Hey, you know who are the worst? Liberals! That’s the conservative media’s slant, anyway, and one of the best ways they can achieve this portrayal is to label all of the worst people they can find “liberals” – regardless of whether or not that’s true. Media outlets can simply take someone who is sure to be vilified by the news, slap a “Democrat” under his name, and BOOM… they’ve contributed in creating a bias against liberals.
1. This topic re-emerged in my head last week when weapons and explosives were found in a Greenwich Village apartment. The story, first covered by the New York Post, labeled the apartments’ residents not only potential terrorists, but Occupiers. As the Village Voice notes, this “fact” was picked up by the Associate Press and Reuters and featured in headlines around the world as if to announce: See, Occupy Wall Street is dangerous! Conservative blogs particularly reveled in this news because it seemed to justify the FBI’s nonsense investigations of Occupy activists.
Still, something didn’t ring true about the story, given that Occupy has a fairly strong reputation as a non-violent group and no OWS members seemed to know the suspects in question. As the New York Times would later clarify: “The police said they did not believe that [the suspect] was active in any political movements.” So how did the Occupy label get added to the story in the first place? Of course, this correction is not getting anywhere near the mileage that the “Occupy Terrorists” story still is. The corporate media loves defaming Occupy so that you will automatically disregard their legitimate grievances.
2. The Westboro Baptist Church is so repugnant that it doesn’t come as a surprise that NO ONE wants to be associated with the group. But just because no one wants to claim the “God Hates Fags” clan as kindred spirits, doesn’t mean that pundits aren’t happy to identify Fred Phelps and his allies as members of the opposing political spectrum.
Take, for example, Fox News labeling Westboro Baptist Church a “left-wing cult”. Yeah, that makes sense… don’t we all associate racist, homophobic, Bible-thumping southerners with a liberal agenda? As America Blog discusses, the best possible rationale for this claim is that Phelps was a registered Democrat decades ago, but even that is a massive stretch since he has since renounced the political party. In that sense, Ronald Reagan was initially a Democrat: would Fox label him left-wing, too? How about former Democrat Condoleezza Rice? What’s next, calling Joseph Lieberman a liberal? (Haha, if only that were a joke.)
3. Remember disgraced Florida conservative Representative Mark Foley? His congressional pages sure do. Accused of sexual misconduct with underage boys who worked for him, Foley quickly became the subject of the scandal de jour back in 2006.
Gee, something like that sure would have been embarrassing for the Republican Party considering that they actively pitched a platform of family values and disapproval of same-sex couples. I say “would have been” because Foley was actually a Democrat. Don’t believe me? Just look at this Fox News report – when the poop hits the fan for a Republican, just change the “R” under his name to a “D” and… voila! Not their problem anymore! [Wipes hands clean.]
4. That solution was so simple for Fox News that they tried it again three years later for South Carolina Governor and “hiking enthusiast” Mark Sanford. After Sanford mysteriously disappeared, it turned out that the married Republican had marched all the way down the Appalachian Trail into the arms of his Argentinian mistress.
Again, this was not good PR for a party that trumpets family values, and so Fox News labeled Sanford a Democrat during his incriminating press conference. Though a newscaster would later point out the error on air, it was there long enough to reinforce the notion with some viewers that liberal politicians cheat on their wives.
Oh, and Sanford – who apparently hopes the voters have forgiven and forgotten – just announced his intention to run for Congress in 2014! Great idea!! I wonder whether conservatives will agree to claim him as their own again.
5. As news of the Aurora, Colorado movie theater shooting emerged, people understandably had a lot of questions – none of which were “What political party does the shooter belong to?” But thankfully, the news media decided to try to answer that one anyway.
Popular conservative website Breitbart News thought it had the answer: suspect James Holmes is a registered Democrat! Liberals are murderers! Oh, wait… okay, we have to update the article… it seems that Holmes is not even registered to vote. But let’s put that correction with a question mark at the end (“Not Registered?”) so that you can still choose to believe the part about him being a Democrat since that’s our real objective anyway.
In this last case, it’s worth noting that ABC News made a similarly erroneous report, alleging that Holmes was a member of the Tea Party. Let’s not have a double standard here: that is equally stupid and egregious. We all need to be wary of when someone holds up a single example in an attempt to discredit an entire group. It’s a shady tactic, but in a lot of case it works. Besides, whoever said that honesty and accuracy were important parts of mainstream political discourse anymore?