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Sunday, September 25, 2022

Columns

Criticism crosses the line


If you watched MSNBC on Monday night, a firestorm was brewing over the controversial comments made by chairman of the Republican National Convention Reince Priebus.

On “Face the Nation” Sunday, Priebus made a condescending statement comparing Obama to Francesco Schettino — the embattled Captain of the Costa Concordia. Schettino abandoned his ship on which 17 people would eventually die.

“We’re going to talk about our own little Captain Schettino, which is President Obama,” Priebus said. “Who is abandoning the ship here in the United States and is more interested in campaigning than doing his job as president.”

Priebus attempted to clarify on Fox News’ “America Live” with Megyn Kelly on Monday afternoon.

“The analogy was made — and it was an analogy of leadership — that in a time of crisis, this president is leaving the White House and campaigning nonstop all the time,” he said.

He continued, accusing those across the aisle of pandering for effect.

“I think it’s pretty clear, but you know, if people out there — especially on the Democratic side — want to try to make hay of it, they’re going to be able to do that.”

“Last Word” host Lawrence O’Donnell lambasted Priebus for his comments. So did Chris Matthews on his show. Both used these quotes to prove that Obama has been egregiously disrespected by the Republican Party.

While it is certainly true that Republicans have attempted to undercut Obama’s authority, this event was not indicative of that.

Was it an apt comparison? No, not at all.

There seems to be both disrespect and a deliberate attempt to discredit that echoes from both the republican establishment and the outliers of the party. This is apparent in the vehement criticism that he has faced since before his first day in the Oval Office.

It began with claims that Obama was a Socialist or Muslim extremist. The cover of The New Yorker in July 2008 makes a prime example.

It continued with birthers’ claims that he was born in Africa. There are still people who refuse to believe that Obama was born in the US, even though he released his birth certificate a year ago.

Congressman Joe Wilson had the audacity to shout “You lie!” in the House of Representatives in September 2009 when Obama denied that health care legislation would provide free coverage for illegal immigrants.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell stated that his number one goal was making sure Obama is a one-term President — not more important issues like the economy and unemployment or the spiraling national deficit.

I recount these events, not to hold a pity party for Obama, but to delve into the mindset of a party that is looking to delegitimize the president in any way possible.

With such overt examples that display a clear pattern of disrespect, it is easy to over-sensationalize any isolated event by blindly throwing darts at similar events and claiming to hit the bull’s-eye.

And sure, I believe that Priebus crossed the line in comparing the president to an accused murderer. But let us not overreact to a bad comparison.

As members of the media, we hold a responsibility to not over-sensationalize news or create narratives based on our own biases.

Fox News was formed out of the perceived lack of conservative influence in the media. Though the liberal bias in the media is vastly overstated, it does exist. Situations like this prove it.

Let’s save our scathing disapprovals for those who deserve it.

Christopher Shelton is a journalism junior and may be reached at [email protected]

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