The Left apparently has taken to heart the admonition of former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel to "never let a serious crisis go to waste."
In the aftermath of the Tucson tragedy that killed six and wounded 14 others, the Left has attacked talk radio, Fox News, Sarah Palin and anyone else it can smear. Never mind there is not a shred of evidence that the accused gunman, the mentally disturbed Jared Lee Loughner, ever watched Glenn Beck or listened to Rush Limbaugh (Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, a Democrat, irresponsibly suggested Limbaugh incited Loughner).
Even if Loughner had watched and listened to conservative media, what does that prove? Millions do, but they don't go on a shooting rampage. What do other murderers and terrorists watch on TV or listen to on the radio? Why isn't the media they consume a matter of interest? Answer: Because it doesn't further the Left's agenda.
Since the Left lost its monopoly of the U.S. media, it has repeatedly tried to suppress speech it doesn't like. Thus, we hear calls by Democratic Representative James Clyburn of South Carolina for the resurrection of the Fairness Doctrine. Rep. Robert Brady, Pennsylvania Democrat, reportedly plans to introduce legislation that would make it a federal crime to use language or symbols that could be perceived as threatening or that incites violence against a federal official or member of Congress. Who would police that and based on what standard?
In the 1980s when conservative groups tried to "clean up" the bad language, sexual references and violence on TV, the Left cried "censorship." When conservatives campaigned against pornography and "music" that encouraged violence against women and racial epithets, they were told a healthy First Amendment required that even the most offensive speech be tolerated. It was the same argument used to allow the burning of the American flag at political protests. But the Left is intolerant of speech it disagrees with and so wishes to censor what it cannot overcome with superior argument.
Eric Burns wrote a book titled "Infamous Scribblers: The Founding Fathers and the Rowdy Beginnings of American Journalism."
Compared to 18th-century journalism in America, today's media are tame. Burns writes of the Gazette of the United States (born on April 15, 1789, while the Constitution was being ratified) that its editor, John Fenno, was an ardent supporter of the federalism represented by George Washington and Alexander Hamilton. Fenno's newspaper served as a counterweight to the Republican slant of the National Gazette.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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