Ever since Donald Trump charged onto the political scene, traditional rules of the road are no more.
Maybe it started in February when Trump called Ted Cruz a “pussy” at a campaign rally in Manchester, New Hampshire. Or, rather, he was repeating what someone else said about Cruz. But he said it anyway.
Some outlets like CNN were still timid. Annoyingly, Jeremy Diamond‘s headline was: “Trump repeats vulgar word audience member uses to describe Cruz.”
Huh? Come on, tell us what happened!
TMZ was unapologetic. Harvey Levin‘s website declared: “Donald Trump: Ted Cruz is a Pussy!!!”
In recent days CNN has made up for being, well, a pussy in its reportage.
On Thursday night, Don Lemon hosted a panel that included NYT columnist Charles Blow — who may have the thinnest skin in all of journalism — and Graham Beckel, an actor and brother of CNN commentator Bob Beckel, who often appears on Lemon’s show.
Graham Beckel was a total weirdo who looked like he might’ve smoked something before going on air. But he had a decent point to make about Clint Eastwood and race before Blow blew right by him and insisted that Eastwood is a racist and exemplifies “white privilege.”
Eastwood, a Trump supporter, spoke out against political correctness earlier in the week, saying, ‘The kiss-ass generation we’re in right now. We’re really in a pussy generation.” Lemon said the word “pussy” outright. No dashes or p-word for him.
In Lemon’s segment, Blow treated Beckel, the actor, like dirt and like someone who wasn’t worthy of being on a CNN panel with him. Beckel dropped the words “shit” and “ass” into his commentary. He defended Eastwood’s beliefs, calling the concept surrounding those who were offended “post-colonial victim shit.”
He expanded on Eastwood’s thoughts, saying, “Kissing ass is, you know, it’s the currency of the realm. Everybody in Hollywood kisses ass except people with a tremendous amount of integrity. …I love the popping you guys are doing with this corn, overreading some kind of racist thing with it. I think that’s, it’s dimwitted and slandalous [sic].”
Blow blew a gasket when Beckel asked him a historical question.
BECKEL: “Charles, how many black soldiers spent the winter with George Washington at Valley Forge?”
BLOW: “I don’t think you’re the interviewer, I think Don is. You want to say something, say it. Otherwise don’t ask me questions because I’m not answering them. You are not the interviewer of me. I don’t know who you are, where you came or what gives you the authority to ask me any questions, it’s not going to happen.”
Beckel said his question was perfectly legitimate: “The answer is 700.”
[LONG, AWKWARD PAUSE.]
Political strategist Liz Mair was alarmed.
“Dammit, I knew I shouldn’t have taken the night off. Thunder: stolen!” she wrote me on Twitter.
But Mair needn’t worry about being upstaged.
On Wednesday, she went on Anderson Cooper‘s program and called Trump a “loudmouth dick.” Cooper didn’t flinch. But a flicker of something crossed his face for about a nanosecond. Shock? Amusement? The news immediately hit Drudge. And in CNN’s next hour, Mair tried to outdo herself by using another dirty phrase. This one, not quite as bold. She told Don Lemon, “Actually, what we’re seeing is a long and protracted butt fumble.”
A few other panelists, including The Hill‘s Editor-in-Chief Bob Cusack, stifled laughter. But soon enough, Mair was dropped from the panel.
Mair told The Mirror that she had considered calling Trump an “overgrown frat-boy” but at the last moment went with “loudmouth dick.”
Lots of Trump supporters on my Twitter feed called Mair a “cunt.”
But others clapped.
“That was amazing!” an anti-Trump female follower remarked. “I burst into laughter & cheered at the TV. Been a long time since I haven’t wanted to shoot the TV!”
Bookers beware. Or, bookers, check her availability now! Mair appears to be taking the whole thing in stride, wondering what she can say next time she hits the cable news airwaves.
“Next time I’m on, what anatomy shall I reference?” she asked Thursday night after the Blow-Beckel battle. “Balls? Boobs? So many tough decisions.”
I suggested “scrotum.” She replied, “Taint. That’s a tricky one to work in. But it’s important to have goals in life.”
The Washington Examiner‘s politics editor Jim Antle interrupted our conversation with one word: “Ladies.”
As reported by longtime media writer Joe Concha, who writes for The Hill, cable news is not regulated by the FCC and therefore there are no rules or fines for calling anyone a “dick.” But what if the roles were reversed and someone directed a c-bomb at Hillary Clinton?
“It would be so fascinating to witness someone actually turning the tables on the whole ‘loudmouthed d—‘ argument,” he wrote. “Fascinating as in… what if a guest decided to call Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton a loudmouth c-bomb?”
Concha answered his own question.
“Twitter would melt,” he wrote. “The Internet would break.”
More importantly, WWCBD?
What would Charles Blow do?
No doubt he’d find a way to make the whole thing racist.