Excuse me for being late on this one, but did anyone hear about "30 Minute Meals: al-Zawahiri's Cookbook"?
Let me fill you in: Food Network star and all-around girl-you-wish-you-could-bring-home-to-mom Rachael Ray recently got into some trouble – if you want to call it that – over her latest Dunkin Donuts ad. In the ad Ray shows off some iced coffee while wearing a fashionable scarf. Innocent enough, right?
The scarf, sold at stores like Urban Outfitters and seen on the necks of hipsters throughout the states, is meant to look like a kaffiyeh, a traditional Arab headdress.
And with nothing else to complain about last week, right-wing pundits, bloggers, and shut-in internet commenters went nuts. And the scary part is, it worked.
Said Michelle Malkin: "Popularized by Yasser Arafat and a regular adornment of Muslim terrorists appearing in beheading and hostage-taking videos, the apparel has been mainstreamed by both ignorant (and not-so-ignorant) fashion designers, celebrities, and left-wing icons."
Dunkin Donuts, unaware of the problem before the commercial was shot, pulled the ad and said, "Absolutely no symbolism was intended."
Malkin, a neoconservative in most senses of the word, is using her power of Phony Outrage to incite other reactionaries who seek to distract Americans from serious issues by appealing to the worst in people and stirring up the same irrational passions that led to Obama becoming an "elitist" right before the Pennsylvania primary.
After the ad was pulled, Malkin followed up on this phony outrage battle, saying, "It's refreshing to see an American company show sensitivity to the concerns of Americans opposed to Islamic jihad and its apologists."
If Malkin has enough knowledge to master the English language, evidenced by her professional writing career, it should be self-evident that she knows full and well that neither Ray nor Dunkin Donuts intended to apologize for jihad or rally rocket-launching Palestinian terrorists by selling whip-creamed lattes to caffeine-addicted American consumers.
But that's the beauty of today's 24-hour pundit media. Malkin and her ilk don't find and exploit wedge issues. They create them out of thin air. Sure, news is always happening, but the level of importance, though a subjective term, is often lacking to the average American. So the media attempts to make us care.
Outside Malkin's outragicide, wearing a scarf is appeasing Palestinian terrorists as much as shaving your head is appeasing Nazis.
All media is responsible for the phony outrage phenomenon, as most news organizations are corporations dealing on profit. But Fox News, who have topped cable news ratings for 77 months in a row, have mastered the art. Every time an illegal immigrant gets caught driving drunk, O'Reilly can blame the incident on sanctuary cities, and do it in a hilarious fashion. Every time someone puts up a "Holiday tree," O'Reilly's graphic designers can construct a new War on Christmas cartoonish graphic.
And Malkin, who often sits in for O'Reilly while he takes vacations, can toss the terrorist card around all she wants as long as her name is associated with controversy and more newspapers and websites pick up her column.
As for Rachael Ray, it's hard to imagine anyone would believe she's a jihadist sympathizer as Malkin suggests. Those new Dunkin Donuts mini-pizzas on the other hand, someone should alert Homeland Security about those things being too awesome. Seems suspicious.
Our pundit media have succeeded so rapidly during the past decade because we have let them. The architects have taken the same aspect that makes good TV – creating drama – and applied it to the news. Not every story can be a Monica Lewinsky or Larry Craig bombshell, but Michelle Malkin, Ann Coulter, Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, or whoever, they can try their best to make it one.