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Monday, December 3, 2018

Fill In The Blankety-Blanks

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Former President George Herbert Walker Bush has died at the age of 94. We didn’t necessarily agree with every policy decision he ever made, but in general we liked the man and are deeply appreciative of his lifelong service (including military service) to this country.

But showing appropriate respect for the man is apparently too much to ask for from what passes for journalistic outlets these days. Particularly galling was the Washington Post’s initial posting about the President’s passing, about which they said, and we quote: “Mr. Bush died of SPECIFIC MEDICAL CAUSE OF DEATH, said/according to xxx.”

Note to the Washington Post: we can understand why you prepare generic obituaries for important people ahead of time, but you really shouldn’t go to press with them until you’ve filled in the freaking blanks (not that your paper demonstrates any great skill for doing that in any other stories).

We now imagine that the Washington Post has many such templates on hand, including stories like “Donald Trump offended NAME OF COUNTRY/LEADER/GROUP today with his radically offensive COMMENTS/TWEETS about SUBJECT, leading to fresh accusations that he is, in fact, a Nazi.” And perhaps, “Scientists agree that RECENT NATURAL DISASTER can be attributed to global warming and Trump’s decision to turn down the Paris Accord. Climate expert xxx suggests that this is proof that Trump is, in fact, a Nazi.”

While a later edition of the Washington Post actually filled in a few details of President Bush’s death, there was still criticism of their poor journalistic standards coming from their contemporaries. For instance, Slate’s big headline was “New York Times and Washington Post Obituaries for George H.W. Bush Leave Out Groping Allegations.”

Heavens! Was Bush, like Justice Kavanaugh, yet another conservative conducting gang rapes on girls rendered helpless by drugged punch?! Well, no. The article states that there were a couple of instances in the last two years when the wheelchair-bound nonagenarian, surrounded by other people and photographers, may have playfully reached out to pat a female fanny while joking that he was magician “David Cop-a-feel.” (That last part is true and, putting political correctness aside, it’s not a bad joke for a flirty – and harmless – 92 year old.)

Lack of impulse control is, sadly, pretty much par for the course for people that old and is not really cause to lump a good man in with the innumerable #MeToo victimizers of women. For Slate to suggest that these accusations are the most important thing which needs to be said about the life and career of President GHW Bush is beyond reprehensible.

But happily, we may not have to put up with their nonsense much longer. Because we’ve heard “Slate will cease publication owing to SEX/DRUG/FINANCIAL SCANDAL according to xxx.” And we know we can trust “xxx,” because the Washington Post said so.