An American president wins the Nobel Peace Prize and the curtain goes up again on the Great Vaudevillian Media Exploding Head Follies. Limbaugh’s head goes “poof!” Beck’s goes “shree!,” and even the slightly cooler heads of the New York Times get in on the ridiculous burlesque of responsible journalism. According to the NYT’s Adam Nagourney, President Obama’s Nobel is a “mixed blessing.”
The part of me that can appreciate a healthy cavalcade of nincompoops wishes Roman Polanski had won the thing. According to FOX News, by the way, “nincompoop” was found to be the favorite word of the English in a 2007 survey, so maybe we now know the source of that network’s ambitions.
Let’s be clear about something. We haven’t yet achieved world peace. That means all the laureates — 96 individuals and 20 organizations — were either unaccomplished or simple failures, at least by the lights of Obama’s critics.
In his will, Alfred Nobel committed part of his estate for a prize “to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations.” Any successor to George W. Bush was going to have a head start in a fraternity-of-nations contest. The purchase of a nice globe for the Oval Office and the placing of a few inter-hemispheric phone calls seems like world peace in comparison to Dick Cheney’s international crime spree.
Fact is, Obama deserves this award, and I believe he also accepts it on behalf of the American people who had the good sense in 2008 to repudiate Bush’s global belligerence and domestic neglect. Congratulations, America.
But how do we account for the clownishness of contemporary media? I know it’s popular to rant about media bias, corporate consolidation, elite protectionism and simple laziness, and sadly, the media often earn the criticism.
This episode presents us with an altogether different type of idiocy. Those who imagine or hope for a political downside to the winning of the Nobel Peace Prize are, simply, nuts. Sure, Obama’s political opponents could be expected to find the negative. Had he been nominated and lost, these same Obama-haters would be mocking his failure to win it.
Political journalists who suck the nuts’ helium to earn a float down Celebrity Boulevard have finally lost their tenuous tether to reality. They are sailing away into a final frontier of foolishness.
Mockery seems the best medicine, but the mental and moral infirmities that plague our media are serious disorders. The American president won the Nobel Peace Prize, you nincompoops. At the very least responsible journalists owe it to the prospect of a safer world to treat the occasion with a little dignity and respect.
But no, such was not to be. These are, by and large, the same media clowns who invented Sarah Palin, only to have Ms. Palin explode in their faces like a trick cigar. Instead of falling back on a lesson from Journalism 101 — accept no trick cigars — they’ve turned the prank into a principle of reporting and see exploding cigars in every circumstance, even Obama’s winning of the Nobel.
As noted above, the world hasn’t yet achieved world peace. Our very existence is threatened by nuclear proliferation and the global climate crisis. The world is in the midst of a financial catastrophe that’s due, in part, to journalists’ failures to look behind the curtain on Wall Street.
If ever we needed the news media to pull the cigars and helium tubes from their mouths and return to the streets with us, now is the time. An idle hope, I fear.
There is no Nobel prize for journalism, and now we know why.