Washington Post reporter/columnist Dana Milbank started a fire on page A3 today by claiming Sarah Palin was coming "unhinged" by linking Barack Obama to Bill Ayers and "her attacks on the media have begun to spill into ugliness," with the pro-Palin crowd yelling racist epithets and Death to Ayers. The headline was "Unleashed, Palin Makes a Pit Bull Look Tame." He proclaimed:
Well, the self-identified pit bull has been unleashed -- if not unhinged.
Barack Obama, she told 8,000 fans at a rally here Monday afternoon, "launched his political career in the living room of a domestic terrorist!"
Milbank made no attempt to suggest this link was false -- except for the "unhinged" word. He did not disprove that Obama attended an event at the house of Ayers and his wife Bernadine Dohrn, both Weather Undeground bombers. But "worse" than that were attacks on the media. Milbank omitted the self-deprecating humor, and went for the negative attack:
Worse, Palin's routine attacks on the media have begun to spill into ugliness. In Clearwater, arriving reporters were greeted with shouts and taunts by the crowd of about 3,000. Palin then went on to blame Katie Couric's questions for her "less-than-successful interview with kinda mainstream media." At that, Palin supporters turned on reporters in the press area, waving thunder sticks and shouting abuse. Others hurled obscenities at a camera crew. One Palin supporter shouted a racial epithet at an African American sound man for a network and told him, "Sit down, boy."
It would be nice to actually see video and audio of this "shouting abuse." I bet most of it was just cheering. The media, especially snarky columnists like Milbank, love to hand out the negativity, but when it's directed at them, America's suddenly grown "ugly."
There is no excuse if this tale of the racial epithet is true. But trying to attach every Palin supporter to Palin is like trying to attach every Milbank commenter on the Post website today to Milbank. Let's take this one shouting abuse in print:
I believe Sarah has plans to wear a KKK hood and gown for Halloween, to appeal to her base. I surprised the man who shouted out didn't shout "Lynch Him". The majority of her base are a bunch of "Brown Shirts" and we all remember what happened on the "Night of the Long Knives", to Ernst Rohm and the SA.
Using this scenario, Milbank's criticism are launching the avalanche of ugliness, dragging the old Nazi smears into the arena. But Palin wasn't all about ugliness. In fact, here's the joke Milbank left out of his shock-jock routine. The St. Petersburg Times reported more of Palin's remarks about the MSM:
"What I should have told them was I was just trying to keep Tina Fey in business," she said of the comic who mimics her on Saturday Night Live.
Then Milbank repeated his objection to Palin "trying" to link Obama to the Weather Underground. This is sort of like "trying" to link Obama to Reverend Wright. There is a link. Reporting it as "trying to link" is complaining there's not a link:
The reception had been better in Clearwater, where Palin, speaking to a sea of "Palin Power" and "Sarahcuda" T-shirts, tried to link Obama to the 1960s Weather Underground. "One of his earliest supporters is a man named Bill Ayers," she said. ("Boooo!" said the crowd.) "And, according to the New York Times, he was a domestic terrorist and part of a group that, quote, 'launched a campaign of bombings that would target the Pentagon and our U.S. Capitol,' " she continued. ("Boooo!" the crowd repeated.)
"Kill him!" proposed one man in the audience.
This tilted report led to protests from liberal bloggers about Palin the "demagogue" stirring up Republican haters. See Jeffrey Goldberg at the Atlantic, for example:
Dana Milbank reports from a Palin rally where they didn't seem to like black people so much. You betcha I don't know a lot of hockey moms, but the ones I do know aren't demagogues. Here's an idea: How about a press conference at which Sarah Palin can answer for her attempts to whip her followers into an anti-free speech frenzy?
There they go again. Criticizing the media is "anti-free speech." When, oh when, will media liberals stop arrogantly concluding that they are the dictionary definition of free speech, and anyone who mocks them is opposed to freedom?