03/04/2013 06:44 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

When a Troll Is Not a Troll

On Friday, Fox News personality Megyn Kelly took Rachel Maddow to task for calling Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia a "troll."

This has led to a lot of criticism of Justice Scalia including one liberal commentator calling him 'a troll.' As somebody who covered the high court for three years and practiced law for nine, I personally object to that kind of language against the Supreme Court justice. I don't think it does anybody any good. I think they vote their consciences up there whether they're left or right.

Now, mind you, I'm not quite sure what covering the Supreme Court has to do with anything here, let alone covering it for a whopping "three years." After all, "covering it" means you were supposed to be an objective, dispassionate observer, and whether you like the institution or not is fairly moot. But then, I suspect pretty much all Americans, including Rachel Maddow, have a certain respect for the Supreme Court as one of the three branches of government, so if Megyn Kelly does too, join the club.

More to the point, though, it's clear from her comments that Ms. Kelly didn't even begin to grasp what Rachel Maddow was saying. Ms. Kelly seems to think that in calling Justice Scalia a "troll," Ms. Maddow was referring to him as a little ogre who lived under a bridge and stalked people like Rapunzel. In fact, if she had watched the full passage -- something I suspect she didn't, since she's missed the point completely -- Ms. Kelly would have understood that Rachel Maddow was specifically using the Internet meaning of troll: a person who says something outrageous just for effect to get a reaction from others. It's clear that's what Ms. Maddow meant -- because... well, she said, specifically, that's what she meant.

(If for some reason Megyn Kelly actually knows that that's what Rachel Maddow meant, and she still says "I personally object to that kind of language" -- THAT kind, no less! That kind -- then maybe... I don't know, maybe she's just a troll.)

Furthermore, I'd take her "personal" objection more, oh-so-much-more meaningfully if I'd ever seen Megyn Kelly just once "personally object" to whenever the general public -- and commentators -- would refer to the President of the United States as everything from a Nazi to an anti-American, Muslim Socialistist who hates America and pals around with terrorists. Of course, I suppose that's not nearly as bad as being called a troll.

Finally, though, not only is it totally meaningless whether Megyn Kelly thinks Supreme Court Justices vote their consciences -- since, after all, as she herself says, she only "thinks" that and has no idea whether or not it's true. She has no idea whether votes like Bush v. Gore or any of their votes are conscience in the slightest, or are their sound legal opinion, which ultimately of course what a Supreme Court Justice is supposed to be using to decide, not "conscience." But more importantly... the reason that Rachel Maddow called Antonin Scalia a "troll" was not because of how he "voted," but rather because of what he spoke out-loud in open court, about a "racial entitlement" to vote, something Ms. Maddow suggested was done to specifically get a gasp reaction for effect from those in attendance, which is precisely what Internet trolls do. And quite often, Fox News on-air personalities.

Other than all that, however, Megyn Kelly's personal objection was no doubt heartfelt, because, in the end, I think she spoke her conscience whether she's left or right. Or wrong.

But then, if you want to see for yourself -- after all, here at the Elisberg Worldwide News Service, our motto is, "We Show You the Whole Actual Thing Unedited and in Full Context, You Think for Yourself" -- here's Rachel Maddow's appearance on The Daily Show. If you don't want to see her entire six minutes of conversation, the troll fairy tale part comes in around 2:30. The video begins after a brief commercial interruption.

By the way, it gets even worse than just Ms. Kelly, lest you think Fox News couldn't pander any more than they do. In an article on the Fox News website, the headline is, "Rachel Maddow calls Scalia a 'troll,' like blogger 'using N-word.'" It is, of course, utterly nothing like a blogger using the "N" word -- unless you're someone who wants to intentionally outrage your readers who don't know any better. Like, say -- a troll. A person who says something for effect, just to get a reaction. Then again, maybe this is what Fox think black people do with everything they say. But of course, perhaps it's all just simpler: maybe this is just a Fox ploy to make Megyn Kelly look like the rational one. Alas, it didn't work.


To read more from Robert J. Elisberg about other matters from politics, entertainment, technology, humor, sports, and a few things in between, visit Elisberg Industries.