Emmett Tyrrell

He was also a bloodthirsty tyrant responsible for the death, imprisonment and torture of at least 70 million people. In a fatuous address to young people, she never mentioned any of this. Dunn's outburst is a first. Of all the brutal murderers of the 20th century -- say, Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot or Castro -- none has been mentioned as an exemplar by any other White House staffer, save today's White House communications director.

Allow me a prediction. This administration is going to turn out more zanies than the past two Democratic administrations combined. Yet -- and here is the ominous part -- they are going to present a real threat to liberties that Americans take for granted, particularly freedom of speech.

Dunn's other controversial outburst is her singling out Fox News as a political enemy against whom the White House will push back. She is not the only member of this administration to speak this way. Chief of staff Rahm Emanuel has denied that Fox is a "legitimate news organization," and White House senior adviser David Axelrod has said Fox is "not really a news organization." The threat here from these government officials is to freedom of speech.

It is all of a piece with the assault on Rush Limbaugh during various leading Democratic supporters' and -- amazingly -- journalists' efforts to deny him part ownership of a professional football team. The charges against Limbaugh that circulated freely through the media were false. He never spoke approvingly or even jokingly about slavery. He never spoke positively about James Earl Ray. He actually does not talk much about race. Two of the improbable moral forces who spoke out against him, Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, have made racist statements on the record, particularly anti-Semitic statements, and been caught in scandals that they never should have survived (Tawana Brawley and the Atlanta murders that Jackson blamed on a nationwide racial conspiracy, to name but two).

Limbaugh was very perceptive in responding to the brouhaha by saying in The Wall Street Journal that it represented a hatred of conservatives and an attempt to keep them from "participating in the full array of opportunities this nation otherwise affords each of us." But there is a more general threat here. It is against the First Amendment. Journalists had better take note. It was a surprising spectacle to see journalists advancing the assault on Limbaugh. More surprisingly was how many of the self-appointed journalistic monitors, for instance The Washington Post's Howard Kurtz, took it all in stride.

Emmett Tyrrell

R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is founder and editor in chief of The American Spectator and co-author of Madame Hillary: The Dark Road to the White House.
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