Day Late and a Dollar Short: ProJo & Harrop Decide Now is the time to Blame Tea Party and Conservatives for Tucson
After the meme has all but been destroyed, the ProJo editors and columnist Froma Harrop (one in the same?) have thrown in their lot with the “blame the right wing/tea party for Tucson” crowd. The editors:
While there has been some menacing left-wing rhetoric (the left was particularly extreme in its attacks on George W. Bush), and there are such hyperbolic media types as Keith Olbermann, most of the rhetorical rage has come from the right.
Indeed, a turn of the radio dial shows where the majority of the highly profitable political-hate industry is based these days. And the Internet, which encourages people to spout off, often in the comfort of cowardly anonymity, has also raised the temperature. Conspiracy theories, of which, said a friend, Mr. Loughner was a devotee, thrive in such an environment. He had expressed to friends a strong if incoherent anti-government animus.
Yes, the internet and the anonymous commenters–not to be confused by anonymous journalists publishing unsigned editorials, of course. I won’t parse through examples of left wing “vitriol” nor delve into the conspiracies Loughner indulged (though here is an interesting interview with a friend of Loughner’s from Mother Jones). They can be found elsewhere and, frankly, Loughner’s “ideas” were all over the ideological map. Yet, that doesn’t trouble the ProJo Eds., who just wish, dontcha know, for the days of yesteryear and “good” conservatives:
Some of the rhetoric in the media has been sincere, some of it mercenary, and some a mix; Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck and their colleagues, for their part, have found that high-on-hysteria, low-on-facts denunciations have been very lucrative show business, much more saleable than the careful analyses by such old-fashioned — and highly informed — conservatives as George Will; too boring!
Would that be the same George Will who just wrote:
It would be merciful if, when tragedies such as Tucson’s occur, there were a moratorium on sociology. But respites from half-baked explanations, often serving political opportunism, are impossible because of a timeless human craving and a characteristic of many modern minds….
A characteristic of many contemporary minds is susceptibility to the superstition that all behavior can be traced to some diagnosable frame of mind that is a product of promptings from the social environment. From which flows a political doctrine: Given clever social engineering, society and people can be perfected. This supposedly is the path to progress. It actually is the crux of progressivism. And it is why there is a reflex to blame conservatives first.
An example of what Will explains lay in the way the Progressive ProJo Eds open their editorial:
The shooter in the Arizona case, Jared Lee Loughner, is mentally ill. There were signs of that before he shot and killed six people, including a federal judge, and critically injured Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.
Perhaps a better health-care system would have gotten him off the streets before he could erupt, or maybe not.
So, while they have jumped on the wheel-less bandwagon regarding the “vitriol”, I suppose credit is due for twisting it to their cause celebre–health care reform–even if it is ridiculous “political opportunism.”
See, I’d have less problem–though still disagree–with the ProJo if it had simply gone off on the Tea Party, Beck, Palin, conservatives, whatever (as they have in the past) if they hadn’t tried to tie it all to Tucson. Instead, we have a case of RI’s own old gray lady not letting a good crisis go to waste, so to speak.
Maybe John Nolte has figured out what is really going on here:
Imagine what it was like as recently as 15 years ago to enter the field of “journalism” under the promise that if you were successful you’d have unlimited and, better yet, unaccountable powers to destroy whomever you wanted and to tell whatever lies necessary to further a personal agenda. Now imagine how frustrating it must be to have that promise almost completely evaporate with the rise of Citizen Media, New Media, and Fox News.
What we witnessed these past three days wasn’t just political partisanship, what we witnessed was the horror show of entitled and angry elitists desperate for that warm, nostalgic feeling of reaffirmation that comes with a successful character assassination and a death blow to their political enemies. Yes, the media made complete fools of themselves and further damaged what was left of their reputations, but the brass ring of a momentary return to the good old days was impossible not to reach for.
Apparently, some fools come late to the party.