Tuesday, May 12, 2009

When Fragging Government Officials Was Still Funny

CBS sportscaster David Feherty has visited the troops in Iraq a couple of times. This experience and what he heard from the troops apparently informed his recent controversial comments in D Magazine. Comments which have led to national media outrage, pressure groups calling for his firing, his employers denouncing him, and ultimately an apology and retraction of his comments as inappropriate and unacceptable.

The full context of his universally reviled comments:
My own experience visiting the troops in the Middle East, I can tell you this, though: despite how the conflict has been portrayed by our glorious media, if you gave any U.S. soldier a gun with two bullets in it, and he found himself in an elevator with Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and Osama bin Laden, there's a good chance that Nancy Pelosi would get shot twice, and Harry Reid and bin Laden would be strangled to death.
Even shock-academic Camile Paglia was taken aback. Her comments in Salon Magazine indicate she thinks this is a new level of public indecency:
I was utterly horrified to hear Dallas-based talk show host Mark Davis, subbing for Rush Limbaugh, laughingly and approvingly read a passage from a Dallas magazine article by CBS sportscaster David Feherty claiming that "any U.S. soldier," given a gun with two bullets and stuck in an elevator with Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and Osama bin Laden, would use both bullets on Pelosi and strangle the other two.

How have we come to this pass in America where the assassination of top government officials is fodder for snide jokes on national radio?
To be sure, she's right about the impropriety of these kinds of gutter level, unfunny jokes being carelessly thrown around in the mass media. But she's dead wrong in assessing this as a new low for national broadcasting. There's nothing new about celebrities in the entertainment business going to Iraq and coming back trying to play soldiers' fragging fantasies for laughs.

From January of 2005, on MSNBC, Chris Matthews interviewing none other than the presumptive next Senator from the Great state of Minnesota who had these remarkably similar comments to Faherty:

I actually had an officer who - I obviously won't say who he was - who said to me, listen, George W. Bush is my commander in chief. I have to respect him. But if I got Rumsfeld in my sights, I would not hesitate to squeeze off a couple rounds.


(Originally linked to in this Fraters post in 2005.)

Not clear is whether it was Franken and/or Matthews who was laughing it up. Only the MSNBC transcriptionist knows for sure.

Needless to say, there was no controversy over Franken's comments on national TV. He tells his stories about the assassination of top government officials, gets his laughs, gets the unqualified support of liberals and the Democrat party, and merrily goes on his way to (probably) getting elected to the US Senate. What a country!

If only the media deemed the comments of a liberal US Senate candidate as important as a conservative CBS golf analyst, we might have been spared this whole recount drama. Even in Minnesota, I have to believe that's worth at least 322 votes for Norm Coleman.

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