Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Conservatives Show Hypocrisy By Not Condemning "Hate" Speech

You may remember the thunderous GOP spin that came earlier this year, after John Kerry failed to condemn Whoopi Goldberg, who at a New York rally for Kerry made sexually-charged jokes at the expense of the president's last name.

A "hate fest," the Republicans and the conservative punditry cried out, even as they ignored jokes Dennis Miller used -- in introducing President Bush at a Wisconsin rally -- that implied Kerry and John Edwards were gay lovers.

Fast-forward to this month, and let's all wait and see if the various politicians and pundits condemn some of their own for making truly hateful statements regarding President Clinton's quadruple bypass surgery.

Let's see Sean Hannity or Bill O'Reilly tell their viewers that such "hate speech" is unacceptable. And among the broader media, let's see Chris Matthews or Tim Russert ask Ed Gillespie or Terry Holt whether they will condemn such hatred.

***

Here's what passes for "conservative" talk radio these days (with thanks to mediamatters.org for providing transcripts).

From Rush Limbaugh's Tuesday show: I understand it was gonna be a triple bypass, but then Clinton figured out his sympathy rating would go up to 87 percent with a quadruple.

From Michael Savage's Tuesday show: We heard, of course, that hell was full and therefore Mr. Clinton will be with us for a while longer -- but we wish him the best nevertheless. But what's the sanctity all of a sudden? ... I think he was the worst skunk that ever invaded the White House, to be honest with you. I think he was pure evil. ... So what, I'm supposed to sit here because he's a former president and go, "We wish him well" -- why? Why? Tell me why. Tell me why. Anyone got an answer to that one?

Mark Simone, filling in for Mark Levin on Monday: You know that Clinton, both Bill and Hillary Clinton, have to make sure John Kerry loses. They don't want this guy to win. If Kerry wins, it screws up Hillary's plans for '08. She wouldn't be able to run until 2012, so they want him to lose, and if you go back and study the campaign, there were a few moments here and there where Bill or Hillary did something to mess up John Kerry. There's a few of these episodes. And I'm not saying they staged the heart problem, but it just works out perfectly that now they don't have to do anything for him [Kerry] for at least a month -- at the end of that month, he can be 15 points behind.

***

Such "hate" -- to use the conservative's word of choice -- is commonplace on conservative talk radio. But do you hear conservative politicians or pundits offer condemnations? Hardly. More likely, you hear such people legitimize conservative talk radio as part of the "news cycle."

You can imagine the thunderous GOP reaction that comes when a liberal (or Bush critic) gets out of line. Bill Maher lost a television show. Whoopi Goldberg is dropped as a commercial spokesperson. Michael Moore is labeled "unpatriotic," and points in his movie are distorted by people who readily admit they've never seen the film. Richard Clarke is smeared as an opportunist and a liar. Paul O'Neill is called a crackpot.

But what happens when The Wall Street Journal's James Taranto offers what he no doubt thought was an amusing anecdote -- at the expense of the son of late Missouri governor Mel Carnahan? Apparently nothing.

Here's what Taranto wrote Aug. 31, regarding Republican congressional candidate Bill Federer, who is running against Democrat Russ Carnahan, Mel's son:

Federer told us his opponent is Russ Carnahan, "the son of the governor who was killed in a plane crash."

"If he was killed in a plane crash, how can he be running for Congress?" we asked.

It turns out the subordinate clause referred to the governor; this son was not on board the plane when it crashed. But it occurred to us that we were silly to ask the question anyway. After all, if the son who did die in the plane crash were to be elected in Congress, he would only follow in the footsteps of his dad, who won his 2000 Senate race three weeks after his death. In fact, Missouri hasn't elected a live Democrat to the Senate since 1980, so a pulse may well be a political liability.

Consider CNN's Tucker Carlson, reacting to a reference to a racist comment made by Limbaugh (from the Aug. 31 Anderson Cooper 360):

PAUL BEGALA: Rush Limbaugh famously once told an African-American caller, and I'm quoting him here, "Take that bone out of your nose." Not exactly a people-of-compassion kind of statement. You can't have it both ways ...

CARLSON: Hold on. Settle down. Lighten up. It's not a kook radio show. Look, you know the guy's telling jokes. I mean, I must say if there's one issue that divides the parties -- it's not a race issue, that's a pretty tired throwback, I think that stopped working in about 1984 -- Hold on, lemme just say one thing. If there's one issue that divides the parties, it's humor. You have on the one side this kind of relentless, harsh, grim, dour humorlessness, and on the other side, you know, I don't know Rush Limbaugh, whatever you think of him, he's pretty amusing.

***

Folks, these are comments from the last 10 days, from a host of highly regarded, highly rated, highly paid conservative talkers.

But where's the thunderous GOP reaction -- from the "mainstream" Republicans? Where's the reaction from those who think it's poor taste to joke about or politicize a quadruple bypass, a politician dying in a plane crash, or a blatantly racist comment?

You won't hear a reaction. Not from Ed Gillespie or Terry Holt or Matthew Dowd or Scott McLellan. Not from Lindsay Graham or Mitch McConnell or Trent Lott or Denny Hastert. Not from Sean Hannity or Bill O'Reilly or Brit Hume or his "Fox All-Stars."

And our media -- so quick to jump when the conservatives wag their fingers and "tsk, tsk" John Kerry, so eager to be taken advantage by those whose only purpose is to knock down John Kerry -- sits quietly. No need to point out the hypocrisy, lest they be charged with having a "liberal bias."

I guess that's what passes for "fair and balanced" these days, huh?

David

13 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with you that the nastiness is somewhat out of control and what some may or may not mean as humor, others may not find funny. As far as the ramifications of how people are treated after making comments etc.... we live in a society where private companies can choose who they want to represent them. Whoopi has a right to say whatever she wants, as does Bill Maher (by the way, his new show is far better than the old) and the companies they work for have a right not to like it and act accordingly. I believe that the biggest complaint about whoopi was Kerry and Edwards reaction to it....noone seems overly surprised she said it.

Also, none of this has to do with the upcoming election anyway. But that was probably not your point. So overall, I agree with you.

W/r/t Michael Moore, asking for any sympathy for him is ridiculous. If everyone, and I mean everyone on both sides of the aisle, doesnt see that his movie has significant stretches, untruths, insults and paints an overall picture that is opinion, not fact (and he minces words about that position), then America has a serious blindness epidemic on its hands. He should worship america for what it has given him. That Kerry has not further distanced himself from Moore is sad. And stupid.

11:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

About the Moore movie. We all know it has flaws. And it's not a documentary -- Moore admits that much. But it also is an important film. It shows things most Americans never saw at the time, while the media fell asleep at the wheel.

A lot of Republicans seem proud to have not seen it, and all they want to do is trash it. Rudy Giuliani told Tim Russert that maybe it shouldn't have been released at all, like it was a 527, and all 527s are bad.

12:36 PM  
Blogger don dzikowski said...

I agree the media does not play fair when it comes to exposing the hypocrisy of Republicans. But the upcoming days will prove the real test.
Now that credible evidence has surfaced showing Bush pulled strings to dodge his Texas Air National Guard service, will the info reap the same attention from the media and the pundits as the Swift Boat flap and all the rest of the GOP venom directed at Kerry for his service in Vietnam?
All the while, will the media as forcefully point out Bush’s efforts to stop the ultimate release of the tell-tale national guard documents?
I think it repulsive if Bushies can be allowed to get away with raising media-approved doubts about Kerry’s Vietnam medals -- arguably having something to do with the Senator’s recent drop in the polls -- while the latest evidences regarding Bush’s military service would be allowed to make the back pages. If this turns out to be the case, God help all of us Americans.

5:17 PM  
Blogger don dzikowski said...

Here is the pressing question for the day.
Why is the mainstream media allowing Dick Cheney and others in the Bush camp to repeatedly hammer Kerry for his alleged shifting positions on the Iraq War without fairly presenting the other side?
Kerry did not approve Bush to go to War with Iraq. He voted for authorization of Bush to go to war after exhausting a range of other alternatives documented in the legislation. So what Kerry is speaking out against is not the Iraq War, but the way Bush went about rushing into the war.
Kerry understood what has all now become too clear. That going into War without first thinking out the consequences can create the kind of quagmire the country finds itself in today, i.e. more than a thousand dead U.S. soldiers with thousands more grievously injured, spiraling costs having reached $200 billion which is impacting the economy, creating more hatred towards Americans causing an even larger terrorist threat, etc.
How many more Iraqs could the U.S. military and the U.S. economy realistically absorb?!? Are Bushies successfully silencing this important debate?!?
Kerry is faulted because he recognizes the reality few others are willing to admit. America simply does not have the luxury to attempt to squash every perceived and vague threat. To tread carefully towards War is not a weakness, as Bushies have successfully duped the mainstream media into believing. It should instead be looked upon as strength.

6:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Would you have us believe that Kerry voted for authorization to go to war expecting that not to happen? Please-talk about revisionist history. I understand Kerry needs to explain that vote but c'mon. Simpler to just say that he saw the same evidence as Bush but Bush had more access to further evidence to question it. Therefore Bush made the wrong decision. To suggest that Kerry knew what we all have come to know now is a bit absurd. Now he may have had reservations about the vote and felt pressured to vote for the war (post 911 rah rah thing) but he certainly doesnt want to suggest that. This is why he has a hard time differentiating himself on iraq, other than offering platitudes. Not to mention, didnt he just recently indicate he would do it all over again?

11:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

WRT Moore's movie--- it basically is an advertisement against Bush telling one slant on various facts to create an impression of wrongdoing in many areas. Now, this is not to say some of it is untrue. However, Moore (and all politicians) knows that his indicating in "fine print" that it is opinion rather than truth will be lost on the public viewing the movie. You talk on this site about fair and balanced reporting---well Moores cleary isnt. Now, does have a right to do what he did? Certainly. This is America. The 527s are permitted to--to stop them i believe would be unconstitutional. However, doesnt mean you have to like it, accept it. To speak out against it is American as well. I believe Kerry should have further distanced himself from Moore. Both Bush and Kerry should distance themselves from the 527s. And my opinion of Moore is very low because I believe he intentionally created a movie that slants the truth in the attempt to alter an american political election. To me, that is despicable.

11:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

While I believe that far more than enough has been said about Kerry and Vietnam or Bush and the guard, fair is fair and the new "breaking news" should be shown in the press/media. I personally think it would be stupid for Kerry to focus on it and i dont think he will (now that he ahs received his reprimand from Bill CLinton on how to focus a campaign). However, it may help Kerry anyway if people buy into it. However, the reverse is more true--if recent indications that the docs could be forgeries are true, this will help Bush. If true and Kerry's crew is linked to it, its all over. And CBS should be taken to task if this is true.

Enough with this: simple fact of life is that Kerry is a vietnam war hero (who spoke out against it which is fair game) and served honorably while there. Bush did not serve in vietnam although he could have. That is it--now back to this decade for a change.

11:55 AM  
Blogger don dzikowski said...

This pertains to the comments made about my arguments for Kerry's position on the War on Iraq.
Read the legislation Kerry voted for. It authorized the president to go to war but made it clear that would happen only after other alternatives have been attempted.
Bush made the decision to use the extreme authorized by the law to march off to war without giving much thought to the consequences.
If you'd read my argument correctly, I'm not saying that Kerry is revising history to say he had some kind of uncanny foresight into what Iraq has now become. Kerry believed at the time he signed the war authorization that Bush would have applied its true meaning and only had tapped war as an absolute last resort. If Bush would have followed this path, Kerry argues, we likely would have had a better plan for Iraq to prevent some of the catastrophic problems the War has created for the American public. If Bush had followed this path, maybe we would have seen what is now known that there are no WMDs in Iraq.
This is Kerry's position.

12:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My point was that Moore's movie was not a 527. Giuliani suggested it was -- or that it should fall under the same rules. It was a movie.

The other problem was that all the Republicans bashed it, but they also siad they didn't see it. Ridiculous.

1:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK, fair enough. Our disagreement will be on what defines last resort. My recollection of what occurred at the time was that Bush was given evidence as to the existence of WMDs, passed along such evidence to congress. the rest of the world, the un inspectors, and congress all thought he had wmds and was hiding them. the issue at hand was whether it was necessary to invade, not whether they existed. so you can argue that bush could have waited longer and maybe then figured out they didnt exist. but that is 20/20 hindsight. i never heard a peep from congress about concerns like that until far later when it looked like wmds did not exist. this is revisionist history of sorts. i have no issue with those in the public who did not want to go to iraq at the outset. i also have no issue with those who debate how bush handled the aftermath to the war, which has been a problem. but to suggest that congress, including kerry/edwards, took issue with how bush entered into war, whether he exhausted resources etc., is revisionist. there were numerous bills floated about coming back to congress to authorize war or action if resources were exhausted. no, they authorized the president to make the decisions. and virtually everyone in the world knew that, absent saddam giving up weapons they thought he had, we were going to war.

2:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe you didn't hear a peep, but others did. Hans Blix was out there telling people that Bush was making a mistake.

And don't forget Scott Ritter. Gloria Borger on CNBC introduced him this way: "And later: Scott Ritter, the last man in America to defend Saddam Hussein." All because he was trying to tell anyone who would listen that there were no WMDs. (He's been apparently blackballed by the media ... for being right?)

There's a great documentary, by the guy who did "Outfoxed," that has loads of former CIA guys breaking down Bush's argument, and saying that it's ridiculous -- the "mobile biological terror units" touted by Colin Powell, for example.

But the administration didn't want to listen to dissenting views. And while Congress gave Bush the authority to go to war, they were told that was a necessary step to show unity behind the president, so that he could go to the U.N. with some teeth. They were told that war would be the last resort, which is probably why they didn't protest against Bush at the time.

There's also been anecdotal talk that the administration took a "my way or the highway" approach, and with an election upcoming in 11/02, I doubt many in Congress wanted to be branded "unpatriotic," and face a fate similar to Max Cleland.

3:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with you overall here. I was talking about October when authorization was given. Scott Ritter aside (whether he was right in retrospect, he was a relatively lone voice at the time at least those with high profiles), almost everyone was staying quiet or showing support. I personally believe that many did so for politically motivated reasons, particularly kerry and daschle who did not want to be on the wrong side if they were to run for office. Yes, over subsequent months and years, many people reversed positions (some more than others)which is fine. Hans Blix sent mixed messages all the time--felt there were WMDs but needed more time; later said the opposite. Doesnt really matter. At the time, people, for whatever reason, stood behind Bush. This is why i believe people can argue about whether Bush had further evidence he chose to ignore but to argue that the entire world didnt indicate they believed WMDs existed and that congress didnt give him authority to do what he did--well, that argument is a difficult one. Again, at the time- without the benefit of knowing how things were to unfold. I do not think Bush handled this well at all. And he continues to make mistakes. Yet, all leaders get criticized during wars: difficult decisions make for difficult debates. History will eventually bear out what was right or wrong.

5:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What does any of this have to do with "hate speech" from Rush Limbaugh?

12:15 AM  

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