Shame: Ignoring Death Threats To Wisconsin Politicians Is Media Bias

Three questions for you.

  1. Do you think of Republicans and the Tea Party as dangerous, violent extremists?
  2. Do you think the Wisconsin protests over GOP Governor Scott Walker’s move to strip public sector employees of collective bargaining were peaceful?
  3. Do you scoff at the right wing notion that mainstream media like the New York Times, the TV networks and NPR have a liberal media bias against the conservatives?

If you answered ‘yes’ to all three of those questions, then let me ask you one more…

Why isn’t the mainstream media talking about the death threats against Republican politicians in Wisconsin?

Try to set aside whatever biases or preconceptions you might have for a moment and ask yourself why death threats against politicians aren’t considered national news, especially in the wake of the all too fresh shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and other bystanders. And there hasn’t just been one death threat, but a number of them.

Here’s an example and it’s real. According to WisPolitics.com, authorities have found a suspect to admitted to sending the following email…

I want to make this perfectly clear. Because of your actions today and in the past couple of weeks I and the group of people that are working with me have decided that we’ve had enough. We feel that you and your republican dictators have to die. This is how it’s going to happen: I as well as many others know where you and your family live, it’s a matter of public records. We have all planned to assult you by arriving at your house and putting a nice little bullet in your head. However, this isn’t enough. We also have decided that this may not be enough to send the message. So we have built several bombs that we have placed in various locations around the areas in which we know that you frequent. This includes, your house, your car, the state capitol, and well I won’t tell you all of them because that’s just no fun. Since we know that you are not smart enough to figure out why this is happening to you we have decided to make it perfectly clear to you. If you and your goonies feel that it’s necessary to strip the rights of 300,000 people and ruin their lives, making them unable to feed, clothe, and provide the necessities to their families and themselves then We will “get rid of” (in which I mean kill) the 8 of you. Please understand that this does not include the heroic Senator that risked everything to go aganist what you and your goonies wanted him to do. The 8 includes the 7 senators and the dictator. We feel that it’s worth our lives becasue we would be saving the lives of 300,000 people. Please make your peace with God as soon as possible and say goodbye to your loved ones we will not wait any longer. Goodbye ASSHOLE!!!!

It’s impossible to just dismiss this threat as the work of a crazy person, especially since the person who shot Rep. Giffords seems pretty crazy. Crazy people sometimes do crazy things like shooting people. Nope, that threat is detailed and frightening – and unfortunately, motivated by exactly the kind of rhetoric that’s been used by many liberals against GOP officials over and over again during the Madison protests. And there are more, in varying degrees of scary..

If you read liberal blogs, you might have heard of some of these threats. Indirectly, anyway. Sarah Palin said the rhetoric should be toned down. The threats themselves were ignored and Palin was mocked.

On the other hand, if you read conservative blogs or listen to conservative media, you know all about these threats because people like Bill O’Reilly and Rush Limbaugh and websites like Newsbusters and BigJournalism have not only been talking about the death threats for days now but they’ve been talking about the mainstream and liberal media ignoring the threats for days.

Ignoring the story of these threats is deeply, fundamentally wrong. It’s bad, biased journalism that will lead to no possible good outcome and progressives should be leading the charge against it.

Just before writing this article, I did a Google search and it’s stunning to find out that the right wing media really isn’t exaggerating – proven death threats against politicians are being ignored by the supposedly honest media. If you’ve never agreed with a single thing that Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly et al have said about anything, you can’t in any good conscience say that they don’t have a point here. Death threats are wrong and if a story like Wisconsin is national news for days, then so are death threats.

I’m in an odd position. In the last few months, I’ve had one foot in the left wing news stream and one foot in the right. My media duality began when conservative publisher Andrew Breitbart hired me to work with him on the Pigford ‘black farmers’ settlement story. I’m a pro-choice, pro-single payer, anti-war, pro-gay rights independent liberal with years of work in print and film backing those positions. Breitbart hired me to bring a different perspective to the non-partisan issue of corruption in Pigford.

Since then, I’ve written both here for the left-leaning Huffington Post and at Breitbart’s right leaning BigGovernment.com. I’ve ended up reading a lot more conservative sites and dealing firsthand with a lot more conservatives than any time since I attended a high school dedicated to the principles of Ayn Rand about 30 years ago.

Unlike many on the left, I didn’t view the Wisconsin battle as the end of days. I wasn’t convinced that I had a dog in that hunt, in part because I think there’s a strong case to be made those public employees shouldn’t have the same collective bargaining rights as private sector workers – a case made well by Franklin D. Roosevelt, who said…

“All Government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service. It has its distinct and insurmountable limitations when applied to public personnel management. The very nature and purposes of Government make it impossible for administrative officials to represent fully or to bind the employer in mutual discussions with Government employee organizations. The employer is the whole people, who speak by means of laws enacted by their representatives in Congress.”

Roosevelt’s statement makes sense to me; it does seem that public employees are different than private. I’m not at all anti-union. (I’ve publically supported unionizing the visual effects industry, for example.) I’m open to a good rational argument against the case FDR made but in discussions on Twitter and elsewhere, all I got in response from people on the left was anger and insults. I saw little light and felt much heat.

That tone of extreme hostility I experienced brings me back to the death threats in Wisconsin. Frankly, the bile and invective in that threat reminded me of the tone I saw directed at me from many so-called liberals because I committed the heresy of taking a different position from them on the issue of collective bargaining for public sector employees….based on something FDR said.

Is this really what liberalism has come to in 2011?

Since working with Breitbart, my position on political issues hasn’t changed but I’d be lying if I didn’t say I’m deeply disappointed by the virulent, lockstep attitude I see on the left. My experience in the last few months tells me what I would not have believed possible; on any number of issues (including Pigford, by the way) I’ve seen liberals act much nastier and with less factual honesty than the conservatives…and this includes on issues where I disagree with conservatives.

Burying the death threat story is a clear example of intellectual dishonesty and journalistic bias..

Don’t take my word for it, though. Look into the story of death threats in Wisconsin yourself and see who has been covering the story and who hasn’t. Try for a moment to see this story from the perspective of those who you may disagree with on policy and ask yourself how this looks to them. Can you blame them for feeling that way? Then take a few seconds and read those questions I asked you at the beginning of this article.

And then ask why progressives shouldn’t expect more from our media — and ourselves — than we expect from our political adversaries.

6 Comments

  1. Hmm… This is eye opening.

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  2. Interesting because Governor Walker threatened to call out the National Guard, talked about the baseball bat he owns in the fake Koch interview, and bringing in trouble-makers to incite violence. Or, how about the Indiana AG attorney who said live ammunition should be used against protesters. Nice try though.

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  3. Thank you so much for your honesty; this is an absolute disgrace for the national media. Is it any wonder so many people distrust mainstream news outlets?

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  4. The liberal fake “Koch” was the one who brought up the baseball bat. The truth is that a liberal tried to trap Walker, and he didn’t give him anything. The fact that he didn’t know what “Koch” sounds like should tell people something — like he doesn’t know the guy. But why look at the truth in Walker’s record as a public servant when the left spits out the talking points and serves them on a platter? So easy! No need to do your own research! And the author isn’t saying that only one side is at fault, but that only one side gets called-out because of media bias.
    Thank you, Mr. Stranahan. As one who spends a lot of time online trying to ferret out truth –with varying degrees of success — thank you for going beyond the status quo.

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  5. Great article! My favorite part: “Try for a moment to see this story from the perspective of those who you may disagree with on policy and ask yourself how this looks to them. ” If only we could do this on EVERY issue – see it from both perspectives. That is the purpose of the media, in my opinion. To report, and help the public to see, both sides of every issue. Nicely done, Mr. Stranahan!

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  6. Mr, Stranahan,

    you have all my respect. I wish I could find more journalists, here in Italy, with your integrity.

    I hope for your critical and honest attitude to spread among the left-leaning blogosphere, and to make an example for both sides.

    Reply

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