Monday, January 10, 2011

Media Bias is One of the Big Lessons of the Arizona Shooting

A Democratic Congresswoman is shot, and the media's near-instant reaction: Must be a right-wing, tea party nut! The fact that they would jump to any conclusion without any facts before them exposes their inherent biases.

As Neal Boortz explains, this is nothing new. The first media responses to the Kennedy assassination hinted at conservative groups being to blame. When it turns out that Lee Harvey Oswald was actually a communist and Soviet sympathizer, nary a peep about that. Really, how many people know about Oswald's politics? But, if he had been on the right, you can bet that every history student in the country would know about it.

As reported in this Big Hollywood story, many voices in the media jumped to condemn the Tea Party and specifically Sarah Palin. The political rhetoric, they say, is getting too heated. Between Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, et. al, the fires of conservatism are at a boiling point.

Well, what if this crazy individual who killed six people was actually just a nut, a crazy guy who lists The Communist Manifesto and Mein Kampf on his reading list? I'm sure we'd hear all about it in the media, right?

Wrong. The media loves to paint outrageous behavior as having conservative roots, even if there's not a shred of truth to it. If in fact the roots of deplorable behavior happen to be on the left, or totally insane, it's not important enough to mention.

Truth be told, the rhetoric out there is heated. Try these quotes on for size:

"We’re gonna punish our enemies" (not international enemies, political enemies)

Those nasty right-wing talk shows, right? Nope, Barack Obama or his staff. I am cherry picking quotes from the left, but just to make a point. There is heated rhetoric on both sides. For the media to highlight only the outrageous statements on the right and ignore those on the left is dishonest.

Despite overheated rhetoric, and short of outright calls for physical violence by prominent voices, no one should be to blame for violent acts, except the perpetrator of those acts.

Of course, even a broken clock is right twice a day. Credit should be given to individuals I generally disagree with who take the higher road.


EmWJ said...

I found this to be a fascinating example of how the media (on both sides, but I'll agree it seemed to be more on the liberal left) reacted almost viscerally to the shootings (mirroring how many individuals did at least in my Facebook worldview) but then backtracked so quickly. You could almost see the "we've been waiting for something like this to happen" morph into the media taking a deep breath and instead saying, "Oh yeah, this wasn't specifically politically motivated as it was just one person becoming unhinged."

However, that being said, I was reminded once again that I hate (ha) the extreme rhetoric. Obama gun/knife comment was unfortunate and I also thought Palin's "gun sights" graphic was in incredible poor taste. I feel like that while they shouldn't have to completely sterilize their words, they should be more careful. As leaders, they have a duty, imo, to be more diplomatic and respectful.

And unfortunately Palin had an opportunity to really shine in a thoughtful response/reiteration of her own stance, but instead she went the blood libel route. Sad.

Nate said...

People who only follow the "mainstream media" may never see this, but there were similar map graphics done previous to Sarah Palin, with even more direct verbiage, as you can see here. Yup, it was done more explicitly (with the candidate's photos) and prior to Palin, but it was the DNC and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee who were the culprits in those instances. Funny how the media figures aren't outraged by those maps, huh?

I actually have no problem with metaphoric language, and even President Obama's "gun to a knife fight", which I used for comparison purposes, I have no big problem with (i.e. I'm personally not worried or offended by it, but politically it was a stupid thing to say). Everybody with half a brain knows that he is just being metaphoric. All kinds of people use similar language every day ("Who is our target audience?", "We're going to target the weak left-side defense of the other team", etc.). Our ability to use language colorfully and descriptively is seriously diminished if we kow-tow to the overly sensitive and immature PC types.

Now, people with less than half a brain (like this lunatic), there's no accounting for what will set them off. Have you seen some of his internet ramblings? Totally whacked.

And, (I'm not really a fan of Palin, btw) in all honesty, if I were Palin and people all over the media were basically saying I had some culpability in the tragic deaths of 8 people (which is essentially a blood libel on her), I'd come out swinging, too!

Thanks for joining the conversation!

EmWJ said...

I can't necessarily fault her for "coming out swinging" but I just wish that she had taken the higher road. My thoughts run along the same lines as this:

Nate said...

I agree with those sentiments wholeheartedly. Unfortunately, I fear that there are too many people who would view "a gentle answer" to be tacit acknowledgement of the validity of an accusation.

It's really too bad that politics reach this crescendo pitch, but until all comers reach a common ground of civility, my instinct is to vigorously defend those who are wrongfully accused, be they on the right or the left.