May 26, 2010


Joe Scarborough, of MSNBC's Morning Joe shoe, are you physiologically unable to keep your mouth shut when others are speaking? In the Big Joe psyche, is bullying a terminal condition?

Today you spoke for Mika regarding her presence when the twin towers fell on 9/11. Is she “the little woman” who can’t speak for herself? Dude, she’s the one who was there, not you. So why not bring it up, then shut up? Defer to the one with first-hand experience regarding chemical pollutants. Let her tell her own story.

A few seconds later, you steamrolled Mike Barnicle. Again. Ditto your guests—apparently you invite them only to interrupt them. "Hey, Bobby, come on over to my house. I need something to walk on." Don't you review tapes of the show, the way athletes review game film? Is there no one around to say, "Jesus, Joe, you blew it again?" Are you like the BP exec who wouldn't listen to the guys who knew? I thought you hated the BP execs.

Verbal imperialism. Well, that suits the Republican character. Set ‘em up to think they matter, then mow ‘em down.

Like you, I am a straight white male, and I’m tired of public mouths like you coming on as domineering jerks, thus handing legitimate ammo to everyone out there who’s feasted on white male behavior and dominance in western history. How many times must I say, “Yep, guilty as charged”—because of boorish behavior by guys like you?

You probably scoff at the whole concept of white guilt, even as you engage in behavior that illustrates "our" guilt. Is that notion too intellectually complex for you? Or will you plead something like ADHD—you've got such passion, you just can’t hold it in. You get itches you must scratch—for an audience of millions. Go scratch in private, Joe. I want to hear your guests and colleagues.

It's old news that Volume 10 Motor Mouth Syndrome is a national epidemic these days. You see it at every mall, in every school hallway, in every public cell phone conversation. And in the public arena, it’s bad enough that we must confess national ownership of political televangelists like Haggerty and Beck. You, Oberman, Chris Matthews, and others could offer an alternative, but you take the much-traveled low road. The loud road. You yell and stomp and slobber, rendering yourself about a half-step up from Limbaugh in the national misfortune of news and commentary as carny side show.

Please, please assume the role of leadership inherent in your profession. There are countless occasions when journalism is our best hope against political deceit, and we just can't afford for people in your position to settle for the role of hulking verbal bully.

Be bigger than your ego. Ask questions. Gather info and opinions from smart, responsible people—which, of course, many of your guests are. If you must opine, make one- or two-sentence comments. Then shut up. Practice it in bed at night: shut up, Joe. Shut up, Joe. Shut up, Joe. Instead of grace before meals, try Thank you, Lord, for granting me silence. Shut up, Joe. Amen.

None of that will happen, of course. It doesn’t sell Wheaties. If I try really hard, maybe I can remember to record Rachel Maddow and watch her with breakfast. Brain food there. Knows how to talk, knows how to listen, zippier than public TV and radio, but still smart and responsible. More precious than gold. Amen.

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Brenda's Arizona said...

Interesting rant, Banjomyn. 'be bigger than your ego' - love that comment. Makes me glad I read a lot!

Anonymous said...

Beware anyone who starts a sentence with "Listen..." or "Look..." He or she does neither.

Banjo52 said...

Brenda, you mean your reading gives you perspective?

AH, sounds right. How about those who seize--not sexily touch, but seize--your forearm to hold, literally HOLD, your attention?

Anonymous said...

Yes, the close-talkers. I'm someone who likes a lot of space between me and the other. I once worked for this dominatrix who would practically sit on my lap, and I went to great lengths to build what was essentially a wall with a mote around my desk. It became a game which everyone noticed but her.

Banjo52 said...

Hiker, I think that space, that mote, is something that blogging and the internet in general provide. It's risky to put too many eggs in that basket, but it's nice to have choices about talking and listening.

And aren't you knocked flat in amazement at what some people don't get? Or get but don't care? Do you worry that you're not getting something about yourself that's obvious to others? I do, but not much.

One of the new games I play (alone) is to ask, "Can I imagine myself, in that situation, saying what X said, in X's tone?"

Fortunately, the answer's almost always no. I guess it's still judgmental on my part, but it's comforting, and it brings a least a bit of rationality, objectivity, into the issue.

I hope you all see my May 27 post today as an extension of this conversation.

Brenda's Arizona said...

You worked for a dominatrix? OH! Do we need to ask more?

Banjomyn, "Steve Martin playing his banjo, will join The Steep Canyon Rangers" on Oct. 10 for a night of bluegrass here in nearby Scottsdale. Wanna go???
Also, in this non blogged discussion of bluegrass, check out Bob Edwards interview... it will leave you laughing!

bettertry said...

WHEW! Banjo you go!!

Banjo52 said...

Ross, I can rant, but ask me to get off my rump and DO something, suddenly the neutrality gene kicks in.

Brenda, just tried that link and I think I have to join Sirius to get it. Am I doing something wrong?

That family's eclectic selection of three tapes for the car is an endearing detail. How much is enough? Different answers for different generations, I guess.

I like some of the Statler Bros. and can easily imagine them being translated to bluegrass. Maybe I'll google Dailey and Vincent.

I'd love to join you for Steve Martin, but I don't have enough gas.

Brenda's Arizona said...

I listen to the Bob Edwards Weekend show via its podcast. It is free. Looks like the 'listen' page has multiple ways to listen:

I hope it works!

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