When 'Racist' Label Fails, Left Calls Tea Parties 'Crazy'

September 22nd, 2010 12:00 AM

As the Tea Party movement continues to grow in popularity and influence, the attacks from the left and the media are intensifying. With the “racist” label largely failing to stick due to an utter lack of evidence for it, it seems anyone loosely associated with the Tea Party movement is now to be disregarded as “crazy.”

Delaware Republican Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell is the latest to come under fire not based on her politics, but on her personal life and some statements she has made about her religious history.

On Sept. 16, The Huffington Post's front page screamed “Crazy Money” over a photo of O'Donnell, mouth agape and eyes rolled. The headline and accompanying photo were indicative of the emerging storyline in coverage of her campaign.

CNN contributor John Avlon called O'Donnell the “new queen of the wingnuts” and a “crackpot of the first order.” New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd said O'Donnell lived “in a fantasy world” because she connected with characters in the immensely popular “Lord of the Rings” books.

Joy Behar, a co-host of ABC's “The View,” on Sept. 20 called her “crazy” and asked “how many crazy people do we have to have in office?” MSNBC's Mike Barnicle noted on “Morning Joe” Sept. 16 that “different this year for a candidate is good, people are looking for different this year. Crazy is not good.”

The attacks should not come as a surprise, however. The left and the media have been applying the “crazy” label to opponents with particular fervor in recent months. From ABC and NBC to CNN and MSNBC, and from The New York Times to The Huffington Post, media outlets have taken to labeling Tea Party affiliates as “crazy,” “nuts,” “unusual,” “mental” and “screwballs.”

“So many crazy Tea Party candidates to take advantage of, so little time,” Gail Collins wrote in her New York Times column Sept. 16. CBS “Evening News” reporter Nancy Cordes noted on Sept. 20 that O'Donnell's “fellow Tea Party candidates are living proof that unusual assertions are not necessarily campaign killers.” A Sept. 21 Huffington Post entry featured the headline, “Crazy on the March: The Tea Party Takes Over the Republican Party.”

On the NBC “Chris Matthews Show” Sept. 5, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Cynthia Tucker declared the entire summer crazy, while circling back around to the old racism charge. “Obama's election has suddenly made many white Americans aware of the loss of a white majority. That's what this crazy summer has been all about: anti-mosque construction, anti-immigrant ravings, it – that fear is very difficult for Obama to overcome.”

Joe Scarborough, the former Republican congressman and current host of “Morning Joe” on MSNBC, declared in July that Nevada Republican Senate candidate Sharron Angle “sounds like a mental patient” and was a “jackass.”

On July 28, MSNBC “Hardball” host Chris Matthews criticized “screw balls” and “nuts,” naming Angle, U.S. Rep. Michelle Bachmann, R-Minn., and U.S. Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind. Matthews compared them to “birthers,” conspiracy theorists who don't believe President Obama was born in the United States and is therefore ineligible to be president.

In May, MSNBC took a particular interest in slamming Kentucky's Republican Senate nominee Rand Paul. In one day, the cable network ran eight segments totaling 37 minutes designed to make Paul “an embarrassment for the Tea Party folks and the Republican Party.”

But will the “Call Them Crazy” campaign work? As NewsBuster Brad Wilmouth reported Sept. 19, Congressional Quarterly's Craig Crawford was skeptical.

“That's the Democratic Party message, that the Tea Party is bad for them [Republicans],” Crawford told CNN “Reliable Sources” host Howard Kurtz. “The other is that they're all crazy. And that's the trouble with focusing on all these statements and everything. We're playing in to that Democratic message that these candidates are insane.”

It's worth remembering that liberal columnists tried the same tactic against Sen. Scott Brown early in 2010, and he won as Republican in true-blue Massachusetts. (Of course, just how “crazy” a conservative Brown turned out to be is up for debate.

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