In the latest installment of off-color political statements, Barack Obama made his opinion of Kanye West’s VMA grandstanding public by calling him a “jackass.” Which is to say that Obama made an off-the-record remark which was then immediately shared with the world by ABC employees, thus teaching the President the Jesse Jackson/Rick Perry lesson that nothing is off the record when your mic is on. Or when a reporter with an active Twitter account is sitting there with a Blackberry and some twitchy fingers.
This time the public apology came from ABC, source of the leaked audio clip and employer of reporter Terry Moran, who Tweeted the comment despite the President noting clearly that it was off the record. (The tweeted comment has since been removed from Moran’s timeline, but his million followers means that the comment wasn’t exactly a lone tree falling in a deserted forest.)
The incident has provoked a lot of debate about journalism ethics, what off the record means, and Twitter’s impact on journalism. Funnily enough, the incident has not provoked debate about whether or not the President’s assertion was true or appropriate, making this one of of the few Obama utterances of late that seems to be embraced by all Americans.
And so we acknowledge Kanye West today for doing what lately has proven difficult: providing America with bipartisan fodder that has allowed folks of disparate political viewpoints to reach across the aisle, slap a high five of agreement and chat it up merrily at the water cooler. To that end, Kanye receives his second Fantasy T-Wearer Award this week with the “Proud Jackass” T-shirt, above. Wear it with pride, sir. If only the healthcare debate were this easy.