Is a Horrific, Politically Motivated Beating Newsworthy?
Attorney General Eric Holder, also responded swiftly, ordering the FBI to assist in the investigation. Holder also activated lawyers in the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division to initiate an investigation into possible violations of civil rights laws.
Members of Congress also voiced their condemnation of the attack. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi released a statement calling the attack "the predictable result of these so-called 'tea parties' and the anti-government rhetoric they spout."
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid spoke briefly to reporters, saying, "I hope every American is made aware of this terrible attack, and learns just how far the right wing is willing to go to meet its political ends."
Media condemnation of the assaults was also swift. All three broadcast networks broke into prime-time programming with coverage of the attacks, and the cable news networks have carried wall-to-wall reporting and analysis since the news first broke.
CNN on-air personality Anderson Cooper defended the 24/7 coverage by noting:
We're a news organization, and when the aide of a prominent governor is beaten nearly to death within a few yards of an opposing political group's protest ... well, if that's not news, I don't know what is.
MSNBC hosts Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow were more direct. "This may be the greatest outrage in American history," Olbermann said on his Countdown program. "The president would be completely within his rights to order a severe FBI crackdown on these 'teabaggers.'" Maddow called for the immediate arrest of Palin on suspicion of fomenting treason and a second civil war.
Author's note: The preceding story is, of course, fictional -- with a few exceptions:
The first four paragraphs are copied from a news story in the New Orleans Times-Picayune from April 12, 2010, with a few changes. The location of a vicious assault on Governor Bobby Jindal's aide Allee Bautch and her boyfriend, Joe Brown, was changed from New Orleans to Boston, and Bautch's name was reversed. I apologize in advance to the owners, employees and patrons of Boston's Bouchee restaurant for using Bauchee as a stand-in for Brennan's Restaurant in New Orleans; certainly Bouchee holds no more responsibility for the fictional attack than Brennan's does for the real one. I also apologize to Jindal spokesman Kyle Plotkin for re-spelling his name in the fictionalized story.