Wednesday, October 20, 2010

More on Journalists in Handcuffs

Following up on the Joe Miller story from a couple of days ago, and related to the comment Twin left under it, Eric Boehlert has some thoughts, in "Memo to the media: The Tea Party is coming for you." Here's an excerpt from Eric's post:

Sorry folks, but we left the working-the-refs realm a long, long time ago. The Tea Party movement, and the press-hating frenzy that’s helping to fuel the uprising, doesn’t want better political coverage. It wants no political press coverage. It wants the Fourth Estate destroyed. And it wants its movement leaders not to be held accountable.

By anyone.

In order to achieve that open playing field, journalists and the idea of journalism has to be completely vilified so right-wing supporters no longer even see the pursuit as a legitimate one. So Tea Party media leaders cheer when reporters are handcuffed and subject to phony citizen “arrests,” and unleash lots of other vile attacks, portraying them as unpatriotic and treasonous.

The instinct for many of you, I suspect, will be to read Eric's and Twin's words as overreaction. I used to feel this way, too. Now I'm not so sure. I'm now leaning more toward the idea that they're being prescient about a scenario that all too many right-wingers in this country think they want to see unfold.

I'd also remind everyone of another aspect of this problem, which worries me more than the howling from the teabaggers, the bedwetters, the proudly ignorant Beck/Palin/Bachmann/Limbaugh fans: a lot of these handcuffs have been placed on the media by themselves. Partly, to be sure, in response to the wingnuts' nonstop ref-working, not to mention their hate mail, demonization, outright threats, and so on. But a large part of the problem among the most prominent members and organizations in the mainstream media is self-imposed. Even after the jaw-dropping amounts of anti-Obama and anti-Democratic vitriol, racism, paranoia, and outright lies over the past two or three years, it remains a rare occasion indeed where you see any sort of news story about the loony right where there isn't a big chunk of "balance" and "both sides do it" shoehorned in.

I wonder sometimes how much this is due to these senior people not wanting to mess up their cushy lifestyles and "access," and how much is simple ignorance of the extent of the foaming at the mouth that is going on out there.

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