Fox News media critic Howard Kurtz had a little bit of a hissy fit over a moment on Don Lemon's show when Rick Wilson started in on Mike Pompeo's sexist, authoritarian, high-handed treatment of NPR reporter Mary Louise Kelly.
"He's just trying to demean her, and obviously it's false," Wilson said of Pompeo. "And look, he also knows deep in his heart that Donald Trump couldn't find Ukraine on a map if you had the letter U and a picture of an actual physical crane next to it."
That joke sent Don Lemon and Wajahat Ali into a strong case of the giggles, and from there Wilson and Ali expanded on the joke, with Wilson describing Trump supporters as the "credulous boomer rube demo." Which they are.
This has, as one might imagine, lit the right wing sites on fire, and by extension, Fox News. How DARE they laugh at Trump supporters, those honest, hardworking white folks who just need a little love from their government?
I like Ali's response to the uproar:
We did. Not going to apologize for it either. If you're willing to believe and promote these absurd and dangerous lies, well, you deserve to be mocked for it: "CNNs Don Lemon Cracks Up As Rick Wilson, Wajahat Ali Trash Trump Supporters As Ignorant Rubes" https://t.co/gK3s42yj6c
— Wajahat "Shaped by the American Coastland" Ali (@WajahatAli) January 27, 2020
And so it came to pass that Howard Kurtz scolded all of them for their terrible treatment of Trump supporters on Sunday morning, as you can see in the video above. Kurtz is incensed that they didn't limit their jokes to politicians, instead mocking the people who are fully invested in Trump's pack of lies. Of course we shouldn't actually say how absurd it is that his cult excuses every lie, every falsehood, and believes everything he says, because they're people too.
It's funny, though. I never hear any criticism of the derision aimed at "Demon-Rats" and "Radical Dimms," two terms normalized by Fox News personalities Jeanine Pirro and Lou Dobbs. Never.
When Pirro calls people of an entire party by the term "Demon-Rats," it's a way to dehumanize anyone who doesn't bow before Dear Leader, and who associates (and likely voted for) the group of politicians she's slamming. It's just a subtle way of demonizing voters without saying she's demonizing voters.
When Lou Dobbs and his guests refer to "radical Dimms," they too, are including voters in that characterization.
Dobbs uses that title to delegitimize the president's political opponents, branding them as criminals and traitors.
As with Pirro’s effort to make “Demon-rats” catch on, Dobbs’ moniker seems childish. But his feverish support for the president has given him the highest-rated show in business news. Trump himself is a regular viewer. And, as with Pirro, Dobbs has been able to parlay his personal relationship into a role advising the White House. He’s a buffoon, but a buffoon with a big audience and a fan in the Oval Office. His rhetoric matters.
By extension, the people who support those whom Dobbs and Pirro name-call are equally dehumanized. It's an authoritarian tactic intended to reduce them to a caricature and strip them of their humanity.
If Kurtz wants to play the righteous and moral warrior, he ought to start with his own network before pointing the finger at others.