If you’ve ever been in a live TV studio audience, perhaps at one of the late-night talk shows that air out of New York and Los Angeles, you’ve had firsthand experience with an “applause” sign. These visual aids are a cue to the audience to applaud when some unseen stage hand deems the polite smacking of hands to be appropriate.
When you think about it, “applause” signs are insulting. Somewhere along the line, someone decided that television audiences weren’t bright enough to know that you clap at, say, the end of a song or the arrival on stage of the next guest.
But a development in yesterday’s House Judiciary Committee hearings suggest that the inventor of the “applause” sign knew his business. During one of the more animated exchanges between Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) and embattled FBI agent Peter Strzok, Gowdy attempted to get to the bottom of why Special Counsel Robert Mueller dropped Strzok from the Russian collusion investigation, suggesting it was the clear bias the agent had shown against candidate Donald Trump. Strzock argued back that it was only the appearance of bias that had accounted for Mueller’s decision.
In the four-plus-minute video of the exchange that follows, Strzok delivers an impassioned if rhetorically bankrupt defense of his reprehensible actions at the FBI. To anyone not encumbered by a tin ear, the attempt at righteous indignation was very foolish. But at its conclusion, the Democrats in the chamber applauded.
Hence the title of the post.