For years, America’s left-leaning mainstream media outlets have belittled and rebuked members of the new media — questioning their credibility, impugning their integrity and assigning all manner of self-serving motivations to their contributions to the marketplace of ideas.
In the immediate aftermath of the tragic Tucson shooting earlier this year, the legacy press took it a step further — essentially implying that the new media was complicit in the attack on U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords by virtue of the “climate of hate” it helped create in America.
Obviously, the facts of the Tucson case quickly (and completely) debunked this theory — but not before a parade of liberal talking heads had spewed a torrent of reckless vitriol on new media outlets and the First Amendment freedom they exercise.
Fast-forward three months to April 6, when reporter Matthew Boyle of The Daily Caller published a report outlining the details of Barack Obama’s socialized medicine slush fund.
Boyle’s report — like hundreds of investigative pieces published every day by new media outlets — was in and of itself a rebuke of many of the criticisms leveled against Internet journalists by the legacy press. Not only did Boyle accurately relate new primary source material — including excerpts from public documents and Congressional testimony — but he also sought, received and published the response of those with conflicting views regarding this information. On top of that, he presented the facts sans any editorial commentary.
In other words, Boyle’s investigative report was every bit as “pure” journalistically as something you would read in The Washington Post or watch on the CBS Evening News.
Which brings us to the substance of Boyle’s article — the hundreds of thousands of dollars that The Post and CBS have received from the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program (ERRP), an Obamacare slush fund that has arbitrarily doled out nearly $2 billion to select corporations, government pension funds and labor unions within the last year.
The very existence of this fund — which has been touted as a means of protecting health care coverage prior to the onset of Obama’s unconstitutional socialized medicine law — highlights the dangers inherent in giving government additional control over the health care marketplace. Not only is this fund rife with corruption and mismanagement — as evidenced by these payments to media outlets that are supposed to objectively cover Obamacare — but its borrowed billions have failed to accomplish their objective.
For example, last October Minnesota-based 3M announced that it would no longer offer health insurance to its 23,000 employees thanks to the passage of Obamacare. Meanwhile Chicago-based Boeing is one of several large corporations now requiring its employees to pay higher deductibles and copayments as a result of the new law. So much for Obama’s repeated promises that no one would lose their coverage and that health care costs would go down, right?
Yet despite these failures, taxpayers are still subsidizing a pre-Obamacare bailout — providing grants to artificially prop up coverage that will eventually be covered by new entitlement spending (assuming the law isn’t struck down or repealed first).
The charge: The Tucson massacre is a consequence of the “climate of hate” created by Sarah Palin, the Tea Party, Glenn Beck, Obamacare opponents and sundry other liberal betes noires.
The verdict: Rarely in American political discourse has there been a charge so reckless, so scurrilous and so unsupported by evidence.
As killers go, Jared Loughner is not reticent. Yet among all his writings, postings, videos and other ravings – and in all the testimony from all the people who knew him – there is not a single reference to any of these supposed accessories to murder.
Not only is there no evidence that Loughner was impelled to violence by any of those upon whom Paul Krugman, Keith Olbermann, the New York Times, the Tucson sheriff and other rabid partisans are fixated. There is no evidence that he was responding to anything, political or otherwise, outside of his own head.
A climate of hate? This man lived within his very own private climate. “His thoughts were unrelated to anything in our world,” said the teacher of Loughner’s philosophy class at Pima Community College. “He was very disconnected from reality,” said classmate Lydian Ali. “You know how it is when you talk to someone who’s mentally ill and they’re just not there?” said neighbor Jason Johnson. “It was like he was in his own world.”
His ravings, said one high school classmate, were interspersed with “unnerving, long stupors of silence” during which he would “stare fixedly at his buddies,” reported the Wall Street Journal. His own writings are confused, incoherent, punctuated with private numerology and inscrutable taxonomy. He warns of government brainwashing and thought control through “grammar.” He was obsessed with “conscious dreaming,” a fairly good synonym for hallucinations.
This is not political behavior. These are the signs of a clinical thought disorder – ideas disconnected from each other, incoherent, delusional, detached from reality.
These are all the hallmarks of a paranoid schizophrenic. And a dangerous one. A classmate found him so terrifyingly mentally disturbed that, she e-mailed friends and family, she expected to find his picture on TV after his perpetrating a mass murder. This was no idle speculation: In class “I sit by the door with my purse handy” so that she could get out fast when the shooting began.
Furthermore, the available evidence dates Loughner’s fixation on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords to at least 2007, when he attended a town hall of hers and felt slighted by her response. In 2007, no one had heard of Sarah Palin. Glenn Beck was still toiling on Headline News. There was no Tea Party or health-care reform. The only climate of hate was the pervasive post-Iraq campaign of vilification of George W. Bush, nicely captured by a New Republic editor who had begun an article thus: “I hate President George W. Bush. There, I said it.”
Finally, the charge that the metaphors used by Palin and others were inciting violence is ridiculous. Everyone uses warlike metaphors in describing politics. When Barack Obama said at a 2008 fundraiser in Philadelphia, “If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun,” he was hardly inciting violence.
Why? Because fighting and warfare are the most routine of political metaphors. And for obvious reasons. Historically speaking, all democratic politics is a sublimation of the ancient route to power – military conquest. That’s why the language persists. That’s why we say without any self-consciousness such things as “battleground states” or “targeting” opponents. Indeed, the very word for an electoral contest – “campaign” – is an appropriation from warfare.
When profiles of Obama’s first chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, noted that he once sent a dead fish to a pollster who displeased him, a characteristically subtle statement carrying more than a whiff of malice and murder, it was considered a charming example of excessive – and creative – political enthusiasm. When Senate candidate Joe Manchin dispensed with metaphor and simply fired a bullet through the cap-and-trade bill – while intoning, “I’ll take dead aim at [it]” – he was hardly assailed with complaints about violations of civil discourse or invitations to murder.
Did Manchin push Loughner over the top? Did Emanuel’s little Mafia imitation create a climate for political violence? The very questions are absurd – unless you’re the New York Times and you substitute the name Sarah Palin.
The origins of Loughner’s delusions are clear: mental illness. What are the origins of Krugman’s?