October, 2nd 2012

Some thoughts on the appropriate prompts for going apeshit over media bias

– Liz Mair


I "go" it now and again. So do a lot of you. For me, it usually involves parking attendants at underground lots in Washington, DC, or incomptence or extreme laziness witnessed in the workplace. For my husband, it often involves Maryland drivers and dance music and Belgians (especially if combined together). For one of my best friends, it involves the health care system and patronizing doctors. For another best friend, it involves attitudes he encounters far too often in his chosen profession.

For many conservatives online, it involves media bias, and alleged instances of it.

It appears that yesterday, when I was working and not paying terribly much attention to what was going on on Twitter or out in the blogosphere (yeah, yeah, I don't actually spend all my time tweeting, I'm just good at multitasking), I apparently missed a major round of certain conservatives going apeshit over something that strikes me as pretty "meh" and largely failing to notice something that to me was positively rage-inducing, both of which involved coverage of the presidential campaign by the media.

So what else is new... the liberal RINO in the corner didn't get pissed about something a bunch of online conservatives got pissed over, and got pissed about something else they didn't notice.

Well, this time, I think it actually matters because the specific topic is media bias at MSNBC and an MSNBC presenter actually did something pretty egregious on camera yesterday that should have been called out, big time, by both the left and the right in my opinion-- but it's possible some people failed to notice because they were still fuming about this.

Why yes, readers. That is a post by my fellow candy-ass RINO and friend Jazz Shaw over at Hot Air. Yes, in it he does say he doesn't think Morning Joe displayed rampant media bias aimed at re-electing President Obama by focusing time and attention on a rather uninteresting nothingburger of a story. And why yes, I am going to defend him a bit while I prep up for attacking an MSNBC host who in my view actually did something that warrants an on-air apology-- with no doubt about it.

Here's the deal. I first saw this clip when my mother sent it to me. I watched it. It struck me as pretty uninteresting. A crowd appeared to be a bit more excited about a Vice Presidential nominee-- who had just finished speaking-- than the Presidential nominee. That's pretty standard stuff.

Perhaps you have met this guy:

who was generally deemed more exciting to the base in attendance at campaign events than this guy:

Maybe you recall this guy:

who was also a lot more popular with conservative voters and likely to get them cheering than this guy:

Hey, maybe you remember this lady:

You do, right?

You remember that pretty much every time she and John McCain showed up anywhere, ever, everyone was like 300 times more excited about her and vocally so than they were McCain, yes?

So setting aside that Ryan had just finished speaking and that this was a fast-moving story being covered on morning TV by people who probably wake up at 3AM and may have been rolled into coverage when someone hadn't had their triple shot espresso, there are reasons to think Joe Scarborough and Co might not have edited the tape in an effort to re-elect Obama, right? 

Right. But apparently, there are people who are jumping on this as true evidence of a mainstream media conspiracy while overlooking... Martin Bashir during his show yesterday basically straight up suggesting that Mitt Romney might not be capable of serving because he has a secret mental illness his campaign is hiding or something but which he's cottoned onto because Ann Romney expressed concern about the toll the campaign might be taking on her husband on camera.

No, seriously. This happened. (I'm not posting the video because a) it doesn't appear to be on MSNBC's site and b) I refuse to give bullshit like this any direct play).

You want to see what mainstream media not-so-subtly pushing a conspiracy theory looks like?

Well, maybe that's not what Martin was trying to do, but what he did sure looks a hell of a lot like exactly that.

And he did it at a normal time of day, when everyone has had their coffee and is ready to rock and roll.

Admittedly, Martin Bashir does not have the same media heavyweight profile that Joe Scarborough does, particularly within the political realm. But let's be candid here: Hinting around (deliberately or not) at a conspiracy to cover up a mental illness that could be disqualifying from public office is pretty nasty, heavy stuff, even for a guy best known for interviewing celebrities, not dabbling in political coverage. It's heavy and nasty enough that a lot of liberals I spoke to about this agreed it was bad form, at a minimum.

That's partially so, by the way, because if Ann was suggesting that Mitt might be a bit depressed about the polls, or a bit anxious while trying to win a hard-fought election, or getting a bit obsessive about campaign perfection or imperfection, that actually is not disqualifying and as a society, it'd be lovely if we could quit treating people who suffer from depression, anxiety disorders and/or obsessive/compulsive behavior (of any type) as incapable and untrustworthy. (I say that as someone who suffers from all three illnesses).

But it's actually because the takeaway for your average viewer is more nefarious than that.

The takeaway, worst case, from watching the Morning Joe tape is "hey, Republicans like Paul Ryan better than Mitt Romney, who they don't seem to like very much." (This is actually true, by the way). Or alternately "Oh man, that Mitt Romney is a total dork." (This is pretty much true, too, and by the way, while I love Paul Ryan, he's kind of a dork, too). Or, most sympathetically, "God I feel sorry for Mitt Romney." (I'm by no means your stereotypical Republican voter, but I have that feeling roughly once a day).

Whereas the takeaway from the Bashir segment was: "Not only is Romney dishonest and lying to you (remember those tax returns!), he's also *going to have a freaking nervous breakdown on the job and become catatonic in the Oval Office and go around peeing in jars, Aviator-style* *while having the ability to nuke the world. NUKE THE WORLD* *DO NOT VOTE FOR HIM*."

Look, I'm not a big believer in mainstream media bias. (I am a big believer in mainstream media laziness, and mainstream media pack-of-sheep behavior, however). But even I was like "holy shit, Martin Bashir, that's about as big a 'let me see how I can artificially, out of nothing, make David Axelrod's day today' moment that I can imagine."

So yeah, some vigilance about media bias appears to be deserved. So does some going apeshit. But let's not worry about Joe Scarborough. Let's worry about the guy who interprets normal spousal concern for a husband who's working really, really hard as a sign that Mitt Romney is about to go all "Falling Down" on us.

Let's go apeshit on that guy. [intro]


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