We've seen the mainstream media afflicted with Palin Derangement Syndrome. We've experienced the media in the throes of Bush Derangement Syndrome. Over at CNN, which modestly styles itself as the most trusted name in news, there's now an outbreak of Joe the Plumber Derangement Syndrome.
Last week CNN Newsroom anchor Kyra Phillips went after Joe. Today, it was CNN Newsroom anchor Rick Sanchez's turn at bat. Mustering as much blow-dried earnestness as possible, he relieved himself of an editorial on what's nominally a news program:
Meanwhile, something else to take note of today. I want to share with you the thoughts of Samuel Wurzelbacher -- you know, "Joe the Plumber" -- now Joe the war correspondent. Yes, he's been in Israel filing reports.
And here's his analysis, as reported by the Associated Press. You're going to love this: "I don't think journalists should be anywhere around war. I mean you guys report where our troops are at. You report what's happening day to day. You make a big deal out of it. I think it's asinine. I think media should be abolished from, you know, reporting, war is hell."
There you have it.
Samuel, let me talk to you directly.
First, I was born in a communist country, so I'm familiar with people like you -- and Fidel Castro, by the way -- not to name drop -- who also think "that media should be abolished."
Number two, I've covered wars. And while I can't speak for war correspondents who put their lives on the line every day, I can tell you, what they do is requisite -- essential to our democracy.
Whether you've insulted them is up to them to tell you.
But I will tell you who you have insulted. Forty-one journalists were killed last year -- two already killed this year -- while trying to practice their craft. They can't speak for themselves, because they're no longer with us, Samuel.
And their children, their wives and husbands, their fathers and mothers -- they don't have a TV show.
So on behalf of them, Sam, let's see, you're not really a licensed plumber. You're not really a war correspondent. And your name isn't even really Joe. I think we all do know, though, who you are.
You know that guy who lives down the street -- the guy who shows up at the backyard barbecue when there's free food?
You know that guy?
He knows everything about everything, but really knows nothing, hates everything and everybody. He can't understand why anybody would find any fault with him. You know, the obnoxious guy -- there's always one at every party or every gathering on every block. You know that guy. We all know that guy.
Well, that guy wasn't made famous by John McCain and Sarah Palin. You were, Sam. So we're stuck with you. But it doesn't mean that we can't call you out.
In fact, I just did.
Contrary to what Sanchez contends, Joe didn't say "that media should be abolished." What he did express was his view that the media shouldn't report on war, with one reason being it can be detrimental to the troops' welfare. Whether or not one agrees with that idea, holding it doesn't make Joe comparable to Castro. In addition to the Cuban dictator, Sanchez used the opportunity to take a swipe at John McCain and Sarah Palin, who "made" Joe famous.
Sanchez's fixation with Joe the Plumber isn't new. For someone who blames others for making Joe famous, he does his best to keep the object of his disdain in the public eye. Yesterday his producer sent out a Twitter message that included: "Also 'Joe The War Correspondent'? Rick rips him." For whatever reason, Rick didn't rip him yesterday. He did, however, run numerous anti-Joe tweets across the screen for much of the program. It's difficult to believe that not a single viewer conveyed a different opinion, but none was aired. Not that Rick's journalistic integrity and commitment to fairness could ever be questioned. He is, after all, a "professional."
Then last night Sanchez sent out a couple of his own tweets on the topic. "spent life in news.covered wars,been shot at, almost died in hosp, nothing compared to real war corespondnts, joe plumber insulting," said one. And the other: "he reminds me of the guy down the block who shows up at the bar b que for free food and knows more than everybody. obnoxious?"
There's no question that war correspondents place themselves in jeopardy and that some have died on the job. Still, reporting isn't, as Sanchez apparently believes, brain surgery. For some at CNN, it consists primarily of reading stories written by others. So it's little wonder that when they try "editorializing" they can't even quote people accurately.
No doubt Rick's malady requires him to stay on Joe the Plumber's case. Obsessively, incessantly, monotonously. He's sorta like the guy who lives down the street, shows up at the backyard barbecue when there's free food, knows everything about everything, but really knows nothing, and can't understand why anybody would find any fault with him.
So we're stuck with you, Rick. But it doesn't mean that we can't call you out.