Nothing more cogently demonstrated the left's apparent strategy in Madison, Wisconsin thus far than a group of pro-union demonstrators silencing a Fox News report on a budding scandal there with cries demanding that Fox "tell the truth." Demonstrators, and much of the left over the past week, were unconcerned with the content of Fox's report. The fact that Fox was doing the reporting meant that the truth was not being told.
Fox was attempting to interview the president of the MacIver Institute, a free market think tank based in Wisconsin, which had reported two days earlier that doctors were writing sick notes for union demonstrators in Madison so they could get out of work and attend the protests (check out video of the protesters below the break).
News outlets from the Associated Press to a local ABC affiliate had reported on the story. The University of Wisconsin announced that it will investigate the "very serious" charges that UW doctors were among those handing out fraudulent sick notes.
Rather than address the allegations, a number of liberals have chosen to attack those making them. The crowd of demonstrators in Madison apparently decided that Fox's reporting, but not that of other news outlets, was untrue and unworthy of being broadcast.
Their reaction upon seeing that it was Fox broadcasting - "We've got Fox News over here!" yelled on protester - demonstrates an ugly reality of political debate for many on the left: the truth is quite simply that which serves a leftist agenda. Because Fox gives voice to conservative commentators and the MacIver Institute is affiliated with various conservative advocacy groups, their work is ipso facto untruthful.
Hence much of the left's response to allegations that doctors sympathetic to union demonstrators have been abusing their medical privilege for political purposes - substantiated by a significant amount of evidence, including videos of doctors offering sick notes to literally any protester who asks - has been to demonize and attempt to discredit those making the allegations. Little effort, in contrast, has been exerted in attempts to refute the actual allegations.
The demonstrators who demanded that Fox tell the truth were preventing Fox from doing just that. But the substance of Fox's report was less a concern for the demonstrators than the channel's alleged ideology. They weren't concerned with the merits of allegations against University of Wisconsin physicians and other doctors. Fox, in their telling, is a conservative organization, and therefore any evidence presented by Fox is by its very nature untrue and illegitimate.
It didn't matter what Fox was reporting. Once demonstrators realized which channel was doing the reporting, the yelling started. They weren't just unconcerned with the content of Fox's report, they were determined to prevent that report from being broadcast.
The knee-jerk reaction to delegitimize and shut down all voices perceived as politically opposed to one's agenda is a natural temptation. After all, what debate isn't easier in the absence of any serious opposition? But though it may be a natural impulse, it's certainly not a healthy one. Unfortunately it is one that some on the left have fully embraced in the context of the protests in Madison.
The demonstrators in Madison were not the only ones trying to shut down and delegitimize people reporting on the doctor scandal. At the far-left blog Crooks and Liars, one pseudonymous blogger heavily implied that the entire doctor's note story was a fabrication by various conservative activists and organizations. Her evidence: well, she didn't have any.
Rather than focus on the content of the numerous videos suggesting impropriety, Crooks and Liars tried to discredit the MacIver institute and link one of the doctors who had allegedly been handing out sick notes to any protester who asked to Andrew Breitbart and his ACORN investigation.
Crooks and Liars concluded with this passage:
Breitbart has bragged about being at the protests in Wisconsin today. Americans for Prosperity is linked to the MacIver Institute. A Breitbart video smear guy is quoted in an article smearing teachers. Figure it out.
Yes, figure it out. In other words, there is no evidence that either the MacIver institute or Christian Harstock reported anything but fact. This blogger simply showed that both have conservative views, and left it at that. Readers are supposed to infer that the allegations are therefore false, but no evidence is presented that supports that contention, presumably because the blogger couldn't find any. So all we're left with is speculation and innuendo.
The implication throughout the Crooks and Liars post - and in other posts by left-wing blogs - is the same one implicit in the pro-union demonstrators' cries of "tell the truth": conservatives are inherently dishonest, and therefore anything they say can and should be discounted as misleading or outright false. It's not just political interestedness that undermines fact, in this telling. After all, the people making the allegations against Fox and the MacIver Institute are uniformly liberal, partisan, and supportive of the union demonstrators in Madison. Simply having an ideology doesn't make the claims suspect; having a conservative ideology does.
That mentality seems to stem from liberals' inability to see anything but subterfuge in the conservative ideal. No right-winger is really concerned with mankind's well-being (better served by economic freedom than state control, if you ask a conservative), the narrative goes. Liberal groups want to help the poor. Conservative organizations are just front groups for corporate interests.
That meme has been handily debunked elsewhere, so there's no need to hash out once again everything that is wrong with that view. But it is worth remembering that many on the left simply believe that conservatives cannot utter truth. By the fact that they are conservative, they are wrong.
So as pro-union demonstrators rally for "democracy" and their "rights" in Madison, it's worth remembering that many of these folks do not think that their ideological counterparts are entitled to voice their political views, since those views are not a legitimate addition to the political dialogue. And yet they have the gall to demand Fox "tell the truth."