During a discussion on Tuesday's NBC Today of a nasty divorce custody case, psychologist Gail Saltz bizarrely shoe-horned in this observation: "This is reflective of a national problem....We have taken on this 'Do whatever feels good in the moment,' with no regard for a moral compass...calling the president a liar..." Co-host Matt Lauer declared: "The end of civility."
The husband involved in the case was accused of bashing his ex-wife on his personal blog, causing the judge to order him to shut down the web site. Lauer used that fact to smear all blogs: "[The judge] said of the blog, it included, quote, 'Inaccurate, denigrating and belittling comments...it amounts to outright cruelty'....My first reaction to that is, has this judge ever gone on other blogs? That's what they're all about."
After Saltz denounced people "calling the president a liar," without mentioning Joe Wilson specifically, Lauer continued to go after the blogoshpere: "...it's what I was referring to when I said has that judge ever looked at some of the blogs that are out there? Half of it is inaccurate, most of it is denigrating and belittling." Legal analyst Star Jones chimed in: "And vulgar and all of the things that make us say what happened to shame in this country?" She lamented that "our Constitution has not caught up with our technology."
Saltz's standard for civility has a decidedly liberal slant. In October of 2009, she appeared in a report on CNN about political talk radio and proclaimed that Rush Limbaugh was only popular because he was "...operating like the bully, and if you’re on the playground...you want to be...under the bully’s wing and go along with him and get...some power by proxy."
In May, Saltz appeared on Today and warned that Americans celebrating the death of Osama bin Laden was "very disturbing" and wondered: "Does it look different enough from recent pictures we've seen of what went on in Egypt and so on?"
Here is a transcript of the August 9 exchange on Today:
MATT LAUER: The judge in the case said this as she ordered the blog shut down and threatened Mr. Morelli that he might lose his shared custody. She said of the blog, it included, quote, 'Inaccurate, denigrating and belittling comments,' end quote, about Allison, and quote, it's not just venting that I have read on these pages, it amounts to outright cruelty,' end quote. My first reaction to that is, has this judge ever gone on other blogs? That's what they're all about.
STAR JONES: There would be no reason to have a blog. And that's what the Constitution actually protects. The Constitution protects your right to be an unmitigated jerk, unless you are defaming someone, it's obscene, or against national security.
LAUER: Gail, let's bring you in. Let's go from the legal now to the psychological. This was a nasty marriage, nasty divorce, it's a nasty custody battle. He clearly does not have the best interest of his children in mind.
GAIL SALTZ: Unfortunately not. I think, you know, he may win but they won't win. And he may be right, legally, but he's not right in terms of the family. Because at the end of the day when a couple gets divorced, we know the fallout for children and the only way to try to help this be the healthiest for them is to preserve two good parents. Even if they don't want to be together, but it's your job to help say, to some degree, 'Your mom's an okay person and loves you.'
LAUER: And I was thinking of the age of the children when I read this. They're 10 and 12. They can understand this.
SALTZ: They sure do understand this. And they're also not old enough that they're not very impressionable at this age. So all he's doing, essentially, is he's robbing them of the other parent.
LAUER: And what does it teach these kids about, in their future, how to deal with conflict?
SALTZ: Well, this is horrendous. I mean, this is a bad way to deal with conflict all around. I would even say, quite honestly, that this is – this is reflective of a national problem, to me, going on. That we have taken on this 'Do whatever feels good in the moment,' with no regard for a moral compass, whether you're calling the president a liar, whether you're tweeting your mm-hmm, you know...
LAUER: The end of civility.
SALTZ: The end of civility.
LAUER: It is. That's what – and we were all talking about this in the commercial break and it's what I was referring to when I said has that judge ever looked at some of the blogs that are out there? Half of it is inaccurate, most of it is denigrating and belittling.
JONES: And vulgar and all of the things that make us say what happened to shame in this country? But our Constitution has not caught up with our technology.
LAUER: Yeah. So you think if you just had to kind of use your crystal ball, you think this guy wins on appeal?
JONES: He absolutely has an issue and he has a 14th Amendment issue of due process. She made this decision without listening to any evidence, taking any witnesses. Everyone's allowed to have their day in court and he didn't even get that.
LAUER: It's going to be fascinating to see how this plays out. Star, thanks very much. Gail, always good to see you.
SALTZ: Thank you.