OK, so conservatives have to be accused of fostering hatred with our alleged vitriol, the kind of vitriol that fuels the flames of violence, like we witnessed in Tucson except -- well, except there wasn't and isn't a shred of evidence that the killer was influenced by any conservatives since a) he didn't listen to or watch conservative programming and b) isn't a conservative.
There is the hypothetical question: What if the perpetrator of violence were liberal? How would the media react then? How many would put Chris Matthews, Paul Krugman, Keith Olbermann and Co. on trial for creating the "atmosphere" of "hatred" so often ascribed to conservatives only?
In fact, it happened. One of Jared Loughner's shooting victims was a local leftist activist, James Eric Fuller, who last week was invited to ABC's taping of "An American Conversation." There, in front of all the cameras, he interrupted a local tea party activist by uttering what should be considered in this atmosphere to be a blood-curdling threat: "You're dead!" Police considered these words serious enough to have him removed and involuntarily committed to a mental institution.
The very same media outlets that had spent seven days pounding conservatives with no evidence didn't find this threat worth more than a perfunctory mention, an asterisk. The same people who turned the words "You lie!" from Rep. Joe Wilson to Obama into a weeklong scandal for conservatives now heard a man proclaim "You're dead!" to a tea party activist at a national news taping -- and they yawned.
Which is not to say that the press wasn't interested in the pronouncements of this man. In fact, Fuller had been featured in an interview on the radical-left Pacifica Radio network the day before, and they dutifully broadcast his either dishonest or insane rant: "It looks like Palin, Beck, Sharron Angle and the rest got their first target. Their wish for Second Amendment activism has been fulfilled -- senseless hatred leading to murder, lunatic fringe anarchism, subscribed to by John Boehner, mainstream rebels with vengeance for all, even 9-year-old girls."
So let's look at the coverage. The first responsibility to report this was ABC's, since they invited this crank to their special episode of "This Week" with Christiane Amanpour. ABC did a big story previewing their "healing" event on "World News Saturday." At first, they pretended that no one made a death threat, and no one was dragged away by police. Anchor David Muir, who co-hosted the town hall meeting, declared, "Wasn't it something to see this community together? ... They want consensus." Amanpour agreed: "Today we saw them wanting to carry on an honest dialogue ... but a reasonable and rational one."
Just after that delusional dual act of self-congratulation, Muir reported the opposite. In "another note tonight," he reported, "James Fuller, who was shot twice last week, took offense at what another audience member was saying, and mumbled what seemed to be a threat."
What? Fuller threatening "You're dead" is on tape -- their tape. So why is he "mumbling" what "seemed to be a threat"? Why couldn't they specify that he had made a direct, unequivocal death threat against tea party activist Trent Humphries?
And as for taking offense, they were there. They heard what Humphries was saying. At that very moment, he pleaded for civility, urging the audience not to enter into debates about gun legislation or other remedies, not when the funerals for the victims hadn't been concluded. No sane person could take offense to those words.
At least CBS let Humphries explain it the next night: "He booed me while I was talking, you know, very loudly. He turned around, and then he took a picture of me and said that 'You're dead.'"
ABC mentioned Fuller's outburst on Sunday's "Good Morning America" and "World News," but only in passing. CBS aired just a snippet on Sunday night. NBC hasn't mentioned it -- although they reported on Jan. 13 that Fuller went to Jared Loughner's parents to try and forgive them. Fuller was quoted: "Well, I thought I'd come over here and try to forgive them. I know that sounds crazy." The newspapers also mentioned it in passing on inside pages.
Since these outlets are barely touching this story, no one is replaying Keith Olbermann's tweet after Fuller's loony Pacifica interview that "I think he of all of us has the right to say this," the "Tucson survivor who names names." After the death threat, Olbermann lamented Fuller's threat on Monday night, but blasted ABC's invitation to Fuller as "a decision smacking of the tawdriness of the Maury Povich Show."
The entire wave of political coverage after the Tucson shooting has been a tsunami of mud and garbage. If our political system needs to regain some dignity and professionalism, let it begin with Christiane Amanpour and her news colleagues.
L. Brent Bozell III is the president of the Media Research Center. To find out more about Brent Bozell III, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.
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