Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Verbal Grenades

John Leo today has a Townhall column that discusses why the media looked the other way when Cindy Sheehan referred to the murderers who actually killed her son as "freedom-fighters", and characterizes the MSM's relative lack of interest in such "verbal grenades" as "astonishing".

One explanation for the news failure is that the media wedded themselves early to a simple narrative line-the president, holed up on his ranch, refuses to meet with and comfort a grief-stricken mother. This narrative became frozen in cement when columnists of the left began talking about the “moral authority” of a parent who loses a son in war. This story line-moral mom versus stone-hearted president-didn’t allow much room to note Sheehan’s great contempt for America. There is also the vituperation she has been showering on Bush for years. She campaigned against him in 2004, vigorously promoting his impeachment, not seeking a meaningful heart-to-heart chat with the “evil maniac.” Nor did reporters point out that Bush would set himself up for more abuse if he sat down with Sheehan, probably in the meeting and surely in the press conference afterward. By sticking to the anguished-mother story line and declining to publish her outlandish verbal abuse, mainstream reporters protected the public from an inference that would otherwise been obvious: that Sheehan had either gone around the bend psychologically or, more likely, had simply thrown in her lot with the extreme America-hating left. Whenever the mainstream media inched toward actual information about what Sheehan was up to, they employed the familiar “conservatives are claiming” construction, not directly reporting Sheehan’s odd comments and extreme politics.

Leo is being too restrictive in his analysis in my opinion. Yes, it is true that the media as a group are wedded to a particular storyline regarding the president and definitely want to promote that perspective to the exclusion of all others. But there is another process going on here.

The media find nothing remarkable about Ms. Sheehan's outrageous statements because those statements are not any different from ones they make every day. They simply take her assertions as a given, because they believe in the truth of them implicitly. Coming from Sheehan's mouth, however, makes the distortion an order of magnitude more pathological; since a grieving mother whose son has been killed by the very thugs she praises is extremely pathetic.

The truth is that, no matter how much "moral authority" the Left wishes to grant Sheehan, the fact that she views the people who killed her son positively is not something that the general public would expect a mentally stable person to do.

Normal people would correctly conclude that a mother who did such a thing has, at the least, some very serious psychological issues; and, whether she then chooses to blame the President of the US or aliens from outer space instead of the actual killers, it would be obvious to any observer that something was wrong in her thinking.

The Cox and Forkum cartoon above, on the anniversary of Beslan, aptly demonstrates how the MSM blithely agrees with Ms. Sheehan and with Michael Moore, who was the first to use the "freedom fighter" description of terrorists and mass murderers. Like Sheehan, there is something very wrong in their thinking. Why would anyone go to such lengths to avoid using the real terms to describe the bestial murderers of Beslan?

The MSM itself regularly launches identical "verbal grenades" with almost every single article published about the war in Iraq and Afghanistan and the GWOT. They cannot even bring themselves to use the noun "terrorist" in connection with the Beslan massacre, let alone the descriptive adjective "Islamic".

So, in addition to Sheehan, the MSM can reasonably be described as either psychologically unstable or suffering from a virulent anti-Americanism.

Or both

No comments: