During the Bush years, the news media were the promoters of protest, the champions of dissent. Denouncing the president as a brain-damaged warmonger was the most patriotic thing you could do (just ask the Dixie Chicks), and it was guaranteed to please the press.
On MSNBC before the Iraq War in 2003, David Shuster elevated the "anti-war" movement as the equivalent of the United States military, only with a higher morality: "The size of the demonstrators, at least here, at least in Europe, seems to underscore that there are now perhaps two world superpowers," he told Chris Matthews. "There's the United States, and then there are those millions of people who took to the streets opposing U.S. policy."
My, how times -- and standards -- change. On the weekend of the vote for a massive government intervention in the health-insurance market, these same reporters had a different take. The Tea Party protesters were not going to be hailed for their courageous and patriotic use of their free time. They were going to be smeared for daring to be.
Democrats claimed racial slurs were used against black politicians on Capitol Hill, and an "anti-gay slur" was allegedly heard around Congressman Barney Frank. It is understandable that Democrats would want this opposition to their power grab to be reduced to absurdity, a spasm of racism and homophobia instead of organized conservative idealism. It is deplorable that our national "news" media went into overdrive on this Democrat public-relations initiative. To listen to the press, the Tea Party's presence in Washington was violent, dangerous, uncivil and unprecedented, and their protests threatened to ruin the Republican image -- as if that isn't at the top of the liberal media's To Do list every day.
In the Iraq War protests of 2003, the leftist protesters were on the wrong side of the polls. In the health "reform" protests of 2010, the protesters represented an angry majority. Since Shuster works for MSNBC, in that parallel universe, the majority had become a dangerous and ugly mob.
Shuster asked black conservative Robert Traynham to blame the conservative media for these overheard outbursts (not that any network had them on tape): "Do any conservative media outlets, Robert, bear any responsibility for that? Because when people hear over and over that this is Nazism on the march, or fascism, or that Armageddon is coming, of course some people are going to flip out."