Tag: Elizabeth Lauten

What Really Matter to the Media

We’ve frequently complained about the media’s reluctance to cover Obama fuckups and scandals. From IRS harassment to the inflation of Obamacare numbers, they’ve shown a reticence to take him on until they basically have no choice.

Well, you’ll be pleased to find out that the media has found a scandal they can get exercised about: some staffer saying something dumb:

Five days after Elizabeth Lauten published a Facebook post criticizing the outfits worn by President Barack Obama’s daughters, the previously obscure Republican Hill staffer is being inundated with threatening messages and major media outlets are pouring resources into tracking her moves and digging into her past.

Two network news vans camped outside of Lauten’s parents home in North Carolina on Tuesday, one day after she resigned as communication director for Rep. Steven Fincher (R., Tenn.) due to the controversy. Lauten was not at the house.

That morning, the Washington Post also assigned one of its foreign affairs correspondents to comb through an archive of columns Lauten wrote for her college newspaper in 2006 and 2007. The investigation found that Lauten had supported intervention in Darfur, criticized Facebook as an invasion of privacy, and warned people against “making race an issue.”

Lauten must have done something really awful to merit this kind of attention. Here is the entirety of what she said:

Dear Sasha and Malia, I get you’re both in those awful teen years, but you’re part of the First Family, try showing a little class. At least respect the part you play. Then again your mother and father don’t respect their positions very much, or the nation for that matter, so I’m guessing you’re coming up a little short in the ‘good role model’ department. Nevertheless, stretch yourself. Rise to the occasion. Act like being in the White House matters to you. Dress like you deserve respect, not a spot at a bar. And certainly don’t make faces during televised public events.

The response was a storm of criticism and threats on social media, segments on major news networks and a resignation from her job.

Look. I get that the children of politicians are off limits. I’ve never said anything about Obama’s daughters. And there really hasn’t been much to say. They’ve been mostly out of sight and have always crossed me as fine young ladies. They did have a bit of “daaaaad” body language going on during the turkey pardoning. I joked about it (at Obama’s expense) but I didn’t see anything worthy of criticizing. Lauten’s comment crosses me as a dumb over-reaction to nothing.

But what is the reaction to her comment but a dumb over-reaction to nothing. Lauten’s comment is not racist or particularly cruel. It’s certainly not as harsh as the kind of criticisms that were frequently thrown at, say, the Bush daughters or John Robert’s kids:

Hemingway:

Now, Lauten is in communications and her job presumably included an assumption that she wouldn’t embarrass her boss. Besides, in a city where you can keep your job even if you’re involved in serious scandals at the IRS, State Department, Veterans Affairs or the Department of Justice, an actual job loss is refreshing, in its own way. She even gave a full-throated apology — within hours of the initial post — for being mean, not one of these “I’m sorry if” constructions that politicians frequently use.

Still, what in the world was the media doing reporting on this non-story and firing up the mob? The Washington Free Beacon reported that “major media outlets are pouring resources into tracking her moves and digging into her past.” This included two network news vans camping outside of her parents’ home in North Carolina and a search of Lauten’s leaked juvenile records and college writings.

This is insanity and each and every person involved should be ashamed of himself or herself. If you were involved, you are a big part of what’s wrong with journalism and you need to check yourself.

Hemingway goes on to compare WaPo’s non-coverage of the Kermit Gosnell mass murder and their non-coverage of the HRC head’s arrest for child molestation charges to nearly a dozen articles about someone no one had ever heard of sniping on Facebook. She notes the hours of media coverage against their non-coverage of Jonathan Gruber. She notes, as I did, their hypocrisy when it came to criticizing the Bush daughters. Or Bristol Palin. Or Willow Palin. Hell, the Left Wing Echosphere just erupted in a huge feeding frenzy over a drunken brawl the Palin family got into because … Palin! The gleefully played audio of Bristol tearfully talking to the cops.

I have really come to hate these social media jihads against people who say something dumb. We all say dumb things. Probably thousands of people have said something dumber or meaner than what Lauten said. But all it takes is for one comment to “go viral” and someone’s life gets wrecked.

Enough. It’s one thing to call someone out and ask for an apology. It’s another to hound them relentlessly. With someone in a position of real power, fire away. But let’s stop singling out random individuals for unending harassment because their particular dumb comment, in the sea of dumb comments out there, happened to get our attention.