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Selective Outrage, Bogus Claims of Violence Used Against Tea Parties

It’s obvious journalists think the tea partiers are a dangerous, racist, homophobic bunch of loons. It’s not just wacky MSNBC or the liberal Washington Post spreading this garbage. It’s nearly every major news outlet. Behind them, pulling the strings like Geppetto is the core of the liberal movement – “progressive” Web sites, lefty personalities and Democratic politicians all making the same claim.


They are all wrong. In some cases, they are openly lying. In most, they are taking hypocrisy to epic levels.


First of all, claims that the tea party movement is made up of dangerous “extremists” are disproven automatically by events. Tea party groups have been around more than a year throwing hundreds or even thousands of protest rallies. Yet, less violence has actually occurred than you might see at an NFL game between rival fans.


Yet, the theme of violent tea partiers is everywhere. It even led to claims former Gov. Sarah Palin’s, R-Alaska, political map taking aim at 20 congressional races was threatening because it used crosshairs to indicate each race. It’s as if the media expect us to forget that journalists use “target” and “aim” in stories all the time or that we live in a nation where 1,740 stores operate under the “Target” name and use a bullseye as a logo. But the media combined that with Palin’s use of the commonplace word “reload” to paint her once again as a fringe element.


There was New York Times columnist Paul Krugman calling out Palin because he’s afraid of his shadow: “And Sarah Palin put out a map literally putting Democratic lawmakers in the cross hairs of a rifle sight.” MSNBC called it a “Dem Hit-list.”


Reporters could have found a much scarier quote from the campaign. Like this one from a Philadelphia visit in 2008: “If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun.” Now that sounds threatening – except it wasn’t Palin or even Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., saying it. It was then senator, now President Obama. But because it didn’t fit the media theme, it was disregarded.


There are ample examples of scary left-wing comments and even left-wing violence. There are countless online instances of liberals calling for Bush’s assassination when he was president – photos of Bush with a target drawn on his photo. Or even the movie “Death of a President,” made about assassinating him. I guess that was all in good humor and high art along with the 6.3 million links Google finds connecting Bush and Hitler. Now comparisons of Obama to Hitler are supposed to be over-the-top. Were journalists asleep during all the lefty hatred of Bush?


Then there’s actual left-wing violence like the 1999 World Trade Organization conference. That got so bad, the media coined the term “The Battle in Seattle.” Or left-wing violence at the GOP 2008 convention, turning the event into an armed camp. Or the union thug tactics at the town halls. Or the threats former CNN host Lou Dobbs received, along with a gun shot at his home.


Any liberal claims to non-violence are long gone. Once you cut that string, all that remains is media hand-wringing and selective outrage over a few incidents. That doesn’t excuse actual threats to congressmen. But the media act like such threats only come from the right when they don’t. For the best example, let’s take the darling of health care reform Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich. Stupak’s complaints about threats and nasty calls were aired in five broadcast news stories after he switched sides in the health care battle.


But before he was for health care reform, he was against it. The calls and threats that time were so intense, he had to disconnect his phone. Total broadcast news stories about that? Zero. Look back at what Stupak told The Hill. “All the phones are unplugged at our house — tired of the obscene calls and threats.” All because he opposed Obama and the Democrats.


Who exactly was making those phone calls, Republicans?


Then there are the media complaints about what protesters have said. There’s no doubt out of millions of protesters, a few might have said something inappropriate. If the media treated left-wing protest with the same fine-tooth comb, they’d be shocked by the results. But the high-profile claims of bigotry and homophobia both run into problems. Civil rights leader Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., made racial claims about what he heard during his trip to the capitol, but several audio and video tapes don’t confirm it.


Then there were complaints about an anti-gay slur reportedly made to openly gay Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass. This is particularly ludicrous because the media and Democratic members of Congress have been slurring the tea party movement with the gay “teabagger” comment for a year now.


The term teabagger excited lefties from alleged news staffers like Anderson Cooper, George Stephanopoulos and David Shuster to Democratic Reps. Maxine Waters, Calif., and Anthony Weiner, N.Y., to a parade of liberal talk show hosts like Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow. Maddow and guest Ana Marie Cox went so nutty, that they used the word “teabag” at least 51 times in a 13-minute long segment of juvenile “teabag” puns.


That’s the common left-wing and media response to ordinary Americans trying to get involved in their nation’s government – abuse and lots of it. After 14 months of a battle where critics were repeatedly demeaned, labeled racist and told their anger was uncalled for and their movement was “Astroturf” or phony grassroots, it’s no wonder they are angry. This, after Democrats told taxpayers Congress might OK a bill without voting on it, though most Americans oppose the bill.


That doesn’t excuse someone threatening violence or saying “I’m going to kill you.” But people say that all the time without really meaning it. Fans say it to referees, parents to children and brothers to brothers – all in the heat of anger. That, along with mountainous piles of hate mail, are part and parcel to work in D.C. for both sides.


No one should be threatened for serving this nation. But if Stupak, Frank and others can’t handle criticism and anger, then they are in the wrong business. And if the media can’t handle this war of words as referees, not players, then they should stay out of it entirely.


Dan Gainor is The Boone Pickens Fellow and the Media Research Center’s Vice President for Business and Culture. His column appears each week on The Fox Forum. He can also be contacted on FaceBook and Twitter as dangainor.