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Spitting, racial and gay slurs? Just isolated instances of emotions running high

March 21st, 2010 · No Comments

On the Saturday, March 20, the weekend of the historic health care vote in Congress, Tea Party protesters outside of the Capitol apparently spit on and hurled racial and gay slurs at Democratic lawmakers.  Republican Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Amy Kremer, coordinator of the Tea Party Express, both denounced the incidents, and characterized them as “isolated” occurrences.  This is despite the fact that Tea Party, in their short history, have a long record of offensiveness.

While Republican and Tea Party spokespeople were quick in their denunciations, the conservative media organizations were either in outright denial of the incident, or very reticent to even mention it.

First, take the denier, Breitbart.com, run by Andrew Breitbart, conservative provocateur of the moment and featured speaker at the recent Tea Party convention.  Breitbart, who has a history of running cherry-picked and cleverly edited videos to make his partisan points (see the ACORN case), featured a video on his website that shows 48 seconds of African American congressman being booed and yelled at by white people also hollering “Kill the Bill.”  Because we don’t hear the racial slurs or see spit, we are to conclude, as Breitbart does in the only text that accompanies the video, that “‘Kill the Bill’: Video From Health Care Protest Seems to Be Slur Free.”  If that is such conclusive evidence, one must wonder what “isolated” incident Boehner, Republican Party Chairman Michael Steele, and others are denouncing.

The reticent conservative news organizations include the Washington Times (a five-sentence AP story that fails to identify the group of “angry protesters”) and Fox News, which glossed over the report of the incident with their online headline, “Emotions Run High Ahead of Showdown Health Vote.” Fox’s report of the incident was buried in the middle of the piece, and had no mention of gay slurs aimed at Congressman Barney Frank (D-Mass.). For comparison, I captured the home pages of CNN and Fox at 12 noon ET on Sunday, March 21 to see their takes on the story.  CNN’s headline read“Protesters hurl slurs, spit at Democrats,” and the story had multiple confirmations of the spitting and racial and gay slurs.  Meanwhile, Fox minimized this very disturbing event with its “Emotions Run High” headline.

CNN, March 21, 2010, 12 p.m. ET

Fox, March 21, 2010, 12 p.m. ET

Remember the last times Fox News used “Emotions Run High” in a headline?  Those were even crazier, almost criminal events.

Who can forget  “Emotions Run High on ‘American Idol’ as Gina Goes Home” in 2007? What an injustice!  Someone should have arrested Simon Cowell — he’s not even American!

Remember “Emotions Run High at NYC Katrina Concert” in 2005?  Simon and Garfunkel, actually sang Bridge Over Troubled Water!

So when Fox reports “Emotions Run High” at an incident in Washington, D.C., you can be sure it means something really bad happened, as horrific as a reality show contestant crying or a mob of people gathering for a concert to raise money for hurricane disaster relief.

Thank goodness these are isolated instances.

Tags: ACORN · Cable Television · Elections · Journalism Ethics · Politics

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