After the mass shooting in Tucson, Ariz. of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, a federal judge and other bystanders, President Obama gave one of those unite-the-divide speeches that give journalists leg thrills. We need to "sharpen our instincts for empathy," he said.
He lamented political finger-pointing: "It's important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we are talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds." The initial speculation was that conservatives were responsible for the Tucson horror. Even after this proved to be false, the attacks were relentless, with a barrage of media reports on the alleged excesses and mean-spiritedness of the Tea Party and all things right of center.
On Labor Day, Teamsters President James Hoffa Jr. was in Detroit addressing a rally starring the president. Hoffa told Obama there was a "war on workers," and the unions were Obama's "army." He said: "We are ready to march. Let's take these sons of bitches out and give America back to an America where we belong." Obama then showed up and said that voters would be looking for "straight shooters." The rhetoric was just fine by him.
The same media that mercilessly attacked conservatives after the Giffords shooting couldn't ignore this, you say? True, the venue was too high profile: a union leader at an Obama rally on Labor Day. While ABC, CBS and NBC were compelled to notice, there was virtually no outrage. Indeed, The Washington Post and The New York Times skipped right over it.
So much for "all the news that's fit to print."
Were a conservative -- Perry, Palin, Bachmann -- to talk in martial terms about "taking out" the opponent, the media headlines would immediately scream "Conservatives Threaten President." Minutes later, there would be calls on the Justice Department to investigate this physical threat.
But leftists can use these terms at will. A month ago, Politico reported on an anonymous Democratic strategist with White House ties declaring, "Unless things change and Obama can run on accomplishments, he will have to kill Romney." ABC, CBS and NBC skipped that one. The Post and the Times stepped over it, too.
On Aug. 22, at a Congressional Black Caucus event in Miami, Congressman Andre Carson, D-Ind., said, "Some of these folks in Congress right now would love to see us as second-class citizens...Some of them in Congress right now of this Tea Party would love to see you and me...hanging on a tree."
Carson clearly didn't think about talking "in a way that heals, not a way that wounds." But ABC, CBS and NBC all skipped that one, too, as did the Post. The New York Times ran a brief item on how Rep. Allen West was thinking about quitting the Black Caucus over Carson's remarks.
NPR noticed this tape on Aug. 24 and played it on the afternoon show "Talk of the Nation." Political director Ken Rudin said "Listeners should know that we talked about whether to air this tape or not. But if a Republican had said something like this, you know, something outrageous like this, we would of course say it, use it, because it just shows the extremes that people have gone to."
Good for Rudin. But he was the exception. Most media outlets ignored these extreme comments without blinking, or had a discussion that ended with the order "Spike it."
Normally, an expose of alleged conservative rhetorical excess is followed by the pressure to apologize. In Hoffa's case, however, there's been none. Not only that, but when asked, Democratic Party Chairman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz flat-out rejected the notion. "I know you'd like to focus on language, that's not what the American people are focused on," she told Fox News.
This is especially rich, since Wasserman-Schultz is a close friend of Giffords and made the rounds of TV interviews in January to discuss the dangerous talk in (conservative) politics. She told Katie Couric on CBS the first thing her daughter asked her was "Mommy, are you going to get shot?" She claimed her little girl worried that "'Mommy, Florida's going to pass an immigration law like Arizona and then people are going to be mad at you.' You know, they're paying attention. The civil discourse is very important because it's not just -- it's not just adults that -- that this permeates. It's our children."
If the networks had any interest in fairness or balance, they'd be asking the Democratic National Committee chair to denounce the harsh language. So what's worse, the hypocrisy of Obama and Co.? Or the aid and comfort provided by the "news" media when they ignore that hypocrisy?