It's common and expected for the media to launch into false equivocations any time the right is caught doing something reprehensible and indefensible. It's their way of trying to avoid the inevitable smears from the right about liberal bias, at least to some degree, when they should be admitting that they are only interested in superficial personal attacks and manufactured controversy – and that most of it only comes from the right.
Instead, after every right-wing implosion over another fake scandal, we have to hear how "both sides do it", always without substantive proof of any kind. And what few attempts are made at such ridiculous false equivocations are riddled with flaws.
That's not limited to the media, either. The conservative public takes its responsibility-free cue from the "lamestream media" by perpetuating that myth and obsessively forcing everyone else to agree with them, or be declared guilty of the grave sin of pretending that only one side does it.
When liberals complain about comparisons between President Obama and Hitler, conservatives deflect by pointing out similar comparisons to President Bush. While that's not strictly false, it is strongly misleading and dishonest because such comparisons – and the reactions that followed – are nowhere near the same.
When MoveOn.org (an organization founded to help the country move on from the right-wing manufactured Lewinsky "scandal") ran a contest for user-submitted ads during the Bush administration, where the winning ad would be run on television, one person submitted a video comparing Bush to Hitler. MoveOn did not ask for the ad, did not run the ad anywhere, and did not create it. Yet the right threw an infantile temper tantrum, the Anti-Defamation League denounced MoveOn, and Congress passed a non-binding resolution denouncing both the video and MoveOn.org.
Can you think of any time since the McCarthy era that Congress has used its power and prestige to denounce its own citizens for exercising their first amendment rights in this way, much less against a conservative organization?
That was a single tasteless ad submitted to a contest that didn't win and was never aired.
Compare that to today, where giant signs comparing President Obama to Hitler can be seen at every Tea Party protest. A supposedly mainstream, serious, grassroots and "force to be reckoned with" political movement whose stated goal is take over the government with like minded people, consisting mainly of conservative Republicans. Not a fringe nut submitting an ad to an open contest, but a sea of signs all throughout an entire political movement.
The results couldn't have been more starkly different. The establishment right hasn't said much of anything, Congress hasn't denounced the Tea Party or its hate speech signs (nor should it, since that would be equally as authoritarian and wrong as when they did it to MoveOn), and the ADL didn't say a word about any of it until Glenn Greenwald had to ask them what their official opinion on the matter was.
That's what the media means when they say that "both sides do it". An entire political movement with signs comparing Obama to Hitler collectively met with indifferent shrugs, versus one video that did not win an open contest that was met with condemnation and rage from all four corners and official denunciation against a country's citizens by its own government.
Accusations of socialism, so inappropriate that the person wouldn't know what the word actually means if you hit them in the face with a book on the subject, did not start on the fringe of the Republican party.
To the contrary, as filthy smears and lies usually do, they come right from the top.
The right's obsession with socialism didn't start until John McCain incorporated the attack against then-Senator Obama to prop up his flailing presidential campaign. McCain couldn't talk about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan because the GOP's solution for those quagmires is simply to stay there forever, and even start new wars with Iran and Syria. He couldn't talk about the economy after honestly admitting that he knows virtually nothing about it and because the standard GOP platform of deregulate everything and let the markets police themselves was largely responsible for the collapse of Enron and the lending crisis.
Neither he nor Sarah Palin could talk about how they planned to solve America's problems because they had no viable solutions, but also because Republicans have never really relied on policy debate to win elections.
From Mike Dukakis and the infantile obsession over the picture of him riding in a tank – as opposed to Bush hitching a ride in a jet fighter to an aircraft carrier parked just off an American coast, complete with costume and banner which caused the press to swoon and fawn – to Howard Dean as a screaming maniac, John Kerry as a wind surfing frenchman and non-war hero for speaking out against the Vietnam War, John Edwards as an effeminate Breck Girl and a "faggot", depending on who you ask, and Obama as the secret Muslim socialist from Kenya who pals around with terrorists, the right has done nothing but launch the most vile, vicious, petty and adolescent personal attacks and smears against people they don't like or perceive as a threat.
None of what I just listed above had anything to do with solving America's problems and none of them had to do with political policy, and yet all of them dominated our media and discourse during those respective campaigns.
90% of modern invective can be directly traced to the McCain campaign, Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, and Andrew Breitbart. Virtually all of it. Death panels, ACORN, and socialism were all smears started by the McCain campaign. Obama's supposedly questionable nationalism started with Beck and Alex Jones via infamous Swift-Boater Jerome Corsi, who is making a career out of smearing liberals these days. The Tea Party was plugged endlessly on Beck's FNC show and radio program and many Fox "News" "journalists" gave speeches at many early Tea Party events right alongside Republican politicians from Washington.
Most everything as of late from the czar witch hunt to Shirley Sherrod's virtual lynching came at the hands of Andrew Brietbart, protege of Drudge, and his most famous gift to America, James O'Keefe, got his criminal start thanks to Brietbart.
It goes on and on like that where practically every single thing we discuss started with one of those four people, and not surprisingly all of it ends up in a giant clusterfuck of divisive hatred.
There really is no equivalent to Sarah Palin on the left. CNN and the "lamestream media" don't give wall-to-wall coverage of Joe Biden's Facebook updates, despite him being an actual sitting Vice President with many years of legislating experience, instead of being principally known has a 0.5 term Governor.
Keith Olbermann is not Glenn Beck's evil twin. Olbermann doesn't draw elaborate and hilariously stupid conspiracy theories on a chalkboard, trying to get people in the Obama or Bush administrations fired on a daily basis. Olbermann is not out there running a gold scam, headlining and speaking at progressive political events, and hasn't lost over 100 advertisers for racism and hate speech.
Beck has and does all of those things.
MSNBC, leaning whichever way you please, doesn't limit its criticism to Republicans or Republican administrations. There were few places – if any – to find more substantive criticism (which is not the same as superficial smears and ideological opposition) of the Democratic health care plan than on MSNBC. That is simply beyond argument at this point.
And you will never find MSNBC hosts propping up a political movement the way Fox did with the Tea Party.
There is no Andrew Brietbart on the left, either. Whine about bias all you want, most left-leaning sites openly acknowledge that they have an agenda and don't pretend to be unbiased journalists when they are not. You rarely find them at the center of manufactured controversies that fall apart and burn 48 hours later, once people have taken the time to learn the truth. Brietbart is becoming known for being at the center of some of the most ridiculous setups and fake controversies in recent times on a national scale.
You don't see people on the left attacking conservative Presidential candidates as faggots, or girlish, or falsly questioning their religion or where they were born (despite McCain being literally born in the Panama Canal Zone). It simply does not happen. You don't see liberals suggesting that conservative Supreme Court justices should be poisoned to death for not ruling a certain way, like Ann Coulter did. Remember her? Remember the time when her level of crazy was notable, and notice how this new level of crazy makes it look tame and ordinary?
When liberals were unhappy with the 2004 election results, they joked about moving to Canada. When conservatives were unhappy with the 2008 election, they talked about buying as many guns as possible in case they have to violently overthrow the government, when they weren't talking about trying to secede from the union which would certainly start another civil war.
To further that point, even if you don't think liberals were joking about leaving and you do think conservatives were joking about overthrowing the government and breaking away – gun sales have surged since Obama became President and regardless, leaving the country is completely legal. Overthrowing one's government or seceding from it is unarguably treason. Even just comparing humor, why would it ever be funny to kill your fellow citizens in an armed uprising when this country has perfectly functioning courts and democratic elections?
How can conservatives in one breath wrap themselves in an American flag because they love their country so much more than liberals do, while in the very next declaring their hatred for it so severe and irreconcilable that they have to split off and form their own country?
That's just not the sort of thing sane people joke about.
Sure, there are some very ugly behaving people on both sides, but not in all circumstances, not at all levels of society (a lot of the right's worst players are their most loved and highest profile pundits and politicians, like Michelle Bachman and Steve King – sitting Congresspersons), and not in the same numbers.
So no, this is not "both sides" doing it. It has never been that way, and I doubt it ever will.
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