This clip is a doozy, for several reasons. For background, Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams, who was defeated in her 2018 gubernatorial campaign, is her party's pick to respond to next week's State of the Union address. In this interview -- released long after it was crystal clear that the original framing was catastrophically wrong and unfair -- she dismisses the "narrative" about wider context as nearly irrelevant. What's important, she explains, is what people saw in the context-free clip. And what they saw was "inappropriate" language and "disrespect." And yes, she's absolutely talking about the Covington Catholic students, not the Black Hebrew Israelites screaming slurs and obscenities at teenagers. And not the Native American serial provocateur who's been caught in multiple lies, who decided it was a good idea to beat a drum inches away from a kid's face, and whose sidekick was busy telling the white students to "go back to Europe."
It doesn't matter what led to the viral moment, Abrams says. What matters is that those kids behaved badly (which, overwhelmingly, they did not) -- and that it's Donald Trump's fault because they were following his lead on "xenophobia, racism, bigotry, and hatred." If you're looking for a emotionalist, tendentious, left-wing hot take on Covington, even after the facts are in, it doesn't get more scorching than this:
This Stacy Abrams interview on Covington Catholic (from days after we had additional context and everyone made their apologies) is very odd.— Matt Whitlock ???? (@mattdizwhitlock) February 1, 2019
Continues to blame the kids, even for "inappropriate language" which we knew came from another group, and ties it all to Trump. pic.twitter.com/Map2o2o8Hb
Following her November defeat, Abrams is reportedly seeking to lean even harder into identity politics, which is a safe political bet, given the creepy zeitgeist of her party. It's also telling that Democratic leaders are choosing to showcase a woman who refused to concede defeat in her race, instead suggesting that the outcome was tainted or illegitimate because of "suppression." On this claim, as it apparently her wont, she's not allowing certain facts to stand in the way of her preferred story:
They complain that Kemp ran for governor while he was still secretary of state. Yes, but Georgia’s constitution allows for that, and it’s been done before. In the 2000s, Democrat Cathy Cox ran for her party’s gubernatorial nomination while serving as secretary of state. Kemp ran for re-election twice while simultaneously occupying the office, with no one seriously alleging malfeasance. In any case, localities count the votes, not the secretary of state’s office. They allege that Kemp shut down polling places. It’s true, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, that 214 precincts have closed in Georgia since 2012. It’s just not the handiwork of Brian Kemp. Counties make the decisions about whether or not to shutter polling places. It’s usually cash-strapped rural areas that consolidate precincts to eliminate underutilized polling places and locations that don’t comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
When a controversy exploded over a proposal to close seven of nine precincts in tiny, majority-black Randolph County, Kemp came out publicly and opposed the plan. (As it happens, Randolph voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016, but Donald Trump won five of the seven precincts slated for closure.) They charge that Kemp kept people in voting limbo over minor registration errors. Under Georgia’s so-called exact-match law, if information on a voter registration doesn’t match a driver’s license, state ID card or Social Security records, the voter has a little over two years to clear up the discrepancy. Until then, the voter is put into the “pending file” (53,000 people were on it). This isn’t a prohibition from voting. If the voter shows up at a polling place with an ID verifying his information (mandatory in Georgia, regardless), there isn’t an issue. Finally, they object to Kemp’s enforcement of Georgia’s “use it or lose it” rule. A similar law in Ohio was upheld by the Supreme Court earlier this year.
She lost fair and square, refused to concede, and is being rewarded with a high-profile platform. The clip above is a useful example of how knee-jerk partisans will learn the lessons they want to learn, no matter what the evidence may demonstrate. Part of the problem with the Covington affair, which feels like a distant memory already, was the eagerness of many in the press to extrapolate "larger truths" from a cultural flashpoint that they instantly decided was illustrative of something they fervently believed. As more information trickled in, the media storyline shifted from "aren't these young Trumpers awful?" to, "look at these conservatives unfairly 'pouncing' on our collective rush to judgment!" Ross Douthat noted on Twitter yesterday that journalists were happy to storm headfirst into the Covington cultural blaze, yet their treatment of Democrats' radical abortion bills has been exceptionally cautious and tepid by comparison:
Yet somehow the same kind of mainstream (not left-wing) journalists and editors who were commissioning thinkpieces about white supremacy within an hour of the Covington video managed to control themselves, to resist tweeting the story, to hang back, to ask for context ...— Ross Douthat (@DouthatNYT) January 31, 2019
There's a case for a mainstream media that handles viral outrages with caution and patience, and that frames debates in terms of "partisans say X" rather than just running with "X." But not for a media that only practices caution for outrages that stir up social conservatives.— Ross Douthat (@DouthatNYT) January 31, 2019
In fact, many of the mainstream stories emerging from the late-term abortion controversy are almost-comical manifestations of the "conservatives pounce" template -- to the point of reading like satirical corporate PR for the abortion lobby:
In case you're wondering, this ludicrous, "to the rescue" puff piece doesn't even bother quoting the featured lawmaker's verbatim words in defense of her awful legislation, which is what touched off the furor in the first place. As I've written before, there are very few issues on which the mainstream media is more biased, more out of step, and more incapable (or unwilling) to attempt to hide their agenda, than abortion. Whether it's Covington or nine-month abortion, most "reporters" have chosen a side in the culture wars, which is why the Abramses of the world aren't worried about peddling her Covington rubbish, and why Democratic Senators feel comfortable issuing terse 'no-comments' about their party's demented abortion zealotry. They'll get the press cover they need to make it go away, despite the 'pouncing' and 'seizing' from critics.