‘Journalism’ at its Most Absurd

Every once in a while, routine commentary from someone in the media on the left crosses the line between merely ineffective or uninformed and completely, utterly absurd.

For me, the quintessential example of leftist op-ed absurdity had to be the September 12, 2009 piece by the New York Times’ Maureen Dowd in which she actually put words–racially intolerant language, no less–into the mouth of South Carolina Congressman Joe Wilson, who had the temerity to point out an overt misrepresentation made by the president of the United States during a health care-related speech to a joint session of Congress three days before.

“You lie!” is what Wilson shouted, to a shocked chamber, after President Barack Obama insisted falsely that his proposed health care reform would not insure illegal immigrants.

“You lie, boy!” was the statement imputed by Dowd to the good congressman.  For Dowd, putting words in Wilson’s mouth was a necessary jumping-off point, the only way to take an admittedly irreverent moment centered around illegal immigration and instead paint it as an example of racial bigotry.  Without adding nonexistent language to Wilson’s exclamation, see, Dowd’s entirely manufactured narrative that Wilson’s “shocking disrespect for the office of the president” convinced her that “[s]ome people just can’t believe a black man is president and will never accept it” would rightfully fall flat on its face.

Never mind, of course, that Wilson never said anything of the sort.  Never mind, of course, that the only person to actually make use of the “boy” epithet in addressing Barack Obama was Dowd herself who, after candidate Obama took offense at a comment about his prominent ears, said that “we’re just trying to toughen you up, boy.”  Never mind, of course, that Dowd’s insistence that “no Democrat ever shouted ‘liar’ at W when he was hawking a fake case for war in Iraq” was flat wrong.  Never mind, of course, that Joe Wilson was absolutely right.  When it comes to the most ridiculous commentary from the left, it seems, truth and accuracy take a back seat to ideological fervor.

For a long time now, I thought Dowd’s masterpiece was insurmountable as the headlining act in the Theatre Of The Absurd.  Then, I read Richard Cohen’s piece in this morning’s Washington Post.

On the Right, the headline reads, Hateful Words are Fired Like Bullets.  The column which follows is no less hyperbolic.

In it, just as Dowd meritlessly imputed bigoted language to Joe Wilson, Cohen imputes upon the Tea Party movement a cocktail of intolerance, rage and violence.  In the context of the unfortunate and deadly 1970 shooting at Kent State University, Cohen takes the words of Ohio Gov. James Rhodes at that time and insists that such “ugly” language as espoused by those on the right who were “enthralled by toughness, violence” is once again the language of our current political landscape, particularly of the Tea Party movement, a faction, Cohen insists, is comprised of the same type of people who gunned down those four students in Ohio.

I had been a reporter back when the killings occurred and it was a huge story to me. I longed for a chance to cover it, but I was young and raw, and the journalistic sluggers whooshed out of the newsroom, hailed a cab, jumped a plane and wrote the story — the story. The story will keep you sane.

But it is a story no more and so, on the bike, the full horror of it came through: My God, American soldiers had shot American college students. This was not China, not Tiananmen Square, and not Iran and the pro-democracy rallies of last year — not any of those places. This was America, just yesterday (take my word for it) and yet it had happened. How? I thought hard and then I remembered. Bullets had killed those kids, sure — but they were fired, in a way, from the mouths of politicians.

The governor of Ohio, James Rhodes, demonized the war protesters. They were “worse than the Brownshirts and the communist element. . . . We will use whatever force necessary to drive them out of Kent.”

That was the language of that time. And now it is the language of our time. It is the language of Glenn Beck, who fetishizes about liberals and calls Barack Obama a racist. It is the language of rage that fuels too much of the Tea Party and is the sum total of gubernatorial hopeful Carl Paladino’s campaign message in New York. It is all this talk about “taking back America” (from whom?) and this inchoate fury at immigrants and, of course, this raw anger at Muslims, stoked by politicians such as Newt Gingrich and Rick Lazio, the latter having lost the GOP primary to Paladino for, among other things, not being sufficiently angry. “I’m going to take them out,” Paladino vowed at a Tea Party rally in Ithaca, N.Y.

Irresponsible trash, vomited forth by a long-embittered political smutpeddler.

Forget, for a moment, that not a single instance of violence–or even littering, for that matter–has been ascribed to the Tea Party movement (and indeed that Glenn Beck himself constantly warns against violence by using, among other things, the French Revolution as an example of what violence brings), while it has traditionally been the radical left which has been responsible for countless deaths and endless amounts of property damage since the days of the Weather Underground and its targeted bombings, and seen most recently in the streets of whatever city was unfortunate enough to host a G-20 summit.

Forget, for a moment, that the bloodlettings in China and Iran were carried out by a communist government and an Islamic theocracy, that ethnic cleansing and forced starvation and mass murder have long been the hallmarks of totalitarian leftist regimes.

Forget even, for a moment, that elements of the anti-war movement reminisced upon wistfully by Cohen was itself bitterly anti-American, prepared as more saboteurs than activists to do everything possible to ensure that American forces ran from Vietnam with its blood-stained tail tucked between its legs and came home to a United States of America that had been fundamentally transformed according to the collectivist model. If not then, when shall those who actively provide comfort to our enemy not themselves be considered an enemy?  If not then, when shall dissent be characterized as “the worst treason of all”?

What we have, in this morning’s latest installment of the overtly absurd, is a piece of writing authored by a man–a journalist, by some accounts at least–who has absolutely no problem whatsoever largely giving a pass to hateful and radical and violent and deadly conduct carried out by hateful and violent and murderous radicals on the left while unnecessarily–and without evidentiary support–projecting bigotry and hostility onto a group of ordinary people who, if anything, have been exceedingly vociferous in their opposition to exactly such tendencies and behavior.

Cohen conveniently ignores incendiary remarks and conduct from our president and his Democrats, whether it be President Barack Obama’s promises to determine “whose ass to kick” with regard to the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, or House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s public calls for the investigation of any and all who dared oppose the construction of a mosque in the shadow of Ground Zero, or DHS Director Janet Napolitano’s agency directive characterizing returning combat veterans as “right-wing extremists” worthy of as much scrutiny as, say, someone willing to tuck an explosive device behind his doomed scrotum.

If there is a danger at this point in time when it comes to our political discourse, it is unequivocally presented by yellow journalists like Richard Cohen, who for purely ideological reasons would gladly disseminate fraudulent misrepresentations and convenient omissions in an attempt to shape and shift public opinion away from politically inconvenient reality and fact.  Whether it be insensitive words read into an otherwise correct statement by a single congressman or violent, seething rage imputed to an entire grassroots movement comprised of millions of everyday Americans, absurdity has no place in a political landscape already too saturated with spin and devoid of truth.

I suppose it would be too much to ask that Richard Cohen turn up the volume on his iPod, conjure up a tandem bicycle, and ride off alongside Maureen Dowd into the sunset as footnotes on the decline of American journalism, never to return again.

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Comments

  1. Pathetic says:

    Newspapers, a waste of good trees…. and I’m not even a greenie.

  2. Gail B. says:

    What the Left can come up with absolutely boggles my mind, disgusts me, and sometimes really angers me; but what really gets me is how people can even believe what they say!

    The Leftists are doing their best to “start” something that will end up in violence, but the conservatives aren’t taking the bait.

    Wonder how many Brownie points they get from all the hateful remarks, and from whom?!

    Jeff, why do I keep getting the mental picture of you swimming through nearly liquid newspaper articles and such? It’s as though you have “dived in” after law school. You are just great! Keep at it–you offer us a sense of security!

  3. Randy Wills says:

    Great article, Jeff, and one that brings out my deepest fears; the death of truth in the present political environment.

    In the absence of a commitment to truth at some level, I see little hope for reconciliation between the Left and the Right and the reconstruction of our economy. All that seems to matter is that one side or the other “wins” without regard for the damage – the tearing apart of our cultural fabric – done to our country in the process.

    That being the case, I see no end to the downward spiral of anger and violence espoused by persons such as those who attended the socialist rally last Saturday in D.C. They are not going to yield to reason or truth, no matter how plainly it’s presented to them, but rather they will ingest and regurgitate the vile, dishonest, and inflamatory, rhetoric of journalists such as Dowd and Cohen who truly have no shame.

    The recent articles by Peter Morici, the former chief economist at the U.S. International Trade Commission (“The Decandence of Election 2010″) and Paul Farrell of MarketWatch (“America on the brink of a Second Revolution”), both of which were carried on Drudge, frame the future quite realistically I’m afraid.

    Randy

  4. whats_up says:

    @ Gail,

    With all due respect it isnt the politicians on the left who are threatening to “take you out” or that “second amendment remedies might have to be used”. It isnt lefties showing up to political rallys with loaded guns. Put up or shut up, which lefties are trying to start something Gail, be specific. What have they said, when did they say it?

  5. LD Jackson says:

    This kind of thing has been going on for a long time and has especially blossomed after the Tea Party started becoming more prominent during the debate over health care reform. The left wants to whine and cry about FOX News and conservative bloggers being biased, yet they refuse to see the oak tree that is in their own eye.

  6. Gail B. says:

    @ Whats_up 3:50 pm

    I have better things to do than argue with you, and Jeff has better things to do than read a bunch of garbage going back and forth, okay? Everyone here understands what I’m talking about, including you.

  7. Jeff Schreiber says:

    Actually, I like the to and fro. If someone makes an argument, I want it backed up.

  8. Gail B. says:

    Liberal media = Weapons of Mass Distortion!

  9. Gail B. says:

    Jeff, if it did any good with him (and one other), I would happily invest the time and energy. My daddy taught me to read between the lines, and I just consider Whats_up’s view as a “shiny object,” a distraction designed to alter my direction of focus.

  10. Now this is what I call journalism says:

    “Obama is going solar. To recoup the cost of solar panels takes anywhere from 25-50 years (or more). The average lifespan of a solar panel is 30 years. It’s a losing proposition – no wonder our government likes it so much.”

    Glenn Beck

  11. Tilli says:

    @What’s up?

    Someone carried a gun at a rally? Oh no. exercising a right while exercising a right is somehow distasteful to you? That is very telling. Select the rights you want to use or see used and disallow all others.

    And for the “take you out” comment, I don’t know much about Palladino, but from my understanding he believed the person he was speaking to was essentially stalking his 10 yr old daughter.

  12. Gail B. says:

    @ Whats_up –

    Who took a picture of the fellow, at an early Tea Party event, with a gun but did not bother to show that the man was not white? The liberal/leftist media.

    Who was it who intimidated voters at the polls if it wasn’t the New Black Panthers? You wouldn’t call them right wing, would you?

    Who threw eggs at the Tea Party Express bus? A right-wing Tea Partier?

    Who called Tea Party supporters “teabaggers?” LEFTIST/liberal media guru Keith Olbermann, that’s who!

    The Leftists can’t even pick up their own trash. Are they entitled to have the taxpayers clean up after them?

    The administration thinks it can tell us what we can eat and what we can’t, but it can’t tell Islamic Muslims that they cannot build at Ground Zero, in the interest of public safety?

    It goes on and on, Whats_up.

  13. David G says:

    @ whats up
    I watch the news. Where did someone show up at a rally with a loaded gun?

  14. Miss Cleo says:

    Whats_up, are you serious?

    I hope there IS a citizen with a gun at a rally, say if, Al Qaeda had chosen that site for an event, or a mentally deranged greenie upset over global warming happened to lose it and act up. Who are you to play psychic and decide when a right exercised is not a good thing in the long run? You libs are pathetic.

    I’d like to see absolutely everyone carrying. The Bill of Rights is the most beautiful thing ever penned. Freedom, deal with it.

  15. Gail B. says:

    @ Whats_up

    YOU aren’t shutting me up! Jeff can, but not you. Got it?

  16. Gail B. says:

    Whats_up–

    Hello?

  17. John Buyon says:

    you people cant be MORE blind
    there is a black man in the white house
    and the Wallace ’68 campaign has come roaring back hiding under the label of tea party and they are using civil war era arguments over states rights/secession while carrying guns to rallies showing the black president as a “Lou tribesman”

    NOOOOOOOOOO…………. that cant be racism at all…

    @ Tilli 5:09
    bringing guns to a supposedly peaceful rally is not a peaceful act… and not a simple exercise of american freedom. It is a question of “Right Vs Should” ask Jeff he will enlighten you.

  18. I see how it is says:

    KEEP your oath, LOSE your baby.

    A 16-hour-old newborn was snatched from her parents by authorities in Concord, N.H., after social services workers alleged the father is a member of Oath Keepers.

    The organization collects affirmations from soldiers and peace officers that they would refuse orders that violate the U.S. Constitution, in light of what they perceive as the advance of socialism in the U.S.

    -wnd

  19. T.I.M. says:

    Another example of “journalism” that many seem to have missed:

    “Why can’t Arizona be as inhospitable as they wish to people who have entered or remain in the United States illegally?” Arizona Judge Bolton’s quote regarding SB 1070, as quoted by Bloomberg, USA Today, and Huffington Post.

    “Why can’t Arizona be as inhospitable as they wish to people who have entered or remained in the United States?” (same quote, MINUS “illegally”, as quoted by the Washington Post and Yahoo news.

    Who needs sticks and stones, when losing one word can change everything?

  20. whats_up says:

    @ Gail,

    Who stated that “second amendment” remedies might have to be used against those in Washington? Hint: They are currently a “tea party” favorite and a candidate for US Senate.

    Who state that they would “take out a reporter” for doing his job and asking a question? Hint: They are a “tea party” favorite and a candidate for the Gov of NY.

    Who has stated that gays and unwed single mothers arent fit to teach in classrooms? Hint: They are a current US Senator

    Who wants to privatize social security?

    Now on to your nonesense

    Yes the Black Panthers should have been prosecuted for voter intimidation in Philadelphia and its a shame and a travesty that has not proceded.

    Why should the govt tell those that want to build an Islamic center on private property anything? I thought you were for less govt intrusion, not more?

    Also the Administration hasnt said anything about what we should or should not be eating, they have made no law to that affect and it hasnt even been on the radar. The first lady made some statements in regards to obesity in America, was she wrong?

  21. whats_up says:

    @I see how it is says:

    Perhaps you should do a little more research into the matter. The child was taken away because of the extensive police record of domestic abuse that has occured under these two parents, or do you think abusing children is okay?

  22. whats_up says:

    @ Randy,

    That works both ways my friend, there are many on the right who cant see the truth either, or dont want to.

  23. Randy Wills says:

    to “whats-up” @ 3:32:

    How right you are, and I should be more careful to point that out in my comments.

    In fact, I’m kind of stumped right now as to how to frame what my meditations on our present situation are leading me to conclude. It is extremely complex and will not yield to simplistic thinking or inflexible ideology at the human level, the reason being that human nature is both universal and immutable.

    The truth (at least as I see it), “whats-up”, is that to expect a change in political party representation in Washington to “right a listing ship” is doomed to disappoint even the most sincere and optimistic persons. As a number of much more politically astute persons than I have posited, the most likely outcome of the 2010 election will be gridlock for at least the next two years. In the meantime, our debt-to-GDP ratio will increase and employment rate will continue to stagnate.

    The only reason that the system of government put in place by the Founders was successful (but still subject to the law of spiritual entropy, thereby producing today’s circumstances) was that a majority of the population at that time agreed with its basic tenets, most especially speaking the truth, as a matter of personal commitment to “natural law” and the sovereignty of “Nature’s God”.

    In the absence of a clear majority demanding adherence to the truth, regardless of the cost, from their political representatives, nothing more than a temporary oscillation (or the pendulum effect) in methodology will be realized by exchanging parties.

    Randy

  24. Anonymous says:

    3:28 said “The first lady made some statements in regards to obesity in America, was she wrong?”

    She might wanna concentrate on her chain smoking husband first, and also glance in a full length mirror herself occasionally.

  25. whats_up says:

    @ Randy,

    I think this statement of yours summed it up nicely and both those on the left and the right should heed it:

    In the absence of a clear majority demanding adherence to the truth, regardless of the cost, from their political representatives, nothing more than a temporary oscillation (or the pendulum effect) in methodology will be realized by exchanging parties.

  26. Randy Wills says:

    Thanks, “whats-up”, but, unfortunately, I’m not sure how many there still are who are brave and self-confident enough to engage in reasonable discourse and, in the end, be willing to be wrong if the facts are against them.

    Randy

  27. Gail B. says:

    John Buyon, I don’t guess you were within earshot when, after hearing Obama speaking before he announced his candidacy for POTUS, I made the statement, “I wish he would run for president.” Then when he did announce, I listened to his “speeches” which were more like pep rallies and heard nothing of substance. When I contacted the National Democratic Party, which I had supported for 50 years, to ask them questions about Obama and his background, they IGNORED me. They would not answer a question. I finally sent them an email and said that I wanted A PERSON to reply. One did. When I asked quesitons about Obama, I never heard back from him or anyone else. I decided that the Democratic Party did not want my vote or my money.

    And you call me blind?

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