On January 24, Newsbusters Associate Editor Noel Sheppard was still trash tweeting MSNBC. He wrote, “At this rate I’ll have the intellect of an MSNBC host when the sun rises tomorrow.” As a writer for a conservative watchdog media site that calls left-leaning and mainstream reporters to the carpet for alleged bias, I don’t imagine he was hoping for their brain capacities. Newsbusters, the site belonging to the conservative Media Research Center, has skewered MSNBC relentlessly, including the likes of “Morning Joe” host and professional speech giver Joe Scarborough and “All In” host Chris Hayes.
And then cancer hit.
In the last few months, Sheppard has been diagnosed with a rare form of lung cancer and he’s in the the varying processes of surgery and chemo.
Earlier this month, both Scarborough and Hayes have come out to wish Sheppard their heartfelt prayers along with those you’d easily expect, like conservative commentator Ann Coulter. His followers are gripped by his daily, sometimes hourly, Twitter accounts of hospital emergencies, sometimes shitty nurses and actual pain in his lungs.
“Upside is 3 chemos and 4 rads in tumors are shrinking and I’m breathing easier. Upticks,” Sheppard remarked in early February. To which Hayes saw it in his heart to reply, ”Sending you my best and pulling for you.”
And suddenly everyone’s all lovey-dovey?
Well, yes. Six days later, Sheppard wrote Hayes back with this bit of affection: “I wanted to let u know this really meant a lot to me. Would like to by you a beer when we’re in the same town.” Hayes: “You bet.”
On Valentine’s Day, Scarborough was particularly loving. He wrote, “Prayers for @noelsheppard. A really good guy. Noel, you’re in my family’s prayers!
#GetWell” Sheppard was ecstatic. He replied, “Thanks Joe!!!!!” (Five exclamation points, but who’s counting?)
All this, despite Sheppard’s steady lambasting of Scarborough, Hayes and MSNBC:
Oct. 2012: Headline on Newsbusters – “Obama Gets Nothing But Softballs From Morning Joe’s Scarborough” — in which Sheppard refers to Scarborough as one of the network’s “supposedly conservative” hosts. Ouch.
Aug. 2013: Sheppard ridicules Al Gore for calling Hayes the “Edward R. Murrow” of his generation. Sheppard even warns readers before he tells them this ridiculously notion by Gore, writing, “Readers are strongly advised to remove all fluids, flammables, and sharp objects from their computers’ proximity as the following is likely to cause uncontrollable fits of laughter! You’ve been warned!” At the end of his story, Sheppard points out that Hayes is responsible for the network’s crap-filled ratings: “What Gore fails to realize is his new Edward R. Murrow has one of the least-watched shows on cable news, and is regularly blamed for MSNBC’s tanking ratings. Some Edward R. Murrow, huh?”
Sept. 2013: Sheppard writes, “But given the network [Richard] Wolffe works for, why should we be surprised that he seems to be allergic to facts?” Concerning three conservatives that Wolffe categorizes as real conservatives — Scarborough, Steve Schmidt and Michael Steele — Sheppard snaps, “As such, when you add it all up, the three so-called conservatives Wolffe cited by no means represent conservative views.”
Dec. 2013: Sheppard tells “The Steve Malzberg show,” that MSNBC is moving “further and further toward irrelevancy” as the networks increases attacks on conservatives. He explained, “What [MSNBC President Phil] Griffin has been doing is he’s been taking these lesser-known folks who are exclusively opinionators and who are conservative-haters and putting them into prominent positions. MSNBC just moves further and further to the left and further and further towards irrelevancy. I guess Griffin wants to become totally irrelevant. … And why does Joe Scarborough want to be associated? Now, of course, he positions himself as the lone conservative or right-of-center voice and it’s nice that that exists, but do you really want to be associated with this vile network? My answer is no.”
Jan. 2014: “Scarborough Takes Totally Unprovoked And Unnecessary Shot at Palin” He wrote, “This is pathetic on so many levels it’s amazing.” In the story Sheppard explains that Scarborough conceded something. “These people like much of the media have a very serious case of Palin Derangement Syndrome, so much so that even when she’s attacked by one of their former colleagues, she’s still made out to be the bad guy,” wrote Sheppard. “Makes you feel sorry for folks consumed with such hatred, doesn’t it? For his part, Scarborough reached for comment by email agreed that the Palin comment added an element to the discussion that he should have avoided. Indeed.”
Illness certainly puts a lot in perspective. So does death. But how about we go easy on turning our professional enemies into saints just because they wish you well when you’re dealing with cancer. Most humans, unless they’re sociopaths, feel compassion in a health crisis. If these people really want to do “good” maybe they could contemplate what would actually be heroic and worthy of emotion, which might be wishing Sheppard well even when he’s not in the grips of a potentially fatal illness.
Or would that not be quite as publicly touching?