While media liberals obsess about negative ads funded by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, federal worker unions are savagely attacking the Tea Party in a forthcoming radio ad campaign. "We would love to be very bipartisan, but it's hard to be bipartisan when one side is just trying to cut your throat," said John Gage of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) in Friday's Washington Post.
Reporter Ed O'Keefe concluded that "the union aired a similar public awareness campaign last summer." But is it "public awareness" to associate ideas in the GOP Pledge to America -- a federal hiring freeze and spending restraint -- with releasing terrorists, ending food inspection, and polluting rivers? O'Keefe relayed the script:
"The Republican tea party Pledge to America says, 'Cut taxes for the rich and cut government,' " AFGE President John Gage says in the ad. "Some have even said, 'Close the government down.' Then what? Food and mine inspection - gone. Forget about border patrol or keeping terrorists locked up. And returning veterans? Give them a cheap voucher instead of a quality VA hospital. Let's dump in the rivers and pollute the air again."
The headline is "Federal worker union blasts tea party candidates in radio ad." Which Tea Party candidates are pledging to voters that if elected, they'll end the Border Patrol and shut down VA hospitals? O'Keefe did not go to a ad fact-checker for a grade on this parade of slurs and wild exaggerations. He didn't even quote Republicans denouncing the ad copy as unfair. For "balance," he quoted Republicans in favor of a hiring freeze.
The hiring freeze "is reasonable and necessary," said Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), who helped announce the proposals. "In the face of massive debt, we must do more with less."
O'Keefe also noticed Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell has called for a hiring freeze as well. But Gage gets to be the story's unchallenged narrator. O'Keefe never challenged Gage on how absolutely nothing can be cut from government, or press him about tax increases, since everything is sacred. He just lets him express that he's the voice of reality:
"We're trying to let people see what government really is," Gage said in an interview. "I have a sneaking suspicion that a lot of people really don't get it and really have to be thinking about what alternatives there are after you try to go make up this deficit by cutting government programs."
The AFGE's 60-second "counter message" (as O'Keefe also called it) will air in Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia over the last two weeks of the campaign and will cost the union about $500,000.
This kind of story underlines the kind of biased coverage Republicans can expect if they win, just as the incoming Republican majorities found in 1995. Every proposed freeze or slight pruning of government activity gets exaggerated into an operatic act of fiscal violence.