Nolte: The Media’s Stupid Hysteria over Kelly Sadler and Michael Cohen

Kelly Sadler and Michael Cohen collage
Associated Press

The establishment media are cunning, biased, cruel, bullying, dishonest, and useless. The media’s current twin-obsessions — with White House communications aide Kelly Sadler and President Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen — have alchemized all of those ugly characteristics into a breathtakingly stupid and shallow hysteria. What a clown show.

Let’s start with Sadler.

According to the media, during a staff meeting about the fate of Gina Haspel, Trump’s pick to head the CIA, Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) opposition came up. The Arizona senator, who is reportedly on his deathbed due to brain cancer, came out swinging against Haspel in a tweet that declared “her role in overseeing the use of torture is disturbing & her refusal to acknowledge torture’s immorality is disqualifying.”

Not to digress too much, but a couple of things need to be said here. First, waterboarding is not torture. Anything a prig journalist volunteers for as a grandstanding ploy is not torture. Secondly, McCain voted to confirm President Obama’s choice to head the CIA, John Brennan, who was Haspel’s boss at the time of these enhanced interrogations. So McCain’s opposition is not only misleading, one wonders where his principled opposition was during the previous administration.

Anyway, while discussing the vote count (as of now it looks like Haspel will be confirmed), Sadler reportedly “joked” that McCain’s opposition did not matter because “he’s dying anyway.” As you might expect, this went over like a lead balloon, and then some backstabber ran crying to the media.

We are also told, though, and this is important, that Sadler did the right thing: she called McCain’s daughter, Meghan, to own up to what she said and to personally apologize. Apparently, the call “did not go well.”

Assuming this went down exactly as reported (a big assumption in the Golden Age of fake news), Sadler’s joke was not only tasteless; it was cruel in its dismissive tone regarding a man’s life. But who among us is not guilty of misreading the room, of saying something you know to be awful as a means to throw a curveball into a conversation or meeting, of immediately regretting the moment your mouth got ahead of your brain?

Again, assuming the reporting is accurate, Sadler did exactly what a decent person does after saying such a thing: she called McCain’s daughter to apologize, which she had to know would be a humiliating and excruciating experience because the McCain family has perfected the art of holding on to a grudge like it will save them from a deadly fall.

What’s more, the White House immediately released a statement that said, “We respect Senator McCain’s service to our nation and he and his family are in our prayers during this difficult time.”

But, of course, this is not enough for our braying media. Worse than crusading for Sadler’s scalp, though, is the media’s 24/7 shameless exploitation of McCain’s illness as a means to endlessly signal their own precious and nauseating virtue.

We all know the media are not horrified or appalled by Sadler’s comment. On the contrary, they are deeeeelighted. You can hear it in every sanctimonious cable news segment, read it in every pompous word. Even beyond the joy the media take from an opportunity that allows them to demonize a Republican (better still, a Republican woman), is the masturbationist-ecstasy (I just made that up) that comes from an opportunity to publicly demonstrate what pure, principled, wholesome, righteous, noble, honorable, exemplary, high-principled, unsullied, untarnished, blameless, moral people they are.

This is especially rich coming from a guy who allowed his audience to boo a rape victim.

In private, Sadler said something thoughtless and cruel. As penance, she prostrated herself before an unforgiving Meghan McCain. In a just world, that would not only be the end of it, but, dare I say, a “teachable moment” — a healthy example of how adults are supposed to behave in both apologizing and — if it had happened that way — in graciously accepting that apology before moving on.

(For the record, I would say the same about MSNBC’s Nicole Wallace, who, while in a moral preen over Sadler, popped off about “choking” press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders — not in private, but on TV. Wallace later apologized. We should accept that apology and move on. And we will because Wallace is a left-winger and, therefore, safe.)

But instead of acting like grown-ups, instead of setting a good example by acknowledging the log in our own eye through the acceptance of an apology, we live in a media world addicted to drama, to self-absorbed moral preening, to selfish, partisan stupidity and pious hysteria. Speaking of…

The breathtaking dumbness found in the media frenzy surrounding the “revelation” that Michael Cohen took money from large corporations interested in leveraging his insight about a sitting president has actually made me laugh out loud at times. AT&T’s simpering “apology” practically put me on the floor.

Freaking out over the discovery that Cohen accepted this money is like freaking out over the discovery that Cohen’s water is wet.

In the world of both media and politics, Cohen’s leveraging his relationship with Trump to make consulting money is as normal, routine, and ordinary as breathing. Almost everybody in politics does this, and I will guarantee you that every phony journalist pretending to have the vapors knows and even works with dozens of people who do the same.

Listen, you don’t have to like that this is how the world works, but this is how the world has worked going back to ancient Rome. Sure, it is swampy and unfair that those who can afford to enjoy this advantage do so over those of us who cannot. But it is called free speech, and the drawbacks of free speech are always preferable to the consequences of the government’s restricting that speech.

The real story in this Cohen nothingburger is that the money got these companies absolutely nowhere with Trump, most especially AT&T. (Trump came out against its proposed merger with Time-Warner.)

Is that not good news?

Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC. Follow his Facebook Page here.

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