Liberal comic Bill Maher weighed in on the nasty newsroom skirmish at The Washington Post which was forced to fire reporter Felicia Sonmez after she waged a Twitter war against her colleagues as a result of a joke that offended her that was retweeted by a male colleague, an episode that brought great shame on the once-venerable newspaper.
The WaPo has paid dearly for empowering the likes of the temperamental Twitter diva along with vindictive, truth-challenged “crybully” Taylor Lorenz with their antics causing discontent with co-workers, and while management may have pulled the plug on Sonmez, the damage has been enormous in terms of the paper’s already tattered reputation.
On Friday’s edition of his HBO program “Real Time With Bill Maher,” the host unloaded some blistering commentary on the “unlicensed daycare center that is today’s newsroom” and the failed effort to placate the tantrum-throwing reporter by suspending Dave Weigel, whose apology for his errant tweet wasn’t enough to satisfy Sonmez.
Leading off his “New Rules” segment which closes the show, Maher said, “If someone knows of a story that more effectively captures what’s wrong with today’s journalism than the sad saga of what happened last week at The Washington Post, they need to keep it to themselves because it would be too depressing.”
— Bill Maher (@billmaher) June 18, 2022
“If you missed it, the Washington Post recently got embroiled in a self-inflicted s**t storm when one of their best reporters David Weigel retweeted, not tweeted, retweeted this joke: ‘Every girl is bi. You just have to figure out if it’s polar or sexual,’ proving that it is a joke,” Maher said as the audience laughed. “The comedian who actually wrote the tweet called it a banal, throwaway joke, which is exactly what it is, throw away, as if you don’t like it, throw it away.”
After noting that the sexes have been making jokes about each other for centuries and jokingly saying that the drama ended with Weigel’s apology, Maher unloaded.
“The unlicensed daycare center that is today’s ‘newsroom’ went apes**t,” as he detailed Sonmez’s public hissy fit. “Can you imagine a world that allows jokes you don’t like?”
“Of course, the leadership folded like a Miami condo, ”he said of the paper’s failed effort to appease its thin-skinned reporter, “and suspended Weigel without pay for a month and denounced the offending retweet as a ‘gross violation of their values,’ – free speech apparently not being one of them.”
“For days, she raged with the fire of a thousand burning bras, sending a gazillion tweets calling for more to be done against Weigel, mocking her bosses, attacking colleagues and letting the world know how much the Washington Post sucked, and this endless bickering and infighting continued online in public view until the bell rang and they all went to seventh period,” Maher joked.
“Now note that I haven’t yet told you what age Felicia Sonmez and her quarreling coworkers are, why?” Maher asked. “Because I didn’t have to. Because you can’t imagine someone my age acting like this in an office. The New York Times just ran an op-ed entitled ‘why are we still governed by baby boomers’ – this is why. Because too many millennials are overly sensitive, overly fragile and have no sense of priorities.”
“You know, I’m sure many boomers would love to retire, but they can’t,” he continued. “They’re like the grandmother who would much rather be watching Judge Judy but has to raise her grandkids because her own kids are too f**ked up to manage it.”
“It’s funny, you think my generation is an eyeroll? Let me let you in on a little secret about the younger generations,” he added. “No one wants to hire you. Your sense of entitlement is legendary and, with notable exceptions, your attention span and worth ethics suck… ”
“This Washington Post story had such resonance because it’s behavior we all recognize, there is a war going on within the millennial generation,” Maher continued. “I know because I’m friends with the good ones. But the crybabies, unfortunately, are still winning. They complain they haven’t taken over yet, well stop complaining because in many ways you already have. The fact that the Post’s initial response was to punish not Felicia but one of their best reporters for a silly joke shows that the kindergarten is already in charge.”
Maher then marked the 50th anniversary of Watergate, the scandal that took down a president and made heroes out of young WaPo reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, “I have to wonder how the Post’s newsroom of today would handle that story – or how they’re currently handling any story.”
“All this time blubber-tweeting over a retweet begs the question, don’t you have anything better to do?” Maher asked. “Aren’t you supposed to be reporters digging up stuff? Are there no more vital issues going on in America right now?”
“This is why you’re not in charge,” he said. “Because if someone named Deep Throat called the paper today and wanted to meet in a parking garage, this crew of emotional hemophiliacs would have an anxiety attack and report it to HR that they didn’t feel safe.”
“If there is a silver lining to this story, it’s that eventually, the Post did fire Felicia Sonmez, so maybe there is a line that’s just too much nonsense, but that generation needs to move that line much closer to sanity and find it much sooner because democracy dies in dumbness,” Maher concluded.
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