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March 31, 2004

But Rove's a Bad Guy

Philip Terzian reacts to coverage of the storming of Karl Rove's home, which most bloggers apparently thought too typical to note with much outrage. What's notable is that Terzian pointed his finger by means of a mainstream paper, the Providence Journal:

The Washington Post treated the incident as mildly comical, although one has to wonder what the tone would be if a crowd descended on the home of a Post editor, threatening violence and frightening his children. ...

... I am tempted to apply the reliable Reagan-Bush Test. Imagine if the mob had represented not a left-wing "community improvement" coalition, but the Young Republicans, or an anti-abortion organization, or Rush Limbaugh's enthusiasts, and had surrounded the home of, say, Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee, or Harold Ickes, or Sen. Tom Daschle (D.-S.D.), screaming obscenities and pounding on windows, threatening violence.

Would that be treated as a light-hearted lesson in the perils of politics, or a symptom of the ugliness now rampant in public discourse?

It is precisely in coverage such as that of this incident that the media's bias-driven storyline is most evident. Rove is a bad guy in their world — not only a political operative who knows the game, but a Republican political operative who knows the game. It would be an outrage were those whom Terzian lists the subjects of the same "activism" because they're the Good Guys. Even if they're crooked or mean or what have you, their intentions are good (according to this way of thinking).

You know, it seems to me that there's an inherent admission in this discrepancy that conservatives are the mature adults. It's as if, deep down, media-style liberals know that they're acting out emotionally on unsupportable convictions. We treat children and adults with the same sort of distinction between maturity and fragility, and John Hawkins highlights how apt the analogy really is:

So you have busloads of kooks encircling Karl Rove's house, yelling, & banging on the windows. His kids are quite understandably terrified and then after a furious Rove finally meets with these lunatics, their leader Palicios is crying and trembling like she's the victim. Poor her! Karl Rove yelled at her for bringing a mob to tresspass on his property and terrify his children over some bill that probably 500 people outside of the loons who were protesting know or care about.
Posted by Justin Katz at March 31, 2004 8:10 PM
News Media

It was conservatives that intimidated civil rights leaders such as Martin Luther King, Jr. It was also conservatives that killed a number of abortion doctors.

Liberal politicians have had blood thrown on them, been presented with dead fetuses, been mailed feces, and been spit upon.

Evil knows no political ideology.

Posted by: Joel Thomas at April 1, 2004 12:09 AM


I didn't say that rightward activists never cross the line. But your examples prove the point: how are those activists treated in the media? Certainly not as a humorous anecdote.

(Also, some of the instances that you list target the individual in a way that is not immediately threatening.)

Posted by: Justin Katz at April 1, 2004 6:48 AM

Justin, Justin, Justin. How dare you try to point out the pervasive liberal bias in news reporting? After all, conservatives are... er... can be EVIL. Justin, Justin, Justin.

P.S. Those "conservatives" who "intimidated" MLK were, most likely, Democrats.

Posted by: ELC at April 1, 2004 11:45 AM

When people are utterly convinced of their own righteousness and utterly sure of the unrighteousness of those they disagree with, that is when they are most likely to stumble.

Martin Luther King, Jr. and the civil rights movement got positive coverage from the national media, but very negative and hostile coverage from the local media, which at that time was just as, if not more, influential than the national media.

Posted by: Joel Thomas at April 1, 2004 6:20 PM