I don’t really watch the news. I don’t read newspapers or seek out the latest updates on CNN.com. Generally the only news that seeps into my cerebrum is the stuff that pops up on the AOL main page or on my Facebook News Feed. I’m not telling you this stuff just to embarrass myself. Truly. Though my ignorance is clearly proven now…
The impetus behind this post was inspired by The Bee and something that he brought to my attention recently. The Bee tends to listen to NPR on his way to work and had mentioned the prevalence of the title “Mr. Obama” being thrown around by news agencies when referring to our President. The Bee voiced his disgust that not just the general public but media outlets were calling Obama “Mr.” as opposed to his earned title of “President”, and I couldn’t agree more.
I did a bit of research and found a blog entry written here which touches on many of the same points that The Bee brought to my attention. Unlike what this article suggests, my problem is not with casually referring to the President as “Obama” since Reagan, Bush and Clinton were all commonly called by their surnames. Instead of employing his proper moniker, many media sources continue to call the man, Mr. Obama as opposed to President Obama. It seems that only now do some feel comfortable removing the Commander In Chief’s appointed title regularly in the press. I doubt anyone would have considered addressing previous presidents with the title “Mr.” for fear of being called out for disrespect.
In this article, one media outlet tip-toes around the uproar some expressed at their use of coining the President “Mr. Obama” in their news reports. The writer explains it away with this statement:
It is not intended at all to be disrespectful. Just a common alternative and accepted reference when the President is referred to more than once in a news story.
The article also backs up the stations choice by deflecting responsibility:
This is the style of the New York Times, and has been part of the editorial stylebook for National Public Radio for the past 20 years.
My only response is one my mom would often pose to me as a child: If all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you do the same?
I’m not trying to get overly nit-picky here but referring to our President as Mr. over his given title of President seems rife with insult. It’s not like we would consider calling a medical practitioner by anything but the title “Dr. So-and-So” being as that was a label that they (hopefully) worked very long and hard to earn. It seems like those who use this disparaging language are doing so as an attempt to discredit or deliver a low-blow to someone who, like it or not, deserves our support.