Usually, the topic of this blog is Retirement and living well as we age. But sometimes things just bug me and I have to say something — usually about the declining morality and general lack of standards in our society today. I wonder if you agree.

     Item number 1 is the Chris Rock/Will Smith slap heard round the world at the Oscars. Rock made a tasteless joke about Smith’s wife. Smith marched up to the stage and slapped the comedian, then sat down and swore at him.

     Smith clearly did something wrong. As he admitted, he is in the public eye and has to be able to take jokes in stride about him and his family.  In any case resorting to violence — even the relatively mild violence of an open-hand slap — is beyond the pale. He should least apologize, and maybe suffer other punishment. In fact he did apologize, first when he gave his best actor acceptance speech, and then again on social media to the public.

     But here’s the other side of the coin. Rock started it. He’s the one who provoked Smith with a tasteless, below-the-belt joke. I mean, how many people would have laughed at Rock’s joke if it had referenced someone in a wheelchair, or someone with AIDS or cancer?

     So instead of being greeted at his next comedy show with a standing ovation — as he was — Rock too should have apologized for his snarky, tasteless joke. I’m actually a fan of Chris Rock. I think he’s funny. But I also think he should suffer some punishment that signals to him and others: don’t get too nasty, too cruel, too personal.

     These days, we see many instances of someone who does something wrong, leading to someone else overreacting. Then the person who overreacts becomes the villain. And the person who started it becomes the “victim.” Maybe I’m old-fashioned. But this just doesn’t seem right to me. An overreaction is bad; but so is a provocation.

     The other thing that happened last week:  President Biden’s Press Secretary Jen Psaki announced she is quitting the White House to take a job on TV as an on-air opinion-maker at the liberal cable station MSNBC.

What do you want to hear?

     What she’s doing is not unusual. Lots of politicians have turned into media stars. Dana Perino, George Bush’s press secretary, holds forth on FOX News. So does Trump’s press secretary Kayleigh McEnany. Former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee has a talk show. So does former Trump economic adviser Larry Kudlow. Are we supposed to take these people seriously when they are overtly and admittedly biased toward their own party?

     But the Democrats have the same problem. ABC’s George Stephanopoulos worked for Bill Clinton; Chris Matthews, long-time MSNBC commentator, worked for Democratic Majority Leader Tip O’Neill; more recently Chris Cuomo, son of one Democratic governor and brother of another, was a top CNN host.

     Why should we think that the Democrats are any more objective than the Republicans? In fact, it turned out that Cuomo was moonlighting for his governor brother the whole time he was on TV.

     I’m not saying Jen Psaki is a bad person. I’ve seen her on TV. She seems intelligent, well-educated, able to hold her own. But as a TV journalist she has a clear conflict of interest. All these politicians do. Call me old-fashioned, but I think it’s simply unethical for someone to make their living pushing a political agenda, and then turn around and pretend to present news and commentary in any fair, unbiased manner.

     If the media want to be taken seriously, they should fire all the ex-politicians and political operatives — both Republicans and Democrats — and use real journalists who can be accurate and reasonably objective, who will not be passing on propaganda from their old friends.

     In other words, call me an old fogey, but give me John Chancellor or Tom Brokaw, give me Huntley and Brinkley, give me Walter Cronkite or Edward R. Murrow. 

Tom Lashnits Writer, Blogger

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