The most poisonous "-ism" now infecting Ferguson, Missouri, is not virulent racism. It's viral narcissism.
Over the past two weeks, the impoverished St. Louis County suburb has become a magnet for self-absorbed publicity seekers of all colors and agendas.
Perhaps the most repulsive species on display in Ferguson is the Journalisto Vanitatis. This breed of egotistical East-Coast reporters can be easily identified by its ever-present appendages: a smartphone and smart glasses. For the J.V., the story is all about "me, me, me!" Huffington Post reporter Ryan Reilly and Washington Post reporter Wesley Lowery were among the first and most prominent Beltway journos to parachute into the Ferguson protests.
Admiring media colleagues hang on the J.V.'s every tweet and selfie. When Reilly and Lowery were "arrested" (that is, detained briefly and released) amid the chaos, they morphed into civil rights heroes. Both complained indignantly about not being read their "Miranda rights." Never mind that they were neither arrested nor interrogated, the two basic preconditions for Miranda warnings.
The J.V.'s have been hailed for their "courage" on the "front lines" -- like veritable 21st-century versions of Audie Murphy and Ernie Pyle! Of course, Audie Murphy and Ernie Pyle would know real bullets when they saw them. But Reilly revealed his abject cluelessness this week when he hysterically tweeted a photo of what he thought were "rubber bullets." They turned out to be high-capacity... ear plugs.
Not to be outdone, J.V. Chris Hayes of MSNBC squealed about being threatened with mace and simpered about being confined in a press area -- created by police for the safety of meandering interlopers gawking at rioters and looters. Later, he breathlessly trumpeted seeing a "dead body," which turned out to be neither dead nor a body.
While New York journalists have applauded reporters making themselves a part of the story, locals demonstrated their own opinion of MSNBC's journalism on Monday night -- by pelting Hayes and one of his co-anchors with rocks.