Fox News has been among those playing up the story of comedian Wanda Sykes' jabs at Rush Limbaugh during her stand-up routine at the White House Correspondents Association dinner this weekend. News anchor Trace Gallagher wonders why Sykes "gets a pass" for her nasty jabs about Limbaugh being a terrorist with a suspect kidney, while CBS golf analyst David Feherty was forced to apologize for suggesting U.S. soldiers, if given the chance, would killer Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Leader Sen. Harry Reid.
Gallagher suggested the treatment of Sykes and Feherty wasn't fair, and that Sykes had gotten off easy in the wake of her controversial statement, yet there had been "a load of outrage," following Feherty's comments.
The comparison doesn't hold up for a number of reasons. First, how, exactly, has Sykes gotten a pass? Her jabs were immediately seized upon by conservatives who have waged a nearly non-stop campaign against her. How does being vilified all over the Internet, in print, as well as on cable TV, constitute getting a pass? And despite Gallagher's misinformation about how Sykes' Limbaugh lines generated big laughs, audible boos were heard inside the hotel ball room, no doubt coming from the Limbaugh supporters. But now for entertainers, getting booed mid-act qualifies as receiving "a pass"?
What's frustrating conservatives, I think, is that golf announced Feherty chose to apologize for his bizarre comments, in which he painted a sort of right-wing militia fantasy of the U.S. military staging a mini, anti-Democratic Party coup inside the nation's capitol by murdering key leaders.
When a network sports announcer paints that kind of public, violent portrait of murdering politicians, he's likely going to have to apologize if he wants to keep his job. But when a comedian at a roast makes jokes about a highly controversial and partisan figure who has made all kinds of hateful, disparaging remarks about the president, that performers not likely going to have to apologize.
That's why the debate about who gets "a pass" remains a pointless one.