Thursday, October 23, 2008

In the tank?

Here's Colleen at STLtoday.

Critics in media conveniently ignore the angry left
Thursday, Oct. 16 2008

After eight years of treating the radical left's foaming-at-the-mouth fury against President George W. Bush as a respectable political posture, America's media establishment has awakened to the dangers of partisan outrage — on the right.

Recent media reports have bemoaned the "angry" tone of rallies for Republicans Sen. John McCain and Gov. Sarah Palin at which "rowdy crowds" have staged "surreal scenes" featuring what one Washington Post report described as an "outpouring of raw emotion rare in a presidential race." Apparently, the author of that last phrase never attended a rally for Sen. Barack Obama, where supporters have been known to faint and weep upon glimpsing The One.

Attuned as these reporters are to the wrath of the right, they seem to have overlooked the rageaholic tendencies of the left. In the past week alone, groups of Obama supporters spray-painted "Republican means slavery" on the door of a South Carolina GOP office, used a Molotov cocktail to torch a McCain yard sign in Portland, Ore., and arrived at a Palin rally in Pennsylvania sporting T-shirts that described the governor as a four-letter word unprintable in a  family newspaper.

Such nastiness is dispiriting but unsurprising at the end of a hard-fought race. When it gets this close to Election Day, fringe characters inevitably emerge on both ends of the political spectrum.

Yet only one end of that spectrum is drawing the collective ire of mainstream media reporters and commentators. Obama, who recently exhorted supporters to confront Independents and Republicans and "argue with them and get in their face," gets a pass for the strong-arm tactics of his allies on the angry left.

Meanwhile, McCain is blasted for fomenting partisan wrath, even though he has corrected supporters at his rallies when they made comments that he considered over the top.

Mainstream media outlets have given prominent coverage to comments such as those of Democratic Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, who accused McCain of "sowing the seeds of hatred and division" and compared him to segregationist Alabama governor George Wallace. CNN pundit James Carville has clucked that he fears the McCain crowds "could literally cause physical harm." New York Times op-ed columnist Frank Rich has declared that McCain and Palin are playing "the race card." His evidence: People at McCain-Palin rallies — although not the candidates themselves — sometimes use Obama's middle name or shout out angry retorts to speeches.

Ironically, the same critics seeking to concoct a scandal from a few stray hecklers at McCain-Palin rallies howl in protest whenever McCain supporters raise questions about Obama's much more intimate associations with dubious characters. Whether the topic is Obama's 20-year friendship with racist, anti-American pastor Rev. Jeremiah Wright, his political start in the living room of unrepentant domestic terrorist William Ayers, his business dealings with convicted felon Tony Rezko or his ties to ACORN, the advocacy group that has been implicated in a nationwide voter-fraud scandal, the answer from Obama's journalistic allies is always the same: That's a distraction.

When it comes to media elites in the grip of Obama-mania, it seems, every criticism of their anointed candidate is a distraction. That bias is not lost on voters. Much of the anger journalists bemoan among McCain supporters is directed at them. As one man told the Washington Post, "You are treating [Obama] like he's Britney Spears and covering him like he's Paris Hilton, instead of the next president of the United States, potentially." Instead of
dismissing such criticism as partisan hysteria, media elites would do well to listen and learn. If they truly want voters to take a more detached, clear-eyed view of the candidates, they can begin by modeling that objectivity in themselves and their own work.

Colleen Carroll Campbell is an author, television and radio host and St. Louis-based fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. Her website is

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