Las Vegas Sun

November 26, 2014

Currently: 64° — Complete forecast | Log in | Create an account

Sun Editorial:

Adding some respect

Tenor of the political debate, as interruption shows, needs reining in

Image

Haraz N. Ghanbari / Associated Press

Neil Munro of the Daily Caller listens to President Barack Obama as he responds to his interruption during an announcement, Friday, June 15, 2012, in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington.

As President Barack Obama spoke Friday in the White House Rose Garden about his new immigration policy, a reporter from conservative website the Daily Caller interrupted him by shouting a question. The president stopped and told the reporter he wasn’t done speaking. That didn’t stop the reporter.

Obama returned to his speech and then made a point to directly address the reporter’s question as he spoke. The reporter interrupted again and appeared to try to argue with the president.

The incident became news Friday and opened a debate about whether reporter Neil Munro was out of line when he interrupted the president’s speech.

Munro and the Daily Caller defended his actions. Munro said he was trying to time his question to the end of the president’s speech and said Obama turned his back as he asked his question. But a review of the video shows otherwise — he interrupted him twice before the president finished. And when he first interrupted him, it was clear Obama wasn’t done.

Still, Tucker Carlson, the Daily Caller’s editor in chief, brushed aside criticism. He said he was “proud” of Munro. “A reporter’s job is to ask questions and get answers,” Carlson said in a statement. “Our job is to find out what the federal government is up to. Politicians often don’t want to tell us. A good reporter gets the story.”

It’s true that a reporter’s job is to ask questions and get the story, but what story was Munro trying to get? Politico.com reported that Munro asked, “Why’d you favor foreigners over Americans?” That’s a loaded question akin to “Have you stopped beating your wife?” It wasn’t designed to get an answer but to provoke an argument over a controversial topic.

Given the weight of the office, presidents have been accorded a measure of respect for generations, no matter their party. It’s fine to question and criticize the president, but this was over the line.

The incident seems to be symptomatic of what has been bubbling up in America — a wholesale disrespect for people of differing viewpoints. Studies and polls have shown that people are widely divided, and the division has become increasingly acrimonious.

Across the country, there is little real discussion or debate. Instead, people seem compelled to act like the shouting heads on cable TV, pointing fingers, name-calling and yelling past one another.

The nation has serious problems, but few seem to be willing to come together to find solutions. Politically, many people seem to be stuck on attack mode, criticizing everyone and anyone who disagrees with them.

For example, in the incident Friday, Carlson tried to dismiss ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer’s criticism of Munro as a “heckler” by saying she never rebuked her former colleague Sam Donaldson for “heckling President Reagan.”

Donaldson irritated politicians of both parties by persistently barking questions, but we don’t remember him ever interrupting a speech. Even if he did, that shouldn’t excuse someone else from doing it.

If this is what civic discussion has become, the nation is in a heap of trouble. It’s reminiscent of grade-school squabbling.

The constant back-biting and vilification of opponents may help some candidates win election, but when it comes to governing, whether in the White House or Congress, it doesn’t do anything to solve problems. Americans want to see solutions instead of the gotchas and obnoxious behavior that have come to mark politics.

The tone of the political conversation needs to change. Whether it’s in a hearing room in Washington or a conversation in a local coffee shop, a little respect would go a long way.

Join the Discussion:

Check this out for a full explanation of our conversion to the LiveFyre commenting system and instructions on how to sign up for an account.

Full comments policy

Previous Discussion: 27 comments so far…

Comments are moderated by Las Vegas Sun editors. Our goal is not to limit the discussion, but rather to elevate it. Comments should be relevant and contain no abusive language. Comments that are off-topic, vulgar, profane or include personal attacks will be removed. Full comments policy. Additionally, we now display comments from trusted commenters by default. Those wishing to become a trusted commenter need to verify their identity or sign in with Facebook Connect to tie their Facebook account to their Las Vegas Sun account. For more on this change, read our story about how it works and why we did it.

Only trusted comments are displayed on this page. Untrusted comments have expired from this story.

  1. Sounds like you are writing about the opinions expressed in the LV Sun's Opinion webpages.

    It is disrespectful. If he had stood up in Congress and done the same thing, he would have been escorted out and arrested.

    This kind of behavior by a reporter in this circumstance is akin to the British tabloids.

    I might expect to read his article in a paper at the checkout stand at the grocery store.

    It makes the President look good, and the reporter look like bad, in my eyes, though others will disagree based on their political bent.

    Another of the thousands of signs of the developing demise of the USA.

  2. This is an indicator of the current behavioral trend here in America. It all starts with the foundational skillset and manners one accumulates over their lifetime. As an example, children are both taught and encouraged to use proper manners and decorum, both at school and at their homes. When they are out and about in society, these learned behaviors are reenforced by those around them.

    As the editoral pointed out, "The incident seems to be symptomatic of what has been bubbling up in America -- a wholesale disrespect for people of differing viewpoints." This actually is manifesting preceptions people have about status, rank, or how important/valid another person is compared to themselves. It represents the level of RESPECT given out to another.

    If you ever attend a school assembly of children, you will notice that there will always be those outliers who seemingly have no awareness or boundary between themselves and the speaker. Their hands are up when the presenter is still speaking, they begin to shout out, and become increasingly aggressive. The reporter who interrupted President Obama demonstrated such behaviors. It would seem that there is an alloted question and answer time for reporters after the President of the United States, or any speaker, for that matter, has given their speech to the masses, which is proper and reasonable.

    Respect is fast becoming lost in our society. When people feel abused and can no longer tolerate any further abuse, they have the right of dissent, to speak out. The question is for this subject reporter: was it the right time to speak out?

    Blessings and Peace,
    Star

  3. Oh, give me a break! All this "selective" outrage. I'm old enough to remember the treatment given Nixon while he was in office. Many of you cry babies probably weren't even born then. The president is not some Emperor nor is he a dictator. Oh, wait, I misspoke. Osama Obama has delusions of grandeur and thinks he is. That's one more reason to send him packing. BTW, I never voted for Nixon because I felt he was a "crook." But then, I feel that way about most politicians.

  4. Mr. Sun, Peacelily, Star, et al.

    Disrespectful? A reporter who is, at best, irrelevant?

    How about the President of the United States, arguably the most important person the the world, with his minions and his sycophants, continually lying and making up the rules as he goes along? I, and many of my fellow citizens, feel completely disrespected.

    Seems that your priorities about who can be disrespectful to whom are entirely wrong-headed.

    Regards,
    Purgatory

  5. It is rude and out of line to interrupt anyone giving a speech. If you don't like Obama, don't vote for him. You're a fool if you think he's in charge anyway. In the end Neil Munro is just a tick on a dog's rear end. He's the drunk guy talking very loudly during a wedding ceremony. End of story.

  6. "...Tucker Carlson, the Daily Caller's editor in chief ... said he was "proud" of Munro. "A reporter's job is to ask questions and get answers," Carlson said in a statement. "Our job is to find out what the federal government is up to. Politicians often don't want to tell us. A good reporter gets the story."

    SUN -- quite a hypocritical piece from you. Munro obviously did his job, and you're only one of the many who profited from it.

    "This kind of behavior by a reporter in this circumstance is akin to the British tabloids."

    peacelily -- more like the American Revolution, only a different tyrant

    "As the editoral pointed out, "The incident seems to be symptomatic of what has been bubbling up in America -- a wholesale disrespect for people of differing viewpoints."

    star -- no, this was a reporter exercising the First Amendment which his subject swore an oath to support, protect and defend.

    "The president is not some Emperor nor is he a dictator."

    lvfacts101 -- good post! And Nixon is a perfect example of how that office can be abused. And never forget it was two reporters who showed disrespect for the office, took the president and his co-conspirators down, and our republic is better for it.

    "Seems that your priorities about who can be disrespectful to whom are entirely wrong-headed."

    Purgatory -- another good post

    "It is rude and out of line to interrupt anyone giving a speech."

    duke -- it's called free speech, one of our cherished but eroding freedoms. Learn to deal with it better.

    "The fact that society may find speech offensive is not a sufficient reason for suppressing it. Indeed, if it is the speaker's opinion that gives offense, that consequence is a reason for according it constitutional protection. For it is a central tenet of the First Amendment that the government must remain neutral in the marketplace of ideas." -- HUSTLER MAGAZINE AND LARRY C. FLYNT v. JERRY FALWELL, 485 U.S. 46, 55-6 (1988)

  7. Even conservatives should understand that the office of the Presidency is what was disrespected. As KillerB points out this Bozo has every right under the 1st Amendment to be a lowlife and express his lack of manners whenever and wherever he sees fit.

    That same 1st Amendment also allows me to express my disgust with such degenerate behavior. I want Obama out of the White House this November, but that's because I feel he has been detrimental to America, and I love America. And, to me, someone who loves America does not disrespect its duly elected leader.

    And BYFUTURE, had the question been asked, "with all due respect," it might have been answered and we could be debating that answer. Instead, Tucker's puppet made an a-- out of himself and drug the rest of us conservatives with him.

  8. Respect the office I agree with, respect Obama, not in my life. He had it when he took office; he has lost it on his own accord. Respecting politicians from any party affiliation simply can't occur. What used to be a job for the people is no longer for the people and for that reason alone, they don't deserve respect.

    When they get back to basics and work for the people and do what's best for Americans and do so continuously, they'll earn it back. Until then, they're all worthless. What is sad is that most vote for the lesser of the two evils these days or party lines regardless of stupidity, this is what politics have become today and this is sad for America. There is no pride anymore.

  9. Respect? Maintaining composure is difficult when the guy up there is making it up as he goes and just, again, announced he's going to ignore federal law and do what he wants to. How do you respect someone who is behaving as if insane? How much respect has Mr. Obama demonstrated for SCOTUS? How much respect will he muster later this month? Will he correct his behavior to CONFORM TO FEDERAL LAW?

  10. renorobert,

    Ask yourself how many times you will allow yourself to be lied to and to be treated in a condescending manner before you say "I can't listen to any more of this." I am of the opinion that most reporters have been overly respectful to this President.

    As I stated previously, there is only one person yesterday who disrespected his fellow citizens.

    Purgatory

  11. First of all, the President acted within the powers granted to him by the Constitution. Simply put, the President has the right to issue amnesties, and the President has the ability to issue executive orders relating to the execution of laws passed by Congress. A lot of you are so upset, but yet you don't understand how the U.S. government works. And by the way, President Bush excersized the same powers.

    Secondly, there is a huge breakdown in decorum. Both Bush and Obama have been treated horribly. Whether or not you agree with them, both men do not wake up every morning trying to ruin the country. They do what they believe is best, which you may or may not agree with. Interrupting the President shows contempt for the office, not the person.

    Enough is enough. Some of you need to grow up, and maybe add something POSITIVE. As the now deceased Rodney King once said, "can we all just get along"?

  12. Re Jon Zetzman. I tried the "Can't we all just get along" ploy on this blog; didn't work. Now I just give tit for tat. Yes there is a HUGE breakdown in decorum on this blog, which I attribute to a cynical ploy by moderator(s), to harvest non-stop invective between commentators, which equals more posts. Sometimes it works, and I'm as guilty as the next commentator.

    As regards the gist of your original post; I agree. The President had every right to do what he did, and the right wing in this country is flabbergasted.

    Rodney King: RIP. I believe the beating he sustained and his ongoing fight against drug addiction hastened his death. Regards.

  13. To my fellow "OFF TOPIC" commentators. I don't get it, and I'm sure you all don't get it either. I comment on other blogs, and have never been CENSORED. PLEASE, moderator, explain, as I've never seen this amount of comments removed for the reason cited.

  14. "That same 1st Amendment also allows me to express my disgust with such degenerate behavior."

    clarkcountycrimco -- no, it PROTECTS you. Constitutions limit governments, not the people who ratified them. Assuming from your handle you're a cop who actually swore one of those oaths, you're woefully uneducated on the basics.

    "The very purpose of a Bill of Rights was to withdraw certain subjects from the vicissitudes of political controversy, to place them beyond the reach of majorities and officials, and to establish them as legal principles to be applied by the courts. One's right to . . . fundamental rights may not be submitted to vote; they depend on the outcome of no elections." -- West Virginia State Bd. of Educ. v. Barnette - 319 U.S. 624, 638 (1943)

  15. Respect doesn't equate to censorship. We don't agree with removals when the removal is done in contempt of expressing ones thoughts on the value of respect when said respect is lost due to Obama and what he's doing to America and Americans.

    Even Obama knows what he did was wrong, from his own lips to your ears.

    http://news.yahoo.com/shock-video-obama-...

  16. The behavior of Neil Munro was intended to prevent Barack Obama from telling the public from "finding out what the Government is up to".

    Munro is determined to prevent the President from telling the public what is going on. The Daily Caller is just another Political Action Committee parading around like a journalistic entity. What the public should know is that the Daily Caller is hiding it's political bias behind journalistic objectives and thus, is journalistic TRASH.

  17. As an example, one of the feature stories today in the Daily Caller is: "Herman Cain: President Obama 'wants to rewrite the Bible according to Obama'

    This headline is dedicated to inciting religious contempt. Jesus enunciated the words "turn the other cheek" whereas the Christian (Political) leadership in America does just the opposite, glorifying revenge and mistrust for no reason.

    It is the Christian leaders who are rewriting the Bible to make God say what brings them the most money. American mainstream religion is a cult of personalities looking to maximize there incomes. It is another example of the Free Market economy where speaking the most attractive package of words generates the biggest income.

    When I first learned John 14:2, it said "In my Father's House, there are many mansions..." .

    Today I read versions which say "In my Father's house, there are many rooms..." This means that Heaven in the Christian World today is another Motel 6. Pay the man here to see the man up there and you get your own room. For eternity, you stare at the same pictures on the wall and for entertainment, pull open the drawer under the lamp and read the Bible inside. That is one hell of a boring eternity, but it is designed and re-designed by the American Christian Church for whatever brings them the most money.

    The Bible is re-written all the time and each version is more infallible then the last - and for this the Daily Caller wants to blame Obama? I thought he was a Muslim. They waste their time reading the Quran, not re-writing the Bible.

    Good luck in Heaven Dude, you'll need a lobotomy to stay calm.

  18. KillerB: 5:43: Amen. Let's keep that in mind when SCOTUS acts to remove unconstitutional action by Congress and POTUS. We may need that quote again soon, real soon. Let's see the POTUS respect SCOTUS and the separation of powers and our inalienable rights as Americans, not illegals.

  19. @ KillerB...So are you saying that I am NOT allow me "to express my disgust with such degenerate behavior.."

    If I'm allowed to express my view, please cite the law that takes away my right to do so.

    And you know what they say about assumptions, especially those based on ignorance and illiteracy.

  20. What's the old adage, You don't necessarily have to respect the man but you must respect the office. There is a deterioration of standards in the public arena that is of a growing concern. Disrespect now extends toward people in authority which includes public office, physicians, teachers and older adults. Sadly, we now have this to add to our ever growing list of societal ills. The classless display before the President was aimed more at distracting than anything loosely connected to journalism.

    The question now becomes, does anyone really care what this ill-mannered person had to ask? I certainly could not get past the blatant lack of respect. Nor would I consider reading anything this "reporter" had to write.

  21. Ronald Reagan stopped the journalist free for all at news conferences, and required all questions be submitted in advance so they could select which ones the President would address, and which journalist. He also saw the importance of selecting mainstream media journalists, including Sam Donaldson.

    George W. Bush followed suit, plus banned journalists who asked questions on the fly or pursued more information regarding his answer if they were designed to trap him.

    The foundations were laid by at least two Republican Presidents.

    Neil Munro was a plant with a particular partisan agenda during the election cycle. I can't seriously consider him a "journalist", and I didn't get one bit of useful information from his antics, except that he lacks ethics, respect, and intelligence.

    I think he would fit the Weekly World News very well.

  22. "How much respect has Mr. Obama demonstrated for SCOTUS? How much respect will he muster later this month? Will he correct his behavior to CONFORM TO FEDERAL LAW?"

    When the president said Citizens United was a very bad decision, did he get it right? He sure as hell did. That wasn't disrepect, it was a fact. Look at the huge sums of money in secret donations being made. Do you know who will purchase your local politician in November?

    Exactly what federal law should Obama conform to? Can you be specific? Usually when people say those things they are clueless as to what laws have been broken.

    You people fail to realize by enacting laws such as the Patriot Act, we all lost a part of our respect and democracy.

  23. Vernos: that would be federal immigration law and the U.S. constitution that the POTUS ignores.

  24. Rosienda,

    What you said doesn't make sense. There are more people patrolling the border due to Obama and the funding he endorsed and he has deported far more illegals than Bush. How is that unconstitutional?