Last week CNN fired Jeffrey Lord, its famously pro-Trump contributor, for mocking an activist whom The Daily Caller has reported as a racist and an anti-Semite. Mr. Lord addressed him with the salutation, “Sieg Heil!” What is wrong with that? Is CNN covering for racists and anti-Semites?
CNN is the pious cable news network whose servile on-air performers, if they are to stay in the network’s good graces, must seek regular counseling on what topics are politically correct, what words must not be uttered on air, and how to part one’s hair on the set, in the event that one still has hair. I think Harvard University has a whole center for distributing such politically correct information. Such is the shabby estate into which journalism has fallen at CNN. At any rate, Mr. Lord was excommunicated last week, and now I am told that Anderson Cooper and Wolf Blitzer may be next. Soon the racist and anti-Semite may be enthroned at CNN. For now, he is only calling the shots from offstage.
Mr. Lord’s dismissal caused me some inconvenience for he is a senior editor at The American Spectator. He actually made his controversial salutation in a piece originally published in the Spectator, and our erudite audience recognized it immediately as mockery in the same way Nazis were mocked over the years by such masters of mockery as Charlie Chaplin and Mel Brooks. But then, that is the difference between the television mind and the reading mind. The television mind needs to be reminded of what took place years ago, and who Hitler was, and why he is recognized as evil. The reading mind remembers this quite well and a lot more. The reading mind probably has a book or two about Hitler on the wall.
Some years ago, we at the Spectator began using the term “the moron vote” in referring to the kind of man or woman who might reflexively vote for Barack Obama or forget to come in from the rain. Obviously out there in CNN’s smug audience, there are a lot of practitioners of the moron vote.
So within hours of CNN’s excommunication of Mr. Lord from its circle of sages, the morons began calling my office and leaving tart messages on the telephones, some very risque. My very bright interns inquired of me what to do. I told them without hesitation. Call back and inform the callers that we had turned over their telephone numbers to the Secret Service. One obviously demented woman called me personally, and I told her that “the authorities are on their way over and this is no way to get an autographed picture of me.”
“Indefensible,” that is the word that the hierarchy at CNN directed its faithful toady to hurl at Mr. Lord when she told him he was fired. Ironically, Mr. Lord was sitting in a CNN car en route to the studio for another show where he would be outnumbered by a half-dozen stooges, all indignant about President Trump’s latest tweet, joke or put-down. Is it really indefensible to mock a bigot with a word used by the likes of Chaplin in his 1940 classic “The Great Dictator” or Mel Brooks in his amusing “Springtime for Hitler” or in the weekly and long-running “Hogan’s Heroes”? Apparently the audiences who attended these shows and countless others — often made up of people who actually fought Hitler or were persecuted by him — would be denounced today.
Well, if “Sieg Heil” is indefensible to use at CNN it is indefensible to use at CNN, as the psychiatrists might say. However, I take issue with these goody-goodies’ practice of forever expanding their list of taboo words and practices. I especially take issue with it if it includes words and practices that, up until recent years, were deemed perfectly noncontroversial by the majority of Americans. In fact, I believe there is evidence that Mr. Lord’s jocose use of the term “Sieg Heil” is noncontroversial with the American majority today.
You want my evidence? Shortly after Mr. Lord’s excommunication from CNN’s sanctimonious circle, none other than The New York Times listed his firing as one of the day’s “most read” news stories. The newspaper elaborated. His firing was “a move many commenters on Facebook saw as an overreaction. Plenty more suspected the tweet was simply being used to justify a decision CNN had long wanted to make.” I rest my case.
• R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is editor in chief of The American Spectator. He is author of “The Death of Liberalism,” published by Thomas Nelson Inc.
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