Get to Know Your Office Neighbors

Bob Somerby (The Daily Howler) is one of the few people who thinks Gatesgate is a moron-fest. Apologies to Mark, with whom I've been discussing this on the internets. I don't think you're a moron, but you are wrong that this is a good example of a cop on a power trip. It's not a good example of anything, since there were no witnesses, no photos and no way to verify what actually happened. Yet millions have weighed in without knowing basic facts about the incident. The Howler found, and commented on the empty-headedness of this discussion:

On CNN, the cable buffoons were pondering possible “teachable moments” last night. Lou Dobbs mused about where the “moment” might lie. And then, Keith Richburg, of the Washington Post, said this. We did not make it up:

RICHBURG (7/27/09): Let me just add one thing on—

DOBBS: Quickly if you will.

RICHBURG: Yes, it just seems that one thing is, Professor Gates and his neighbor should get to know each other.

JAMES TARANTO: But she was not a neighbor. She lived about seven miles away.

RICHBURG: Well, she worked— Yes, but she worked in an office 100 yards away.

By now, Richburg understood that the caller wasn’t a neighbor—but for reasons only these Martians can explain, such narratives must never die. When Taranto corrected him, Richburg advanced a new Mars-ready theory: You should make sure you get to know everyone who lives within 100 yards of your office. You should get to know everyone who works in a building 100 yards from your home.

(We can’t vouch for Richburg’s yardage.)

We’d call that a teachable moment—about a group of unteachable life-forms. Our teaching? Only on Mars do life-forms like these actually grow and thrive.

And yet, these strange people remain on the air, shaping America’s “public discussions.”