Joan Rivers, walked off the set recently during an interview with host Fredricka Whitfield on CNN. The comedian, ostensibly there to promote her new book, was met with a barrage of negative comments -- thinly disguised as questions -- from Whitfield that strongly implied Rivers' humor was mean-spirited and hurtful, and that the cover photo on her book (which shows Rivers wearing a fur) was improper, given the sensitivities of animal rights activists.
Rivers correctly commented that Whitfield wasn't capable of interviewing someone who "does comedy." Whitfield didn't seem to get that Rivers’ especially stark comments on stage about someone's dress being "ugly," or someone being cheap, or someone being too fat to wear Spandex aren't really meant to hurt anyone's feelings.
Such comments are so stark and so outrageous that everyone but folks like Whitfield would seem to understand that they couldn't possibly be serious criticisms. And Rivers' extraordinary gift is to deliver such barbs with so much obvious underlying warmth that they are immediately understood not to be a serious attempt to harm anyone. They are, rather, delivered to show that even famous and powerful people have foibles, that everyone has bad days, that we are all human and all able – with Rivers' help, at least – to laugh at ourselves.
Rivers also took Whitfield to task for commenting that she was trying to spark controversy by wearing fur on her book jacket. Rivers asked if Whitfield wore leather shoes and ate chicken (yes and yes), which she then correctly identified as hypocrisy, given Whitfield's apparent stance against fur coats.
I will never understand how journalists like Whitfield can decry the slaughtering of animals for fur and, then, eat burgers and hot dogs. Aren't cows and pigs as worthy as raccoons? A non-vegan animal rights activist is, by definition, a hypocrite.
The Whitfield-Rivers interview is important because it shows the readiness of left-leaning journalists to create a tempest in a teapot by rallying around false victims: in this case, those actresses and actors Rivers supposedly offends with her jokes. Conjuring up the notion of injured celebrities Rivers has supposedly preyed upon allowed Whitfield to pretend to be asking questions about Rivers' brand of humor, when she was really just attacking her guest. Isn't that the power-grab we see again and again from liberals intent on gathering more control?
Here's the playbook: Find someone or some group that could potentially take offense at something or feel shortchanged about something, assert that their injuries are deep and dramatic and that they should be outraged and, then, pledge the supposedly needed assistance. It's a good way to get votes from people you've convinced to feel disenfranchised and weak – people you have made, essentially, paranoid. And it's a good way to start a closed-shop union, too.
That's why CNN's Whitfield can't take a joke. Allowing that people can love one another and still be aware of their flaws, and even find them funny, isn't in the lexicon of the Left. To take notice of a person's bad dress or bad hair day or weak acting job is, all of a sudden, to offend that person to his or her core.
There isn't room for humor on the Left because everyone is a potential victim of everyone else, all must be exceedingly careful not to shatter the incredibly fragile people around them and only a big and powerful central authority can protect the feelings and future of us fragile Americans.
I've laughed with Joan Rivers since I was a kid. I never hated a single person she made a little good-natured fun of. If anything, she taught me to roll with the punches, not to be thin-skinned and to take myself and others a little less seriously some of the time.
I'm glad she walked off the set at CNN. There wasn't room for someone with such a big heart in that studio.
Keith Ablow, MD is a psychiatrist, and was host of the nationally-syndicated "Dr. Keith Ablow Show." He is a former member of the Fox News Medical A Team.