Jonah Goldberg

More recently, Biden has insisted that the GOP's refusal to pass the White House's jobs bill would cause a surge in rapes, sexual assaults and other crimes across the country. Perhaps he's right, because the legislation has failed (at the hands of Democrats and Republicans alike), and such offenses at Occupy Wall Street protests have risen (that's why they've built a women-only tent at Zuccotti Park). But you wouldn't necessarily know that from watching the nightly news.

When tea partiers angrily shouted down their congressmen at some town halls around the country, then-Speaker of the House Pelosi and then-Majority Leader Steny Hoyer wrote in an op-ed article in USA Today that such behavior is "simply un-American." The mainstream media, which during the George W. Bush years often imagined and certainly trumpeted alleged GOP assaults on the patriotism of Democrats, yawned in response.

Meanwhile, violence, extreme rhetoric and wanton lawlessness have been prevalent in the Occupy Wall Street movement, but the coverage remains largely positive. And any politician who suggests these protests are "simply un-American" risks getting worse than a yawn from the media. The "Today" show even ran a segment on how the protests offered "civics lessons" for children.

All too often it seems like the supposedly evenhanded media cherry-picks positive examples from the left and negative ones from the right. And even when they do cover ideologically inconvenient news, the passion and hysteria are nearly always reserved for the threat from the right.

Brokaw and his heirs don't understand that such double standards breed precisely the rhetoric they find so toxic. Because the new media Brokaw laments allows conservatives to see how much important news the old media didn't deem fit to print, they learn not to trust or respect those who wag their fingers rightward about civility -- or anything else.


Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the forthcoming book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
 
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