Vittert: Democrats make ableism the new racism

On Balance with Leland Vittert

FILE—Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, a Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, meets with supporters as he leaves his event in Philadelphia, in this file photo from Sept. 24, 2022. Black voters are at the center of an increasingly competitive battle in a race that could tilt control of the Senate between Fetterman and Republican Mehmet Oz, as Democrats try to harness outrage over the Supreme Court’s abortion decision and Republicans tap the national playbook to focus on rising crime in cities. (AP Photo/Ryan Collerd, File)

(NewsNation) — It’s time for an apology, not from us, but from the political elite and mainstream Democrats who trashed NBC reporter Dasha Burns.

Why they won’t apologize says everything you need to know about power and political correctness in America.

You might remember she all but predicted last night’s disastrous performance by Pennsylvania Senate candidate Lt. Gov. John Fetterman. First, a brief reminder of Fetterman’s performance last night in his first debate since a stroke earlier this year

There are many adjectives to describe Fetterman’s performance. We’ll get to the politics of Pennsylvania in a minute, including the shockingly honest argument from Pennsylvania’s current Democratic Senator to vote for Fetterman.

Back to Dasha, she deserves an apology.

She interviewed Fetterman a couple of weeks ago using a similar closed captioning system as the debate and said this at the end of her report on the interview she had trouble speaking with Fetterman because of his ailment.

Democrats called her an ableist, second only to racist in your sense of privilege. Fetterman’s wife demanded NBC discipline her.

Now, we all know the truth, Dasha reported the facts and people didn’t like it. We’ll spare you more of the cringeworthy moments from last night. To be fair, we are selfish and playing Fetterman over and over again is bad for ratings. Nobody wants to watch a man suffer like that.

Now the clips of the apologies to Dasha for telling the obvious truth … can we run that clip? Or those headlines? Or some tweets? No, we don’t have any of them because they don’t exist.

But this brings up a troubling new phenomenon: Ableist is the new racist. If you dare question someone’s ability to do the job, it’s your problem, not theirs.

Last night, Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., said he thought Fetterman performed “really well.”

To be fair, Casey might have watched a different debate than we did. But let me translate what you heard: “If you don’t change your bar of ability for a U.S. senator, it’s your problem. You are ableist, you are prejudiced against disabled people.

A Republican, George H.W. Bush, signed the Americans With Disabilities Act requiring reasonable accommodations for those with disabilities, and God bless him, we are all better for helping people achieve at their highest level.

Wear a hearing aid, you can now hear and go forth. You can be judged on your ability, not penalized because you can’t hear. If you are in a wheelchair, as some senators, congressmen and governors are, there are now elevators and accessible bathrooms. You can now perform your job.

Fetterman’s performance last night caused the problem. Nobody cares that he used closed captioning. People care he couldn’t articulate a single coherent argument on issues of the day. Reasonable people can agree he showed he couldn’t perform the job of United States senator as we all know it.

That didn’t stop MSNBC’s Liz Plank from tweeting: “What’s our learning opportunity after tonight’s #PASenateDebate How can we design a society that is truly open to people with disabilities?”

Or this tweet: “When your side is so bad you have to rely on ableism to win. Dr. Oz just gave a master class on how to bully people with disabilities.”

Fetterman got his closed captioning, but he couldn’t perform with the accommodation. But now if you don’t vote for him, you are a bully.

This isn’t some fringe position; this is MSNBC’s live blogger. Never mind MSNBC’s own reporter said she couldn’t understand their conversation two weeks ago.

Imagine that trip to the office coffeemaker, Dasha the ableist and Plank the arbiter of all -ists.

No different than if you talk about crime rates, you are racist.

No different than if you don’t want your daughter competing against boys, you’re transphobic.

If you want to judge people on performance vs. protected class label, you’re an -ist: ableist, sexist, prejudiced, racist, all the same things.

The facts don’t matter. It’s about power, not about helping people or standing up for the disadvantaged.

Perfect example: Right after the Dasha interview, fellow journalists pounced on her. Journalist Kara Swisher said of Dasha: “Sorry to say but I talked to John Fetterman for over an hour without stop or any aides and this is just nonsense. Maybe this reporter is just bad at small talk.”

Or journalist Molly Jong, who called Dasha’s take on Fetterman “B.S.”

We checked; neither apologized to Dasha. What happened to journalists standing up for journalists?
Or women standing up for women? Nope, not here, it’s about power.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author, and not of NewsNation.

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