"Our Country!
In her intercourse with foreign nations may she always be in the right;
but right or wrong, our country!"

    --Commodore Stephen Decatur

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

All The News That’s Fit To Print

An example of overheated political rhetoric.

While Congresswoman Giffords struggles for her life at a Tucson hospital, the New York Times carries on the timeless tradition of yellow journalism which was famously summarized by the quote, “You supply the pictures, and I’ll supply the war.” In what purports to be a straight news story, the writer flogs the partisan storyline that the deranged assassin, Jared Loughner, was driven to murder by the tone of political rhetoric—particularly that of the Tea Party (emphasis added):

…Over the past year, Ms. Giffords struggled in a brutal re-election campaign during which her opponent appeared in a Web advertisement holding an assault weapon. The district has become a caldron [sic] of divisions over government spending, immigration, health care and Barack Obama.

Today, the Eighth District stands apart as one of the most emotionally and politically polarized in the nation.

The rampage on Saturday that left six dead and Ms. Giffords gravely wounded may prove to be an isolated act of violence by a mentally disturbed man. The suspect attended at least one of Ms. Giffords’s town meetings before the event Saturday.

Still, the shootings came after a disconcerting run of episodes in this district of mountains and desert, raising temperatures here in a way that some of Ms. Giffords’s friends argue fed an atmosphere that might encourage violence.
According to the New York Times, Jesse Kelly—a former Marine—appeared at a campaign event with an M-16. Although this did not seem to provoke any media comment at the time, liberal pundits are now grasping on the event as proof that the gunman was inspired to kill because of it. Worse still, the use of the weasel-word “may” in the paragraph above suggests that there is some doubt that Loughner is anything but a psychopath who acted alone.

That being said, Jesse Kelly was not the only candidate in Arizona’s eighth district who appeared with a gun during the campaign. As the Washington Times reported last April, Giffords herself was photographed with an assault rifle, which the local media used to tout Giffords' bona fides on border security during the 2010 campaign.

Mr. Kelly challenged the Democrat incumbent [i.e., Giffords] for posing with an AK-47 assault rifle in an Arizona Daily Star article, with a caption that read "Today's been just another day on the border for hard line U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords." The lawmaker wears a dark jacket and brandishes the weapon, with a half dozen fatigues-clad soldiers in the background.

"It turns out the picture has nothing to do with border security and was taken during a trip to South Asia in 2009…"
The Washington Times adds that The Arizona Star removed the photo in question after the reporter who wrote the misleading caption admitted his error.

Of course, the New York Times does not mention this in their coverage of the supposed “climate of hate.” This omission can only be part of a deliberate strategy to promote the storyline that Republicans—and Republicans alone—are the party of extreme rhetoric. This ranks with the standard of “fake but accurate” that the Times employed after the Dan Rather memo scandal. In the end, that sad episode showed the world that the facts are always the Times’ undoing.

The repeated abuse of journalistic integrity suggests that the New York Times’ motto “all the news that’s fit to print” should be amended to include “and much that isn’t.” By using the tragic death of six people and the attempted assassination of a member of Congress to advance a shamelessly partisan agenda, the New York Times proves that they have no quibbles about whether or not their news reporting is fit for publication.

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