August 25, 2019

Civility and tone policing came up a lot this week in social media.

  • Queer Eye lifestyle coach Karamo Brown took so much heat for saying that former Trump press secretary Sean Spicer was a "good guy" (a fellow contestant on the coming season of "Dancing With The Stars" and in fairness to Brown, he was being asked to comment in a promotional spot. Basic television training is that you never speak against co-stars unless you want to be fired) that he ended up closing his Twitter account. Likewise, when Spicer was announced as a contestant, hundreds of thousands of Twitter users wanted to know why ABC was rehabbing the career of someone who lied and gaslit Americans, and Spicer said he hoped that his experience would not be tainted by politics, as if he had no role in that.
  • CAP President Neera Tanden and Sirius Radio host and programming director Zerlina Maxwell both made fairly mild cracks about the post 2016 primary, Jill Stein supporting actress Susan Sarandon (who introduced Bernie Sanders at a campaign event) and were not only inundated with bots attacking them, but sustained insults and nastiness from senior Sanders campaign staffers for days on end. Speaking as someone who has worked on campaigns before, no new voters were persuaded by the internecine wars.
  • After David Koch's death, many people brought up that Koch's legacy of disenfranchising Democratic voters, ALEC bill writing, climate change denial, and basically buying Republican electeds to do his bidding was not mitigated by his philanthropy and arts sponsorship. This led to the predictably clichéd tone policing from the right on the left's eagerness to speak ill of the dead. Of course, that didn't stop them from gleefully imagining the implications of a third SCOTUS pick by Donald Trump after the news of Ruth Bader Ginsburg's treatment for a malignant pancreatic tumor.
  • After Trump went full on messianic this week and more and more media figures felt compelled to speak on the mental health (or lack thereof) of the increasingly erratic man with the nuclear codes, Trump supporters responded with accusations of elitism, intolerance and predictably, fake news.

Personally, I like Jay Smooth's take. Demands of civility come from a place of privilege that does not want to be discomforted by others who don't enjoy that same privilege. That's their hustle. But it only works if we allow ourselves to be hustled.

That's not to say that we lower ourselves to the baseness we criticize in others, but we have every right to be critical of those who will marginalize us and hurt the vulnerable. And calls for civility aren't calls for comfort to those who need it the most.

ABC's "This Week" — Conservative radio host Joe Walsh; Cindy McCain, widow of late Arizona Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. Panel: Rahm Emanuel, Chris Christie, Matthew Dowd and Yvette Simpson.

NBC's "Meet the Press" — Democratic primary candidate and South Bend, IN mayor Pete Buttigieg. Panel: Eugene Robinson, Kristen Soltis Anderson, Bret Stephens and Betsy Woodruff.

CBS' "Face the Nation" — White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow; Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.; Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.; Josh Bolten; Anthony Salvanto. Panel: Michael Graham, Anne Gearan and Joshua Johnson.

CNN's "State of the Union" — Kudlow; Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.; McCain. Panel: Jennifer Granhom, Rick Santorum, Karen Finney and Bill Kristol. Hosted by Brianna Keiler.

CNN's "Fareed Zakaria GPS" — Panel: David Sanger and Jim Sciutto. Parag Khanna; Amanda Little; Steve Hanke; and Richard Conn Henry.

CNN's "Reliable Sources" — Daniel Dale; April Ryan; Ken Ward Jr.; Irin Carmon; Diane Foley; and Art Sotloff.

"Fox News Sunday" — Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin; Klobuchar. Panel: Karl Rove, Julie Pace, Emily Compagno and Juan Williams.

So what's catching your eye this morning?


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