There are few things more irritating than when the liberal media — the same one that drove up subscription numbers from appalled left-leaning readers with slogans like "democracy dies in darkness" — has to be coaxed out of sympathizing with the enemy. Along with an inexplicable spike in soft-focus profiles of racists, scolding op-eds about how college students are ruining free speech, and demands that we respect decrepit, brain-dead Republican senators in spite of their monstrous beliefs and actions, we’ve seen an increase in sanctimonious public pleas from journalists to liberals, begging that they stop “bullying” the party that controls all three branches of government. This, of course, has won liberal outlets precisely zero fans from the Trump camp so far.
One of the worst offenders is Julia Ioffe of The Atlantic. Possibly because she was fired from Politico for asking if Donald Trump has sex with his daughter (an objectively true fact), she now seems to spend a good chunk of her time on Twitter, bawling over the hurt feelings of the powerful and privileged. When she defended dimwitted New York Times editor Bari Weiss after the latter was criticized for a racist tweet, she went full 1990s anti-bullying PSA: “Learn how to disagree as a civilized adult. Stop bullying people. Just stop it.”
The most recent, and sickening, example was her response to the backlash to Aaron Schlossberg, the wealthy Manhattan lawyer (and Trump donor) who last week was caught on video threatening to report restaurant employees to ICE simply because he overheard them speaking Spanish. After the video of Schlossberg screaming racial abuse at service workers blew up, he was questioned on the street by reporters, bombarded with negative Yelp reviews, and evicted from his office. Ioffe, for some reason, felt the need to defend this horrible man: “Aaron Schlossberg doesn’t seem like a very nice person, but does that merit harassing him in the street, kicking him out of his work space, having people trying to revoke his legal license? Imagine this happening to someone you agree with and see how you feel,” she tweeted. When several thousand people pointed out how stupid this was — and that having to rent a new office pales in comparison to, say, being denied medical care in an ICE detention facility — she replied “thank you, mob, for proving my point.” What that point is, however, remains unclear. (Ioffe later doubled back will a full apology.)
Aaron Schlossberg doesn’t seem like a very nice person, but does that merit harassing him in the street, kicking him out of his work space, having people trying to revoke his legal license? Imagine this happening to someone you agree with and see how you feel.— Julia Ioffe (@juliaioffe) May 18, 2018
So thank you, mob, for proving my point.— Julia Ioffe (@juliaioffe) May 18, 2018
Sam Stein of The Daily Beast also loves to pat himself on the back for respecting the humanity of unrepentant racists. When D-list financier Anthony Scaramucci was fired last July from his position as White House Press Secretary after only ten days, Stein tweeted: “In all seriousness, this is a sad story. Not a laugher. Guy sold his company, divorced his wife, didn’t see his kid's birth, for…. This.” Sorry, but that makes it even funnier. When Donald Trump Jr.’s divorce was announced in March, Stein scolded those of us who rightfully took joy in his misery: “Really weird and upsetting to see folks acting gleeful at the Don Jr. divorce news. It’s his private life and he has five kids. Leave it alone. I don’t care how bad my ratio ends up.”
In that last line — which references the ratio of (typically angry) replies to (typically supportive) retweets — he casts himself as a martyr for decency. Because he weeps over the prospect of Don Jr.’s obscenely wealthy heirs having to split their time between two penthouse apartments, he is superior to those of us who don’t give a shit. This is the morality of children.
this is the 100% Correct Take— Chris Hayes (@chrislhayes) March 15, 2018
No matter how often liberal journalists waste empathy on people actively destroying the country, everyone who engages in this behavior seems to believe they are the first to do so. Each soon-forgotten stand they take against rudeness carries the same air of Helen Lovejoy self-importance. Remember when Kathy Griffin tricked Barron Trump into thinking she cut off the president’s head — objectively the funniest thing that happened last year — and all the brave journalists at CNN fell over themselves condemning it? “For the record, I am appalled by the photo shoot Kathy Griffin took part in. It is clearly disgusting and completely inappropriate,” Anderson Cooper tweeted. Remember when The Daily Caller criticized Barron Trump’s outfit last August and the Washington Post ran an op-ed saying it exemplified the outlet’s “decency deficit?” Which, true, but also — give me a break.
The insistent wussiness of so many journalists almost makes the cynical access journalism of people close to the White House seem refreshing. When Maggie Haberman of The New York Times chided the audience at a November 2016 performance of Hamilton for booing Mike Pence, her cowardice at least qualified as a business expense — her and Pence are often in the same room. Similarly, when NBC’s Andrea Mitchell said comedian Michelle Wolf owed Sarah Huckabee Sanders an apology for her jokes at the White House Correspondents Dinner, she at least had an excuse. She has to speak to these people for her job.
That @PressSec sat and absorbed intense criticism of her physical appearance, her job performance, and so forth, instead of walking out, on national television, was impressive.— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) April 29, 2018
This is what is most grating about all of this: all but a select few liberal commentators have nothing to gain from empathizing with the far-right. Aaron Schlossberg and Don Jr. would never return such a favor in a million years — because they are narcissistic sociopaths. Conservatives aren’t going to stop loathing journalists if they say enough nice things about the people rounding up immigrant children and trying to start wars, and even the most milquetoast #Resistance liberals find this sort of thing incredibly off-putting. Unless your job security directly depends on you shedding tears over the hurt feelings of the ruling class, there is simply no excuse for this shit. Engage in all the masochism you want, but keep it out of the public eye.