The liberal press likes to scold what it sees as lapses in civil rhetoric, usually from conservatives who fail to properly respect the icons of the Left. But as documented by the MRC's Best Notable Quotables of 2010, the media elite itself lurched into some pretty uncivil rhetoric this year — especially when the targets were Rush Limbaugh, the Tea Party and other conservatives.
PBS's Tavis Smiley won MRC's "Poison Tea Pot Award for Smearing the Anti-Obama Rabble" (and was runner-up for "Quote of the Year") for arguing with author Ayaan Hirsi Ali that everyday Christians and the Tea Party were just as dangerous as radical Muslims.
Ali, talking about radical Muslims, mildly observed that “somehow, the idea got into their minds that to kill other people is a great thing to do and that they would be rewarded in the hereafter.”
Smiley interjected: “But Christians do that every single day in this country.”
A dubious Ali tried to help him back off such a preposterous statement: “Do they blow people up every day?”
But Smiley insisted: “Yes. Oh, Christians, every day, people walk into post offices, they walk into schools, that’s what Columbine is — I could do this all day long....There are folk in the Tea Party, for example, every day who are being recently arrested for making threats against elected officials, for calling people ‘nigger’ as they walk into Capitol Hill, for spitting on people. That’s within the political — that’s within the body politic of this country.”
Runner-up in this category was New York Times columnist Frank Rich, who in March dubbed members of the Tea Party as "goons" and blasted a non-violent anti-ObamaCare protest on Capitol Hill as a "small-scale mimicry of Kristallnacht,” referring to coordinated Nazi attacks against Jews in Germany and Austria in November 1938.
Committing similar rhetorical overkill was Washington Post columnist Colbert King, who blasted Tea Partiers as "eerily familiar" to the "same jeering faces" who protested the integration of Little Rock’s Central High School in 1957. King summoned threats from 53 years ago to smear today's peaceful demonstrators: "‘They moved closer and closer,’ recalled Elizabeth Eckford, one of the Little Rock Nine. ‘Somebody started yelling, “Lynch her! Lynch her!”’”
As he has been for years, Rush Limbaugh was a special target of the liberal media's wrath. Winning the MRC's "Crush Rush Award for Loathing Limbaugh" was MSNBC's Keith Olbermann, who can only dream of being as effective on behalf of left-wing causes as Limbaugh is on behalf of conservatives. Olbermann — not the most creative propagandist — trotted out the same old smear Bryant Gumbel attempted in 1995, claiming Limbaugh's "hate radio" was to blame for the Oklahoma City bombing.
Olbermann growled: "Frankly, Rush, you have that blood on your hands now and you have had it for 15 years.”
The runner-up in this category came courtesy of the Daily Caller's expose of the infamous JournoList, which included a message from a staffer with NPR's Santa Monica affiliate as saying that if she saw Rush Limbaugh dying, her reaction would be to "laugh loudly like a maniac and watch his eyes bug out.” KCRW's Sarah Spitz later conceded her comment was “poorly considered.”
MRC's "Damn Those Conservatives" Award went to ABC daytime host Joy Behar, who unleashed against Nevada Republican Sharron Angle after her campaign put out an ad criticizing Harry Reid's weak record on illegal immigration. "I’d like to see her do this ad in the South Bronx. Come here, bitch! Come to New York and do it!" Behar theatrically exlaimed on national television. Behar rejected her co-hosts' attempts to calm her down. "I’m telling you right now. She’s going to Hell....She’s going to Hell, this bitch!”
Right on Behar's heels was left-wing radio host Bill Press, who erupted after the voters punished Democrats on Election Day. "Just once," Press whined, "I would like to hear somebody say, ‘The voters have spoken, the bastards.’ Or, ‘The voters have spoken. What a bunch of idiots.’ ‘The voters have spoken. God, they’re dumb. Dumb as hell.’ I just wish I’d hear somebody say that, because I think that happens to be the case this particular midterm elections.” (Audio here)
Also-rans in this category included: Time's Joe Klein declaring Newt Gingrich a "demented anger-infused doofus;" Klein suggesting that, by criticizing President Obama, Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin "rub right next — right up close to being seditious;” and MSNBC fill-in Cenk Uygur railing against the GOP as "the party of hate."
"What black person, gay guy or girl, immigrant or Muslim American in their right mind would vote for the Republican Party?" Uygur wondered. "They might as well hang a sign around their neck saying, ‘I hate myself.’”
Tomorrow: The Media's Heroes of 2010.