Another Tea Party Terrorist Smear

Brent Bozell's column is released twice a week.

Brent Bozell III

The so-called prestige media have built this arrogant sense of professionalism around themselves. They are not just fair and objective, they're also accurate . The great amateurish unwashed shouldn't sit at keyboards in their pajamas and attempt the marvelous feats that only they perform.

But when these reporters see an opportunity to discredit conservatives, all that goes out the window.

Shortly after the Batman premiere began at midnight in Aurora, Colo., (Mountain time), police say Jim Holmes opened fire in a crowded theater, killing 12 and wounding many more. Six hours later, early in the second hour of "Good Morning America" in New York, ABC host George Stephanopoulos announced that investigative reporter Brian Ross had "found something that might be significant."

Ross declared that a Jim Holmes of Aurora, Colo., had joined the tea party, but "we don't know if this is the same Jim Holmes." How on earth could a professional journalist drop that bombshell on national television and in the next breath admit it was pure speculation? Or as the actual Jim Holmes of the tea party replied, "What kind of idiot makes that kind of statement?"

One can understand why George Stephanopoulos didn't blink, since this is the way the Clinton "war room" operated, where political operatives would announce their character assassination of conservatives was proceeding nicely. But this is supposed to be a news studio, not a war room.

Here's another reason why the old media need to stop lecturing the new media to mind their own business. After unloading that smear on Jim Holmes of the tea party, neither Stephanopoulos nor Ross ever made an apology on the air of ABC News. They put out a short apology online but let the smear stand on air. The smeared Holmes also told the Daily Caller he received no attempt to contact him or apologize.

Just like NBC, which edited footage on George Zimmerman to make him appear racist, they issued a brief apology statement online, but no on-air apology was seen by their viewers.

This is a cynically insincere slap in the face to the public. Real journalists should make corrections and apologize when necessary, but the only time TV news people tend to apologize is when lawyers are trying to stave off lawsuits and force them to read a statement.

These are the same journalists that love to pretend that they're America's most sensitive people that they know the plight of the downtrodden, and that's what makes them special.

Walter Cronkite told Time magazine in 2003 that journalists "come up through the ranks, through the police-reporting side, and they see the problems of their fellow man ... their domestic quarrels, their living conditions. The meaner side of life is made visible to most young reporters. I think it affects their sentimental feeling toward their fellow man and that is interpreted by some less-sensitive people as being liberal."

But liberal journalists often specialize in dishing out "the meaner side of life" when the opportunity arrives to politicize the crime beat. When a crazed gunman opened fire on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and others in Tucson, Ariz., in 2011, MSNBC's Luke Russert and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman quickly suspected without any troublesome need for facts — and there was zero evidence — that the tea party was involved.

When Joseph Stack plowed his airplane into a Texas office building in 2010, there was The New York Times looking for the "first Tea Party terrorist." The liberal media haven't found the first one, but that won't stop them from wild speculation.

When Census worker Bill Sparkman was found hanged in Kentucky with the word "FED" carved into his chest in 2009, that was too juicy a possibility for reporters to resist. Newsweek's Eve Conant asked "was Sparkman killed in some frenzy of antigovernment rage? Both the Department of Homeland Security and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) have warned of a dramatic spike in antigovernment militia activity."

Conant added, "Then there is the conservative blogosphere, which has been questioning the census since Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann claimed that she would not complete her census form." A few weeks later, when investigators concluded Sparkman committed suicide and manipulated the scene for life-insurance purposes, Conant calmly reported that conclusion and mentioned in passing that the discovery of the body "prompted a national discussion on controversies surrounding the census." Just like ABC's on-air product, there were no apologies for Newsweek's fever-brained speculation about "anti-government rage."

It's this complete lack of regret that underlines why a vast majority of Americans would tell Gallup pollsters they have no confidence in the "news" media, either broadcast or print. Their political shamelessness has left their credibility in tatters.

L. Brent Bozell III is the president of the Media Research Center. To find out more about Brent Bozell III, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

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