Bozell Column: Liberals In Vitriol Denial
When the Republicans shocked the liberal media elite by winning back Congress in 1994, they had been demonized for months. But it took the Oklahoma City bombing on April 19, 1995 for Bill Clinton and all of his "objective" media devotees to really pull the violence card and smear that mass murder all over Newt Gingrich and conservative Republicans, blaming it on their "anti-government" rhetoric.
In 2010, our partisan liberal media aren't waiting for the elections to arrive. An arrest of "Christian militia" activists in southern Michigan led Washington Post columnist (and former reporter) Eugene Robinson to proclaim implausibly on March 30: "The danger of political violence in this country comes overwhelmingly from one direction -- the right, not the left. The vitriolic, anti-government hate speech that is spewed on talk radio every day -- and, quite regularly, at Tea Party rallies -- is calibrated not to inform but to incite."
Robinson wrote this in the very same edition of the newspaper where on page A-8 -- not on page A-1, but A-8 -- the Post reported a Philadelphia man was charged with threatening to kill House Minority Leader Eric Cantor and his family. Norman Leboon posted a YouTube video in which he said Cantor was "pure evil" and "you and your children are Lucifer's abominations."
In an online chat later in the day, Robinson dismissed the threat: "A crazy, anti-Semitic wacko can do terrible things. That said, I don't think that's the same thing as heavily armed militia groups training for war against the state."
A few days before on NBC's "Meet the Press," Newsweek editor Jon Meacham denied reality by claiming there is no gap in political passion: "I would say it's a pretty close call." Liberals, after all, succeeded in ramrodding the bill through to passage, and conservatives only stood out because their passion was "raw, and tragically unfortunate. When John Lewis can't walk across Capitol Hill without being spit on and called the worst thing he can be called, a man who helped change America, then we're out of whack."
That was a pretty shoddy charge for such a prestigious journalist to make. First, John Lewis was not the man who claimed he was spit upon. That was Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, and he later told Washington Post columnist Courtland Milloy that he felt a man angrily yelling at him didn't so much spit as "allowed saliva to hit my face." In other words -- and video confirms it -- this conscious spitting never happened.
Milloy should be better known as the ranter that doubly ruined Robinson's claim that today's leftists never incite. Here's how Milloy responded to the tea party protests on Capitol Hill: "I want to spit on them, take one of their 'Obama Plan White Slavery' signs and knock every racist and homophobic tooth out of their Cro-Magnon heads."
Robinson somehow missed that article in his own newspaper, too.
This absolute tunnel vision about which side is ferocious was almost comical on NBC. John McCain came on NBC's "Today" on March 25 and was assaulted by Ann Curry about the "incendiary" language of his old running mate, Sarah Palin. But when Barack Obama showed up five days later, Matt Lauer "balanced" it -- by talking about the ferocity of the Republicans. "The vitriol, the rhetoric, the sniping, the threats. How are you possibly going to continue with any kind of legislative agenda when your opponents have said to you, 'I'm not gonna cooperate with this president, with these Democrats, unless it's a matter of national security.' How do you move on?"
This allowed Obama to joke that "no asteroid had hit the planet" since he signed his health bill passed. But Lauer never raised the Cantor death threats with Obama, and they didn't appear anywhere else on "Today."
This anti-"vitriol" stance is most comical for this network because MSNBC churns out vitriol and ferocity against conservatives and Republicans on a daily and nightly basis. Do Curry and Lauer never watch it?
All these people -- from Robinson and Meacham to Curry and Lauer -- are knowledgeable people who cannot deny that the left is deeply stocked with rabid bloggers, talk-radio hosts and cable-TV shouters. Their ability to pretend that these voices do not exist is quite an acting job.
How one-sided is their reporting? Imagine the media reaction if Rep. Steny Hoyer, the second most powerful Democrat in the House, were targeted for death by a tea partier. Eric Cantor is the No. 2 House Republican. When the arrest of his would-be killer was made, how much coverage did it receive? A brief mention on NBC on the evening of March 29, a brief mention on ABC on the morning of March 30, and CBS never touched it.