SAN DIEGO -- Conservatives like to preach that people should take responsibility for their actions and not play the victim.
Thus, it is not a good look when they themselves refuse to take responsibility for their actions and instead play the victim.
The latest right-wing victim is Laura Ingraham. The Fox News host is steadily bleeding advertisers from her primetime show after she messed with the wrong kid. She is now on a “preplanned vacation.”
Preplanned? If you believe something that far-fetched, you must be a regular viewer of Fox News’ primetime lineup. There, the theme seems to be: Democrat-voting illegal aliens are taking your guns!!
Things went awry when Ingraham mocked 17-year-old David Hogg in an attempt to defend the National Rifle Association. The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student -- who has called for stricter gun laws since the Feb. 14 shooting on that campus in Parkland, Florida -- had revealed his college admissions setbacks during an interview on another network.
Firing up her 2.19 million followers on Twitter, @IngrahamAngle tweeted: “David Hogg Rejected By Four Colleges To Which He Applied and whines about it. (Dinged by UCLA with a 4.1 GPA ... totally predictable given acceptance rates.)”
Here you have Ingraham, a full-grown woman who -- besides writing books and hosting a daily radio show -- also has a nightly show on Fox News that attracts more than 2 million viewers, and she still finds time to pick a fight with a teenager.
Guess what? The teenager won. Via Twitter, Hogg playfully asked Ingraham for a list of her advertisers -- saying he was “asking for a friend.” Then he called for a boycott.
Ingraham’s list is shorter now that nearly 20 companies have bailed, including Bayer, Office Depot, Hulu, Johnson & Johnson, TripAdvisor, Nutrish, Expedia, Honda and Nestle.
Conservatives responded by making whine.
Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, tweeted: “@IngrahamAngle Your gutless former sponsors need to reflect, what little will be left of God given American Liberty if this de facto censorship persists?”
John Nolte, a writer for Breitbart: “Let us call this what it is -- un-American McCarthyism, a partisan witch-hunt in which the establishment media is an active participant and cheerleader.”
Hulu pulls its ads off a TV show, and, all of a sudden, it’s a reboot of McCarthyism? Exaggerate much?
To help you navigate the nonsense, here are three things to keep in mind about L’Affaire Ingraham.
-- Everyone has rights, and they are all free to exercise them. Ingraham has the right to tweet whatever she likes. But Hogg also has the right to take offense and call for a boycott. In turn, advertisers have the right to protect their brands by running away from an unpleasant figure like Ingraham. Finally, Fox News executives have the right to call Ingraham into their offices for a meeting and pull the plug on the whole show if that is what they ultimately decide to do.
-- Other conservative talkers -- most notably Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh -- have survived boycotts. But they’re likable. Ingraham isn’t. I’ve listened to, and often enjoyed, her commentary for more than 20 years. She is smart and telegenic. She’s also mean, condescending and snarky. She is missing the chip that tells our subconscious: “Don’t say that. It’s not appropriate.” She says what pops into her head, with no filter. Heck, if you’re going to use social media, you ought to have social skills. Ingraham doesn’t.
-- Young people like Hogg who play in the adult sandboxes of politics and media aren’t immune to criticism. But victims often can be. The Parkland students became experts in the gun debate the moment they found themselves staring down the barrel of a high-powered rifle. Just as pro-immigrant liberals shouldn’t downplay the suffering of families of those killed by illegal immigrants -- like Kate Steinle, who was slain in July 2015 along a pier in San Francisco -- pro-gun conservatives also shouldn’t attack the victims of school shootings.
If she wants to continue being invited into people’s homes, Ingraham needs to be the dinner guest that people hover around and not the one they flee. When she returns from vacation, she ought to be less acerbic and more humble. If she can’t do that, her bosses at Fox News should put her back on vacation. Permanently.
Ruben Navarrette’s email address is email@example.com. His daily podcast, “Navarrette Nation,” is available through every podcast app.