Jonah Goldberg

The Democratic Party raised millions off Fluke from the ginned-up controversy. Limbaugh was denounced in Congress. Allegedly pro-free speech left-wing celebrities started demanding the FCC permanently censor Limbaugh by revoking his broadcast license. After all, Limbaugh had tried to "silence people that are speaking out for women," in the words of Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.).

Funny how all of the "distraction" and "manufactured controversy" talk starts when Republicans are benefiting from a distraction.

Now, you might complain that Limbaugh is a much bigger deal than Hilary Rosen -- and that's true. Limbaugh is vastly more influential and important than Rosen. But he's also not a professional Republican like Rosen is for Democrats (if you actually listened to Limbaugh's show you'd know that). She's visited the White House some 35 times and is a business partner with Anita Dunn, the former White House communications director.

Regardless, the point is that the controversy over Limbaugh's comments (for which he rightly apologized) was wholly and completely a distraction from the relevant issues. Heck, his Fluke comments were a distraction from the distraction from the relevant issues.

And let me say a word in defense of distractions. Elections are about what voters want them to be about. Rosen's comments, for instance, may have been hyped by the Romney campaign, but the hype wouldn't have mattered if the comments didn't resonate with the public.

My complaint isn't about distractions, it's about the press's tendency to treat controversies that help Republicans as "distractions" and ones that hurt Republicans as Very Serious Issues.

And the pattern continues. This week, the Romney campaign is rightly distancing itself from some idiotic comments by rocker Ted Nugent. On cue, Andrea Mitchell -- who seems to cover Republicans like they're from some foreign land, oddly fitting for NBC's "chief foreign affairs correspondent" -- is happily distracted by the story. When Bill Maher, HBO's criminally unfunny and obtuse jester (and million-dollar Obama super-PAC donor) says something idiotic, it's a meaningless distraction.

It's nothing new, of course. (Jeremiah Wright and Bill Ayers were preemptively deemed "distractions" by the media.) But it is annoying.

Jonah Goldberg

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