I’ve never witnessed an implosion like what we’re seeing with the MSM and leftosphere in the last couple of weeks. The wheels left the bus long ago – they’ve become a traffic hazard and the citizen 911 reports are flooding in.
There was the manic, reflexive pile-on when Sarah Palin said “1773.” This one has actually been surreal. The jokes could linger for years: “Hey, what number should we have Sarahcuda say next? Quick, what’s the dumbest thing we could get lefty bloggers and PBS news anchors to do? Somebody pick a number!” Shouts from the crowd: “1980!” “1935!” (Ooh, a subtle one.) “1861!” “1683!” “732!”
That thread would probably go off track pretty quickly. But it would have to go farther than that to be as irresponsible and devastating to credibility as the absolutely unthinking reaction of the left to Palin’s perfectly accurate Boston Tea Party reference.
Now comes word from multiple analysts that Christine O’Donnell’s First Amendment gaffe wasn’t a gaffe at all. The episode was reported with inexplicable inaccuracy by Ben Evans for the Associated Press. O’Donnell was clearly making the point that the phrase “separation of church and state” is not in the First Amendment, which is correct. In fact, it was her opponent Chris Coons who muffed his references to the wording and content of the First Amendment. But as Aaron Worthing points out (he did the legwork comparing original and corrected Ben Evans stories), AP’s story correction – which is basically a complete rewrite with a different main implication – was done without withdrawal of the original story, at least as of Wednesday morning. Worthing ran a Google search on each story and found the erroneous original still all over the web, beating the correction by 23K to 4K hits.
As Legal Insurrection puts it:
A literal reading of O’Donnell’s comments reflects that she was correct, but of course, the press and the blogosphere don’t want a literal reading, they want a living, breathing reading which comports with their preconceived notions.
Wanting that non-factual reading is one thing. Manufacturing it for effect is another; but down the road they go, those bouncing wheels from the leftosphere’s bus, as they career crazily between the braking and veering cars.
Then there was the ineffably named Mr. Tony Hopfinger of Alaska Dispatch, who was well aware of two facts – first, that Joe Miller had misused borough computers in a previous job, and second, that Miller had admitted to doing so in a CNN interview in 2008 – when he pursued Miller into the bathroom at a townhall meeting and shoved a member of Miller’s security detail, all in the interest of shouting questions about the borough-computers incident to which (as is evident on the Alaska Dispatch website) he already knew the answers. Technically, Hopfinger may not be a “leftist” – he is a supporter of Lisa Murkowski who probably styles himself an independent. He seems to be something of a crank. In any event, it’s transparently clear from the aggregated facts that his purpose in dogging Miller with his particular questions was to get Miller on video being embarrassed or saying embarrassing things.
It’s really cheap, if not useful at all to the pedestrian project of informing the public, to keep up this kind of media harassment. It’s not so cheap to hire Gloria Allred to parade an illegal alien housemaid around before the media as Exhibit A in the case for employment profiling. That’s not what Allred imagined herself to be doing, of course; she thought she was taking big pieces out of Meg Whitman’s hide. But Californians hearing the clatter of wheels bouncing down the road past them knew exactly what was going on. Someone – clearly not the illegal alien housemaid – paid Allred’s fee to have her point out in front of the cameras that her client had committed a crime by misrepresenting her immigration status to an employer.
It all seems so self-destructive. Now we see that Rachel Maddow has resurrected a baseless charge against a Texas Congressman that she apparently knows to be false, but for some reason is putting out on the airwaves again. Congressman Steve Stockman got a fax about the Oklahoma City bombing after the bomb was detonated, a sequence that has been established by law enforcement and multiple fact-checking organizations; but Maddow is retailing – again – the charge that he got it in advance of the detonation, in an obvious bid to smear him by implication with “militia” skullduggery.
Take about drive-by media. Drive-by manufactured “implications of impropriety.” Drive-by manufactured narratives. My impression is that more and more people are catching on and refusing to go along with the charade any more. There was a time when egregiously misrepresenting O’Donnell’s debate performance, or finding a way to associate Joe Miller’s name with the words “bathroom” and “altercation,” would have been a guaranteed method of sinking them with voters. But the gambits are just too transparent, internally incoherent, and outright mendacious now. They paint a picture American voters know, viscerally, to be false. They aren’t working any more.
For one more look at an outrageously manufactured lie retailed in the media as “news,” we can turn to something well outside the 2010 election in the United States. The significance of this demonstrable lie is that it was reported, in the US and other Western media, much as desired by the liars who set it up – in spite of the ease with which it was almost immediately debunked. It has a uniquely horrifying aspect too: some readers may already suspect that I’m referring to the Arab photographers who used rock-throwing children to waylay an Israeli driver southeast of Jerusalem’s Old City, thereby setting up the incident in which a young boy ran straight at the car, throwing a rock, and ended up bouncing off the front windshield as the driver braked to avoid him.
We can hope the US media won’t go to such lengths to shape the domestic political narrative. But the difference at this point, for too many of them, is a matter of degree. They – and indeed much of the left, including prominent public figures and Democratic campaign organizations – are prepared to shoot from the hip, fire off untruthful soundbites, and try to manufacture incidents from nothing, all in the hope that something will stick, no matter how big a misrepresentation it is. I don’t think we’ve ever seen it this bad: this naked and unapologetic. It’s an epidemic, seemingly metastasizing of its own accord. The clatter of bouncing wheels is becoming deafening.