America needs to lighten up.
So. In case you missed?
Friday evening I was Skyping in to Anderson Cooper’s CNN show. And, hard as it may be to believe, the subject of President Trump came up. I know, I know. Crazy!
The latest Trumpian news nugget being discussed was the tale that the President had, in his own inimitable style, told the visiting Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak that he had fired FBI Director James Comey, whom he described as a “nut job.”
The question from Anderson Cooper was whether this was appropriate, to which I began to make the point that presidents have the right to say what they want — to the Russians in this case. And in fact former presidents Obama and Bush had done their version of the same thing, — plainly speaking their views to and about the Russians. At one point in our discussion Anderson interrupted to say, now memorably: “If he took a dump on his desk you would defend it.”
Thanks to the viral nature of moments just like this, I can now be seen everywhere responding — by laughing. As here. Twitter, as the saying goes, went wild. Fox’s The Five picked up on it minutes later. Anderson came back on to apologize and also did the same on Twitter saying:
I regret the crude sentence i spoke earlier tonight and followed it up by apologizing on air. It was unprofessional. I am genuinely sorry.
— Anderson Cooper (@andersoncooper) May 20, 2017
Eventually I saw this after waking up in the middle of the night and replied:
@andersoncooper is my colleague and a friend for whom I have the highest professional and personal regard. Message America? It’s ok 2 laugh!
— Jeff Lord (@realJeffreyLord) May 20, 2017
And, but of course, the rest of the media quickly caught up with the story. It went everywhere.
Now. As I was saying in my return wee-hours tweet? Message America? It’s OK 2 laugh!
My only regret was that I was unable to be on set that night as opposed to being in Skype City where I can’t see anyone beyond myself. Which in turn means one learns to listen to voice inflections to judge response. I heard Anderson’s voice — and — importantly — having now spent almost two years as a guest panelist on his show, I pretty much know without seeing when he is making a joke to illustrate a serious point. Clearly — OK, decidedly and, um, vividly — he was doing that with this particularly interesting response.
My reaction then — and now — was to laugh. I heard from him privately almost instantly and he apologized again. Are you kidding? One doesn’t have to agree with Anderson Cooper to know that he is the ultimate gentleman’s gentleman. Hopefully so am I or our respective aging mothers would still find the strength to smack us silly. There was and is no offense taken.
In reading the reactions to Anderson’s comment pro and con I perfectly understand there are people who hate the results of the election and others who love it. Those who can’t stand the President are beside themselves yada yada yada. And because of that they want to resist or persist or do whatever “ist” comes to mind. Fine. This is America. They have every right to protest to their heart’s content. Donald Trump isn’t the first president to draw the wrath of chunks of the American population and he won’t be the last. In fact, anyone with a sense of history will know instantly that previous presidents with names like Obama, Bush, Clinton, Reagan, Nixon and Johnson repeatedly had fevered opponents in the streets protesting their presence in the White House, not to mention the decisions they made while there.
The larger point here, though unwittingly raised in all this brouhaha, is that the reaction to Anderson’s comment perhaps shows in unintentional fashion that America and Americans would do well to, well, chill out. Have a sense of humor, for heaven’s sake.
Yes, yes, yes. The world can be and in many respects is a brutal, angry place. If you are living amidst the chaos of war in Syria or with violent drug smugglers in Mexico or ISIS wannabes in this or that part of Europe or even here in America, there is every reason to be suitably sober if not grim. But the fact of the matter is that most Americans on all sides of the political divides are living in a nation that provides as best it can a safe harbor from all this turmoil. If America’s biggest problem in life is Americans being offended by something Anderson Cooper said on CNN, then, well, America has a problem of another kind all together.
It’s called a lack of a sense of humor.
My advice? Lighten up America. By all means participate. Protest. Whatever. But for heaven’s sake learn — or relearn — how to laugh.