Conservatives are crazy. Sometimes they're stupid, racist or even evil. On creative occasions they're all four - at least that's how they're portrayed by the American media.
This election season, journalists have partnered fully with the left to depict conservatives in the most vile ways they can muster. While it's nothing new, the sheer volume of attacks is noteworthy. What's worse is that many are coming from supposedly legitimate news operations.
Every national conservative politician battles these media characterizations. Ronald Reagan was crazy or stupid, depending on the lefty arguing it or the phases of the moon. Nancy was allegedly the power behind the throne, so she was crazy and evil. President George Bush once ran the CIA - evil. His son, President George W. Bush, managed to be crazy, stupid and evil. (Lefties liked to depict him in Nazi regalia or as a chimp, or both. Conservatives who use identical phrasing or images for Obama are, of course, category four - racists.) Vice President Dick Cheney got the Nancy Reagan treatment - crazy and evil.
It's almost a party game to list the top conservatives and describe how the media and left are depicting them. But it's no game to candidates. Prominent media outlets are trying to sabotage every viable conservative opponent to Obama.
Rep. Michele Bachman, R-Minn., is called crazy for her gas price predictions or for just being her. Newsweek's Aug. 15 cover story on Bachmann was called "The Queen of Rage," complete with a cover photo of a crazy-eyed candidate. "In Iowa, where she was raised, Bachmann has become the living embodiment of the Tea Party. She and her allies have been called a maniacal gang of knife-wielding ideologues. That's hyperbole, of course," wrote Lois Romano. When reporters write something that vile and follow it with "that's hyperbole," what they really mean is "no, it's not."
Then there's ESPN's LZ Granderson, also a CNN contributor, who called Bachmann "crazy." Granderson said that "the people aren't going to vote for crazy. And she [Bachmann] still registers as crazy with a lot of independents." But those attacks were repurposing the lefty theme that has been around for years. Crazy Mother Jones magazine called her "Bachmann (R-Crazy)" in a 2008 headline.
With her now running for president, Matt Taibbi resurrected that assault in Rolling Stone's June 22 issue. "Bachmann is a religious zealot whose brain is a raging electrical storm of divine visions and paranoid delusions." Taibbi summed it up by saying she's "exactly the right kind of completely batshit crazy. Not medically crazy, not talking-to-herself-on-the-subway crazy, but grandiose crazy, late-stage Kim Jong-Il crazy."
Then there's stupid, a subject the old school media know all too well. Politico, the lefty publication that caters to Washington insiders, ran an Aug. 29 cover story with the headline: "Is Rick Perry dumb?" This sterling bit of journalism began with the premise that Perry is "confronting an unavoidable question: is he dumb - or just misunderestimated?" (That last bit is a dig at Bush the Younger, of course.)
This theme has been everywhere for years, enshrined even in T-shirt form as a red-white-and-blue elephant with the slogan: "Never Underestimate the Power of Stupid People in Large Numbers."
Tune into MSNBC's "Morning Joke," er "Joe," and there's co-host Mika Brzezinski bashing the right for not hiking taxes in the debt limit negotiations. "I think the Republicans look stupid and mean. I'm sorry, this is stupid." Mika is on MSNBC and she thinks someone else is stupid? It's a common theme over at the Mouseketeer Network, conservatives are stupid. "Sarah Palin Has Proven Herself To Be Profoundly Stupid," whined "Hardball" host Chris Matthews.
If it's evil you want, Matthews throws that term around like beads at Mardi Gras. Let's see: Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck are evil: "These people are evil in what they're doing." All because he thinks they're wrong about climate change. Then Matthews bashed former Speaker Newt Gingrich as "evil" and looking "like the devil."
The media pile on Perry as the front runner. ABC Jim Avila called out conservative Texans as evil, even if you didn't quite use the word. "Some argue that, deep in the heart of Rick Perry's Texas, there is little heart." "Some." That's another journalist weasel word, allowing Avila to say what he actually feels without owning up. It's the same theme over on the left, typically blasting the Koch brothers with the term. A 2010 Gawker headline explained it only a bit tongue-in-cheek: "Republican Billionaires Arrange Secret Meeting to Plot Evil."
Those attacks are awful, but the scarlet letter attack in today's world earns the "R" for racism. Matthews is good at that one too, saying Perry "could be Bull Connor with a smile." Matthews gave the Bull Connor comparison to Perry twice. (Connor was a civil rights era racist who unleashed police dogs and turned fire hoses on protesters. He was also a Democrat.)
If you're white, even a bogus claim of racism is almost impossible to defend against. It's the favorite of charlatans and media hounds, and a persistent media theme since Obama first announced for president. Everybody who's anybody - the Tea Party, Fox, the GOP and more - are all racists for daring to oppose Obama.
Donald Trump's request to see Obama's grades? "That's just code for saying he got into law school because he was black," explained CBS's Bob Schieffer. MSNBC's lefty religious expert Frank Schaeffer tells viewers about "a racist white bloc in the Republican Party that has come dressed as the Tea Party."
Even black GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain gets abused as "racist." TV nutball pundits from foul-mouthed comedian Bill Maher to massively inked, one-time comedienne Janeane Garofalo have criticized his candidacy - supposedly designed to deflect "the racism that is inherent in the Republican Party, the conservative movement, the tea party certainly." Garofalo actually claimed Cain was being paid to fend off charges of racism against the GOP. Of course, you can't fend off such disgusting charges. Even a lunatic like Garofalo knows that.
Because such charges get repeated dozens, hundreds or thousands of times. The examples above are just scratching the surface. We could fill newspapers with these outlandish claims, if any bothered to print such truth. Crazy, stupid, evil and racist. The four horsemen of the liberal media apocalypse this election. And every one of them has already been set loose.
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.