Ed Driscoll

What a Difference a Year Makes at CNN

On January 19, 2011, during the height of the left’s brief “new civility” phase, CNN, which for 23 years had hosted a popular debate show called Crossfire (which featured crosshairs in its logo), had this embarrassing moment:

On Tuesday’s John King USA, CNN’s John King issued a prompt on-air apology minutes after a guest on his program used the term “crosshairs” during a segment: “We’re trying to get away from using that kind of language” (audio available here). This action stands in stark contrast to an incident over a year earlier where former anchor Rick Sanchez took four days to apologize for using a unconfirmed quote attributed to Rush Limbaugh.

You know what kind of language CNN isn’t trying to get away from? Yesterday, this embarrassing moment occurred on the “news” network (Click over to the Daily Caller for video):

On “CNN Newsroom” Thursday afternoon, Drew Griffin of CNN’s special investigations unit used a racial slur while explaining phone call evidence from a recent case where the federal government charged three Mississippi men with a hate crime for running over a black man with a truck after severely beating him.

Griffin also compared the case to a shooting in Florida, where an unarmed black teenager was killed by a neighborhood watch leader.

“At the end of this, Deryl Dedmon is laughing with his friends and actually called on a cell phone and, pardon my language but there’s no other way to say this — ‘I just ran over that f—ing n*gger,’ that’s what he said. And it was a clear-cut case of pure racial-intent murder that took place there, which is why it was so easy to apply the hate crime legislation in this case,” Griffin said. “There was no question about it, unlike the circumstances involving the case in Florida.”

Why, it’s almost as if all of that “new tone” stuff last year was just so much opportunistic BS. There are other words that CNN considers acceptable as well. Yesterday, this embarrassing moment occurred on the “news” network:

CNN commentator Dean Obeidallah has some advice for politicians who are offended by gross and vile insults from comedians: “change the channel.”

Comedians like Bill Maher and Louis C.K. must have an “unfettered right” to spew their vitriol at politicians like Sarah Palin, insisted Obeidallah in a CNN.com op-ed. Such insults “come with the territory” of running for office, he told CNN host Brooke Baldwin on Thursday afternoon’s Newsroom. [Video at Newsbusters — Ed]

Obeidallah believes there is a “war on comedy” stemming from outrage over crude and vile insults made by comedians like Bill Maher and Louis C.K. Concerned for the safety of America’s “proud tradition” of political satire, Obeidallah pleaded on CNN that “political comedy must be protected like political speech. It’s that important.”

However, in his column he trashed conservative Rush Limbaugh for attacking law student Sandra Fluke. So there should be a double-standard for entertainers who attack women politicians and those who attack regular women?

“Political comedians must be afforded the unfettered right to satirize our politicians – even if their jokes include crude words such as the ones that Maher and C.K. used about Sarah Palin,” wrote Obeidallah in his column titled “Stop the War on Comedy.”

“When you’re attacking a public figure, someone in politics, someone like Sarah Palin who would run to be a heartbeat away from the leader of the free world, you know what? It comes with the territory,” he stated on CNN Newsroom Thursday.

Since as an activist, Fluke is also a public figure — who is debating getting further into politics — then that double standard isn’t an issue. But Brian McKim and Traci Skene, the stand-up comics who publish Shecky magazine, have spotted another double-standard in Obeidallah’s essay:

On Saturday, CNN.com ran an essay from comedian Dean Obeidallah called “Stop the war on comedy.” It’s a garbled mess.

His inability to check his distaste for Limbaugh obviously clouds his ability to think or write clearly on this subject. It’s tough to do, but it’s necessary.

He eventually gets to what he believes to be the heart of the matter:

So, here is the big question: What exactly is the line that comedians are prohibited from breaching? What type of joke crosses from killing the crowd to killing your career?

To me, the answer depends on two factors. Are you a famous comedian? And what type of joke is it?

Say what?

Our response to the whole matter was to fight against those who would limit speech. Obeidallah seems to think that the way to deal with it is to concoct rules, parameters and qualifications.

This is questionable at best, frightening at worst.

Now, here’s the really scary part:

But to me, the more important factor in determining if a comedian — famous or not — has crossed the line of decency is to look at the subject matter of the joke.

While I absolutely support freedom of speech, comedians deserve to suffer consequences if they make hateful jokes about race, ethnicity, gender, religion or sexual orientation.

We would like everyone to read the bold portion of that sentence aloud. Take your time. Say it twice if you have to.

And savor the many implications.

A fellow comedian is say that we deserve to suffer consequences if we make hateful jokes about race, ethnicity, gender, religion or sexual orientation.

We don’t have to waste our time explaining just how reprehensible that statement is, do we? It speaks for itself, right?

Because hey, that’s how a rebel comedian sticks it to the man — by voluntarily submitting to his speech codes, and decreeing certain subjects off limits. Or as John Nolte writes at Big Hollywood, watching the print edition of the Onion go out of business in DC and Philadelphia (gee, you’d think they’d be able to find something to satirize about those dysfunctional cities, and the men who lead their governments):

If you look at the state of humor today, it’s in pretty bad shape overall. This neo-fascism called political correctness has made so many issues off-limits that comedians really only have a few choices anymore when it comes to the topics they choose.

You can either mock Republicans or tell sex jokes. Other than that…

And (other than the dirty words appendix in the back of the book) the Newspeak Dictionary gets smaller and smaller.