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Last week, a “right-wing activist” (according to Michael Eric Dyson, guest-hosting for Ed Schultz on MSNBC) interrupted President Barack Obama as he explained his executive order that bars deportation for at least 800,000 illegal aliens who came to America — “brought to this country by their parents” — before the age of 16.
As Obama stood in the White House Rose Garden and outlined the plan, Neil Munro, a reporter with a conservative website, shouted, “Why do you favor foreigners over American workers?” Based on his colleagues’ reaction, one would have thought he’d thrown a shoe at the President. Reporters and pundits called him unprofessional, rude and even racist for interrupting Obama.
Never mind Munro asked a legitimate question — one that probably wouldn’t have even occurred to amnesty-supporting media: Will this harm the job prospects for struggling young American citizens? (Nor has anyone had the chance to ask Obama why, only a year ago, he told a Univision audience that he lacked the power to suspend student deportations via an executive order.)
Munro, for his part, claims he assumed the President had concluded and wanted to get in his question. Obama holds few press conferences, a matter of frustration to the White House press corp. When a president restricts access to the press, the newshounds grow restless and become more aggressive — at least they should.
In a 1987 article titled, “Why Do Grown Men and Women Shout at President Reagan?” The Associate Press wrote: “They do it for a living … shouting, badgering Reagan for one last word. It even takes place at ceremonies (including) the Rose Garden. … They … blame … Reagan and his aides, who have sharply curtailed opportunities for the press corps to engage the President under more civil circumstances.” Longtime White House correspondent-turned-columnist Helen Thomas often crossed the line when giving commentary that only masqueraded as inquiry. When “questioning” President George W. Bush, Thomas made it clear she opposed the Iraq War and accused President George W. Bush of starting “a war for oil.”
In Munro’s case, MSNBC contributor Julian Epstein asked: “Would the right wing be doing this if we had a white president there? … We’ve never had a president heckled so disrespectfully. We’ve never had this otherness afforded to any other president. And I think the right wing is going to have some explaining to do, because to me, it seems patently obvious.”
Imagine, lessons in civility from the network that gave a show to the race-hustling incendiary, the Rev. Al Sharpton. This “civil rights activist” became famous by falsely accusing a white man of raping a black teenage girl. Sharpton helped foment the 1991 Crown Heights riots, a three-day outburst of mostly black-driven, anti-Semitic violence that one Columbia University professor called “a modern-day pogrom.” Sharpton once called David Dinkins, the black mayor of New York City, a “n—ger whore.” MSNBC also gave a show to Ed Schultz, who once called conservative radio host Laura Ingraham a “right-wing slut.”
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