As a jazz musician with socialist tendencies, I believe next week’s elections may provide the answer to an important question: Are the American people as good as our corporations? Evidence leads me to believe we are not — not as good as NBC, anyway.
It took the National Broadcasting Company just four days to fire its $69 million TV star Megyn Kelly after she made an arguably racist statement about blackface on her morning show.
I am not arguing, by the way, about whether her statement was racist. Surely, it was ignorant. Surely it showed that someone who makes $23 million a year can be profoundly ignorant about facts — not opinions, facts — that affect tens of millions of her countrywomen’s lives every day — but not her own. And in light of Kelly’s history at Faux News and NBC, I have no desire to defend her, from anything.
But consider this:
Kelly apologized that afternoon, in a note to her staff — which quickly leaked — after she realized what a dumb thing she’d done.
She apologized, on the air, the next morning, and subjected herself to a public tongue-lashing by black guests, “who lectured her on the brutally racist history of blackface,” according to The New York Times. The Times said Kelly was “tearing up” as she said she was “listening and learning.”
(I can’t confirm that because I don’t have a TV. Television is a waste of time.)
Also that day, NBC News chairman Andrew Lack called a staff meeting, to say: “I condemn those remarks. There is no place on our air or in this workplace for them.”
By Friday Kelly was gone.
That’s some pretty fast work for a $70 billion corporation with 62,000 employees.
That’s larger than the annual budget of 43 states, and six times larger than the annual budget of the District of Columbia.
To sum up:
Kelly said an ignorant, offensive thing;
she may not have known any better;
she may not have known she was hurting anyone by it;
she admitted she was wrong;
she apologized profusely;
she said she would try to learn from it, and improve.
But her corporation said, tough luck; you should have known better; you’re outahere.
Now, whether NBC did this in search of money, ratings or anything else, those are the facts. That’s what happened.
Now we come to the question of whether the people of the United States are as good as our corporations — I except Monsanto from this — let’s say, whether we are as good as NBC.
On Tuesday, perhaps half of the 235 million eligible voters in the United States will cast ballots, or will have voted absentee. (If 60 percent of eligible voters cast ballots, that will still be pathetic, but it’s a turnout we have not managed to achieve, even in presidential elections, since 1968.)
Squint at it however you like, our next national vote, at nearly every level — federal, state, and often local — will be a referendum on our president.
Just for the heck of it, let’s compare him with Megyn Kelly:
He has said things that are not only ignorant and offensive, but he knew they were offensive when he said them, and he continues to say them;
he claims Democrats will subject us to “mob rule,” while his entire method of governing is to insult people, and inflame the mob;
he never has apologized for anything, even after he was informed, irrefutably, that he was wrong;
he never has said he would try to study anything, or learn from it, including science;
his religious apologists follow him — presumably because of his opposition to abortion — though he paid $260,000 to have sex with two women a few times, then stuff two $130,000 gags in their mouths;
he cheats on his taxes, and uses his presidential powers to hide it;
so does his family;
he is sending the U.S. military to the Mexican border, at a cost of tens of millions of our dollars, as a political stunt, to whip up hatred of Latinos and immigrants the week before Election Day.
All the elections for federal office on Tuesday are, in effect, a referendum on this president. His party is expected to retain control of the Senate. The only conclusion that possibly can be drawn from this is that the American people are not as good as our corporations.
Not as good as NBC, anyway.