Dan Gainor: Awful media moments – Attacks on dead billionaire, Jews, Sean Spicer and press freedom

Some of the same media outlets that scream about the things President Trump says spent much of Friday celebrating the death of billionaire philanthropist David Koch.

It was the perfect topper to a week where The New York Times complained about anti-Semitism until it was revealed one of its staffers had mocked Jewish people. Then we watched as journalists attacked two former Trump press secretaries.

“Real Time” host Bill Maher was the worst example of a long list of celebrities who couldn’t wait to dance on the grave of Koch after he died. He noted Koch died of prostate cancer. “I guess I'm going to have to reevaluate my low opinion of prostate cancer,” Maher said. Yes, really.


Maher didn’t stop there, concluding by saying “f--- him.” “I’m glad he’s dead and I hope the end was painful.”

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Maher was far from alone. I’ll ignore the usual collection of moron Hollywood windbags and focus on the press.
Rolling Stone headlined its hit job as “David Koch Built a Toxic Empire – with Human Consequences” and criticized “the undeserved respectability that an oil fortune can bring.”

Esquire’s Charles P. Pierce began his reaction this way: “Fair warning. I am about to speak very ill of the dead.” He concluded with eco-hate: “If David Koch is to be cremated, I suggest we dispense with all the fuss and bother and just drop his corpse from a helicopter into the fires now consuming the Amazon rainforest. Let him be one with his legacy.”

Far-left Common Dreams was only slightly more obvious than the rest of the media. Its article was headlined “After Life of Incalculable Harm, Billionaire Climate Denialist and Right-Wing Villain David Koch Dead at 79.”

There was lots of media hate to go around.  “MSNBC Live” host Chris Jansing called the late billionaire "one half of the Koch Brothers” who “came to symbolize the influence of dark money in America." Notice how it’s never liberal donors who give as much or more who symbolize dark money and who are demonized?

Even The Onion chimed in, mocking the newly deceased philanthropist, with the headline: “David Koch Pumps Billions Of Dollars Into Campaign To Secure Antonin Scalia A Seat In The Holy Trinity.”

Koch probably would have enjoyed knowing that he got under the skin of so many on the left – even after he had passed away. It certainly says all you need to know about his critics.

All the anti-Semitism that’s unfit to print

The New York Times began the week trying to make everyone focus on race, racism and anti-Semitism. By the end of the week, the newspaper had to deal with anti-Semitism closer to home – from one of its own editors.

The Times blasted Trump for his comments about Jewish voters and Israel, commenting in an editorial about the “bloody history of modern anti-Semitism” and saying “the president’s words are still dangerous.” Trump has adamantly denied that any of his comments were anti-Semitic comments and has been a strong supporter of Israel.

Then Breitbart News revealed that Times Senior Staff Editor Tom Wright-Piersanti had “a years-long history of antisemitic and racist comments on his Twitter page.” In one from 2010, he tweeted: “I was going to say ‘Crappy Jew Year,’ but one of my resolutions is to be less anti-Semitic. So… HAPPY Jew Year. You Jews.”

Wright-Piersanti posted a lame apology, of course: “I have deleted tweets from a decade ago that are offensive. I am deeply sorry.”

The Times succeeded in its goal. It wanted to get everyone to talk about racism and anti-Semitism. It just didn’t realize it would be the subject instead of the background material.

Dancing press secretary

When journalists weren’t grave-dancing this week, they were trying to prevent President Trump’s former press secretary, Sean Spicer, from dancing at all.

The dance controversy played out like the newly woke plot of a “Footloose” remake. Former press secretary invited to be on “Dancing with the Stars” and the “neutral” press tries to destroy him. NBC called it the “firestorm over Sean Spicer’s casting on ‘Dancing with the Stars.’”   

Newsies at ABC were especially upset because, according to CNN’s “Reliable Sources” newsletter, they said that “Spicer was ‘horrible’ to ‘so many of us.’” CNN wrote about one ABC staffer who said: "It's disgusting to think he is getting on the show AND getting paid by OUR company."

CNN’s Anderson Cooper attacked both Spicer and Sarah Sanders for their new positions. “Tonight, let there be no doubt that big, shiny, elegant, gold-plated opportunities, gorgeous opportunities await those who deceive the country on behalf of President Trump,” he complained. (Sanders had just become a Fox News contributor.)

CNN ignores threat to free press

CNN has a love-hate relationship with press freedom. The network loves its freedom, but doesn’t care much about what happens to others. Washington Post media critic Erik Wemple skewered CNN and one of its chief anti-Trump voices, April Ryan.

I wrote last week how the editor of New Brunswick Today was thrown out of an event where Ryan was speaking simply because he was recording it. Ryan declared to the crowd, in her finest journalism voice, “when I speak, I do not let the news cover my speech.”


This week Ryan’s security guard was charged “with harassment, assault and theft,” according to a story by NJ.com. Wemple called out both Ryan and her network and tried to get them to comment. Ryan tried to speak off the record and Wemple wouldn’t go for it. “CNN’s PR folks didn’t bother returning email inquiries about the matter,” he added.

Wemple demanded they do better and he’s right. He ended his column by saying: “Speak now or relinquish your standing as First Amendment champions.”

Don’t hold your breath.

The network didn’t have a great week. It also announced it had hired former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. Wemple called him “a prominent public figure with ‘real’ credibility issues” because he’s “under criminal investigation over his statements to FBI and Justice Department officials regarding a leak to the Wall Street Journal about an investigation of the Clinton Foundation.”

None of that matters at CNN, as long as he attacks Trump.


Another liberal #MeToo moment

Former MSNBC “Morning Joe” contributor Mark Halperin made news again this week in the worst way. It was announced he was working on a book called “How to Beat Trump: America’s Top Political Strategists on What It Will Take.” An estimated 75 big-name liberals aided his efforts.

That also meant they gave a pass to the sexual misconduct allegations that had crashed Halperin’s career. One America News Network’s Emily Miller was one of Halperin’s several accusers. She tweeted that she was “ANOTHER junior ABC employee he attacked” and she called the book “shameful and hurtful” to those he harmed.