Free Markets, Free People
If you’ve been following this incident at all, you know that much of what was initially reported was wrong and some of what has been reported since was false, manufactured and/or misleading.
American Thinker has a good round up of the story to this point. In the article, Jeff Lipke outlines the “myth” as it was perpetrated by the media.
The two worst offenders in my opinion have been NBC and ABC. NBC aired an edited 911 tape which was clearly meant to depict George Zimmerman as a racist. They continue to try to defend it as a “mistake”. No one with any common sense is buying that nonsense.
ABC used footage of Zimmerman’s arrival at the Sanford police station to claim that it didn’t support his claim he’d been attacked as there was no evidence of blood or contusions. Never mentioned was the fact that Zimmerman had been treated by EMTs who are not in the habit of leaving visible blood on a patient they treat. Subsequent enhancement showed that initial claim by ABC to have been incorrect. Additionally, ABC claimed that Zimmerman had used a racial slur when talking to the 911 operator. Again, enhancing the audio makes it clear he didn’t and instead seems to be remarking about how cold it was that night. In fact, for central Florida, it was a cold night. But ABC jumped to the conclusion because it supported the desired evolving story line – it was a racial killing.
The unraveling of the myth seems to have the whole story losing steam. That may be why Al Sharpton decided to be a no-show at this weekend’s rally. And there have also been incidents that have done little to gain sympathy for Trayvon Martin. HIs parents attempt to copyright his name obviously hoping to capitalize on his death. Then there was the rally for Martin by members of the school he attended which turned into a flash-mob looting of a local drug store.
But for the media, this has been anything but its finest hour. One of the reoccurring criticism of blogs by the media is they’ll publish anything and have no editors to check them. Yet it is the media, especially the two networks named above, who’ve seemed to fall into that category, editors notwithstanding.
Take the latest story circulating. Supposedly “Neo-Nazis” are patrolling Sanford, FL. The NY Daily News reports this as a fact. But Legal Insurrection’s Professor Jacobson has actually tried to confirm it (wait, isn’t that what editors and research assistants are supposed to do in the media?). And, according to his inquiry to the Sanford Police Department, there’s no evidence of any neo-Nazi group patrolling the city:
My initial e-mail (which included an embedded link to the Memeorandum thread):
“There are a number of reports in the media that Neo-Nazis are conducting armed patrols in Sanford. Can you confirm or deny whether this is true, and provide any information you have on the subject? If someone is able to get back to me as soon as possible (and before Monday) that would be appreciated, since such rumors are spreading.”
Response from Sanford Joint Information Center:
“At this time the City of Sanford has not confirmed the presence of Neo-Nazis groups.”
My follow up:
“You say “not confirmed.” Is there any indication of such patrols that the Department is aware of?”
Further Response from Sanford Joint Information Center:
“We have no indication of any such patrols at this point in Sanford. The only large gathering was the children and their parents at the Easter egg hunt.”
How poorly are we being served by a media which now seems to be engaged in precisely what it criticized blogs for? And how ironic is it that a blog is doing the work the media should be doing? That’s not to say blogs are in the clear. Every left wing blog of any size has been parroting the rumor as well.
But the fact remains this case, no matter how you feel about it, has shown the media in a very unflattering light. Sensationalism, poor journalism, lousy and false editing, conclusion jumping, and rumor mongering have all been evident in their coverage.
And the industry wonders why so many Americans don’t trust them any more?
ABC News leads the report with this:
Major Nidal Malik Hasan’s military superiors repeatedly ignored or rebuffed his efforts to open criminal prosecutions of soldiers he claimed had confessed to “war crimes” during psychiatric counseling, according to investigative reports circulated among federal law enforcement officials.
The report goes on to account for his last few hours and his activities, and the asserts:
Investigators believe Hasan’s frustration over the failure of the Army to pursue what he regarded as criminal acts by U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan may have helped to trigger the shootings.
Really? So I wonder why he didn’t go after the soldiers who had allegedly committed the war crimes versus a random lot at a processing center?
The report continues with some pretty damning evidence that not only were there a lot of red flags with this guy, but they seem to have been pretty darn obvious. That doesn’t change the fact that other than some oblique references to his religion, ABC cannot seem to acknowledge that perhaps, at base, it was that which “may have helped trigger the shootings”.
You know I’ve watched the Southern Poverty Law Center’s rise over the years as the self-proclaimed expert on “extremist hate groups”. But what I’ve also deduced over those years, mostly by observing when and what we hear from them, is it is primarily an organization that sees the “right-wing” as the primary threat to America.
They’d most likely deny that and point to their “Hate Groups Map” and its inclusion of black separatist organizations, but they even put a caveat on their inclusion of them:
Although the Southern Poverty Law Center recognizes that much black racism in America is, at least in part, a response to centuries of white racism, it believes racism must be exposed in all its forms. White groups espousing beliefs similar to Black Separatists would be considered clearly racist. The same criterion should be applied to all groups regardless of their color.
Other than a mention of what the organization is, i.e. Nation of Islam or New Black Panther party, and a short description of their beliefs, you’ll not find much on the SPLC’s website about what would be considered “leftist extremist” hate groups.
And you’ll find nothing in their legal docket where they’ve ever taken one of these groups on in court. One would think the voter intimidation by two New Black Panthers in Philadelphia that occurred in the last presidential election would be right in their sweet spot, but there is no indication whatsoever that such activity even caught their attention.
So it stands to reason that the SPLC loves it when a Democratic administration comes into being because it naturally plays into their primary focus and that elevates their importance (because gullible media outlets will naturally buy into what they’re selling) and we see the “rise of the right-wing militias” nonsense begin again.
Today’s featured gullible media outlet is ABC News, which breathlessly repeats, er, reports that, yup, those right-wing militias, they’re rising again:
Experts who track hate groups across the U.S. are growing increasingly concerned over violent rhetoric targeted at President Obama, especially as the debate over health care intensifies and a pattern of threats emerges.
Any guess as to what “experts” they’re talking about?
And you have to love the examples ABC News uses to transition into tarring the right as a bunch of racists:
The Secret Service is investigating a Maryland man who held a sign reading “Death to Obama” and “Death to Michelle and her two stupid kids” outside a town hall meeting this week. And in New Hampshire, another man stood across the street from a Presidential town hall with his gun on full display.
Los Angeles police officers apprehended a man Thursday after a standoff with him inside a red Volkswagen Bug car in Westwood, CA – the latest disturbing case even though officials said the man had mental problems.
Ya think? Tell me, thinking back, did John Hinckley represented the “extremist left” when he shot Ronald Reagan? I don’t believe that question was ever raised by the SPLC at the time.
We have a guy legally carrying a gun (although admittedly doing so at an inappropriate time and at an inappropriate place) and one sign among thousands which is inappropriate all included with one mentally whacked individual in CA and we’re ready to conclude that right-wing hate-mongers – violent right-wing hate-mongers (or “evil-mongers” if you’re a Harry Reid fan) – are on the rise.
There’s another bit of “mongering” going on here – fearmongering.
“I don’t think these are simply people who are mentally ill or off their rocker,” Mark Potok, director of the Intelligence Project at the Southern Poverty Law Center, told ABC News of those behind the threats. “In a very real sense they represent a genuine reaction, a genuine backlash against Obama.”
Notice the substance of the SPLC’s accusation. He’s speaking of townhall protesters in general and essentially saying while the three in question may actually include one real a whack job, they represent the true feelings of the protesters – this is all about Obama.
And the inference of making it “all about Obama”? Say it with me now – he’s a black man. And that, dear reader, makes it all about racism.
If you don’t believe that’s what they’re suggesting, you might want to read their website. From the short description of their “special report” on “The Return of the Militias”:
After virtually disappearing from public view a decade ago, the antigovernment militia movement is surging across the country – fueled by fears of a black president, the changing demographics of the country and fringe conspiracy theories increasingly spread by mainstream figures.
Anyone remember why the militia movement began back then? Well it had nothing to do with a “black president” and everything to do with what appeared to be a expansion of government to include another health care grab.
From the first article in the “special report”, two things to note. One, it’s all anonymous “reports”:
Authorities around the country are reporting a worrying uptick in Patriot activities and propaganda. “This is the most significant growth we’ve seen in 10 to 12 years,” says one. “All it’s lacking is a spark. I think it’s only a matter of time before you see threats and violence.”
Frankly this is akin to National Enquirer reporting and shades of the recent DHS “intelligence” report.
Two, it is all about Obama being a “black man’.
A key difference this time is that the federal government — the entity that almost the entire radical right views as its primary enemy — is headed by a black man. That, coupled with high levels of non-white immigration and a decline in the percentage of whites overall in America, has helped to racialize the Patriot movement, which in the past was not primarily motivated by race hate.
Nothing to support this at all, simply an assertion that fits the agenda of those writing the “special report”. Who is spreading fear now?
The second “report” of the SLPC’s “special report” by Larry Keller:
One big difference from the militia movement of the 1990s is that the face of the federal government — the enemy that almost all parts of the extreme right see as the primary threat to freedom — is now black. And the fact that the president is an African American has injected a strong racial element into even those parts of the radical right, like the militias, that in the past were not primarily motivated by race hate. Contributing to the racial animus have been fears on the far right about the consequences of Latino immigration.
Sound familiar? Yup, it doesn’t take a literary critic to understand that Larry wrote not only his own screed, but the first unattributed screed as well. So essentially, what we have to this point is Larry Keller’s opinion, unsourced and undocumented, as to what is going on.
What’s pitiful is in the 4 paragraphs leading up to the paragraph above, he gives not one scintilla of support for the premise he lays out there – it’s all about Obama because he’s black. The people he’s talking about haven’t been mentioned in any news reports as being attendees at a single townhall protest that I’ve seen. But that doesn’t stop him from inferring that they’re the primary movers in this protest movement
Apparently, about half way through, he had a momentary attack of conscience and takes a swipe at some factual objectivity:
It’s not 1996 all over again, or 1997 or 1998. Although there has been a remarkable rash of domestic terrorist incidents since Obama’s election in November, it has not reached the level of criminal violence, attempted terrorist attacks and white-hot language that marked the militia movement at its peak.
Again, he makes an unsupported assertion (“… there has been a remarkable rash of domestic terrorist incidents since Obama’s election in November” – really? Where?), but admits this is nothing like the supposed golden age of militias in the ’90s (which led to what? Not much of anything.).
And you have to love this:
At the Jacksonville, Fla., July tea party, some protesters carried signs that compared President Obama to Adolf Hitler.
Gasp! I’ll bet Keller was all over the “Bush/Hitler” comparisons for the last 8 years, wasn’t he? Uh, no. But to help him in his research, should he read this, I’ve googled it for him.
The last of the “special reports” is by David Holthouse. It’s all about “Camp Vigilance”, a Minute Man community in San Diego. You’re left with the impression that this boiling, seething, ready-to-explode community has arisen rather recently and is representative of the growing threat. You’re certainly left to assume it has arisen since the recent presidential election. And you’re also left to extrapolate this one place as typical of all those now protesting (why is never clear).
It was, however, established in 2006, well within the Bush administration and, apparently, despite Mr. Holthouse’s attempt to make this new and fresh, it seems it’s the same collection of whack jobs that have been out there pushing conspiracy theories about the Illuminati and global bankers since I’ve been alive. It should also be noted that up to now, they’ve apparently done nothing at Camp Vigilance to bring law enforcement down on them.
The point of all this is the left, with the media’s obvious help, is bound and determined to turn this political disagreement into something about race and hate.
“I think the president has, in effect, triggered fears amongst fairly large numbers of white people in this country that they are somehow losing their country, that the battle is lost,” Potok told ABC News. “The nation that their Christian white forefathers created has somehow been taken from them.”
Yup – without “fairly large numbers of white people” available to blame this twisted message on, Potok and SPLC are out of a job, aren’t they?
Oh, and thanks, ABC – great job of fearmongering there.
On the night of June 24, the media and government become one, when ABC turns its programming over to President Obama and White House officials to push government run health care — a move that has ignited an ethical firestorm!
Highlights on the agenda:
ABCNEWS anchor Charlie Gibson will deliver WORLD NEWS from the Blue Room of the White House.
The network plans a primetime special — ‘Prescription for America’ — originating from the East Room, exclude opposing voices on the debate.
If this is indeed the plan then it is simply unacceptable. It flies in the face of one of the media’s self-stated reason for existing – a watchdog, not a lapdog, over the government.
Ken McKay, Chief of Staff of the RNC has sent letter to ABC protesting this. In part he says:
Next Wednesday, ABC News will air a primetime health care reform “town hall” at the White House with President Barack Obama. In addition, according to an ABC News report, GOOD MORNING AMERICA, WORLD NEWS, NIGHTLINE and ABC’s web news “will all feature special programming on the president’s health care agenda.” This does not include the promotion, over the next 9 days, the president’s health care agenda will receive on ABC News programming.
Apparently the Republican party asked to be included and was rejected. McKay concludes:
In the absence of opposition, I am concerned this event will become a glorified infomercial to promote the Democrat agenda. If that is the case, this primetime infomercial should be paid for out of the DNC coffers. President Obama does not hold a monopoly on health care reform ideas or on free airtime. The President has stated time and time again that he wants a bipartisan debate. Therefore, the Republican Party should be included in this primetime event, or the DNC should pay for your airtime.
Obviously McKay has to be somewhat circumspect in how he says things, but I don’t. It will be an infomercial and it is a shameful example of how poorly the media, now led by ABC, has done its primary mission when it comes to this administration and this president.
ABC not only should have the DNC pay for the air time, that should be prominently and permanently displayed at the bottom of the screen throughout this planned infomercial.
And ABC – anyone who works for them should hang their head in shame. They should also avoid associating the word “journalism” with anything they do from now on as well.
UPDATE: ABC’s Kerry Smith responds. You can read the response in full here. Essentially they tell the Republicans and opponents to stuff it, that ABC and only ABC will decide who will provide the other side of the argument:
Second, ABC News prides itself on covering all sides of important issues and asking direct questions of all newsmakers — of all political persuasions — even when others have taken a more partisan approach and even in the face of criticism from extremes on both ends of the political spectrum. ABC News is looking for the most thoughtful and diverse voices on this issue. ABC News alone will select those who will be in the audience asking questions of the president. Like any programs we broadcast, ABC News will have complete editorial control. To suggest otherwise is quite unfair to both our journalists and our audience.
But, of course, ABC isn’t choosing who will be on the pro-government takeover side, are they? Instead, it is Obama’s “townhall” meeting and, one assumes, he will bring who the heck he wants to that dance and if ABC doesn’t like it, I’m sure they were told they could find something else to do that night.
How freakin’ stupid does Kerry Smith and ABC think we are out here!?