US – Election 2012 – Jaco Syndrome, An Occupational Hazard For People Who Deal Daily With Right-Wing Nonsense – 20 August 2012

This fascinates me. Charles Jaco, the local affiliate reporter for Channel 2 in St. Louis (a Fox network affiliate), when pressed on the matter by some locals, admits that he didn’t ask follow up questions when Rep. Todd Akin uncorked that gem about women’s bodies having a forcible rape defence…because…get this…Akin was boring him.

Here is Jaco’s tweet: “To explain, not excuse: 14 min of 18 in Akin intv. had gone by, hadn’t touched econ. I pulled a Larry King, wasn’t 100% listening. F’d up.”

Part of this is understandable from the reporter’s point of view…there’s a list of questions he wants to ask, the economy is an important topic, they were almost done with the interview and they hadn’t broached that topic yet. You get the general idea, he might have been unfocused on Akin’s outrageous statement because he was – as any journalistic professional would be – focused instead on getting all the questions in.

But this got me thinking – have we really reached the point where conservative candidates say so many ridiculous, unsupportable and hostile things that we’re all starting to tune them out (unless they really, really shine out as particularly ridiculous, unsupportable and hostile)? Call it right-wing-looney-fatigue, if you will. We’ve heard so much that doesn’t deserve a public stage much less election to high office that our brains are beginning to filter it out.

You can kind of appreciate what Jaco went through in the interview…”Blah blah blah give a second look to the Voting Rights Act blah blah blah repeal the 17th Amendment and stop directly electing Senators blah blah blah get the federal government out of in-school lunch programs and college loan programs blah blah blah”…at some point, your brain puts up the white flag and starts thinking about who the Cardinals will be pitching tomorrow. I know mine would in that situation. Too much crazy to assimilate there. Best to find one’s happy place instead.

Of course Jaco should have asked a follow-up question once Akin reached for the brass ring of all open-mike stupidities. But I can kind of understand why he didn’t.

The other day, I posted here about another outrageous comment made by a right-winger on the air while being interviewed. That was when Arthur Laffer, amazingly, remarked: “If you like the post office and the Department of Motor Vehicles and you think they’re run well, just wait till you see Medicare, Medicaid and health care done by the government.”

I had thought to post the video of the interview itself, but decided against it because I thought that Laffer had been given sympathetic treatment, by both his CNN interviewer and the person who was debating him on the air that day, Judy Feder, an expert on medicine and public policy from Georgetown University. I thought, in fact, that the treatment was so sympathetic that it would barely register with my readers that what Laffer said was ridiculous. In order for something someone says to be seen as ridiculous, you would think the people present when he said it would have to…well…ridicule it.

Now that we’ve all seen what’s happened in the Akin Affair, though, I think maybe you can be trusted to see this in a clearer light. Here is the video:

As you can see, Laffer has already let loose so much right-wing bafflegab that his truly astonishing ignorance about Medicaid and Medicare actually gets ignored, not only by his interviewer, but by his debate adversary, who clearly should know better. It went straight through the filter. Both were more focused on the things they were about to say, and this allowed Laffer’s flat-out moronic statement to escape their scrutiny.

With all due respect to Mr. Jaco, I’m going to start calling that Jaco Syndrome. Keep an eye out for future occurrences. I’ll bet we’ll have some more before the 2012 election is done.

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