As soon as I heard Sheriff Dupnik decry the extremist talk that has turned his state into a "mecca of prejudice and bigotry", I knew that the right would make this all about them. Funny that Dupnik never mentioned a party nor any specific individuals, but the right immediately went into defense mode, scrubbing sites and immediately denouncing Dupnik as "politicizing" the event.
Sigh. Allow me for a moment to put on my mommy hat. "Both sides do it" is not an excuse. Wrong is wrong, no matter who else is doing it. I don't let my eight year old get away with that and I don't think we should allow grown adults get away with that as an excuse for not moderating their behavior. Keith Olbermann in his Saturday Special Comment apologized for and promised to avoid using violent rhetoric in the future. He took personal responsibility. Not surprisingly, no one on the right has matched that adult attitude.
Especially not Howie Kurtz and conservative radio host Steve Malzberg. Malzberg is only too eager to point to some campaign stop made by then candidate Obama in which he said he was ready to "bring a gun to a knife fight." While I don't think it's on par with Giffords' 2008 Republican rival inviting supporters to shoot an M16 at an event to remove Giffords because it's an inversion of an established metaphor used often and also a reference to the movie The Untouchables, but if it gets it off the table, let me be the first liberal to go ahead and condemn Obama's terrible choice of words and say that it doesn't help reduce the mentality that it's okay to act violently upon someone with whom you disagree.
Got it? It was bad. Now clean up your house.
Bless Rachel Sklar for trying to inject some sanity into the discussion and trying to get Malzberg to understand that even if Michelle Obama said to shake voters (a admittedly cursory Google search turned up nothing on this, so I'm not sure of the context or accuracy), it's incumbent upon all of the media to ratchet down the violent rhetoric.
Kurtz, though quick to absolve Sarah Palin of any and all responsibility for her contributions to this eliminationist noise, tries to get Malzberg to understand what Sklar is preaching, but he's just not having any of it and justifies his craziness with more irresponsible fear-mongering:
KURTZ: Steve Malzberg, would you agree with this proposition that it would be nice if people on both sides of the political divide and both sides -- partisan sides in the media, those of us who have platforms and sit in front of cameras and sit in front of microphones, as you do, toned it down just a little bit?
MALZBERG: No. No.
KURTZ: You're not in favor of toning it down?
MALZBERG: No, because the agenda hasn't changed. Barack Obama's still going to try to rule everything he wants to rule. He's going to rule by dictate. He's going to circumvent the Congress.
Of course, Kurtz squirms a little at this (on his twitter stream after the show, he admits that he was uncomfortable by some data points) but does nothing to point out this is EXACTLY the kind of stuff that feeds into this mindset that makes it okay to hurt someone because you don't agree with him/her politically.
Sadly, I don't think it's going to get better. We may have Olbermann's promise, but we're not going to get any concessions from the Party of Personal Responsibility (tm).
Transcripts below the fold