Following in the wake of CNN last week, MSNBC.com ran an Associated Press dispatch from Rachel D’Oro somehow finding headline news in the months-old Southern Poverty Law Center’s guesstimate that 50 new right-wing militias have been formed since Barack Obama became president.
Could this recycled storyline be an attempt to shift the focus from the Fort Hood attack? The SPLC is identified not as a left-wing group founded by a George McGovern fundraiser, but simply as a "nonpartisan civil-rights organization." The AP article plays up Janet Napolitano’s report on the coming right-wing terrorist threat, and then D’Oro plays up another (unlabeled) leftist expert:
In the first five months of Obama's presidency, racist, right-wing extremists killed at least nine people, according to Chip Berlet, senior analyst with Political Research Associates, a Somerville, Mass., think tank.
Such attacks are a vent for racial anxiety and outrage at the perceived liberal government by people who feel powerless to reach the political elites, according to Berlet. Instead, they target those within reach.
"It's a perfect storm for violence," Berlet said. "You ignore it at our peril."
Berlet's "think tank" sits firmly on the far left, with its website touting Berlet's recent interview on Pacifica Radio disdaining right-wing "disruptions" of health-care town hall meetings this summer.
AP is so in the tank for the left that D'Oro even calls today’s Democrat-dominated Washington a "perceived liberal government."
Media outlets don't seem to realize how they look like putty in the hands of liberal publicists pushing the storyline "Militia movement resurfaces." But might it be argued that some of these "resurfacing" groups are too tiny to be newsworthy?
D'Oro's primary subject, Norm Olson, can't seem to have more than one other person walking alongside him. Does the SPLC count two guys in combat fatigues as a "resurfacing" group? AP somehow finds them "miniscule," but headline news:
Olson's militia is minuscule at the moment, but there has been a resurgence of the militia movement nationwide, in part coinciding with the advent of the Obama administration. At least 50 new right-wing militia groups have been identified by the Montgomery, Ala.-based Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit civil rights organization. All have formed within the last two years, many spreading their speeches and combat exercises on YouTube.
Highlighting the "minuscule" is one clue that the "news" being offered is more plastic public relations than real reporting on large, breaking political trends.
(Hat tip: Robert E.)