This article is from the archive of The New York Sun before the launch of its new website in 2022. The Sun has neither altered nor updated such articles but will seek to correct any errors, mis-categorizations or other problems introduced during transfer.
With all the indignation in the press over the language Anthony Scaramucci used in his rant to Ryan Lizza of the New Yorker one might imagine that it’s the first time anyone has heard this kind of talk from a White House aide who reports directly to the president. Hence we embed above the Youtube video of President Obama’s roast of his aide Rahm Emanuel, who — we gather — makes the Mooch sound like Beatrix Potter.
It’s not that we’re so shocked to learn of this kind of comportment by the White House brass (even if, in the presence of the Editor of the Sun, reporters are not permitted to use such language — or to speak in anything but iambic pentameter). The way they talk now on late night television these days would make prompt Lenny Bruce himself to call the cops. Which may well be why President Trump, a compulsive watcher of television, himself seems so inured to such talk.
It’s hard to say when all this started. Back in the day, the press that encountered such rough language — whether it be from Lincoln or FDR or Truman or LBJ or Nixon — shrank, if that is the word, from putting it into print or on the air. Even such a reckless broadsheet as the New York Times hung back in the old days from using the kind of coarse language it is printing today. In any event, nowadays it’s anything goes.
Fair enough. After all, as A.J. Liebling used to say, the free press is reserved for those who own one. What gets us is the hypocrisy. Rough language from a Democrat is treated with bemusement; witness the laughter at President Obama’s roast of Mr. Emanuel and the appreciative laughter that rippled from the audience. From a Republican, hardened newspapermen fairly faint.