For most of us paying attention to the search for the missing OceanGate Titan submarine that was carrying tourists to the wreckage of the Titanic, our thoughts and prayers were with those aboard the submarine in the vain hope they were still alive and rescuable.
Not MSNBC analyst Elie Mystal, however.
He seems to wish 1) the sub is done for, 2) there was one more person on board, and 3) that person was Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito.
In a Wednesday tweet that would have gotten an Omaha FM morning shock-jock fired but seems to have not cost Mystal his job — yet — the controversial journalist and pundit made light of the disaster, saying, “Next time some rich white person wants to take Sam Alito on an expensive trip, please take him to see the Titanic.”
Alito was part of a 7-1 majority that voted in favor of Singer’s hedge fund, NML Capital, in a case that involved an attempt to collect debt from the country of Argentina, according to The Hill.
In a Wall Street Journal Op-Ed published Tuesday, Alito said he had “no obligation to recuse” in the case and that his “recollection is that I have spoken to Mr. Singer on no more than a handful of occasions, all of which (with the exception of small talk during a fishing trip 15 years ago) consisted of brief and casual comments at events attended by large groups.”
“On no occasion have we discussed the activities of his businesses, and we have never talked about any case or issue before the Court,” the justice wrote. “On two occasions, he introduced me before I gave a speech—as have dozens of other people. And as I will discuss, he allowed me to occupy what would have otherwise been an unoccupied seat on a private flight to Alaska.
“It was and is my judgment that these facts would not cause a reasonable and unbiased person to doubt my ability to decide the matters in question impartially.”
Knowing what I know about the case as it stands, I tend to side with Alito, although I readily concede there is a good-faith argument to be made for the other side.
You know what isn’t a good-faith response to ProPublica’s report, however? “Hey, you know that tourist submarine that’s lost in the Atlantic? You know, the one where there’s a high likelihood the passengers are dead? Wouldn’t it be a riot if a conservative Supreme Court justice died on board as punishment for a fishing trip he took 15 years ago that he didn’t list on financial disclosure forms?”
This — and here’s a shocker — landed with a thud:
Mystal has yet to apologize for the comment and, as of late Wednesday night, had yet to be terminated from either his positions as an analyst with MSNBC or a writer with the liberal rag The Nation. Heck, he hasn’t even deleted the tweet.
Mystal, granted, has a history of what can charitably be called hot takes.
He’s referred to the Constitution as “trash“; said after Kyle Rittenhouse was found not guilty that this kind of white supremacy was “the modern Republican Party” and that a “majority of white people are in favor of this kind of violence”; and belittled GOP Georgia senatorial candidate Herschel Walker, claiming Walker was “gonna do what he’s told” because that’s “what Republicans want from their negroes: To do what they’re told. And Walker presents exactly as a person who lacks independent thoughts, lacks an independent agenda, lacks an independent ability to grasp policies, and he’s just going to go in there and vote like Mitch McConnell tells him to vote.”
That being said, none of these dumpster-fire remarks involved actively wishing death upon another human being, especially a Supreme Court justice. Which, let’s face it, is what Mystal is doing: While their fate was unknown Thursday morning, if the people aboard the OceanGate Titan are found alive after the vessel went missing on Sunday, it’ll be a miracle. And if Alito were aboard, one gets the distinct feeling Mystal would be disappointed in said miracle.
And no, this isn’t just “can’t you take a joke” territory. This isn’t wishing cancel culture upon someone for making a funny. For one thing, Mystal isn’t a comedian, he’s a political writer and commentator with significant clout on the left. If you don’t see the difference between him and an edgy comedian, it’s because you do not wish to see the difference between him and an edgy comedian.
Furthermore, the incident comes just a year after a man was charged with attempted murder in what was allegedly a plot to kill Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, spurred on by the leaked draft decision in the case that overturned Roe v. Wade.
While, admittedly, the method of assassination proposed by Mystal is a bit too elaborate for plausibility, what he’s doing here is devaluing the life of a Supreme Court justice. Who cares? After all, Sam’s getting up there — and President Joe Biden gets to nominate his replacement, nudge nudge, wink wink.
The moment this tweet came to the attention of his superiors, Mystal should have been summarily terminated from his positions at MSNBC and The Nation. Period.
There’s no excuse for making light of a probable tragedy to wish tragedy on another human being for reasons of political punishment and expediency.