Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Left-Wing Whine Machine

Excuses. Everyone has them, they're a dime a dozen (incidentally, when was the last time you actually saw something that cost a dime a dozen?). Joe Williams--formerly of Politico--has a box full, himself. Remember Williams? He made the live comments about Romney "only being comfortable around white people," got dressed down by his employer, then tweeted rude things about the employer. Politico didn't have the stones to fire him outright, though. He was put on a "leave of absence" while he "transitions to the next phase of his career." Seriously.

Williams came back with guns ablazing, though. Writing at NBC's The Grio, he laments what transpired as a "cautionary tale," suggesting he was a victim of the "Right Wing Noise Machine":
The Right Wing Noise Machine — a small cabal of self-appointed watchdogs on a perpetual hunt for perceived liberal bias — had struck again...

Yet it’s easy to miss the larger lesson in my cautionary tale — that a tiny group of organizations with internet access, a money pipeline and next to no credibility can coerce powerful, independent news organizations that pride themselves on speaking truth to power. Rather than inform the public or operate as a legitimate check on the media, pointing out gaps in newsroom diversity or errors in coverage, members of the RWNM only care about their agenda: harassing, undermining, discrediting and embarrassing people who don’t agree with their view of the world.
The Right Wing Noise Machine. I like that. And of course, there is no such entity on the left. There are no groups funded by powerful liberal/progressive sorts that do the same thing, right? Media Matters--for instance--doesn't track every word out of Rush Limbaugh's mouth, hoping for a "gotcha" moment. Orgs like Soros' MoveOn don't play this sort of game at all. Right.

Consider Representative Geoff Davis who, at a GOP dinner in April of 2008, referred to Obama in the third person as "boy." He was excoriated in the mainstream media for his comments. The Obama Campaign called his comments "outrageous" and "condescending." Many others simply called it racist, flat out. Davis apologized for his choice of words, but few were prepared to accept the apology, like Marc Ambinder at the Atlantic who said:
Rep. Geoff Davis (R-KY) is 49 years old. Barack Obama is 46 years old. When was the last time you called someone three years younger than you a boy?

Davis's comments offend not because they demeaned Obama's integrity; they're offensive because, well, in 2008, for a white person to call a black person "boy," is generally seen as racist no matter where you are.
Got it? There's no excuse for Davis' apparent tin ear, but Williams is a "victim" of a right wing cabal. Crap. What Davis said:
"I'm going to tell you something: That boy's finger does not need to be on the button. He could not make a decision in that simulation that related to a nuclear threat to this country."
Davis is a Representative in Kentucky. He was speaking to a crowd of fellow Kentuckians, a crowd of "good ol' boys," if you will. I submit that the comment was wholly unrelated to race. I said so then and I stand by it. "That boy" is a common phrase used in the South to refer to anyone in the third person. "That boy ain't got no sense." "That boy has got a helluva arm." And so on. The negative racial connotations carried by "boy" primarily exist when it is used in the first person, as in "hey boy, what are you doing around here?" And it's largely about how the word is said, the emphasis put on it, that demonstrates racial overtones. Marc Ambinder and others in the mainstream media have their own tin ears; they heard "boy" and pounced, apparently oblivious to the fact that speech patterns in the United States still vary by region.

Which brings us back to Williams' whine-fest. A truth that we all know: if Rush Limbaugh had opined that Obama is only comfortable around black people, Media Matters would have been all over it like white on rice. And the story would have been picked up throughout the mainstream media, with many opining that the statement indicted some sort of racism on Limbaugh's part. But Williams says the same sort of thing about Romney and he's a victim. And in keeping with current trending memes, he a victim of bullying as well:
To my great regret, I wasn’t the first person to stumble into their cross-hairs, and I’m certain I won’t be the last. Unless journalists and their employers decide to stand up to the bullies, only one question remains: who’s next?
Wow. The dichotomy: when the Left does it, it's valid, sound criticism; when the Right does it, it's bullying.

Personally, I don't have much of a problem with Williams' original comments about Romney; we are--all of us--more comfortable around people who have the same sort of shared experiences. No doubt, Romney is more comfortable around Mormons. Or successful businessmen. Or Wall Street types. Obama probably feels more at home around law professors. Or community activists. Or celebrities. Williams chose to interject race into the discussion, for no real good reason that I can see.

Still, it's nothing but a point of debate. People with a different point of view or agenda were going to jump on it. Supposing his fate is unique, that he's a victim of the--as he puts it--RWNM and that there is no similar machine on the Left is stupid. And his attempt to make it an issue of "bullying" is pathetic.

Cheers, all.

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