Poll: Who's the More Horrible Media Troll, Richard Cohen or Lori Gottlieb?
It's been quite a week for people writing what appear to be deliberately stupid editorials, but then, isn't it always? Earlier this week, the internet was in an uproar over Richard Cohen, Washington Post columnist and musty old bigot, who finds a new way to bum us out almost every Tuesday. As a reminder: the last time Cohen seriously upset people was with a column on Travyon Martin, suggesting that he did deserve to be profiled and maybe murdered a little, since he was, after all, young, black, and wearing a hoodie. And who could forget Cohen's delightful piece on Roman Polanski, who, after all, merely "had sex with a 13-year-old after plying her with booze" and obviously did not deserve any silly old rape charge?
Image via Washington Post Contestant 1: Richard Cohen
But Tuesday's column was a last straw for a lot of folks. Amid a mumbling piece about how the Tea Party doesn't like Chris Christie, thus making him un-electable as president, Cohen busted out this nugget, about how the rightwing sees Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio:
Today's GOP is not racist, as Harry Belafonte alleged about the tea party, but it is deeply troubled -- about the expansion of government, about immigration, about secularism, about the mainstreaming of what used to be the avant-garde. People with conventional views must repress a gag reflex when considering the mayor-elect of New York -- a white man married to a black woman and with two biracial children. (Should I mention that Bill de Blasio's wife, Chirlane McCray, used to be a lesbian?) This family represents the cultural changes that have enveloped parts -- but not all -- of America. To cultural conservatives, this doesn't look like their country at all.
To a lot of people, it sounded like Cohen was the one with "conventional views," needing to supress his upchuck response every time he thinks about a white man with a black wife. Many pointed out that those views haven't been "conventional" for several decades, and thought gagging at someone's children was, you know, in poor taste.
Cohen has defended the column, telling the Huffington Post, "The column is about Tea Party extremism and I was not expressing my views, I was expressing the views of what I think some people in the Tea Party held." To suggest that he's racist, he added, is "truly hurtful. It's not who I am. It's not who I ever was. It's just not fair. It's just not right."
WaPo editorial page editor Fred Hiatt also took a little blame, telling The Wrap, "Anyone reading Richard's entire column will see he is just saying that some Americans still have a hard time dealing with interracial marriage. I erred in not editing that one sentence more carefully to make sure it could not be misinterpreted." That didn't stop the flood of internet commentary calling for Cohen's head, as well as the incredible speed and popularity of the #FireRichardCohen hashtag on Twitter. As many people pointed out, it was far from Cohen's first time at the Offensive Olympics.
"Context cannot improve this," wrote Ta-Nehisi Coates at the Atlantic. "'Context' is not a safe word that makes all your other horse-shit statements disappear. And horse-shit is the context in which Richard Cohen has, for all these years, wallowed."
And yet, try as he might, Cohen's entry into the Idiotic Editorial Hall of Fame doesn't totally eclipse this week's earlier entrant, Lori Gottlieb, who wrote a less openly offensive but in some ways, much more trollish op-ed in the New York Times on November 11.