One topic I shied away from when I originally wrote my Trends and Tidbits column yesterday was Tucker Carlson’s ridiculous assertion that Michael Vick “should have been executed” for his role in a West Virginia dogfighting ring. I ignored it for multiple reasons, and not just because it was one of the most ignorant things I had heard in the news all year.
While Carlson’s comments barely even deserve mention, the lack of journalistic integrity behind FOX News’ discussions of Vick the past few days is disturbing and needs to be commented on. My biggest issue with the story is that FOX News did not care about having a serious debate about Vick – such a debate, if held with legitimate intentions of having a serious, thoughtful discussion, would have been enlightening and informative. Instead, FOX was simply using Vick as a platform to make a political statement.
When President Barack Obama called Eagles owner Jeff Lurie to discuss the Eagles’ planned use of alternative energy, Lurie revealed to the media that President Obama congratulated him on giving Vick an opportunity to contribute to society. Unfortunately, Lurie made a major mistake by leaking the contents of his conversation with President Obama to the media. It was a shortsighted attempt at making the Eagles look good by letting everybody know the President commended the Eagles’ support of Vick. Lurie’s decision to open his mouth led to a media firestorm that culminated in Tucker’s asinine statement.
The previous day, FOX hosted a debate as to whether President Obama was out of line for commending Lurie. However, the debate was ridiculously one-sided, because host Megyn Kelly often tried to rebuke Atlanta NAACP President R.L. White before animal rights activist Bernadette Pauley on the other side got a chance to do so. Instead of hosting and moderating an intelligent debate, Kelly repeatedly tried to bait both White and Pauley into commenting on whether it was appropriate for President Obama to congratulate Lurie for giving Vick a second chance.
As if the Kelly “debate” didn’t make FOX News look ridiculous enough, Tucker declaring on-air that Vick should have been executed topped off the ridiculousness of the spectacle. If these supposed moralists are so outraged over Vick brutally killing dogs, where is their outrage over the rampant poverty, violence, and drug use that is rampant in the inner cities all over America? I love dogs, and I think Vick’s crimes were reprehensible. With that being said, he went through the justice system, and paid the price that the judge decided was appropriate.
There was nothing wrong with the President congratulating Lurie for giving Vick a second chance – after all, the stated purpose of the justice system is to rehabilitate criminals into productive members of society, so Lurie did a good thing by giving Vick an opportunity to be a productive member of society. As lovable as dogs are, it’s an absolute shame that there’s more outrage over Michael Vick killing dogs than there is over crimes against humans. People kill each other every day, and it gets relegated to the back pages of the newspapers. Vick kills dogs, and it’s headline news for three years. I just don’t see the logic behind that. If Carlson is such a moralist, where is his outrage over Ben Roethlisberger being suspended only four games after being accused of rape twice in one year? Carlson and Kelly’s façade is as clear as the glass in a Windex commercial – they’re not mad that Michael Vick’s in the NFL; they’re mad that Barack Obama’s in the White House. The Vick story is just a convenient medium through which they can vent their frustrations against President Obama.
The Vick issue should have nothing to do with whether you like or dislike the President. Whether you love, hate, or couldn’t care less about President Obama should have no impact as to whether you love, hate, or couldn’t care less about Vick. The fact of the matter is that this issue had nothing to do with politics, and never should have been presented in that manner. It was a personal phone call between two men, and Lurie never should have leaked it. With that being said, it should never have been presented as such a big news story, and the only reason Kelly and Carlson had anything to say about Vick was because the President supports his second chance. This country pays more attention to celebrity gossip than to real news. There are more people who can tell you the contents of the President’s latest tweet than there are people who can tell you the contents of his latest speech. The average American knows more about President Obama’s sports affiliations than his foreign and domestic policies. Instead of intelligently analyzing the President’s job performance, FOX sunk to the level of TMZ and wasted viewers’ time with “The View”-style debate over whether President Obama should support Michael Vick. This is not real journalism, and does not serve the viewers at all. For that, the producers and executives who allowed these Vick conversations to air should be ashamed of themselves. - Hank Koebler, IV
Hank is a sports journalist attending the University of Missouri's school of journalism.
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