Meghan McCain has received a lot of flack recently for some comments she made on Al Sharpton’s MSNBC Program discussing the lack of moderates staying in the GOP. She claimed that she did not understand the appeal of media attack dogs like Michelle Malkin and the late Andrew Breitbart. Later, she was attacked for some of her comments and replied in a post to the Daily Beast:
Last week, I went on Al Sharpton’s MSNBC show PoliticsNation to talk about extremism in the Republican Party. As a socially liberal Republican, this happens to be a topic I know a lot about. On the show, I told Sharpton that many Republicans treat me like a freak, especially the extreme-right members of my party. I went on to say that I don’t understand the appeal of extreme bloggers such as Michelle Malkin and the late Andrew Breitbart. That’s all I said, but it only took a few hours before my comments were posted out of context on a variety of blogs that suggested I was viciously attacking Breitbart. My Twitter feed exploded with insults, including the suggestion that I should kill myself.
Instead of ignoring the hate projected at me, I elected to retweet some of the most vile responses. I wanted to show people what happens to me when I go on TV and voice my opinion. The Internet trolls weren’t interested in having a discussion about my opinion; they just wanted to eviscerate me. Here’s a watered-down version of some of the most hateful comments:
I am fat pig. I am ugly. I am disgusting. I am an embarrassment to my family, and they should be ashamed of me. I am an anti-American extremist. I am a clueless whore. I should drink a bottle of alcohol and pills and kill myself.
I stand with Meghan McCain against such disgusting comments. There is no room in proper political discourse for such crude insults. No one should ever be treated like this! With that being said, I think McCain is missed a big opportunity to not just go after the flamethrowers, but to attack the structural impetus in which these types of debates fester, namely the partisan media and the internet.
The media likes sensationalism and controversy. That is no secret. More importantly, it needs a villain in its Manichean worldview. It also needs entertainment. The best way to achieve that is through partisan politics to gain an audience of devoted viewers. In this universe, everything becomes a heated political debate and controversies get blown up to achieve higher ratings. Sean Hannity, Ed Schultz, and Bill O’Reilly have legions of followers willing to tune in, not to receive an education about a particular issue, but to see who going to get thrashed by the awesome might of these political titans. Feeding the frenzy are more internet blogs started by anyone with computer and an internet connection (including myself). From this aparatus contain many internet commenters and radio call in guests willing to take part in this political theater. The point is McCain missed an opportunity to have a larger conversation about this problematic mixing of entertainment and politics that is driving all this “internet bullying” and “partisanship.” Of course, she is part of this media saturated culture and was making comments on Reverend Al Sharpton’s own echo chamber show, so the point was probably moot. Sigh.