About 45 minutes ago, Red State's Caleb Howe reported that a package filled with a white powder was sent to the office of Arizona Governor Jan Brewer. Brewer, picture right in a file photo, has become a controversial figure since she signed into law a bill giving state authorities more power to determine an individual's immigration status.
Andrew Staubitz, the chief of Phoenix's Capital Police Department, told Howe that a state employee opened an envelope addressed to the Governor and found a "powdery white substance." The first floor of the Arizona Capitol was closed for about half an hour. Paramedics were called, but the employee required no further medical assistance. The powder was sent to a lab where it is undergoing tests.
Will the media report this event as vehemently as they have other instances of purported political violence? Will they extrapolate a larger threat posed by opponents of the new immigration law as they repeatedly have with the Tea Party movement (even though it has been completely devoid of violence)? Or will they apply the journalistic scrutiny to this incident that they failed to apply to the claims of members of Congressional Black Caucus who said protesters had shouted racial slurs at them? We will see.
As Howe writes (emphasis in the original),
How long after the Capitol steps alleged spitting incident was it before talking heads were running with the Democrat and Shepard Smith talking point that tea partiers were becoming violent? How many times in the last year, from the town halls through today, has MSNBC had panels and pundits discussing the "violent rhetoric" and increasing danger from the right? Can you imagine if Governor Brewer had declared a Arizona a sanctuary state and then received white powder in the mail? The uproar? The outrage? The utter ALARM!??!
Howe correctly notes that speculation about the motives of the perpetrator in this instance is almost irrelevant to a commentary on the media's role in the incident. Due journalistic diligence requires that reporters not jump to conclusions one way or another.
But this diligence has consistently been denied the Tea Party. In fact, the media seem bent on lending creedence to voices that are routinely incorrect in their accusations of violence against conservative activists (see Sparkman, Bill), and hardly bother concealing the political motivations that undergird their charges.
NewsBusters will monitor the media's coverage -- or lack thereof -- of this incident. You can help by reporting coverage if you see it. Is the incident being reported? If so, how? Are the media parroting the tired "lone wolf" claim to insulate the far-left from any possible connection? Is the incident being used to play up popular opposition to the Arizona law?
*****UPDATE: In anticipation of critics' claims that this story is not really worth significant coverage since signs point to the white powder being innocuous in this instance, I'll note the following. In three instances of similar white powder hoaxes at the Harlem office of former President Bill Clinton, a Kerry/Edwards campaign office in 2004, and at the Washington office of former Republican Senate Leader Bill Frist.