Can the MSM be Sued for Whiplash?
In September of 2009, Victor Davis Hanson neatly summed the MSM's reaction to the rise -- as Reuters would say, unexpectedly! -- of the Tea Parties. Part of what made the left even more furious than usual was that conservatives suddenly discovered the art of out-of-doors political activities, to which "progressives" long thought they had monopoly rights:
The Left is now furious that, as the new establishment, the rules of discourse are not more polite. But from 2002-8, they (Who are “they”? Try everyone from Al Gore to John Glen to Robert Byrd to Sen. Durbin), employed every Nazi/brown shirt slur they could conjure up. NPR’s folksy old Garrison Keiler was indistinguishable from mean-spirited Michael Moore in that regard.
The New York Times gave a discount for a disgusting “General Betray Us” ad. The Democratic Party head Howard Dean flatly said he “hated” Republicans. Hilary Clinton all but called Gen. Petraeus a liar in a congressional hearing. The New Republic ran an essay on hating George Bush (not opposing, not disliking, but “hating” the President). Alfred Knopf published a novel about killing Bush. A Guardian op-ed dreamed of Lee Harvey Oswald and John Wilkes Booth coming back to kill Bush. And on and on.
No one objected. A Dan Rather said nothing—but tried to pass off forged documents to alter the election. A Bill Moyers piled on. There was no voice of “Now, wait a minute, this is going too far.” Did the Left assume that they were going to be perpetually bomb-tossers, forever on the outside of Karl Rove’s ballyhooed three-decades of Republican supremacy to come?
What Comes Around, Goes…
And then something strange and quite unexpected happened. The Democrats nominated a charismatic African-American, won the presidency, after obtaining large majorities in Congress, and suddenly became the Establishment, demanding respect for the Commander in Chief in direct proportion to their efforts to deny respect to his predecessor. Then just as suddenly two tropes appeared after January 20th of this year:
One—cannot we all get along? We deplore this resort to barbarism and crudity.
Two—if you dare sound off like we just did, then you are now a racist.
But having spent the last two years finding every kook fringe protester at a conservative protest (even if they were leftwing nutters who had nothing to do with the Tea Party), and imagining themselves to have a Bletchley Park-like ability to discern racism and Godwin's Law violations at every turn, the MSM now has to cover protests on the left.
Naturally, the rules of the past two years are quickly discarded, as Rich Noyes and Scott Whitlock of the Media Research Center write today in the Wall Street Journal:
After Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot and severely wounded in January by a psychotic man unconnected to the Tea Party or any other political cause, the networks highlighted Palin's map in 24 stories in just the first six days. "That map Sarah Palin put up on Facebook last year, targeting Congresswoman Gifford's seat, made Gifford nervous, even then," NBC's Lee Cowan scolded on Today back on January 10.
Even the most timeworn chants seemed to outrage journalists when it came to the Tea Party. Back in March, CBS's Bob Schieffer was appalled by, among other things, anti-ObamaCare protesters chanting "kill the bill." He lectured on the March 21, 2010 Face the Nation: "A year-long debate that's been rancorous and mean from the start turned even nastier yesterday. Demonstrators protesting the bill poured into the halls of Congress shouting 'kill the bill' and 'made in the USSR.'"
This weekend in Wisconsin, protesters also chanted "kill the bill" (CBS's The Early Show ran a clip on Friday) but on this Sunday's Face the Nation, Schieffer had no negative words for these protesters as he set up a discussion of the issue: "Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets again in Madison, Wisconsin as they marched to protest major cuts in state spending. The question is, will the protests spread to other states where similar proposals to cut spending are also being contemplated?"
When it comes to the Tea Party, network correspondents seem to enjoy playing "civility cop," emphasizing a few radical and inflammatory signs in ways that imply that the entire cause is extreme. Radical and inflammatory signs were easily found at the Wisconsin protests, but the networks uttered not one peep of disapproval — overwhelming evidence of a double standard that should embarrass any network journalist who still purports to be fair and balanced.
Are any of those left? Or to put it another way, are any of those left on the left?
Meanwhile, I Hate the Media has a nifty video round-up of "Hypocrisy on steroids: What liberals said then vs. what liberals say now" in Wisconsin:
And in New Jersey, Chris Christie is compared to Qaddafi:
Not quite -- want to see real martyrdom? Images coming back from those with flip-cams in Libya are rather different than those with video cameras in Trenton: "BREAKING: Camera man recording footage is shot and killed." (Let that headline serve as your content warning before clicking over.)
On her Website, Michelle Malkin rounds up the "Hate-a-rama: The vulgar, racist, sexist, homophobic rage of the Left," and then provides a nice litmus test for the MSM:
Media double standard test: Compare how much space and air this one dumb question gets versus the litany of incidents in my column.
But then, the MSM flunked that test long before the bell rang.
And with this, the circle seems oddly complete: "Protesters at the Wisconsin Capitol disrespectfully have taped signs on and piled junk against the Veterans Memorial."