Stop the Insult Journalism

01/01/2019

I’ll be the first to admit that I can occasionally make unkind jokes among friends about some politician’s appearance. The first ones that come to mind are Trump’s hair and orange skin tone, or the ‘potato head’ nickname for Peter Dutton. But that’s all they are – casual jokes with friends, with no real substance or intent behind them. Yet for a media that constantly calls people out for bullying or making fun of appearance, there seems to be a double standard against those they just don’t like.

A few days ago, the Guardian reposted a piece about Trump’s sparse comb over being revealed as he boarded Air Force One, with the comments rolling in, comparing him to all kinds of things, like Darth Vader’s uncovered and burned head. Are these comments funny? A little, sure; some insults or jokes can be clever or just plain hilarious in context. But when it comes to journalistic standards, one would expect a level of decorum. There’s a time and place for silly, offhand jokes, but there’s a distinct lack of professionalism when such things appear in the media. When there is so much to criticise someone like Trump for, as a person or a businessman and politician, poking fun at physical appearance just seems petty and unwarranted.

Am I being a killjoy? Perhaps, but as I said, there is a time and place. There’s also the double standard involved depending on who’s in the spotlight. Make a comment about Obama and Hillary in a similar way and the Guardian would surely condemn you as racist and sexist. It’s one of the few things I would agree with Trump’s base is how low some news sites (especially clickbait ones like Buzzfeed or Vice) can go, although I’d be reluctant to do so because they too hypocritically fire insults in the other direction.

Is there a point to this piece? Writing it I just feel like I’m droning on about not much at all, but it’s something that tends to annoy me in the media and online debates. You have serious topics of conversation constantly derided by whatever the latest controversy is or some personal attack that just divides people and tears away from more important things, like maybe Syria. Yes, Syria sounds a bit more important than sharing trendy jokes from (forgive the bad joke) last year.

Liked this? Read The Age of “Free” Information: Is It Falling, Or Did It Never Exist?

Previous piece: Pine Gap: A Reflection

2 thoughts on “Stop the Insult Journalism

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