Some journalists are starting to worry about Cancel Culture.
Most, sadly, support the toxic trend and have little reason to wish it away. What they’re seeing, though, is a smattering of voices standing up to its freedom-snuffing measures.
The latest example? The very odd duo of Conan O’Brien and Sean Penn. One’s an iconic talk show host and former “Simpsons” scribe who remains far less political than his late night peers. The other is an Academy Award-winning actor whose politics are socialist leaning, and that’s being generous.
Conan O’Brien and Sean Penn are united in their disdain for cancel culture, calling it “ludicrous” and “very Soviet.”
“Empathy is a very important word and also forgiveness.” https://t.co/RwtwLSqH4k
— Mediaite (@Mediaite) July 7, 2021
Together, they tag-teamed against Cancel Culture in ways that drew headlines across the news landscape. O’Brien called the woke scourge “very Soviet,” while Penn said he wouldn’t be able to play the title character in “Milk,” for which he won his second Oscar, in today’s climate.
The liberal news outlet’s new conversation on Cancel Culture attempts to pin the term, and its misuse, on the Right to protect progressives from any cultural fallout. To do so, NPR gathers several clearly left-leaning sources (where’s the diversity of thought?) to concoct a narrative as phony as the White House suggesting Republicans want to defund the police, not them.
Let’s start with Nicole Holliday, a linguistics professor at the University of Pennsylvania. Holliday makes a direct connection from the politically correct concept of the 1990s (Remember “PCU?”) to the current woke wars, just “dialed up to 11 because of the influence of social media.”
“So conservatives have picked it up not to just mean boycott but rather to say our value system is under threat by these people who want to deplatform us because we have unpopular opinions. That’s the way that I think they frame it a lot these days,” Holliday says.
Host Ari Shapiro, as biased as Rachel Maddow if this segment is any indication, frames the conversation around Cancel Culture being a new version of “political correctness.” Shapiro says the right-wing media weaponized the term then to attack liberals.
To back up his thesis, he and his guests cherry pick items from the decade, along with sound bites of conservatives like William Bennett and President George H.W. Bush, to illustrate it was just a bogeyman created by the Right to smite the Left.
John Wilson, whose 1995 book “The Myth Of Political Correctness” examined the issue, told Shapiro the “P.C.” phrase didn’t happen by accident.
“It is an industry. There are all of these right-wing foundations and books that were published that made a lot of money promoting this idea,” Wilson says.
Let’s put that historical argument aside, for clarity’s sake. What happens next on the podcast is a detachment from reality that should shame NPR to its core.
Meredith Clark, who teaches media studies at the University of Virginia, says the Right is using the term Cancel Culture too weaponize “accountability, nothing more.
Where’s the accountability for Bette Midler, Tom Arnold, Alec Baldwin, Ellen Barkin and others?
Watch how the biased host cues up Clark for the rhetorical, and wildly inaccurate, kill shot.
SHAPIRO: How much of this is about disenfranchised groups that sometimes don’t have a voice finding and using that voice in a way that makes the people with power uncomfortable?
CLARK: That’s what it’s all about. If this had remained something that just stuck within Black communities, within Latinx communities, then this wouldn’t really be a story. But because it has crossed over and because people in powerful positions who are not used to having to answer to marginalized folks find that they are not beyond their reach now have a problem. And so now this becomes newsworthy, and it becomes something that is positioned as something that every everyday person should fear.
If the segment had an ounce of balance you might learn:
Next, NPR brings on Jon Ronson, who wrote about one of Cancel Culture’s most renowned victims, Justine Sacco, in 2015’s “So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed.” Ronson, straining to add objectivity to NPR, shoots down Shapiro’s bizarre query on the subject. The host argues the innocent victims caught up by Cancel Culture are a necessary part of the societal correction.
“I wouldn’t sort of just toss off the idea of there being some innocent victims. Like, that’s bad and important,” Ronson says.
The NPR conversation echoes the one conducted by the far-left outlet The Wrap.com earlier this Summer. It ran a four-piece series on Cancel Culture that lacked ideological diversity and mostly cheered on the woke trend.