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News » Private Eye

Enemy of the People



During a press conference on Monday, Jan. 24, President Joe Biden correctly answered a question from Peter Doocy of Fox News. And then came the fireworks.

After nearly all press conferences, the scrum of reporters attending often begins shouting questions to the president, as has been tradition for as long as I can remember. Decorum and courtesy are lost. At the end of Monday's presser, Doocy—the apple that didn't fall far from the dimwitted tree of his father, Steve Doocy—asked Biden, "Do you think inflation will be a political liability ahead of the midterms?"

By any account, Doocy wasn't being impolite to the president, just simply baiting him with a question that would result in face time on that evening's broadcasts. I haven't tuned into Fox since the night of the 2020 presidential elections. I don't really know if there's anything new on Fox, —yet I suspect that Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham persist in not discussing relevant news and remain mired in the foibles of persons named Obama, Clinton or Biden. Any question by Doocy that frames a question about inflation around Joe Biden and not Joe Citizen would play well that evening. Doocy knew that.

Biden—who may have thought his mic was off—made a mocking, eye-rolling answer to Doocy's political personal liability question. "That's a great asset. More inflation," Biden said. Then after another eye roll, "What a stupid son of a bitch." I'm sure Biden knew the mic was on.

Doocy—who gets spanked daily by Biden's spokesperson Jen Psaki—is not regarded as the next Sam Donaldson or Helen Thomas, but he does have a White House press pass and is entitled to ask dumb questions. He may even be a dumb son of a bitch. So, I give him points for being a willingly dumb son of a bitch, because no reporter I ever knew would ask such gallingly predictable and off-point questions day after day.

It didn't start on Monday. In 2017, Doocy applied the same personalizing tactic to the late Sen. John McCain. He approached the visibly ailing, soon-to-be-not-living McCain and asked, "Has your relationship with the president frayed to the point that you are not going to support anything that he comes to you and asks for?" McCain—who famously spent five years in a North Vietnamese prison camp communicating with his fellow inmates in various codes—delivered his answer in plain English, "Why would you say something that stupid? Why would you ask something that dumb? Huh? My job as a United States senator, is a senator from Arizona, which I was just reelected to. You mean that I am somehow going to behave in a way that I'm going to block everything because of some personal disagreement? That's a dumb question."

Doocy didn't get the memo, and the aftermath of this latest Doocy dud has been a doozy. The New Yorker magazine (in the tongue-in-cheek Borowitz report) proclaimed that the manner in which Biden answered Doocy proves that Biden has sound mental acuity. Makes sense to me. And it's certainly a better signal of cognitive sharpness than Trump boasted about when he lit off his famous five flash card memories: Man. TV. Camera man. Hot blonde and ... and ... and I forget the last one because my own mental acuity remains locked in 1977. Trump has me on mental acuity. I have him on fewer Big Macs.

Right-side political media was its predictable nonsensical self. Rep. Jim Banks, Insurrection Planner-Indiana, asked, "Have we ever seen a president attack and malign the free press like Joe Biden?" Well, yes, Jim, like when the ever-dainty wordsmith Donald Trump called a reporter a criminal, when he constantly encouraged his groupies to go after journalists, and when he called those journalists the "enemy of the people." As well, Glenn Greenwald—who like many libertarians simply use that word to hide their inner bigotries and political insecurities—tweeted that Biden's muffled utterance was a "grave attack on press freedom. That is what the Nazis did," he said, and he asked, "other media to condemn this attack."

Biden's comment was not an attack on the free press. It's also not what the Nazis did—they didn't waste time calling some doofus "der Hurensohn" (assuming my Google translate is up to par). They had other methods. As for me—someone who has rarely been accused of being a journalist, just a smart ass—I'm not bothered a bit by Biden calling Doocy a son of a bitch.

Anyway, Biden telephoned him afterward and they had a nice chat, according to Doocy. Would Hitler have done that? Nah. Neither would Trump. He's never apologized to anyone for anything—ever. Not even to the world for spawning us Donald Trump Jr.

Yet, it's frightening to all journalists—to be one, or to be associated as one—these days. For some reason, persons on social media get a hall pass, even though they do far more harm, foment more unease and tell more lies than persons attached to a traditional media outlet ever could. That's not right. Last week, a member of The Salt Lake Tribune editorial board shared social media posts that threatened her life, ostensibly because the Tribune embarrassed Gov. Spencer Cox in an editorial regarding COVID mask mandates. Now that is Nazi-esque.

The editorial board member's tweets are now deleted—such magic not possible in print. Prior, however, I saw nothing from our four-headed Utah Republican delegation except adulating praise for Cox, nor from the office of Gov. Cox, either. If I missed it, sorry, but I'm just a stupid son of a bitch from Bingham Canyon, Utah, and, well, I'm not the enemy.

I am the people. And you are. The enemy isn't us.

Send comments to john@cityweekly.net