Every weekday morning, I usually catch the last 30-40 minutes of MSNBC's Morning Joe program before I head off to work. The end of the show is usually less political, and more focused on entertainment and pop culture. This is, of course, a welcome change from having to hear the show's host Joe Scarborough (a former Republican Congressman) pretend he is not some detached, Bush loving, rabid wingnut. He tries to deflect his true nature with his sense of humor (much as Tucker Carlson does), but it always slips out as he is barely able to contain his contempt for all things Democrat.
Anyway...I was watching this morning when Morning Joe's new "pop culture" reporter, Courtney Hazlett (who I must admit I find somewhat attractive), delivered a harsh hit piece on author Stephen King. In an interview with Time magazine, the legendary author recounted a conversation he had while on Nightline about President Bush's endorsement of torture. "So I said something to the Nightline guy about waterboarding, and if the Bush administration didn't think it was torture, they ought to do some personal investigation. Someone in the Bush family should actually be waterboarded so they could report on it to George. I said, I didn't think he would do it, but I suggested Jenna be waterboarded and then she could talk about whether or not she thought it was torture."
To me, King's comments are perfectly reasonable. He wasn't really suggesting that Jenna Bush be waterboarded, he was making a larger point about the Bush administration's disregard for the typical standards of decency when questioning criminal suspects, and their refusal to even consider whether or not they are wrong, or tarnishing the reputation of the United States in the international community. But was that what he was really talking about or was there an even larger point?
Hazlett responded with a stinging personal attack on King. She claimed his book sales are in the toilet, and that the last movie adaptation of one of his novels opened with only an $8 million weekend. Putting aside the fact that King generally has little to do with the movies made of his books (as is the case with most authors), what do his book sales have to do with his point? This is a typical Bushie "attack the messenger" tactic that has been employed by the likes of Karl Rove for the last eight years. She never even addressed his actual point. But, I guess when you are pitching for the Bush team, that is not exactly necessary. If you make King look like a desperate, attention seeking loon, then you don't have to really talk about what he actually said.
More important than his comments on waterboarding, King was actually making a larger point on the media's misplaced priorities. He sarcastically suggested that Lindsey Lohan be named Time's "Person of the Year" because that is who the media spends all their time covering. Again, a perfectly reasonable point. This is likely what got Courtney's panties in a bunch. He was criticizing news outlets for employing people like her, instead of people like Richard Engel.
Courtney, stick to cutesy gossip stories about Britney Spears and Anna Nicole, and leave politics to someone with a clue. I wish I didn't know about your Republican leanings, because now it will be hard for me to like you.
Ms. Hazlett's online column about King can be found here. Again, I implore you to find Courtney's point anywhere.
UPDATE: Former Bush Attorney General John Ashcroft has volunteered to be waterboarded. I say, we take him up on that offer.