February 11, 2010

Eric Boehlert makes an incredible point.

If you don't think there's a media double standard that favors Republicans over Democrats, then let's play a game of what-if.

What if, in 2006, at Yearly Kos, the first annual convention of liberal bloggers and their readers, organizers shelled out $100,000 for former Vice President Al Gore to address attendees? And what if the same organizers booked as an opening-night speaker a fringe, radical-left conspiracy theorist who'd spent the previous year pushing the thoroughly debunked claim that some Bush White administration insiders played a role in, and even planned, the 9-11 attacks. What if the speaker (also proudly anti-Semitic) received a standing ovation from the liberal Yearly Kos crowd?

Given that backdrop, and given the fact that the 9-11 Truther nut had for weeks bragged about his chance to share the stage with Gore, do you think the press would have demanded that Gore justify his association with a hateful conference that embraced a 9-11 Truther? Do you think pundits would have universally mocked and ridiculed Gore's judgment while condemning the Yearly Kos convention as being a hothouse of left-wing hate? Do you think Gore's appearance would have become a thing?

I sure do.

Gore and liberal bloggers would have been crucified by the press and the D.C. chattering class if the scenario I described ever unfolded in real life. (FYI, it goes without saying that organizers for Yearly Kos, now known as Netroots Nation, would never dream of mainstreaming an anti-Semitic 9-11 Truther via a prime-time speaking gig.)

But this past weekend in Nashville, at the first National Tea Party Convention, the Beltway press did just the opposite with regard to Sarah Palin's keynote address, which did follow a prime-time speech by "birther" nut Joseph Farah, who over the years has carved out a uniquely hateful and demented corner of the right-wing blogosphere. Because, yes, at the Tea Party convention, Farah, a proud Muslim-hater and gay-hater, did receive a standing ovation from the conservative crowd after he unfurled his thoroughly debunked birther garbage. (i.e. Obama "doesn't have a birth certificate.") And Farah did brag in the weeks leading up to the event about his chance to share the stage with Palin, to associate with Palin. ("Sold out! Palin-Farah ticket rocks tea-party convention," read the headline at Farah's discredited right-wing site, WorldNetDaily.com.)

Worst of all, though, the press played dumb about the whole thing.

Fact: Virtually nobody in the corporate media said boo about Palin helping to legitimize Farah by sharing the same stage with him. She was given a total free ride.

And I mean nobody. According to Nexis, there were more than 150 newspaper articles and columns published in the U.S. last week that mentioned both Palin and the Tea Party. (Combined, The New York Times and The Washington Post published 18 of them.) Yet out of all those articles and columns, exactly two also mentioned Joseph Farah by name. (Congrats to the Philadelphia Daily News and New Hampshire's Concord Monitor.)

When MoveOn held a video contest called Bush in 30 seconds and a Bush-Hitler video showed up and slipped through, the RNC and the media went ballistic.

Six months ago, MoveOn.org held a contest to find the best amateur ad against President Bush. The group invited people to make ads and submit them to its Web site. Some idiot spliced images of Bush together with images of Adolf Hitler, evidently trying to make Bush look like a warmonger. His submissions, which arrived with 1,500 others—too many to be screened quickly—were posted on the contest Web site. As soon as MoveOn.org leaders realized what was in the ad, they removed and denounced it.

We've seen hundreds of signs at Tea Party events that are racist and violent, but there never was an outcry from the media over them like there was over Move On, who didn't even produce it. FOX News and others in the media ripped every Democratic politician who went to Yearly Kos back in 2006. And when many of the Democratic presidential nominees went to the same event in 2007 instead of the DLC convention, the criticism was abundant. Why didn't Kristol rip his Quayle project (Sarah Palin) over making over 100K and speaking at the Tea Party convention? Well, that would never happen because conservatives can do no wrong. Even if she did appear with the likes of a birther like Joseph Farah because he serves a purpose for the GOP.

Digby writes:

I don't think there's any doubt. In fact, the first Yearly Kos got a lot of media attention and it featured some big names like Howard Dean and Harry Reid. But the organizers didn't pay for any of them and there were no extremist cranks invited, so there was nothing to compel the huge hue and cry that would have been raised if they had done so. It was, all in all, a pretty staid affair, with the only controversy surrounding the fact that Mark Warner paid 50k for a party --- which was roundly criticized by the participants as gilding the lily.

Considering what would have been a feeding frenzy if the netroots had done something similar, Boehlert goes on to wonder why the mainstream press didn't bother to report the fact that Sarah Palin, whose speech was broadcast live on television, followed a prime time speech by "birther" fruitcake Joseph Farah.

By the way, here's some of the highlights that Farah came away with at the tea party convention. It's very scary stuff. If the media was actually covering the convention then why did they ignore this garbage?

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