By Howard Polskin
Silence of the lambasters: Matt Gaetz was a hot topic everywhere this past week — except if you happened to be reading conservative media. The 38-year-old Republican Congressman from Florida found himself in the middle of a Federal investigation relating to charges of sex trafficking involving an underage girl. Other salacious accusations spilled out across MSNBC, CNN and the pages of mainstream and liberal websites. While I didn’t expect conservative media to attack him for the charges (as of yet unproven), no one that I read stepped up to defend him. It was like he vacationed in Chernobyl and returned to the U.S. glowing with deadly radioactive particles. I had at least expected someone to attack the New York Times for breaking the story. The best you can say about it from his point of view, is that very few conservative media outlets covered it (Washington Examiner being an exception that I noticed). So in effect, he was ghosted. No outlets were asking him to step down. There were no pieces uncovering previous bad behavior (and the possibility exists that it’s because there’s nothing to report in that vein). But the silence of the conservative writers who lambast politicians for their perceived sins – like being 78 years old – was quite notable. If this story takes more dramatic and darker turns, it will be interesting to see how the right wing press will handle…There are many reasons to dislike Gaetz if you’re a liberal or mainstreamer. Nonetheless, I urge you to watch the HBO documentary The Swamp, in which he was featured. At least now I understand his appeal to voters.
Conservative media throw a high hard one at baseball: Major League Baseball (MLB) dropped a bomb on Friday afternoon announcing that it was pulling its All-Star Game out of Atlanta, Georgia, because of the new election security law which is widely consider to hinder the voting rights for people of color. Conservative media wasted no time pouncing on the decision with blistering criticism. The Washington Examiner called MLB a wing of the Democratic party. Big League Politics accused of MLB of betraying Georgia. The Wall Street Journal described MLB as “the Biden baseball league.” There was nothing surprising about the opinions from the right, but the rebukes must have stung the baseballs powers. Perhaps the smartest take on the situation that I read was in the New York Times, which quoted a Smith College sports economist who said, “I doubt very much that progressive people who didn’t like baseball will start liking baseball, but it’s quite possible that conservative people who do like baseball will move away from it.” The liberal in me initially applauded MLB’s move. But after a day of reflection, my position shifted around two lines of thought. First, let’s say you’re Levi’s and you think the new election security law stinks. Should you stop selling jeans in Georgia? Should Warner Bros. stop distributing films in Georgia? Should Simon & Schuster stop selling books in Georgia? Should I not even consider vacationing for a long weekend in Savannah this summer? Where does this end? Second, doesn’t MLB’s decision exacerbate the polarization in our society? I can only imagine the social and political forces weighing on MLB that brought them to their decision. But in my mind the gap between the nation’s two opposing political camps just widened even further. By more than a major league baseball field, that’s for sure.
Before I forget: Cancel Hemingway? Please don’t. April 5 marks the debut of the new Ken Burns and Lynn Novick three-part PBS documentary about Ernest Hemingway, perhaps the ultimate white, gun-toting, toxic, male novelist. Will there be calls to cancel him after this broadcast? Not from the right…Cancel Saturday Night Fever? Please don’t. I re-watched it last week and was mesmerized by the memorable, slick-dancing Tony Manero, played unforgettably by John Travolta. But the character was the ultimate toxic male dancer with a major case of misogyny. His lines about women landed like punches in the gut. But I still wouldn’t cancel…Don’t confuse Matthew Gertz, the well-regarded Senior Fellow at the liberal Media Matters, with Matt Gaetz, the embattled Congressional scandal-magnet and ardent Trump supporter from Florida…Bust out your sun tan lotion, Hawaiian shirts and MAGA hats. The conservative Media Research Council has announced speakers for its Caribbean cruise from January 29-February 5. Speakers include Rick Santorum, Breitbart CEO Larry Solov, Fox commentator and conservative columnist Cal Thomas, and Washington Times columnist Charlie Hurt. My burning question: is the ship capable of making a left turn?….Podcast rec of the week: My Fugitive from Pineapple Street Studios. The riveting eight-part series focuses on a young man accused of burning an Air Force building during an early 70s anti-war protest. If you think we’re living in a highly partisan society now, listen to this and open your eyes. The America of 50 years ago was being torn apart by violent protests against the Vietnam war, assassinations of political leaders and riots in the streets. But without social media, the Internet and cable news, every spasm of violence wasn’t being chewed on nonstop for days at a time…Here’s the first major review of Hunter Biden’s book from a conservative outlet that I’ve seen. The NY Post pans it and calls it a “whitewash.”