An obscene insult

The star hosts of CNN and MSNBC news shows have notoriously derided the tea party demonstrations around the country with reference to the practice of teabagging (which I had never heard of before they brought it up). As John noted, both networks’ “journalists” used the rallies as an occasion for childish sexual innuendoes — in the case of MSNBC, the same obscene teabag “joke” was repeated 51 times in a 13-minute segment.

The Media Research Center detailed the teabagging references in an informative press release. The Huffington Post noted the references as well as more “jokes” in the same vein (including a video of Cooper’s jape, over which David Gergen cluelessly chortles).

While sitting in for Keith Olbermann on April 15, MSNBC’s David Shuster packed the teabagging puns into his report on the protests. Shuster is like a juvenile student who has commandeered the loudspeaker system at his high school to commit the prank of a lifetime. Maybe it was just a case of Olbermann’s writers feeding Shuster the same good stuff they usually put in Olbermann’s mouth.

Andrew Sullivan is giddy; he seems to think the phenomenon is a big ball of fun.

There is something funny going on here, if not exactly where Cooper, Maddow and Sullivan find it. Cooper is widely reputed to be homosexual. Maddow and Sullivan are of course public homosexuals. It is funny in an ironic sort of way that these folks choose to disparage the tea party protesters from somewhere inside the homosexual subculture. Why not just call the protesters girly boys and let everyone in on the joke? Or would that spoil the fun?

There is not only something funny going on here, there is a story here. These supposed journalists and their networks (or publisher, in Sullivan’s case) have rather seriously insulted the citizens who colorfully took to the streets to air respectable views in a most civil fashion. If they had any decency, Cooper et al. would apologize for their vile reference to sexual practices in the context of ordinary citizens exercising their First Amendment rights.

Via reader Jim Rice.

UPDATE: I had missed Matt Taibbi’s vulgar assault on Michelle Malkin in this context drawing on the heterosexual form of the practice.

MORE: Andrew Sullivan sheds his light on dark corners and uses me as an example of “why the GOP is losing the next generation[.]” He assures me that “that teabagging knows no bounds on sexual orientation – and the vast majority of tea-bagging is purely heterosexual.” I gladly defer to Sullivan’s expertise and note his no doubt deeply held belief “in tea-bag equality for all – gay and straight[.]” And I have no reason to doubt his sincerity. I’m sure he practices what he preaches.

I have no interest in pursuing the limits of Sullivan’s knowledge on this issue; his citation of Samantha (of “Sex and the City”) in support of his position is ambiguous at best. My point was the knowing vulgarity of the demeaning disparagement of the tea party participants by Cooper et al. On this point Sullivan clams up and exercises his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent.

I very much appreciate Dan’s comments at Gay Patriot on the issue involved here. He understands it perfectly.

PAUL adds: It’s an interesting concept: the GOP is doomed because 50-something Republican bloggers don’t know the term for what looks to be one of Andrew Sullivan’s favorite sexual practices.

On the other hand, maybe liberal cable news is doomed because the likes of Anderson Cooper and David Shuster can’t suppress the smirk that comes with their knowledge of that term.

JOHN adds: What we’re seeing here is the ascendancy of the Low-Life Left. Vulgar, ignorant, profane and abusive, it started on the internet at sites like Daily Kos, Democratic Underground and Wonkette. Discourse at sites like these abandoned all traditional norms of political conversation. Now what started on the internet has leaked into liberal cable news–in part, although not mostly, because of the participation of some of the same individuals who started out on the web. The kind of childishness that MSNBC and CNN commentators exhibited on April 15 would have been unthinkable just a few years ago. Now, it is becoming a hallmark of the Democratic Party and its supporters in the media.

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