Monday, March 16, 2009

Murphy, Bristol & Culture War Hypocrisy

Way back in 1992, a comfy pre-Internet era when network television ruled the media roost, Vice President Dan Quayle struck a blow in the then infant Republican culture wars for self-righteous conservatives everywhere by criticizing a fictional TV character for having a baby out of wedlock.
That would be Murphy Brown of "Murphy Brown," a divorced news anchorwoman who got knocked up and chose to have a boy who was delivered on an episode watched by 38 million Americans.
"It doesn't help matters," Quayle prattled, "when a character who supposedly epitomizes today's intelligent, highly paid professional woman" is portrayed as "mocking the importance of fathers, by bearing a child alone, and calling it just another 'life-style choice.' "

The moment was especially delicious for myself and other Philadelphia Daily News editors and reporters because we sold a spitload of papers with the beyond clever headline Murphy Brown Has A Baby, Dan Quayle Has A Cow, which in the following days was held up by many a gleeful news show personality as the roasting of the veep reached a fever pitch hardly matched by the indignity of his fellow foot soldiers.

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How differently those same culture warriors have greeted the news that the daughter of one of their battlefield commanders, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, has chosen to go the Murphy Brown route, and their abject silence exposes yet again the hypocritical rot that grows between their toes.

(A brief aside to note that neither Bristol Palin nor Levi Johnston, the father of two-month-old Tripp, brought all of the publicity about their busted engaged, let alone Levi's OxyContinon dealing mother, on themselves. These are two teenagers who would have screwed -- and screwed up -- in private if the utterly unqualified Sarah Palin hadn't accepted John McCain's offer to accompany him to the electoral slaughter house.)

Why then did Murphy Brown unleash such a furor while Bristol Palin was elicited a howling silence?

The beyond obvious answer is that Murphy was a flaming liberal, albeit a fictitious one, while the very real Bristol can be presumed to be a chip off of the old conservative log.

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Great minds do sometime think alike, and I would be disingenuous if I did not note that the inestimable Jon Swift has reached a similar if considerably longer winded conclusion in a post that I stumbled upon after I did my thang.

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