In absence of substantive content, CNN host and Washington Post columnist Fareed Zakaria has decided to eschew journalistic integrity and instead turn to shock tactics more befitting of Howard Stern.
Appearing on Don Lemon’s show Friday, Zakaria went rapid fire with foul language on Donald Trump:
“He’s spent his whole life bullshitting. He’s succeeded by bullshitting. He has gotten the presidency by bullshitting.”
— CNN Tonight (@CNNTonight) March 18, 2017
This isn’t the first time Zakaria has turned to bovine manure to describe Trump, though. In August of 2016, appearing on Wolf Blitzer’s CNN show, Zakaria was calling Donald Trump out for not knowing about Russia’s 2014 invasion of Crimea when he said on live television,
“but there is a term for this kind of thing. This is the mode of a bullshit artist, and it is sometimes amusing. It’s entertaining, if the guy is trying to sell you a condo or a car. But for a president of the United States, it is deeply worrying.”
The statement grabbed a ton of attention becoming a news story all its own. A week later in response to the media firestorm, Zakaria doubled down on his show GPS, with an explanation about his choice of words:
“I replied that there was a pattern here and a term for a person who did this kind of thing. A bullshit artist. I was not using that label casually and in case you have sensitive ears I’m going to use it a few more times.”
Zakaria went on to spend time wandering down an academic approach to distinguishing BS from outright lying, quoting author Harry Frankfurt,
“bullshit is a greater enemy of truth than lies are.” It was compelling journalism to say the least.
Of course, using a term like that is fine on CNN, as cable TV outlets are outside the purview of the FCC. However, outlets have traditionally discouraged such language on the air. For instance in 2011, MSNBC suspended Mark Halperin for using inappropriate language in reference to President Obama.
CNN, though, has turned the other way when it comes to Zakaria’s colorful language. It is clear that instead of hard-hitting commentary that we would expect from a Yale and Harvard educated, award winning journalist, Zakaria and CNN took the low road and have turned “bullshit” into a catchphrase. The worst part is that it has worked.
Headlines and tweets all across the internet point to Zakaria’s “profanity-laced tirade” against Donald Trump. People all over the world are nodding their head behind their keyboard in agreement while Zakaria and CNN are drawing the ire of the Trump faithful. It truly is a sad reflection on what we demand out of media. In a world dominated by low-grade humor and ready-to-retweet memes, we should look to journalists of Zakaria’s caliber as a voice of reason, not as a cable news shock jock.
Yes, Donald Trump is a liar and is completely unstable. But unintelligent commentary is how Donald Trump took the White House to begin with. Instead of stooping to his level, it is up to the educated people in this country to defeat his ilk. This seems to be a larger problem in the media and in the DNC as well. They have struggled to effectively counter Trump’s insanity. The plan right now is to abandon reason and turn to hysteria, instead of offering compelling alternatives to Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric.
I would expect someone with the political chops of Fareed Zakaria to have a lot to offer the public in terms of well-stated journalism. However, instead of enriching the conversation about defeating Trump, he is just grabbing ratings while he can. That sort of thinking will never oust Trump from the White House. Then again, as a constant source of easy material, maybe journalists like Zakaria don’t want Trump going anywhere.