This Memorial Day weekend, the MRC’s FLASHBACK series has already reminded you of MSNBC's Chris Hayes admitting he was “uncomfortable” referring to fallen military members as heroes. But there are other examples of the media using this holiday for their own purposes. On the 2019 Memorial Day edition of Morning Joe, co-host Mika Brzezinski tried (and failed) to get guests to use the day to trash Donald Trump.
Talking to Mike Barnicle, she offered this bad taste comparison.
I want to ask you what your reflections are during this time in terms of our attitudes in America, our knowledge and our understanding of people who serve in the military, who serve multiple tours of duty, who have taken part in wars on behalf of this country, and also are being deployed by this president by let's say maybe perhaps controversial means in terms of their deployments at southern border for caravans that are coming in. It's a convoluting time, is it not?
Barnicle side stepped the effort and talked about the holiday and what it means.
The day before, on May 26, 2019, ABC analyst Matt Dowd appeared on This Week and echoed Brzezinski’s attempt:
And if you really want to honor the ones that didn't make it home, the this President-- Watching this president this past week, do you really honor the ones that didn't make it home by considering pardoning people that might be convicted of war crimes?
Do you really honor the ones that didn't make it home by the troop assignment in Iran after we watched the folly in Iraq, the folly in Afghanistan and we didn't learn the lesson of the Vietnam War, took us 30 years to finally learn the lesson of the Vietnam War. We haven’t leaner—30 days—
And do we really honor the ones that didn't make it home by banning transgender troops – banning transgender people from being in the military? And so, to me when I look at this and this race in 2020 goes back to it, is not going to be about what our economic situation with is -- with China and what the GDP numbers and appointment is, it's going to be about who we are. And on this Memorial weekend, I think it's important to ask, is who we are and how do we honor those people that didn't make it home.
On May 23, 2012, MSNBC’s Chris Hayes fretted about the fallen and the word “hero”:
I think it is very difficult to talk about the war dead and the fallen without invoking valor, without invoking the words ‘heroes.’.... I feel comfortable, uncomfortable, about the word because it seems to me that it is so rhetorically proximate to justifications for more war.”
Let's hope that on this Memorial Day, at least, journalists will let the day be about honoring those who gave their lives for this country.
For more examples from our weekly flashback series, which we call NewsBusters Time Machine, go here.