Turn on any network last week and you saw famous people making excuses. It didn’t matter if it was Hollywood morons defending a rapist, David Letterman pretending he was a victim for treating his staff like a harem, or Barack Obama denying responsibility for the failed Olympic bid.
It looked like some nightmarish recast of an awful "Family Circus" cartoon with all of the major characters shouting “not me” with their hands fully in the cookie jar.
And the traditional media celebrated the excuse-filled comic atmosphere.
First came the surprise arrest on September 27 of Hollywood icon and long-time jailbird Roman Polanski. After more than 30 years on the lam, the famous director of “Chinatown,” "Rosemary's Baby," and a host of other films no one ever saw, finally encountered a police force willing to say "fini" to his life of slime.
Hollywood idiots lined up to excuse him like they were in a Shriners clown parade.-- All they were missing were those tiny little cars. Harvey Weinstein, Woody Allen (This is the Mad Libs section of the column. Fill in your own joke here.), Debra Winger, Martin Scorsese and more. They even signed a petition demanding his release because it was just “a case of morals.”
Ah those uptight Americans and their Puritan ways about child rape. Gosh almighty. Yet, that was the rationale from the mindless on TV. Debra Tate, sister of Polanski’s murdered (by the Manson Family in 1969) second wife, pretended drugging and raping a 13-year-old child was “consensual.”
She told NBC's “Today” show “There's rape and then there's rape.” Not to be outdone, Whoopi Goldberg, ordinarily a sane member of “The View,” said Polanski’s hideous crime “wasn’t 'rape- rape.'”
It took a comic to put the whole horrific display in context. Comedian Chris Rock nailed it, telling Jay Leno, that “13 is 13.” He was stunned Polanski defenders tried to excuse the rape claiming Polanski’s film prowess mattered. “Even Johnny Cochran don’t have the nerve to go ‘Well, did you see O.J. play against New England?’”
David Letterman was nearly as unapologetic. In Letterman’s defense, he’s only a sleaze, not a rapist. He used his show to spin his own “creepy” actions – taking advantage of his status and having affairs with women on his staff. Letterman finally admitted what he had done almost eight minutes into a 10 minute and 13 second segment on his show. Even then he played it for a joke. “I have had sex with women who work on the show. And would it be embarrassing if it were made public? Perhaps, it would. Perhaps it would. Especially for the women.”
No doubt. The TV funnyman managed to make his audience yuck it up over his indiscretions.
Network after network helped excuse the inexcusable. CBS’s Kelly Wallace portrayed Letterman as a victim of a $2-million extortion scheme, not a guy who used his staff like Match.com. “David Letterman told his audience he had been blackmailed and then made a remarkable personal admission.”
Remarkable, certainly. It’s not everyday someone tries to hide a non-apology in a comedy skit.
Few media outlets brought up Letterman’s previous attacks on the Palin family and others. The Washington Post’s/CNN’s Howard Kurtz did do that and asked if Letterman’s actions would hurt him with his audience. “This is a guy who comes into your bedroom at night,” Kurtz said. --Especially if you work for him.
Letterman made a career bashing others. He especially loved beating up conservatives with jokes about Sarah Palin’s “slutty flight attendant” look. He even mocked Sarah’s 14-year-old daughter in a joke about her getting knocked up by Alex Rodriguez. He made excuses for that, too, but eventually apologized.
CBS didn’t excuse it completely. They went on a YouTube jihad to pull all copies of the video, according to The New York Times.
Then there’s the Excuser-in-Chief and his apologists. After being told the Obama folks were living large and in charge in Copenhagen, we discovered they were just clowning around.
Obama’s Olympic-sized failure turned into a five-ring circus as his adopted home town of Chicago was dropped quicker than a Michael Moore diet.
Naturally, it wasn’t Obama’s fault. “One of the things that I think is most valuable about sports is that you can play a great game and still not win,” he said in the Rose Garden. He didn’t play a great game. He didn’t get out of round one.
The Times described the scene saying his visit was first “predicated on the theory that Mr. Obama’s star power overseas — ‘the best brand in the world,’ as his advisers have put it — was luminescent enough to make the difference.” Oops.
But the media didn’t want to blame him. The networks were especially bad, with Cuteness Herself Katie Couric leading off that night’s CBS “Evening News” saying, “Tonight, Chicago hope dashed. Despite a high-powered, star-studded U.S. appeal from Oprah to the Obamas, the Olympics are awarded to Rio.”
MSNBC’s Ed Schultz took it even farther, blaming conservatives for Obama’s failure. “This is a failure of the Republican Party. The right-wing talkers in this country that openly, openly campaigned against the Olympics by denigrating our president again.”
Excuses, excuses. Welcome to the "not me" decade.
Dan Gainor is The Boone Pickens Fellow and the Media Research Center’s Vice President for Business and Culture. His column appears each week on The Fox Forum and he can be seen on Foxnews.com’s “Strategy Room.”