Worst week ever

Matthew Hoy
By Matthew Hoy on January 16, 2011

As I watched the media coverage of the aftermath of the Tucson massacre that left 6 dead and a dozen more injured—some seriously—I couldn’t help but think the mainstream media had finally lost its collective mind.

The bodies of the dead hadn’t even been removed from the parking lot when New York Times columnist Paul Krugman  determined that the shooting was political based upon nothing more than his own deep-seated contempt for people he disagrees with politically. He followed up a day later with a column that included this doozy:

Where’s that toxic rhetoric coming from? Let’s not make a false pretense of balance: it’s coming, overwhelmingly, from the right. It’s hard to imagine a Democratic member of Congress urging constituents to be “armed and dangerous” without being ostracized; but Representative Michele Bachmann, who did just that, is a rising star in the G.O.P.

As for that last bit, Krugman took that Bachmann quote so out of context that if she weren’t a public official Krugman and the Times might find themselves facing a false light libel suit. As for the toxic rhetoric, Krugman obviously forgot all of this.

The Associated Press, making liberal use of the Lexis/Nexis database, but failing to exercise good editorial judgment, linked Sarah Palin to the “climate of hate” supposedly to blame for the shooting.

As others have noted, in the wake of the Fort Hood shooting by Maj. Nidal Hassan that left 13 dead and dozens wounded the media time after time counseled viewers, readers and listeners not to immediately link this shooting to radical Islam despite the fact that the shooter was shouting “Allah Akbar” as he fired. No such caution was exercised by the mainstream media in this case as they rushed to link the shooting to Palin, talk radio and “eliminationist rhetoric.” Just for the record, no right-wing filmmaker has yet made a movie imagining/glorifying the assassination of Barack Obama, as President George W. Bush had to endure.

The New York Times editorial page had this odious editorial line:

It is facile and mistaken to attribute this particular madman's act directly to Republicans or Tea Party members. But it is legitimate to hold Republicans and particularly their most virulent supporters in the media responsible for the gale of anger that has produced the vast majority of these threats, setting the nation on edge.

Of course, this was all bolshevik storytelling. This was what the media wanted this shooting to be about, not what it really was.

What it really was about was that the shooter was a nutjob who was too wacky for even the UFO true believers and thought that the government was using English grammar to control our minds.

But even after that was apparent, the media continued with the narrative. Again, the Times was perhaps the worst offender. Consider how one incident regarding the shooter was reported (via Ann Coulter).

Here’s the ABC News version:

"One Pima Community College student, who had a poetry class with Loughner later in his college career, said he would often act 'wildly inappropriate.'

"One day (Loughner) started making comments about terrorism and laughing about killing the baby,” classmate Don Coorough told ABC News, referring to a discussion about abortions. “The rest of us were looking at him in shock ... I thought this young man was troubled.”

Another classmate, Lydian Ali, recalled the incident as well.

"A girl had written a poem about an abortion. It was very emotional and she was teary eyed and he said something about strapping a bomb to the fetus and making a baby bomber,” Ali said.

And the Times’ characterization of this same incident:

"After another student read a poem about getting an abortion, Mr. Loughner compared the young woman to a 'terrorist for killing the baby.'"

The Times has turned a wacko into a pro-lifer. The narrative must be maintained and damn the truth.

And then there was Newsweek magazine’s Jonathan Alter who wrote perhaps the most crass column of the week purportedly advising President Obama on how to maximize the bloodshed for his own political advantage.

On Wednesday, Palin put out a video on Facebook defending herself from the smears and included the term “blood libel.” The commentariat again attacked accusing her of ignorance and improper use of the term which originally referred to a medieval claim that Jews used Christians blood to make Passover meals. Ace and Patterico nailed the damned-if-you-do; damned-if-you-don’t media double standard.


MEDIA: Sarah Palin directly and knowingly caused the murders of six innocent human beings.

PALIN: No, I didn’t.

MEDIA: Stop making it all about you!!! This is about the people who were shot!!!

To which I [Patterico] would add:

MEDIA: Sarah Palin directly and knowingly caused the murders of six innocent human beings.

PALIN: No, I didn’t.

MEDIA: Why are you so defensive?


MEDIA: Sarah Palin directly and knowingly caused the murders of six innocent human beings.  She is suspiciously silent.  Will she ever address this?

PALIN: No, I didn’t.

MEDIA: Too soon.

The last time the media went this wrong for so long was probably the 1996 Atlanta Olympics bombing when hero Richard Jewell was falsely tarred as the bomber. The media eventually corrected their error there—to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars in libel settlements. Don’t expect there to be a similar reckoning this time.

The mainstream media—and The New York TImes especially—have lost all credibility and with it authority. They cannot be trusted. They have blatantly revealed their biases and destroyed even the pretense of objectivity. A partisan press is much more honest than what we’ve got right now. It used to be that the advantage newspapers and 24-hour cable news outlets had over the 30-minute nightly newscasts and radio was the ability to put the news into deeper context and provide exhaustive explanations that covered far more than the simple who, what, where, when, why and how. They can no longer be trusted no to color the context and explanations with their own biases.


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January 2011



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