A brief (and humorous) hypothetical: What would the reaction of the mainstream media be if Sean Hannity took the video of President Obama’s obeisant greeting of the Japanese Prime Minister, and turned it into a video loop to be played in the corner of the screen whenever Obama was the subject du jour?
MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow did a very similar thing with Republican National Chairman Michael Steele on Friday’s edition of ‘The Rachel Maddow Show.’
You may remember the mildly irritating pop-up starring Steele that inhabited the redesigned GOP.com at its first launch. It would launch in the upper corner, helpfully explaining the features of the site like the infamous Microsoft Word paper-clip assistant. Maddow revived this animation for use as a ‘bug’ in the corner.
MADDOW: Also, I‘m very proud that for the first time ever, we had a little dancing Michael Steele as the bug in the corner of our segment there. We‘ll be bringing him back, that little dancing bug, whenever we think that we might have a chance of getting Michael Steele on the part—on the show, probably won‘t be very frequently.
Maddow is constantly held up as an example of civility and scholarship on the left – and while her scholarship is only sometimes in doubt (as often as one can doubt the scholarship of an Oxford Ph.D), the phantom-glimpse of civility is rarely on display. While one can ignore the uncivil rants of a Jon Stewart – a comedian who was, once upon a time, funny – it is something entirely different to put up with the uncivil belittling of one’s philosophical opponents.
Think of it this way: When Bill Clinton (reputedly) said of then-candidate Obama “A few years ago, this guy would have been getting us coffee,” that was the uncivil belittling of his opponent – and it rightfully backfired on the entire Clinton operation. If Maddow is to be seen as above and beyond that sort of crass behavior, the “little dancing bug” should be canned.