As Delta Airlines copes with its turn in the spotlight as America's airline to hate du jour, one guest on a Fox News program decided to use the plight of hapless airline passengers as an opportunity to go on a bizarre rant that caught 9/11 victims in its frothy, rage-filled path. This on a network that has leveraged the 2001 terror attacks to promote its conservative positions.
During a Thursday appearance on "Tucker Carlson Tonight," right-wing commentator Mark Steyn said that, "on 9/11, guys with boxcutters killed thousands of people. That is because everybody was following the 1970’s airline hijack procedures and did as they were told."
Already off tone, off message and off base, Steyn persisted.
"They did not act as free-thinking individuals, except on Flight 93 . . . that was the only one where freeborn citizens actually acted like freeborn citizens. And that's the lesson of the day." It was not a good look.
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Steyn's comments run counter to the DNA of a network that has milked the September 11th terrorist attacks for everything from cheap shots at President Barack Obama's policies to tributes of questionable tastefulness.
Victim shaming the hundreds of innocent men, women and children on those planes in order to score points for the conservative notion of rugged individuality is certainly one odious thing. Doing so by tracking dirt across the memory of an event that has become the foundational legend supporting the network's polemical discourse is is, as they say, off brand.
Setting aside Steyn's woeful misunderstanding of the September 11th terrorist attacks, his logic doesn't even add up when you look at what happened on the Delta flight. Passenger Brian Schear refused to remove his 2-year-old from the seat in which he placed him and actively stood up to the flight crew which, in violation of both FAA policy and its own website, tried to force him to hold his child during the flight.
Still, there's something so inevitable about all of this. When you depend on a constant supply of heedless flag wavers delivering red-dyed, counterintuitive (and often counterfactual) hot takes, you're bound to swallow your own tail at some point. Now the ouroboros of the Fox News content machine has let some of its own prized 9/11 heroes fall into its gaping maw.