/reflection. And oftentimes, the reaction/reflection part is a producer’s favorite part of the experience. Why? Because this is when a few ill-advised comments from politicians and pundits alike take on a whole life of their own–and in the process–give a big story legs stronger than DeMarco Murray’s (cue non-NFL fans and fantasy owners running to the Google machine).
In today’s episode, we examine the fallout (from a media perspective) of the Eric Garner grand jury decision, which was characterized in this space yesterday as disturbingly wrong. Criminally negligent homicide would have been appropriate here given that video we’ve all seen (and more importantly, heard), but to manage your expectations, that isn’t what this column is about (this being “Media”-ite and all…).
Leading off is one Rep. Peter King (R-NY), who despite decades in the public eye has forgotten a timeless rule on getting out of a ditch dug by one’s own doing: “If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.” But this week we’ve seen King on a media tour that started with him infamously stating the following during an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer after being asked about Garner’s pleas to police that he couldn’t breathe: “The fact of the matter is, if you can’t breathe, you can’t talk.”
King is obviously a politician, not a medical expert. It was live television and he made a point that has been rightly mocked and ridiculed. Everyone who does enough TV can point to a statement they wish they can take back, myself included. But instead of gathering himself before his next interview and finding a way to either walk back the statement or outright retract it with an apology, King doubled-down on a pair of 3s with the dealer showing a 10 (cue non-blackjack players running to the Google machine). Said double-down occurred during an interview with Fox’s Megyn Kelly, who correctly challenged the congressman by pointing out that “can’t breathe” is “short-form for ‘I’m having trouble breathing. I don’t know if that has to be a literal interpretation.” But King pressed on, insisting that if the officer “let up on the tension, they might have to start all over again.” Medical examiners, of course, concluded Garner’s death was a homicide.
Now the 70-year-old Queens native is the most coveted interview in politics, and for all the wrong reasons. If John Boehner hasn’t done it already, he might want to call Mr. King and strongly advise taking a little vacation in Lima or somewhere off the radar for the next few weeks.
Batting second is Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC, non-voting member of Congress): Ms. Norton has worked in Washington going back to her days in the Carter Administration. She also has a law degree from Yale. So it was interesting to hear her admit to Fox’s Sean Hannity that she actually hadn’t read the evidence in the Michael Brown case (despite joining the program to talk about it), instead somehow stating it wasn’t “a concern.” That’s fascinating considering Ms. Norton wants to move forward in teaching law enforcement how to its job. It’s kind of like a former House Majority Leader declaring before the Affordable Care Act was passed that “we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.” Somewhere, Jonathan Gruber is on a beach smiling and earning…20 percent (cue non-Hans Gruber quote gurus running to the Google machine).
Batting in the 3-hole are all those cerebral types on social media who were outraged at Darius Rucker— the artist formerly known as Hootie — for singing “White Christmas” at the annual Rockefeller Center tree-lighting in New York. A few priceless Twitter reactions below:
Darius Rucker is singing "White Christmas" at Rockefeller Center, just steps away from protests. The irony is astounding. #BlackLivesMatter
— Casey (@nfinitegladness) December 4, 2014
Darius Rucker singing White Christmas in Rockefeller Center. One block over, streets shut down for Eric Garner. Utterly surreal.
— Rich Villar (@elprofe316) December 4, 2014
How does NBC not split screen the protests with Darius Rucker singing "White Christmas" right now?
— CJ Sullivan (@CJSullivan_) December 4, 2014
Yup, we’re now at a point where even Mother Nature is racist. After all, why else would she make snow white? For those who think “White Christmas” is a song written by some hick who dreams of a world which only consists of Caucasians and no war on Christmas, please take note: “White Christmas” was written 70+ years ago by Irving Berlin, who happens to be Jewish. It is also the the best selling single of all-time (according to Guinness World Records). So no…there is no “irony” in Rucker belting out the most popular song of all time at the most famous Christmas tree lighting in the world. Mother Nature is off the hook (for now).
Vacations have the perfect triad: Anticipation. Experience. Reflection.
Same goes for the cable news cycle around big stories.
And when it comes to the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases, there’s absolutely no shortage of vacationing village idiots in the Valley of the Stupid.
>> Follow Joe Concha on Twitter @JoeConchaTV
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