The Civilizers and Self-Parody

In yesterday’s National Post Jeet Heer complained of the horrors of Rupert Murdoch, how his conservative and populist empire has debased us all.  Maybe it’s all true, maybe you believe Heer—that’s all beside the point for me at the moment. The interesting thing about his piece is that it perfectly illustrates an attitude that seems widely shared by journalists: the inability to avoid engaging in the very scurrilous invective they condemn on a regular basis.

First, I think it was notable that he had to go back to the 1980s to find examples of bigoted remarks about minorities, begging the question as to what atrocities have been committed this century (do editorial remarks made 30 years ago still count?).

At any rate, note this remark by Heer as exhibit one in my case:

The Sun has a long-standing habit of referring to the French as “frogs,” a term that gets thrown around quite a bit as if it were a clever witticism worthy of Oscar Wilde.

Heer made that remark two paragraphs after this one:

The comedian and actor Steve Coogan, himself an alleged target of the News of the World’s phone hacking antics, described it as “a misogynistic, xenophobic, single-parent-hating, asylum-seeker-hating newspaper.” Coogan’s characterization might be extended to the Murdoch press as a whole, which tends to go after any group that doesn’t adhere to the ideals of middle-class white society.

Notice the double irony: not only does Heer engage in the sort of invective that he claims the Murdoch Empire specializes in, but he quotes the spleen of a comedian like it was a “clever witticism worthy of Oscar Wilde.”

Given the proximity of these two remarks, one wonders whether the self-parody is intentional.


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