Who doesn’t love a good joke? Apparently, many Democrats and CNN.
It’s all knee slaps and giggles until you make fun of the wrong people.
Most recently, CNN mounted its moral high-horse to scold the Babylon Bee, a conservative satirical website that needles — mostly but not exclusively — the political left.
The story in the Bee, “Democrats call for flags to be flown at half-staff to grieve the death of Soleimani,” highlights the ridiculously misplaced and selective outrage on the part of many on the left over the death of a murderous terrorist who, according to the State Department, was responsible for the deaths of some 600 Americans and scores of others via Iranian proxy wars. Some Middle East experts consider his death more important than that of Osama Bin Laden.
Soleimani’s killing “far eclipses the deaths of (Osama) Bin Laden or (Abu Bakr al-) Baghdadi in terms of strategic significance and implications ... there really is no underestimating the geopolitical ramifications of this,” Charles Lister, a resident fellow at the Middle East Institute, told CNBC.
Still, that hasn’t stopped many liberals and Hollywood types, who had no issue with taking out Bin Laden, from falling all over themselves to decry Soleimani’s death.
Filmmaker Michael Moore and actress Rose McGowan apologized to Iran.
“I deeply regret the violence on our behalf by a man that most Americans have never voted for,” Moore tweeted.
The Bee’s story, which went viral, contained several choice tidbits. For example, “In a rare moment of unity with The Squad, (Nancy) Pelosi gave each of the girls a hug, telling them to just ‘let it all out’ in their time of sadness.”
That’s funny. But CNN didn’t think so, neither did its “disinformation” reporter Donie O’Sullivan. Yes, reporting on disinformation is a job, at least at CNN.
O’Sullivan was deeply concerned that too many conservatives thought the Bee’s story was real.
“To put this in perspective, this is the same number of engagements the top NY Times and CNN stories on Facebook had over the past week,” he tweeted. “A lot of people sharing this ‘satirical’ story on Facebook don’t know it is satire,” O’Sullivan tweeted.
Let me say that I appreciate CNN’s attempt to parent those of us who are either too naive or too ivory-skulled to recognize satire. In fact, I’m thinking of hiring someone from the network to sit next to me when I watch movies with complicated plot lines to answer all of my annoying questions.
“Who’s that guy?”
“What did I miss when I asked, ‘Who’s that guy?’”
I’m prepared to pay handsomely. We thickies need all the help we can get.
But even I didn’t need help working out the Bee’s story. The site’s tagline “Fake news you can trust” is kind of a giveaway, as are a couple of the Bee’s recent headlines:
“Iran declines to sign Colin Kaepernick after reviewing workout video.”
“Trump holds press conference to moon Iran on national television.”
I had to fact-check that last one, but it is indeed fake.
I’m not sure why CNN feels the need to send up flares to warn us of satire. I must have missed all of the red alerts when “Saturday Night Live,” “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report,” among others, were lampooning conservatives which, by the way, is OK with me. Political satire is a form of free speech.
But when the Bee responds to CNN with the story, “CNN Attacks Babylon Bee: ‘The internet is only big enough for one fake news site’,” the left stops laughing.
There is always an underlying element of truth to humor. That’s what makes it funny. As Churchill once said, “A joke is a very serious thing.”
CNN and its loyalists on the left aren’t really interested in protecting us from disinformation. They’re more interested in silencing critical and even satirical voices. They don’t seem particularly alarmed that many millennials rely on “The Daily Show,” which appears on Comedy Central, as their primary news source. Nor do they have a problem when liberals share stories from the Onion poking fun at conservatives. But it drives them to distraction to learn that the Bee’s story on Soleimani was shared 500,000 times on social medial.
I’m sure that CNN and the Democrats complaining about the Bee also enjoy good satire once in a while, but only if they’re the ones holding the skewer.
Rich Manieri is a Philadelphia-born journalist and author. He is currently a professor of journalism at Asbury University in Kentucky. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.