'As an American, I'm Ashamed': The Stunning Absence of Reason from Paris March Coverage

Solidarity march in Paris in response to terrorist attacks.

Solidarity march in Paris in response to terrorist attacks.

The press and the Republicans seem to have found this week's Obama-basher: they note the absence of President Obama or a "more visible" US official than the US ambassador to France in the solidarity march in Paris in defiance of the terrorist attacks there. One CNN journalist (Jake Tapper) declared himself ashamed as an American because of this, and Republican officials from Speaker Boehner to Ted Cruz jumped at the opportunity to make hay of this.

Michael Steel, a spokesman for House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), said in an e-mail: “In the wake of Sept. 11, the world — including the people of France — rallied in support of the United States. The French should feel the same support from all freedom-loving peoples today.”

Gee, I don't suppose John Boehner, Speaker of the US House and second in line for the presidency, would happen to know any high ranking US officials whose schedule is fully under his control, for example the man staring back at him in the mirror, would he?

Why didn't Speaker Boehner go? For that matter, why didn't the entire contingent of GOP officials criticizing the White House? Why didn't Ted Cruz go? Why didn't Marco Rubio?

The aforementioned CNN journalist Tapper himself did mention the absence of Boehner and McConnell in typical CYA fashion in one short paragraph - the twelfth paragraph, to be exact, while his focus on blasting the administration appear both before and for much longer than the CYA portion. More damningly, he has failed to ask those questions of the GOP leaders directly as they fanned the flames of hatred against the president, making it even more abundantly clear that he was, in fact, just covering his behind.

And don't even get me started on the sheer hypocrisy of the party that formally renamed food items in the House cafeteria to remove the word "french" because of French refusal to back their president's war on false grounds suddenly shedding all this crocodile tears for France.

The even sadder problem than the people who could have gone themselves blasting the White House for not sending someone more visible (but not higher ranking, apparently) is that the media is only too happy to pile on against the President while summarily ignoring their responsibility to ask the questions I just did. Jake Tapper is ashamed to be an American because a symbolic gesture by America did not live up to his expectations, but has he ever thought that he should be far more ashamed of what he and his colleagues have done to the institution of the free press, indeed, to the very idea of it?

You want to be ashamed, Jake Tapper? Be ashamed of your and your colleagues' march to war in lockstep so that you could film shock-n-awe. Be ashamed that you helped deliver as many as a million innocent Iraqis to the doorstep of death. Be ashamed your station and others still hold "debates" on whether waterboarding is torture. You want to be ashamed, Mr. Tapper? Don't look at Paris. Look in the mirror.

It's easy to criticize President Obama on the optics. It is easy to pout and take umbrage at a photograph. What seems prohibitively difficult, though, is to report. They told you that the Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Abbas attended the march in Paris, but not once in the context of the story that Netanyahu managed to infuriate both French officials and French Jews by urging French Jews to relocate to Israel in response to these attacks.

They are happy to fan the flames of the right wing that Obama didn't attend, but few took note that the security requirements for the President of the United State to attend alone would have made it impossible.

Paul Waldman of the Washington Post writes a column succinctly nailing the media for its faux-umbrage on symbolism and its hollow core on substantive matters. Waldman notes:

But what’s interesting to me is the way that people and organizations that hesitate to express personal opinions on other topics feel free to issue thunderous condemnations of the White House for its less than active participation in what is, after all, a symbolic act.

Maybe my memory’s faulty, but I don’t recall any other journalist committed to the ideal of “objectivity” saying he was “ashamed” about the fact that millions of Americans have no health coverage, or about the 30,000 Americans killed by guns every year, or about our ample contributions to global warming. It’s precisely because those things are about real people’s lives that it would be considered deeply inappropriate for a mainstream journalist to express such an opinion. But you can say you’re ashamed about something entirely symbolic — and in the long run essentially meaningless — like the fact that the American ambassador attended a march when it would have a bigger deal had the Secretary of State or the Vice President been there.

In the mean time, Waldman points out, last week Boko Haram may have massacred 2,000 individuals, about which Jake Tapper and his esteemed colleagues having orgasms over the White House's Paris optics have had nothing to say. 17 people died in Paris. 2,000 in Nigeria. So why the silence? Perhaps because Paris is media heavy, and perhaps because the victims in Paris were predominantly... what's the word I'm looking for... European.

Jake Tapper is ashamed to be an American because of President Obama? Let me tell you something. I'm ashamed to be an American because of petulant self-important ego-inflated boobs like Jake Tapper.



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