Can We Stop Pretending to Be Outraged Over Lack of Decorum?

If you watched Joe Biden’s State of the Union address Tuesday night, you not only know how he lied his way through the speech but also how he repeatedly lied about and attacked Republicans in a blatantly unsubtle way. Biden’s approach to talking about policy seemed to rely less on explaining why the policies were good and more on why Republicans were bad for opposing them.

Naturally, Republicans responded, and throughout the speech, Biden’s lies and attacks were met with boos, jeers, and the occasional outburst from a few select members.

The media’s reaction was everything you’d expect.

Salon accused Republicans of taking “orders from Trump” to throw a “hissy fit” during Biden’s speech. The Washington Post described the “raucous display” of Republicans as a “core weakness” of the party. John Harris of Politico seemed to think that what happened Tuesday night had never happened before, and accused Republicans of “putting the spotlight on themselves — through extraordinary rudeness. With boos, taunts, groans, and sarcastic chortles, the opposition party effectively turned themselves into prime-time props for President Joseph Biden.” CNN’s Jake Tapper said that Republicans made themselves look bad and “really allowed [Biden] opportunity to look vigorous.”

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I could go on and quote more, but can we just stop pretending that these media pawns of the Democrats actually believe a word of what they’re saying? History has shown that when it comes to “breaking decorum” at State of the Union addresses, when Republicans do it, even when Biden blatantly lies about them to their faces, the media has an abundance of negative things to say about it. But when Democrats do it, the media thinks it’s justified and even admirable.

Democrats routinely broke decorum during President Trump’s State of the Union addresses, with booing, hissing, and jeering being the norm. Some Democrats have even walked out before Trump concluded his speeches.

And the mainstream media condone them each time.

In its recap of Trump’s 2020 State of the Union, USA Today described Nancy Pelosi’s infamous ripping up of Donald Trump’s speech as a “top moment” from the evening and described the booing and mocking that came from the Democrats without any suggestion that they’d broken decorum or acted at all inappropriately. The following day, Pelosi received a standing ovation from her fellow Democrats for her staged defiance, which Pelosi justified by saying, “Last night, we saw the president of the United States shred the truth right in front of us. Tear up the truth.”

RelatedGOP Congressman Dismisses Complaints Over ‘Lack of Decorum’ at State of the Union

CNN also wasn’t scandalized by Pelosi’s actions and reported gleefully about how Pelosi felt “liberated” by tearing up the speech.

The media’s attitude towards how Democrats treated Trump during his State of the Union addresses is so markedly different that some even blamed Trump for the Democrats’ lack of decorum.

“Taunts, groans and walkouts: Trump stokes division with cascade of lies,” read a headline in The Guardian after Donald Trump’s 2020 State of the Union speech.

Curiously the same media that thought Republicans made themselves look bad (and Joe Biden look better) didn’t think that Democrats played into Trump’s hands with their repeated demonstrations of disrespect to him. Trump’s rebuffed calls for unity didn’t reflect negatively on the Democrats. No sir.

Perhaps the best thing to do is get over the idea that the State of the Union is some unifying American event. “Seeing the president’s party rise for perfunctory standing ovations all night while the members of the opposition party register public disapproval by keeping their butts in their seats doesn’t give off that unity candle vibe,” notes PJM’s Stephen Kruiser, who thinks the time for televised State of the Union addresses is over. He has a point.

What’s the point in pretending anymore? The State of the Union is a constitutional requirement, but the televising of the staged production is not. At this point, what is televising it doing, save for giving the opposition party an opportunity to express its disapproval and for the media to report on that differently depending on which party it is?

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