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Tilting at Windmills

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July 21, 2010

A PERNICIOUS SHIFT TO AN ANNOYING TREND.... The notion that conservative outrages tend to be manufactured nonsense isn't new. The last 18 months has been filled with them.

Remember how excited the right was about the Gerald Walpin firing? Or the time conservatives were convinced that the White House was closing car dealerships based on owners' political contributions? How about the time the right was apoplectic because the president urged kids to do well in school when last year's school year began? And who can forget when Republicans discovered job offers to congressional candidates and compared it Watergate?

Inexplicably, several major news outlets responded to stories like these by insisting that the media should do more to take seriously the kind of stories and ideas that bubble up on conservative websites and talk radio.

More recently, however, the larger trend has taken a turn for the worse. It's not just that the right gets worked up over stories that fall apart after minimal scrutiny -- though that's part of it -- it's also that the trumped up garbage is starting to get more focused. Kevin Drum raised an excellent point today:

There have been three big conservative outrages that have choked the airwaves over the past couple of weeks. #1 was about a bunch of scary black men, the New Black Panther Party. #2 was about a bunch of scary Muslims who want to build a triumphal mosque on the sacred soil of Ground Zero. #3 was about a vindictive black woman who works for the government and screws the white people she deals with. The running theme here is not just a coincidence.

This, by the way, coincided with leading Tea Party zealots blasting the NAACP as "racist," and a coordinated attack against Thurgood Marshall by Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

There have to be some decent folks on the right who are uncomfortable with this. I know RNC Chairman Michael Steele recently conceded his party relied on a racially-divisive "Southern Strategy" for at least four decades, and that animosity towards Barack Obama is exacerbated by race, but conservatives -- Fox News, GOP activists, prominent far-right media voices -- continue to push the boundaries of acceptable discourse here. We've gone from conservatives making up scurrilous nonsense to gin up excitement with far-right voters to conservatives making up racist nonsense to gin up excitement with far-right voters.

And as the midterms draw closer, the ugliness seems to be intensifying. Where are the Republican grown-ups willing to say, "Enough"?

Steve Benen 1:30 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (48)

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Comments

Where are the Republican grown-ups willing to say, "Enough"?

There aren't any Republican grown-ups. Surely you understand that by now.

Posted by: Cap'n Chucky on July 21, 2010 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

The only voices really being broadcast are those of the racist tea party. Come election day, can they win with just old white bigots? The Republicans have completely lost black, hispanic and gay voters.

IF the Republicans make huge gains in November they'll have a very low voter turnout to thank. A small handful of freaks will sway the election if there's a low turnout.

Posted by: SaintZak on July 21, 2010 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

Big monied interests are only too happy to see republicans back in power because they can make more money, regardless of whether that's good for the country at large.

Ginning and abetting these things only helps them.

Big media also doesn't want to get tough on companies that happen to be big advertisers, regardless of their actions.

Now.......when they get little people with no political or economic power on the set, they'll interrogate and berate them.

Posted by: BurgMan on July 21, 2010 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

Where are the Republican grown-ups willing to say, "Enough"?

Out of office, Steve. There were only ever a handful of such folks to begin with.

Posted by: Jim Pharo on July 21, 2010 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

Why should we stop?

It works, Libs. It works.

I laughed my a** off when the White House caved like a coward and ordered Sherrod's firing. Even if she is rehired, it shows that we won.


Posted by: Patrick from Anoka on July 21, 2010 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

Sadly, this is known as "the national debate" about race in this country.

And sadly, the Administration is a willing participant in this nonsense. Had Vilsack not fired Sherrod based on faulty, I mean, no evidence, Obama could have siezed the high ground. Instead the White House has ensured that a non-story stays on the front page for the next couple days.

Posted by: puravida on July 21, 2010 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

Where are the Republican grown-ups willing to say, "Enough"?

They're called RINOs, Steve.

Posted by: Jon on July 21, 2010 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

But ... but ... THOSE FOUL-MOUTHED BLOGGERS HAVE COARSENED OUR DISCOURSE!!

/snark

The media has what I call "Battered Truth Syndrome."

The right has bashed the media for years simply because the media dared to tell the truth, which often exposed the idiocy and outright, proven-beyond-all-doubt failures of GOP policies. Time and time and time again the right has sent its minions to destroy any media outlet or figure who dared get in their way, often with crushing results (ask Dan Rather).

Add in the incorrect belief that being first is better than being accurate, and we get what we got: a media that so desperately wants its abuser to be happy that it goes out of its way to be the first to appease that abuser.

Whether or not the story winds up being factually correct doesn't matter. Whether or not someone's life is destroyed doesn't matter. Whether or not it stirs up resentment that leads to outright violence and death doesn't matter.

All that matters is that the abuse has stopped -- however temporary.

It's no way to run a media, and is HUGE factor in the decline of our nation.

Posted by: Mark D on July 21, 2010 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

The faster the tradmedia companies go out of business, the better. None of this crap would get much traction without their active collaboration.

Posted by: Steve LaBonne on July 21, 2010 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

"it shows that we won"

And what did you win, Patrick from Anoka?

Posted by: Jon on July 21, 2010 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

Where are the Republican grownups?

Six feet under the ground.

Posted by: mister moonlight on July 21, 2010 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

It's not a new tactic. They're looking for the new Willie Horton-- the theory (which is not, in any manner, shape or form, a secret) is that if they keep flinging racist shit around, something will eventually stick.

Posted by: MattF on July 21, 2010 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK
I laughed my a** off when the White House caved like a coward and ordered Sherrod's firing. Even if she is rehired, it shows that we won.

Won? What did you win, exactly?

Or is there a prize for "The Most Racist Pieces of Shit Since George Wallace" award?

I can just see it now ... you all just share it, kinda like the Stanley Cup where all the players get it for a day. But it's not silver or even gold -- it's made out of tinfoil and held together with Michele Malkin's spittle-flecked rants against brown people. When Rush (the boy-diddling talk show host, not the band) gets his turn, he snorts crushed up Oxycontin's out of the top, while Glenn Beck spend his day with it filling the top bowl with a mix of his tears and the blood of a puppy, which Ben Stein drinks as his nightly aperitif.

Or were you just being metaphoric in your assholery?

Posted by: Mark D on July 21, 2010 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

As Patrick so inelegantly put it, it works. Even after the full video was put out, there are folks from the right who say that Shirley Sherrod admitted to being a racist. There are people who think she acted this way when she was with USDA. There are people who are willing to believe what they are told to believe, evidence to the contrary notwithstanding. Propaganda is effective because it works.

Posted by: BC on July 21, 2010 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK

No.

Posted by: cheflovesbeer on July 21, 2010 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

"It shows that we won?"

You won? Your side smeared the reputation of a career civil servant, quietly and decently doing her job in the comfort of anonymity in national media by pulling a snippit out of a tale of racial reconciliation and personal redemption and portraying it as evidence of racism? That's your great victory? And the gratuitous and totally unjustified damage you've done to this woman's life is of no consequence at all to you, is it?

And hey, why not? It's not like she's a real human being or anything, is it? You can do anything you want to her, any time you want for no other reason than to rack up a cheap, utterly meaningless "victory" in your sociopathic chickenhawk war against an entirely imaginary foe.

What if "libs" did something like this to your wife or your mother or your sister? Would that make you see the indecency of it? The vileness? Would that make you grasp the utter banal futility of your "victories?"

Posted by: Steve (Not That One) on July 21, 2010 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

I like this Shirley Sherrod a LOT!

http://mediamatters.org/strupp/201007210037

Shirley Sherrod, the former Agriculture Department Georgia Director of Rural Development, says she is a victim. A victim of poor reporting and, as she contends, clear bias and racist coverage from both Andrew Breitbart and Fox News.

"When you look at their reporting, this is just another way of seeing that they are (racist)," Sherrod told me about Fox in a lengthy interview Tuesday night. "But I have seen that before now. I saw their reporting as biased during the Bush Administration and the Clinton Administration."

(snip)

Asked if she would return if asked, she said: "I think I would have to go back for a short time, even if I did not stay for a long haul. I would need to prove a point, that I can be bigger than them. I was doing a lot of good things. People had access to that office that never did before. I had reached out to the poorest counties."

Despite that, she plans to carry on.

"I will go back to doing what I was doing before, working with people, trying to build," she said. "There are a lot of projects in Georgia I have been involved in creating. I will get busy with that again."

Sherrod said she is considering legal action, perhaps against Breitbart, Fox or the federal government:

"I don't know enough to know. I wish I did. I would love to sue. I am going to talk about it. I have been getting calls from all over the country. I don't want to leave one stone unturned."

Posted by: pol on July 21, 2010 at 2:09 PM | PERMALINK

So, when a black president pushes a healthcare bill that will at least help more people get access to medical care, he's compared to Hitler.

I know I'm not supposed to do this, but now that the TeaBaggers are literally targeting trumped up outrage after trumped up outrage at non-whites in general [including calling them 'racists' for god's sake!], can we just go ahead and freaking call them "Nazis?"

I mean seriously. That's where we're headed.

Posted by: chrenson on July 21, 2010 at 2:09 PM | PERMALINK

There have to be some decent folks on the right

Really? Haven't you noticed that when "decent folks on the right" -- and not even decent folks like David Frum -- go off the reservation, they aren't on the right anymore?

Posted by: Gregory on July 21, 2010 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

I have been shocked reading comment threads on the right today. While many of argue Obama and the NAACP threw an innocent under the bus far too quickly, some still think the full tape proves Sherrod is a racist. None of them are the least bit angry at having been played for fools by Fox News and Andrew Breitbart.

Is this what is meant by invincible ignorance?

Posted by: Ron Byers on July 21, 2010 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

I agree it's long past time for the Republican grown-ups to say enough.

But also, what about those weenies in the news media? They demand Fox News be treated like a "news outlet" but then they run completely un-vetted crap from proven liar Breitbart which proves...to be a lie?

Does Jake Tapper still stand by his defense of his "sister organization" less than a year ago?

Tapper: It's escaped none of our notice that the White House has decided in the last few weeks to declare one of our sister organizations 'not a news organization' and to tell the rest of us not to treat them like a news organization. Can you explain why it's appropriate for the White House to decide that a news organization is not one?

Gibbs: Jake, we render, we render an opinion based on some of their coverage and the fairness that, the fairness of that coverage.

Tapper: But that's a pretty sweeping declaration that they are 'not a news organization.' How are they any different from, say -

Gibbs: ABC -

Tapper: ABC. MSNBC. Univision. I mean how are they any different?

Gibbs: You and I should watch sometime around 9 o'clock tonight. Or 5 o'clock this afternoon.

Tapper: I'm not talking about their opinion programming or issues you have with certain reports. I'm talking about saying thousands of individuals who work for a media organization, do not work for a 'news organization' -- why is that appropriate for the White House to say?

Gibbs: That's our opinion.

Posted by: Anon on July 21, 2010 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

Where are the Republican grown-ups willing to say, "Enough"?

Where are the Democrats willing to fight back?

Thus far the response to these three 'outrages' you sight have ranged between near silence from elected Democrats to a cowardly firing by the administration.

Posted by: thorin-1 on July 21, 2010 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

What we won, for those who asked, is that we proved that Obama would fold in a poker game while holding 4 Aces if the player across the table showed some moxie.

2012 is going to be such fun!

Posted by: Patrick from Anoka on July 21, 2010 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

Ron, I think some people don't realize that Ms. Sherrod was talking about an incident over 20 years ago, and that at that time, she wasn't with USDA.

I spoke with a friend this morning who is on Ms. Sherrod's side, but didn't know she was a not with USDA when she worked with the farmer.

Posted by: pol on July 21, 2010 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

Grown-ups? C'mon. This is a continuation of the 2008 campaign. This is all the GOP is and all they know.

Posted by: Jay on July 21, 2010 at 2:21 PM | PERMALINK

Steve Benen wrote: "Where are the Republican grown-ups willing to say, 'Enough'?"

What the Republican grown-ups are saying is, "If vicious racist lies are what it takes to get the Tea Baggers and the Ditto-Heads to elect corporate stooges who will run this country for the benefit of the ultra-rich corporate oligarchy, then so be it."

Posted by: SecularAnimist on July 21, 2010 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

What Patrick from A-hole-noka whatever won was simiar to what the Aryan Nation, etc wins whenever they go on a march. They confirm to the whole world that they are a bunch of racist lowlifes. And strangely enough, they are so happy with that. Patrick is so proud.

Posted by: ComradeAnon on July 21, 2010 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

What the Republican grown-ups are saying is, "If vicious racist lies are what it takes to get the Tea Baggers and the Ditto-Heads to elect corporate stooges who will run this country for the benefit of the ultra-rich corporate oligarchy, then so be it."

Just so.

And where, at this late date, is the big mystery about this?

Posted by: Chet on July 21, 2010 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK
This is a continuation of the 1954 through 2010 campaigns.

Fixed for great accuracy!!

This shit ain't new, folks -- it's just a continuation of "The Southern Strategy."

To quote the scumbag Lee Atwater:

"You start out in 1954 by saying, 'Nigger, nigger, nigger.' By 1968 you can't say 'nigger' -- that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states' rights and all that stuff. You're getting so abstract now [that] you're talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you're talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites.

" ... You follow me -- because obviously sitting around saying, 'We want to cut this,' is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than 'Nigger, nigger.'"

Of course, I'm sure some wingnut will think pointing out that the modern GOP has based its entire party and policies off of racist sentiments is worse than the actual racism.

But it's simply an undeniable fact, folks: without racists and bigots, the GOP doesn't exist.

I just wish the media would finally figure that out, rather than bending over each time they're asked to.

Posted by: Mark D on July 21, 2010 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

What's interesting to me is how clearly the thing with Shirley Sherrod seems to have been done as retribution for the NAACP's successful campaign against Mark Williams. This is what they see as parity. You take out a Tea Party spokesperson, we will get a random black person somewhere in the world fired. They see a balance between tea party leadership VS any random black person. This is who they see as the sides. If they're able to take out one black person, somewhere, they "won".

Posted by: mcc on July 21, 2010 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

Patrick is a troll. He must know Vilsack is not spelled O b a m a. And assuming he knows anything about political history (Reagan, 1984, GHW, 2004) he'd realize that 2012 is unlikely to be "fun," at least for the Right. Especially if they nominate a certain former half-term governor to be their candidate also, too.

The race-baiting will have some effect this year, as was mentioned above, due to its being an off-year, low-turnout election. And again, history tells us that in off-year elections following a couple of blow-out election years by one party, that party is likely to lose a fair number of seats if only because of weak incumbents who slipped in on the coattails of those previous blowouts.

But America - get this - just elected by the largest majority any president has received in years, a black president - and get this - his middle name is Hussein! Do you really think Americans are scared of the scary black man? Well, Americans other than the 28-percenters left in the GOP who've spent the last 10 years peeing themselves whenever Dick Cheney told them to. Race baiting is not a winning strategy in the 21st century. It just makes you look like a bunch of frightened, old racists.

The loser in this is Breibart, who's utterly destroyed his credibility with legit news outlets, and Fox, which didn't have any to begin with.

They join the Tea Bagger Express as the biggest losers of July.

So obviously, Patrick is a troll when he says the Right wins again.

Posted by: Mike on July 21, 2010 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

You forgot Sotomayor and La Raza and of course the monthly 'Obama hates whitey' something or another.

Posted by: ScottW714 on July 21, 2010 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

Patrick from Anoka,
I know what you think the 5th card is. The King of Spades.
Oh, and hey, Troll, be careful what you wish for in 2012. You'll get your ass kicked then, even if you win this November. Your party shows an uglier and uglier face everytime it comes into power. One more look won't help you.
And besides, the Republican core constituency is dying out.

Posted by: c u n d gulag on July 21, 2010 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

@patrick

So, you're publicly admitting that neither McCain nor any of the people who ran his campaign or endorsed or supported him showed any "moxie." In your political fantasy world, "moxie" is a quality shown by lying, cheating scumbags like Breitbart.

Thanks for the clarification.

Posted by: cr on July 21, 2010 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

"Republican grown-ups" is an oxymoron.

Posted by: Chris on July 21, 2010 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

Where are the Republican grown-ups willing to say, "Enough"?

First place I would look would be in the Blue Dog caucuses in both chambers.

Posted by: Blue Girl on July 21, 2010 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

what i call "the 6 steps of the mighty wurlitzer"

from media matters:

1. Right-wing bloggers, talk radio hosts, and other conservative media outlets start promoting and distorting the story.

2. Fox News picks up the story and gives it heavy, one-sided coverage.

3. Fox News and conservative media attack the "liberal media" for ignoring the distorted story.

4. Mainstream media outlets eventually cover the story, echoing the right-wing distortions.

5. Fox News receives credit for promoting the story.

6. The story is later proven to be false or wildly misleading, long after damage is done.

==============
i'm amazed who our "liberal media" fall for it over and over...heard two pieces in a row on npr back-to-back last night that ignored this basic reality while discussing sherrod and the new bpp...pathetic

Posted by: dj spellchecka on July 21, 2010 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

we proved that Obama would fold in a poker game while holding 4 Aces if the player across the table showed some moxie

Like when you Republicans defeated health care reform and financial reform? Suuuure, loser.

Posted by: Gregory on July 21, 2010 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

Like when you Republicans defeated health care reform and financial reform? Suuuure, loser.

And the stimulus. Patrick better stay in Anoka, and never go to Las Vegas. He'd lose everything, including his shirt, shoes, and skivvies.

Posted by: DJ on July 21, 2010 at 3:43 PM | PERMALINK

What if "libs" did something like this to your wife or your mother or your sister? Would that make you see the indecency of it? The vileness? Would that make you grasp the utter banal futility of your "victories?"

It would probably need to be his father or brother to really matter.

Posted by: drkrick on July 21, 2010 at 4:14 PM | PERMALINK

"showed some moxie."

Well, if you call intentionally misleading accusations of racism "moxie," I guess you would believe that you won something, Patrick. It's like taking pride that someone ducks when you throw dirt, but I guess you must be what you are.

Posted by: Jon on July 21, 2010 at 5:38 PM | PERMALINK

Where are the Republican grown-ups willing to say, "Enough"?

I think the last one left the party sometime in 1983.

Posted by: electrolite on July 21, 2010 at 6:35 PM | PERMALINK

I think we should now refer to it as the TTT party. Or sheets r us.

Posted by: gridlock on July 21, 2010 at 6:39 PM | PERMALINK

If they were grown-up, they wouldn't be Republicans.

Posted by: Anthony Damiani on July 21, 2010 at 7:49 PM | PERMALINK

None of this is new! These people have been doing this stuff for 150 years!! The only way Abraham Lincoln got majority Republican support for the Emancipation Proclamation was because he couched it as a way of denying Southerners their property (while saying nothing about "Unuionists" in Maryland and Kentucky and Missouri who had slaves). Yes, there were abolitionists in the party (my great-great-great-grandfather being one as a founder of the Pennsylvania Republican Party), but they were like what "New England Republicans" are today in the greater party.

The Republicans have always been scumbags, other than a few who are prominent for not being such (Lincoln and Grant and Teddy Roosevelt)

Posted by: TCinLA on July 22, 2010 at 12:31 AM | PERMALINK

Democrats need to brush up on game theory. The thugs are cheating and it is working. If there is no penalty for their cheating it would unnatural, foolish for them to stop. The moral high ground is the booby prize of competition in this era.

Posted by: Michael7843853 on July 22, 2010 at 9:32 AM | PERMALINK

FOOL ME ONCE SHAME ON YOU.

FOOL ME TWICE SHAME ON ME.

Posted by: ET on July 22, 2010 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

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Posted by: Besse on January 6, 2011 at 11:31 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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