Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Brief And Reasonably Clever Larry King Remarks (White House Party Crashers' Friends)

More articulate people have said it less tritely before, but you've got this weird phenomenon in today's media where, out of a concern to appear unbiased, reporters will actively avoid coming down on one side or another of a question of fact. Which is understandable, because the line between questions of fact and questions of opinion can be a hard one to draw (for instance, whether Obama's healthcare bill will improve or hurt the quality of our healthcare is both, in a sense, a factual matter, but also such a heavily disputed and somewhat unknowable factual matter that it's really just as much a matter of opinion), and because questions of fact can become politicized and therefore picking a side can look like partisan bias. But some things are just hardcore questions of fact and should be treated as such, not as issues where reasonable minds can disagree or state their views. And one such question is whether the Salahis were invited to Obama's big soiree last week. They weren't, and they didn't get confused and think they were either. They just crashed. But in a journalistic world where objectivity has come to mean that it's forbidden to actually report that someone is lying about something, that can become hard to say. And it's particularly hard for Larry King, who seems to inhabit a world where the sky could be blue - or it could be green. We just don't know.

So Larry has on three friends of the Salahis the other night, two of which are just stupid people and one of whom was wildly insane. And how does this go down? The first question Larry asks the friends is how the poor Salahis are doing. Gee, Larry, how do you think they're doing? They've just become famous for being colossal buffoons. But Larry's into seeing both sides of a story, so that's what he asks, and they say that the Salahis aren't doing so well because people are running around taking pictures of them now. OH NO. Then Larry asks why they went if they weren't invited. The one woman says "as far as I know, they were invited." Which only means - as she admits that she has no evidence of that fact - that her friends lied to her and said they were. Really, what is the point of this exercise? This is like having Jeb Bush on and asking him why his brother invaded Iraq, and Jeb saying, "Larry, as far as I know George didn't invade Iraq. That was his evil twin. George TOLD ME so." Larry, however, doesn't ask why we should give any credence to the lies Miss Salahi Friend has been told by these two nuts; he just moves on to the next guest, who is the insane one.

Since Larry has no bullshit filter, you can basically walk out of a mental clinic and say whatever you want on Larry King Live. Unless you're a beauty pageant contestant, in which case Larry must hold you to the highest standards of journalistic scrutiny, because hedging about the confidential contents of your settlement with Miss USA Inc. is really important stuff. Otherwise, though, you're good. Well, Mr. Matthew Christian Davis, author of The Best of D.C., is here to defend his friends proudly. For Mr. Davis featured them in three, count 'em, three different areas of his book, the purpose of which is to chronicle the defining change in America's leadership. The first area is design and couture; Ms. Salahi rocked the runway fashion show. She's leading the way in America in couture. #2 is D.C. for Divas in Charge, an event where Ms. Salahi, a D.C. Diva in Charge, wore a green number. And the third was the book launch at the National Press Club, where she emceed with three other ex-Miss D.C.'s. So you can see that Ms. Salahi is really the best of D.C., and part of that defining change in our nation's leadership. This is all direct quotation, more or less.

Then Larry asks whether this eminently honorable woman was actually invited. Mr. Davis has an answer for that. He comes from three generations of law enforcement and proudly served his country in "such places as Rwanda during the genocide in 1994." Being a patriot and a proud servant of this country, he is "a strong believer that our nation has a front line, a first line of defense that will protect our leader, our commander in chief by all means necessary." What are you saying, Larry asks? That they must have been invited because otherwise they couldn't have gotten past the first line of defense? Yes, Mr. Davis replies. But quick, we've got to take a commercial break.

When we return, the one friend continues to say that the Salahis were invited to the best of her knowledge. This is turning into the Watergate hearings. She admits, however, that she never saw the invitation. Larry asks Mr. Davis what would happen if he went to the White House without an invitation. Mr. Davis says that Larry has a blanket invitation wherever he goes, because he's such a hell of a guy, and that "I do not want to make any comments in terms of seeing that you're not being considered welcome to a party." Mr. Davis won't even consider the hypothetical because it's too offensive. Larry follows up; aren't the Salahis well-known too, like Larry? Why yes, Mr. Davis says, "they are D.C.'s dynamic couple, another acronym for them in the book. However, in this particular case, D.C. also represents diligence and courts. I feel they are innocent until proven guilty." Pay attention to what Mr. Davis just did. He's spelling out D.C. acronyms about the Salahis. They're the Dynamic Couple. But they also should receive the benefits of our justice system's Dilligence and Courts. All this is just flying over Larry's head. If Larry realizes he's talking to a madman, he doesn't show it.

After the break, Larry probes some more about that invitation, and this time the Salahi Friends admit they had the feeling that the Salahis were not invited to the dinner, but only the reception. But they're really sure that they were invited to the reception. Because the Salahis told them so. Why Larry hasn't finally started booking serial killers' best friends and beloved pets to testify to their innocence, I don't know. It would make no less sense than this. Finally, Larry says that he can imagine how heartbroken the Salahis must be and that he looks forward talking to them. For as he says, "we don't have an agenda on this program. I would like to learn what this was all about." No agenda! No bias! Just lively debate about the color of the sky.

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