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Pundit Vitriol is Only Newsworthy When it Comes From the Right
I'm a conservative... and I have absolutely no trouble recognizing when a public figure from my side of the political spectrum makes a derogatory comment that goes too far.
Radio commentator, Rush Limbaugh recently made such a comment when he referred to Sandra Fluke as a "slut" and compared her to a prostitute on his radio program. Fluke is a law student at Georgetown University who testified before the U.S. Congress earlier in the week. Limbaugh's overall point in discussing her testimony was absolutely valid. He objected to the absurdity and audacity of Fluke believing that she has the right to have other people flipping the dime for her personal use of contraceptives (which she estimates at $3,000). Still, his language did indeed cross the line, and that's easy for me to accept.
The media has gone absolutely ballistic over Limbaugh's comments. Sandra Fluke has been a featured guest on numerous national news broadcasts where she's been given the opportunity to respond, Republican presidential candidates have been pressed to comment on the controversy, and President Obama even made a highly publicized phone call to Fluke to personally comfort her.
What I don't understand is why liberals in the media don't seem to get too bent out of shape when that same style of vitriol comes from their side of the aisle.
Case in point, Washington Post columnist Charles Lane weighed in on the controversy on FOX News' Special Report with Bret Baier last Friday. A regular panelist on the show, Lane said this in response to Limbaugh's comments: "I've been covering politics and stuff in Washington for 30 years, and I can't remember a more hateful outburst from a public figure that was less possible to justify by any political disagreement." It was clear by Lane's demeanor as he spoke that he absolutely believed what he was saying.
Now, Charles Lane seems like an intelligent man to me. He's clearly in tune with the national news and current events. If he wasn't, he wouldn't be featured on Bret Baier's show and he wouldn't work as a columnist for the Washington Post.
So, it's surprising to me that Lane never heard Bill Maher refer to Sarah Palin multiple times as a "c*nt", endorse the rape of Elisabeth Hasselbeck, and wish death upon Glenn Beck. It's surprising to me that he never heard MSNBC's Ed Schultz call Laura Ingraham a "slut" or Keith Olbermann call Michelle Malkin a "big mashed up bag of meat with lipstick." It's surprising to me that he never heard Larry Flynt call Sarah Palin's son with Down Syndrome a "brain dead vegetable", or heard of the The Family Guy episode where the same child was mocked for being the born the way he was. It's surprising to me that he never heard of the Playboy columnist who wrote about the top ten conservative women he'd like to "hate-f*ck". It's surprising to me that he never read of Newsweek's Andrew Sullivan writing that he had an orgasm (he actually used a much cruder term) when reading a message from Sarah Palin. I'm surprised that he never heard Rage Against The Machine front man, Zack de la Rocha say that "every last rich white" president from Truman to Bush "should be hung, and tried, and shot." It's surprising to me that he never heard hundreds of high profile media pundits refer to members of the Tea Party as "racists" or "terrorists" and compare George W. Bush to Hitler. There's nearly an endless list of this stuff, and these examples aren't from the last 30 years... They're just from the last few.
Let me make it clear that my point isn't that two wrongs make a right. On the contrary. I think what Limbaugh said was reprehensible and I'm glad he apologized for the language he used.
My point is that when it comes to the liberal media, vitriol doesn't seem quite that bad or particularly memorable when it's being used against people they happen not to like. That's why when Rush Limbaugh or Ann Coulter makes a provocative statement it becomes national news. We see it discussed on The Today Show, Good Morning America, The View, the national evening newscasts, The Tonight Show, The Late Show, and on many more outlets. Prominent Republicans are called on to condemn the rhetoric, and if they don't, they're labeled as panderers and cowards. Yet, when Bill Maher, the MSNBC hosts, or any one of the rest of usual suspects from the professional left does the same thing, there's a pretty good chance you'll only hear about it on FOX News. And prominent Democrats are never called upon for comment. Why is that? Are these people any less of advocates for the Democrats than Limbaugh and Coulter are for the Republicans? Absolutely not. Yet, the notion that you'll hear a reporter ask President Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, or Harry Reid to condemn something Bill Maher says is unfathomable.
Bernie Goldberg often says that expecting the liberal media to recognize their personal biases is like expecting a fish to know it's wet. I can't think of a better provable example of this than when it comes to partisan vitriol.