The New York Times suddenly isn't so fond of community organizing, now that the right has gotten into the game, attacking Obama's health-care proposals in clamorous town halls held by Democratic congressmen over the August recess.
In fact, the Times agrees with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that such meetings have become "hostile" and "extreme." "Beyond Beltway, Health Debate Turns Hostile" is the headline over a very slanted front-page story Saturday by Ian Urbina.
On Friday’s Your World program, Fox News Channel’s interviewed Kenneth Gladney, the victim of an assault outside a health care town hall meeting in St. Louis on August 6, along with his lawyer David Brown. A video of the immediate aftermath of the attack (posted earlier on NewsBusters by Seton Motley) showed some of the suspects wearing t-shirts bearing the logo of the SEIU union, which is a member organization of Health Care for America Now!, a left-wing coalition pushing for the passage of ObamaCare .
Mr. Gladney stated that he arrived outside the building where the town hall meeting was taking place, and started distributing and/or selling flags which bear the famous slogan “Don’t Tread on Me.” He continued that “this guy...walked up to me and said...who in the blank is selling this blank here. And I said, sir, this is my merchandise, and....he was like, what kind of ‘N’ are you to be giving out this kind of stuff here? And he snatched the- the button board. And when he snatched the button board, I snatched it back from him, and that’s when he proceeded to hit me in my face.” He added that others joined in the beat-down.
New York Times columnist Paul Krugman is not pleased with some of his fellow racist mobs -- er, U.S. citizens -- as he demonstrated in his column on Friday, "The Town Hall Mob," on loud protests that have met some Democratic congressmen who support Obama's costly health care ideas.
There's a famous Norman Rockwell painting titled "Freedom of Speech," depicting an idealized American town meeting. The painting, part of a series illustrating F.D.R.'s "Four Freedoms," shows an ordinary citizen expressing an unpopular opinion. His neighbors obviously don't like what he's saying, but they're letting him speak his mind.
That's a far cry from what has been happening at recent town halls, where angry protesters -- some of them, with no apparent sense of irony, shouting "This is America!" -- have been drowning out, and in some cases threatening, members of Congress trying to talk about health reform.
At the top of the 4:00PM ET hour on MSNBC Friday, fill-in co-anchor Monica Novotny issued a dire warning about protests at health care town hall meetings: "The town hall confrontations are turning violent....Where is all of this heading? New fears for the safety of America’s first African-American president." [Audio/video (0:33): Mp3 | WMV]
In a later segment, co-anchor David Shuster interviewed Virginia Democratic Congressman Jim Moran and asked: "We know that threats to President Obama are up by like something 400% compared to the Bush administration. Is this putting our president in some sort of danger because of some wacko that will see this stuff and say, ‘oh, yes, it’s fascism and the way we dealt with Adolf Hitler was to try to kill him, so therefore, let’s do this with our president.’"
Congressman Moran responded to that outrageous scenario by remarking: "Well, you know, it only took – takes one person. It took one person to shoot Ronald Reagan, Jack Kennedy, and so on. But I think the Secret Service can be trusted to protect the President. But it does discredit those people who are using such extreme measures to achieve an objective which is really corporate profit."
ProJo.com’s Wednesday report on the attack ran with the headline, “Same-sex marriage protesters assaulted with food,” and didn’t mention the pepper spray until the second-to-last paragraph. The following morning, reporter Kate Branson used a more nuanced headline (“Update: 4 accused of hurling food at activists in Warwick”), but at least mentioned the pepper spray in the second paragraph.
The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family, and Property, also known as the American TFP, is a conservative Catholic group based in the central Pennsylvania town of Spring Grove, and supported by hundreds of thousands of donors all over the U.S. They are conducting a “traditional marriage crusade” in the northeastern states of New York, Rhode Island, and Maine. “Caravans” of their young volunteers are traveling across those three states, and stop at busy intersections, holding signs expressing their support of traditional marriage, which they believe to be a sacrament.
On Friday, MSNBC anchor Tamron Hall exclaimed: "Harsh political discourse against [President Obama] really amped up and people started to push the boundaries of what might be considered decency. From talk radio to those tea parties that we saw with some pretty offensive signs folks were holding, even in the presence of children. The anger has certainly intensified."
As evidence of the supposed lack of "decency" co-anchor David Shuster declared: "And so listen to Glenn Beck make his case against health care reform just yesterday on his radio show, watch." The audio clip that followed featured Beck yelling at a hostile caller during his Wednesday show.
Based on that one example, Shuster wondered: "So are the political attacks, is the language, is the discourse, going too far? And does it have real consequences?" He then teased another segment on the topic in the next hour, but it was preempted by live coverage of President Obama speaking on health care reform.
Marking the anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall riot in New York City on Sunday, CBS’s Anthony Mason declared: "A night of violence that led to a new day for human rights... Stonewall triggered the modern gay rights movement."
Filling in for Sunday Morning host Charles Osgood, Mason explained: "...it was around 2:00 that morning that young gay patrons started fighting back against police raiding a New York City bar called the Stonewall Inn. Police accused the bar of selling liquor without a license but gays charged the raid was harassment." He went on to tout the progress made since the riot: "By the 25th anniversary of Stonewall in 1994, things had changed so much that New York City was hosting the gay games...In the years since then, six states have legalized same-sex marriage. Legislation is pending that would make New York the seventh."
Mason concluded the brief story by describing the ongoing struggle: "Not that gay rights groups believe their job is done. Among other goals, they're still fighting to overturn the military's ban on openly gay service members. Today, as in years past, gay pride parades will be held in New York and many other cities across the land. Marking the distance the campaign has already traveled from that turbulent night outside the Stonewall Inn."
On Tuesday’s Newsroom program, CNN correspondent Carol Costello harkened back to the 1970 incident at Kent State University, where National Guardsmen shot rock-throwing protesters and bystanders, and made it a possible equivalent to the recent murder of Iranian student Neda. Costello pondered the effect of the Neda murder video on the Iranian protests, and flashed a famous photo from the 1970 shootings [audio clips from the report are available here].
Anchor Kyra Phillips introduced the overall theme of Costello’s report: “By now, you’ve probably heard about Neda, the young Iranian woman that was gunned down in Tehran. Well, in death, she’s become quite a symbol of countless Iranians demanding new elections. The question now: will the memory of Neda help make that happen?” After giving some details into the college student’s death, the correspondent described the international reaction to it: “It seems the whole world now knows Neda and aches for her- and why not? It watched her die.”
Costello subsequently played a clip of Iranian author Azar Nafisi’s reaction to the Neda death video. She then proposed her question about the impact of the video: “It’s difficult to say right now, though, if this image of Neda will change everything. We know that pictures sometimes do. Many believe this shot taken at Kent State of a student gunned down after a Vietnam War protest helped end the war, yet this video of a lone student standing up to Chinese tanks did not end communism in China.”
Anchor Rick Sanchez used another crazed gunman’s rampage to blast conservative media during CNN’s Newsroom program on Thursday, and brought on Media Matters’ Eric Boehlert as his aide to bash talk radio and Fox News. He hinted that the white supremacist who killed a guard at the U.S. Holocaust Museum, might have been “motivated to move by right-wing pronouncements...on some TV and radio outlets.”
Sanchez began his panel discussion with Boehlert and Accuracy in Media’s Roger Aronoff at the end of the 3 pm Eastern hour of the CNN program with his indicting line of questioning against conservative radio and TV: “Was there a tone in this country that was actually started with the election of our first black president that is bringing the crazies out of the woodwork, and are they being motivated to move by right-wing pronouncements, like he’s dangerous- he’s a socialist- he’s a Muslim, and he isn’t even a U.S. citizen? This is what we hear on some TV and radio outlets.”
After introducing his two guests, the CNN anchor let the left-wing partisan Boehlert “start with the premise” which, of course, echoed the preceding introduction: “I don’t think there’s any doubt since Barack Obama’s been elected, there’s been a complete unhinged reaction from the conservative movement in America, and sort of this vigilante and- and militia-style rhetoric has become a cornerstone of the movement, and certainly of conservative media.”
CNN correspondent Carol Costello underscored the left-wing campaign of blame targeting pro-lifers in the wake of the murder of abortionist George Tiller during a segment on Tuesday’s “American Morning.” She stated on the one hand that “criminologists we talked [to] would say it’s unlikely words alone could drive someone to kill, and until we know more about the accused killer, it’s best not to speculate,” but immediately added that “many anti-abortion groups are clearly on the defensive.” Costello also highlighted a sound bite by University of California, Berkeley professor and former Washington Post reporter Cynthia Gorney, who predicted that “they’re going to get a huge backlash against Right-to-Life. You’re going to get a lot of people now saying, see, those people are all crazy. They all advocate violence.”
Anchor John Roberts introduced Costello’s report: “We’ve seen it all too often- the emotionally-charged debate over abortion leading to violence. Police say the man suspected of gunning down Dr. George Tiller acted alone. But did anti-abortion rhetoric also play a role?” Come again? The murder of abortionists happens quite rarely. The CNN correspondent then went further in this line: “You know, there’s no doubt- Dr. George Tiller had become the public face of late-term abortions, procedures done in the second trimester, the kind of procedure that evoked extreme emotion in an already emotional debate. Some say a long vicious war of words hastened Tiller’s death. Others say it was the act of one unbalanced man.”
CNN anchor Kiran Chetry let an “abortion provider” from Alabama, whose center was bombed by captured fugitive Eric Rudolph, denigrate all pro-life activists who have ever protested in front of such centers as potential murderers during a segment on Monday’s “American Morning.” When the “provider,” Diane Derzis, attacked “the people...who stand in front of these clinics every day....and the only way they see to take care of this is to kill us,” Chetry merely replied, “You don’t believe those words? You don’t differentiate between people who are opposed to abortion and pro-life for their religious reasons, versus those who are promoting violence?” (audio clips from the segment available here)
Chetry’s second question to Derzis during the interview was also rather sympathetic: “What is it like going to work knowing you have a target on your head?” This question, highlighted by Laura Ingraham on Monday, led the talk show host to call for the firing of the CNN anchor.
The anchor began her interview of the abortion clinic owner by asking for her reaction to the murder of late-term abortionist George Tiller, who was gunned down in his church in Wichita, Kansas on Sunday. Once she offered her initial reply, Chetry followed-up by explaining Derzis’s connection to past violence against such clinics and asking her “target” question: “Your clinic was the one that was bombed, actually, as well, right, in Birmingham, Alabama, by Eric Rudolph, the suspect who’s now serving time because of that. What is it like going to work knowing you have a target on your head?”
Anchor Andrew Mitchell presented radical homosexual activist Dan Savage, most famous for licking doorknobs in the campaign office of Republican Gary Bauer in an attempt to infect him with the flu, as an expert on the Catholic Church and Catholic issues during her MSNBC program on Wednesday afternoon. She introduced Savage, who writes a graphic sex-advice column called “Savage Love,” as the “editorial director for Seattle’s weekly newspaper, The Stranger...political commentator and social critic.” Mitchell lead into her question about President Obama’s commencement address at the University of Notre Dame by stating that the editor was also “sensitive and very well aware of the cultural fault lines within the Catholic community.” She did not mention the Bauer incident during the segment, nor the fact that Savage is an atheist who thinks the Catholic Church is a “criminal organization.”
Mitchell had Savage on as a guest just before the bottom half of the 1 pm Eastern hour of her Andrea Mitchell Live program. She brought up President Obama’s upcoming commencement addresses at Arizona State University and Notre Dame as a topic, and how in the case of his speech at the Catholic school, “critics are taking issue with the president’s positions on gay rights, abortion rights, and stem cell research.” After giving her introduction of the “editorial director...political commentator and social critic,” Mitchell asked, “Why is Notre Dame, which has long, you know, had this tradition from Theodore Hesburgh on -- especially, you know, during the civil rights movement, the anti-war movement, of being a broad tent -- why is the Notre Dame commencement so controversial this time?”