The human impulse to treat an inauguration as a sacred and holy event akin to a coronation can never be eliminated, only suppressed. Until the United States switches from a presidential system to a parliamentary form of government, where the top political leader can be cashiered and replaced inside a day without pomp or circumstance, we’re stuck with all the fussery that meets an incoming president.
Short of dosing commentators, anchors and reporters with Seconal to prevent their central nervous systems from over-reacting to Inauguration Day proceedings, maybe we could embed a house cynic on each network and newspaper to police or at least tamp down the irrational exuberance that rains down on most inaugurations. Think of the house cynic as the one trusted to stay off the sauce all night long so that when the party ends, a sober somebody is still standing to drive all the drunks home safely.
Shafer recognizes that coverage of the yesterday's inaugural was a little worse than most. He knocks The New York Times, which "swallowed whole the recent myth-making that has transformed (Joe) Biden from a shifty politician into a statesman; also, The Washington Post, The New York Times, Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC.
And especially MSNBC, where
At day’s end, Rachel Maddow confessed to having worked her way through an entire box of Kleenex during the festivities and Joy Reid gushed like a partisan about the event. “They gave us fashion. They gave us celebrity. They gave us hope,” Reid said of the “incredible” inauguration.
Also joy, as the video below indicates, although J.A.R. can be excused for being personally prejudiced in favor of that adjective.
I really appreciated Biden's instruction to the staff he swore in that they must treat everyone with respect, and that he will fire anyone on the spot if he hears that they were disrespectful to a co-worker. I know that can't be enforced, but it is great to set as a standard— Dean Baker (@DeanBaker13) January 20, 2021
At least Baker acknowledges that Biden made a vow he can't deliver on. However, the promise that political appointees will treat one another with respect is a little empty coming from someone who elevated to vice-presidential nominee a politician who directed a race-based attack on his character in a (successful) calculated fund-raising ploy. And after Biden was accused of sexual impropriety by two women, Harris markedly failed to defend her fellow Democrat.
When Biden put Harris on his ticket, it demonstrated the strategic brilliance of the California senator in trying to undercut Biden by veiled, and not so veiled, criticism. It demonstrated also that Biden's commitment to people treating others with respect is subject to circumstances, to which principle and integrity are subordinate.
It should not be necessary to explain the importance of print and broadcast journalists (the latter far more guilty) holding their enthusiasm for an incoming president until he at least does something, maybe on January 21 quadrennially. The failure to do so does neither the public nor the president any good.