Jay Nordlinger recalls Anderson Cooper’s contribution to the coverage of the Tea Party resistance to the Obama administration on CNN in the context of the Obama administration’s effort to delegitimize FOX News:
Yesterday, I had a note on Anita Dunn, Fox News, CNN, and all that jazz. I said that a CNN anchorman, Anderson Cooper, had coined this “teabagger” epithet against anti-Obama protesters. “Teabagging” is a sexual practice defined in that earlier note of mine: and Cooper used it in a very specific context. Almost immediately, Democratic pundits and politicians picked up the epithet, “mainstreaming” it. (Of course, when something begins with a CNN anchorman, it pretty much starts life mainstream.)
Many, many readers wrote me yesterday saying that George Stephanopoulos, host of This Week, had used “teabagger” or “teabagging” that very morning. So had one of his guests, E. J. Dionne — but Dionne is a pundit, an opinionist, and Stephanopoulos is a host, right? Isn’t he supposed to be David Brinkley now? When last I was a real TV-watcher, he was saying that Gennifer Flowers had doctored the tapes and so on.
My readers complain that Republicans and conservatives let Stephanopoulos et al. get away with “teabagger.” For example, why doesn’t George Will say something? Shame them, rebuke them? I myself am afraid that “teabagger” is here to say. And perhaps conservatives will “own” the insult, as they say? Or maybe they have owned it already? Alternatively, is “teabagger” to be a conservative N-word, acceptable — even joyously employed — among conservatives, but nasty and impermissible from liberals?
The White House war on Fox News is quite interesting. My impression is that the Obama people are very, very unused to criticism or “pushback” — especially from the media. They are used to support. (Remember when Obama reminded a ballroom of journalists that they had all voted for him?) So Fox looks very exotic and alien to them. George W. Bush’s people would never have singled out, say, MSNBC. Why? Because pretty much all the media are like that — all the “mainstreamers,” to one degree or another. Oh, Keith and Chris may be a little hotter than whoever the CNN or ABC people are — but still, the sentiment and substance are the same.
Jay continues in the linked post and comments further here, adding: “When a CNN anchorman says something foul, and a little snarky, on the air, we should examine it. When a nasty epithet enters mainstream journalism — and mainstream politics — we should question whether this should be so, hard.” It is useful to be reminded of this little episode as the Obama administration seeks formally to establish the mainstream media as its public relations arm.