Posted on | July 16, 2010 | 36 Comments
Media Matters is telling TV producers not to give airtime to the woman who is arguably the most effective activist on this issue. So if the producers don’t book the attractive, informed, impassioned Geller, who will be on TV to present the case against the Ground Zero mosque? Either someone less knowledgeable and persuasive or no one at all.
In other words, Media Matter is trying to suppress dissent. And the smear of Geller is not an isolated example. Consider this headline:
That’s about the Black Panthers voter-intimidation case, which was dropped by the Justice Department amid accusations from a department whistle-blower that Attorney General Eric Holder had intervened on behalf of the nightstick-wielding Panthers. Endeavoring to dismiss the story as insignificant, Eric Boehlert of Media Matters spews a string of pejoratives:
. . . right-wing race baiting and fear mongering . . . hysterical far-right cries . . . right-wing wrath . . . Obama’s right-wing critics were leveling astonishing, race-baiting charges . . . uncontrollable race baiting . . . the very ugly context and the very ugly rhetoric that’s being pumped out by Fox News and other far-right commentators. . . . more right-wing furor . . . the GOP Noise Machine and its ability to make life miserable for journalists who tell the truth about the far-right conservative movement in America today . . . radical and offensive rhetoric they employed against Obama . . . the hysterical, relentless race-baiting . . . dark, hateful comments . . .
This is a style of rhetoric we might call Argument by Assertion: Repetitively employing terms like “far-right” and “race-baiting” as if saying the same thing over and over made it so.
Let us stipulate that Fox’s coverage of the New Black Panther Party may be making a mountain out of a molehill, sensationally exaggerating a story beyond its legitimate significance. Let us also agree, however, that the news media do such things routinely.
How significant was Natalie Holloway’s disappearance? What were the national implications of the Caylee Anthony case?
And if we wish to isolate politically-motivated sensationalism, why did the murders of Matthew Shepard and James Byrd get such saturation coverage? The Shepard case became a cause célèbre for the gay-rights movement, while Byrd’s death was touted as proof that a certain Republican governor of Texas was indifferent or hostile to black civil rights.
Surely Eric Boehlert never criticized networks for covering those stories in that context, yet unleashes a torrent of epithets — ugly rhetoric! hateful comments! — at Fox News for its coverage of the Panther case.
Is it only the “far right” that finds the Panther case troubling? Or are there legitimate reasons to worry that the dismissal of the case is, as many conservatives contend, significant of an unwillingness of the Obama administration to pursue accusations of discrimination that don’t fit the liberal agenda?
Was “race-baiting” the only motive for Fox News’ coverage of the story? Or could it be that the Panther story has an intrinsic audience appeal — a sort of man-bites-dog angle on civil rights — that makes for good TV?
Eric Boehlert wants to rule such questions out of bounds, asserting that anyone who suspects the Obama administration of racial unfairness can be peremptorily dismissed as engaged in hysterical far-right race-baiting: Nothing to see here. Move along.
Messages and Messengers
As with the attack on Geller, by accusing Fox of racial demagoguery, Media Matters is attempting to discredit the messenger, so that the mainstream media has a ready-make excuse to ignore any message that Eric Boehlert doesn’t like.
And notice how this works: If Fox covers a story that other networks ignore, the attack is directed at the network. However, if MSNBC books a guest (Geller) to discuss a story that it had otherwise ignored (the Ground Zero mosque), Media Matters screams bloody murder that this one guest is unacceptable.
Media Matters is attempting to exercise the power of an arbiter, to arrogate to itself the authority to decide which stories are newsworthy and which sources are credible, and it does so through intimidation. The message to news producers and editors couldn’t be clearer: Give serious coverage to a story we don’t like, and we’ll unleash these attacks against you.
Remember Liz Mair’s theory that David Weigel’s Journolist e-mails were made public because Weigel had dared to dispute the Left’s narrative that portrayed Rand Paul as a racist. Weigel wasn’t toeing the line. He hadn’t cooperated in the Meme-O’-th’-Day agenda and, by speaking out, had helped kill the meme that Democrats were employing to tremendous advantage. Was that why he became the Luca Brasi of MSM reporters?
Hey, I’m just askin’ questions . . .
Other than class warfare — the GOP as “party of the rich” — no message has been more electorally productive for Democrats than the “R is for Racist” meme (which seems to be shaping up as the MSM’s pre-emptive explanation for any Republican success in November). By furiously attacking stories that disrupt or distract from that message, Media Matters is shaping the political battlefield to favor Democrats.
Don’t wait for the network news exposé of this partisan project operating under the guise of a tax-exempt 501(c)3 non-profit, unless you’re prepared to wait until hell freezes over.