Hijacking crises for fun and profit

posted at 12:01 pm on April 18, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

Can this week produce any more sterling examples of media irresponsibility?  I’m not talking about the faceplant for John King and CNN (and for that matter, the Associated Press) in proclaiming that law enforcement was making/had made an arrest in the Boston Marathon bombing case. Getting burned by sources happens, which is why journalists usually wait for confirmation — especially on a scoop that doesn’t really need a “first!” declaration.

No, I’m talking about the David Sirotas of the world who glom onto tragedy and crisis in order to sell their pet theories and climb on hobby horses without the added burden of actually accounting for facts.  That didn’t just take place with the Boston Marathon bombing, either.  As I noted earlier this week, the murders of two Texas DAs and one of their spouses had been exploited by news media, especially MSNBC, as either evidence of a rising wave of white-supremacist violence, Mexican drug cartels declaring war on America, or (most amusingly) both.  Larry O’Donnell (again, MSNBC) went on air last night to blame the NRA’s opposition to mandatory taggants in ordinary gunpowder as the reason the FBI hadn’t caught the Boston bomber, even though no one has yet even been able to identify the bomber himself.

It’s bad enough when the media does this.  It’s much worse when politicians exploit crises for political gain. My column for The Fiscal Times focuses on the kind of irresponsibility that actually has an impact on our wallets — legislative demagoguery.  Without having the benefit of knowing anything about what took place in Boston,

Sirota’s piece is more of an embarrassment to Salon than it is a problem for anyone else.  That’s not the case with former Rep. Barney Frank and current Rep. Steny Hoyer, who holds the number-two leadership post in the House Democratic caucus. Both men couldn’t wait to find out what actually happened before complaining that budget austerity had made the nation less secure.

“I never was as a member of Congress one of the cheerleaders for less government, lower taxes,” Frank told CNN the morning after the bombing. “No tax cut would have helped us deal with this or will help us recover.”

Hoyer went one step farther during his weekly briefing with reporters the same day. Talking Points Memo reported:

“Asked by a reporter whether Monday’s attack makes the argument for addressing sequestration, Hoyer explained, “I think there are multiple reasons for ensuring that we invest in our security — both domestic and international security. That we invest in the education of our children. That we invest in growing jobs in America. And don’t pursue an irrational, across-the-board policy of cutting the highest priorities and the lowest priorities essentially the same percentage…. I think this is another proof of that — if proof is needed, which I don’t think frankly it is.”

Proof?  Well, that is an interesting concept.

Put aside, for the moment, the fact that at this point neither man knew who had conducted the bombing or for what purpose. Has sequestration crippled the Department of Homeland Security’s budget to the extent that it left us open to attack? In FY2007, the DHS budget was $42.7 billion.

By FY2012, it had grown to $59.7 billion, with the FY2014 budget request reaching $59.9 billion. DHS funding has increased 40 percent since Democrats took control of Congress after the 2006 midterms, and it has actually gone up by $3 billion since FY2011, when Republicans took back the House – and it didn’t result in any attacks such as those seen on Monday.

Homeland Secretary Janet Napolitano warned in February that the sequester could force reductions as high as 5 percent for DHS, which would have brought the DHS budget to the FY2011 level.  President Obama’s budget proposal this month made that “cut” moot, as well as the argument from Hoyer and Frank.

We can certainly debate whether DHS has enough cash to fulfill its mandate. What cannot be argued is that DHS has suffered through any budget cuts. In fact, the week before the bombings took place, DHS posted an RFP for new equipment– bagpipes and drum supplies. The RFP got pulled after critics lambasted Napolitano and DHS for buying musical instruments while singing the blues over its supposedly devastating budget cuts.

Until we know who the perpetrated the bombing, we cannot conclude that more DHS funding would have helped, or (alternately) that DHS failed at all.  This may have been the kind of lone-wolf domestic attack that nothing short of a police state can prevent, or it may have been a complex conspiracy with lots of missed opportunities. We can, however, put aside the idea that we have gutted funding to Homeland Security over the last few years, which exposes Hoyer as a knee-jerk demagogue.

Why not wait for the evidence before advancing either claim? And why root for the ethnicity of the perpetrators rather than just simply hope and pray that the real perpetrators will soon be identified and arrested? That’s what Dennis Miller wondered last night, too:

Miller then ripped in to Barney Frank, describing the former congressman’s effort to show empathy was misguided and came off as “arrogant.”

“Here’s the thing about Barney Frank,” Miller said. “Sometimes I find that liberals, in lieu of actual empathetic gestures, heartfelt empathy — they turn it into an affair of their mind. They intellectually empathize with you. Barney Frank will tell you everything he does is for the disenfranchised, the people under foot.”

“And you just want to say, ‘Can you start your empathy by just not being a jerk to the people you come across in your day-to-day life? Can you take a moment and not be so arrogant about your inner-voice that you bring it out immediately in the wake of a tragedy like this and tell us what you feel?’ Be heartfelt empathetic, not head-driven empathetic.”

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It’s bad enough when the media does this. It’s much worse when politicians exploit crises for political gain.

That is one of the stupidest statements I have ever read.

The Mainstream Media ARE the political PR Arm of The DNC.

Until you realize that there is NO DIFFERENCE IN SEVERITY between this kind of lying being done in The Media OR By Politician (and it Might BE WORSE in The Media – either way, THEY WORK TOGETHER):

You are NOT CAPABLE of LEARNING the Lessons of Propaganda -

Which is where we Live: In a Propaganda-Laden Society!!

williamg on April 18, 2013 at 12:08 PM

They are just doing what their buddy Rahm told them to do and not “let a crisis go to waste”. We already have libtardanddie trying to state that the Texas explosion was caused by the “pro-business atmosphere” in Texas. These evil idiots have no shame but that is par for the course since you have to have a soul to have shame and they don’t seem to own one.

neyney on April 18, 2013 at 12:11 PM

Until we know who the perpetrated the bombing

Does Dear Liar’s neighborhood friend Bill Ayers have an alibi for Monday? He’s of the ethnicity that would make David Sirota happy.

rbj on April 18, 2013 at 12:12 PM

Did Obama just dare the terrorists to attack the Boston Marathon next year?

meci on April 18, 2013 at 12:25 PM

“Asked by a reporter whether Monday’s attack makes the argument for addressing sequestration, Hoyer explained, “I think there are multiple reasons for ensuring that we invest in our security — both domestic and international security. That we invest in the education of our children. That we invest in growing jobs in America.

Our side needs to call these guys every time they use that word in place of “using taxes” until the use of it causes people to snicker.

A reminder of the way Bernie Madoff “invested” other people’s money would be a good start, along with a reference to Mrs. Thatcher’s famous line about socialists and “other people’s money.”

And the same should be done for every other euphemism, e.g. pro-choice, human rights.

Drained Brain on April 18, 2013 at 12:28 PM

Hoyer is a pos. Typical of what is wrong with congress today. A partisan hack getting rich on our backs.

ultracon on April 18, 2013 at 12:35 PM

You’ll have to pardon Fat Barney………once again he’s been “blinded by ideology”.

It’s a permanent affliction for him.

GarandFan on April 18, 2013 at 12:35 PM

Dennis Miller’s criticism of Obama is interesting — Obama said he wants to find out who did this, and why. And Miller says, he doesn’t much care “why” they did it. It reminds me of an attitude towards Hitler and the Holocaust. There’s a thought that to figure out Hitler’s motives is an obscenity, and doesn’t mean anything. The other Miller point was Obama’s late entry into calling this “terrorism”, Obama saying on day 2 that whenever a bomb kills innocents, that’s terrorism. Axelrod explained Obama was reluctant to say “terrorism” because of its connotations. See how deeply Political Correctness has affected what the President says. Even he won’t describe things truthfully and accurately, for fear of hurting someone’s feelings.

These two examples show the larger point, that Obama is clueless. He doesn’t understand how to even speak to the basic issues honestly. He’s such a failure. If nothing else, the President is there to tell us what’s going on, and lead us through his words. And it turns out, the reasons he chooses his words are nonsensical.

Paul-Cincy on April 18, 2013 at 12:36 PM

Hoyer plays his cards so poorly that I believe he shares the same dementia specialist as Biden.

pat on April 18, 2013 at 12:36 PM

One can have an honest debate about whether sequester or other cuts make us safer or not, but that’s really irrelevant in the case of the Boston Marathon Bombing. (For the record, I would have had Sequestersquatch devour much more than just a pitiful $80 billion).

On Monday, the Federal government, in conjunction with the Massachusetts state government and the government of Boston, was conducting a bomb drill at the very site of the Marathon. It was announced. Bomb-sniffing dogs were seen in the area of the explosions throughout the day. All of this government failed to prevent the attack.

So, it is difficult to argue that ‘austerity’ is responsible for the bombing when the one place that its effects (if you assume negative effects) WERE NOT SEEN ON MONDAY WAS THE CITY OF BOSTON AND THE BOSTON MARATHON.

Resist We Much on April 18, 2013 at 12:39 PM

Obama said he wants to learn who did this and why. Why they did it? Isn’t that the whole intent of whoever did this, for us to know why they did it? So isn’t Obama enabling whoever did this, by his actions? I think so. Obama is the partner of the terrorists.

Paul-Cincy on April 18, 2013 at 12:39 PM

We all hear talk of “government solutions.”

All true solutions to problems must have a “stopping rule,” i.e., a defined point where you’re done. Government without a “stopping rule” will expand inevitably into totalitarianism.

Leftward commenters, I’m asking you: Where do we stop?

Bat Chain Puller on April 18, 2013 at 12:43 PM

The Mainstream Media ARE the political PR Arm of The DNC.

Until you realize that there is NO DIFFERENCE IN SEVERITY between this kind of lying being done in The Media OR By Politician (and it Might BE WORSE in The Media – either way, THEY WORK TOGETHER):

You are NOT CAPABLE of LEARNING the Lessons of Propaganda -

Which is where we Live: In a Propaganda-Laden Society!!

williamg on April 18, 2013 at 12:08 PM

I caught the funeral, on C-Span, when it was clear that the proponents of gun elimination had failed – temporarily.

Greasy Schumer went on to say that, just like with healthcare and immigration reform, IT TAKES TIME for things that THE PEOPLE SUPPORT to happen.

In essence, he was saying that it takes time for lies to become truth, and for the ever increasing ignorance and illiteracy of the American people to eat those lies/truths up, like cattle munching on hay.

America is lost, because her People are lost in the abyss of ignorance/illiteracy and the resulting inability to discern lies from truths.

OhEssYouCowboys on April 18, 2013 at 12:46 PM

Does Dear Liar’s neighborhood friend Bill Ayers have an alibi for Monday? He’s of the ethnicity that would make David Sirota happy.

rbj on April 18, 2013 at 12:12 PM

Hmmm, current President who is buddy-buddy with former radical underground bomber speaking at a memorial service for victims of a bombing.

Now, that right there is what you would call ironic.

parke on April 18, 2013 at 12:52 PM

Leftward commenters, I’m asking you: Where do we stop?

Just as soon as we all are living the real “Outer Limits”:

“There is nothing wrong with your television set government……For the next hour rest of your life, sit submit quietly and we will control all that you see and hear everything. We repeat: there is nothing wrong with your television set government. You are about to participate in a great adventure. You are about to experience the awe and mystery which reaches from the inner mind to — The Outer Limits of our great Socialist Utopia.”

Sit back, have some popcorn and enjoy the experience.

hawkeye54 on April 18, 2013 at 12:52 PM

evidence of a rising wave of white-supremacist violence, Mexican drug cartels declaring war on America, or (most amusingly) both.

Everyone knows that the Aryan brotherhood, the Muslim brotherhood, and the Mexican brotherhood are wroking together to … what? Tell antisemitic jokes or something?

abobo on April 18, 2013 at 1:03 PM

once again he’s been “blinded by ideology”.

GarandFan on April 18, 2013 at 12:35 PM

And, here I thought the blindness was caused by something else….. (sorry, couldn’t resist)

hawkeye54 on April 18, 2013 at 12:52 PM

That is just a wee bit frightening. Well, I mean a wee bit more than the government itself is frightening, which isn’t wee at all.

GWB on April 18, 2013 at 1:06 PM

evidence of a rising wave of white-supremacist violence, Mexican drug cartels declaring war on America, or (most amusingly) both.

Everyone knows that the Aryan brotherhood, the Muslim brotherhood, and the Mexican brotherhood are wroking together to … what? Tell antisemitic jokes or something?

abobo on April 18, 2013 at 1:03 PM

….Or to disseminate info on the benefits of dope :)

jimver on April 18, 2013 at 1:14 PM

Jesus and Mohammed were never elected officials.

On the subject of elected officials, I don’t know Mr. Hoyer but came here some months ago with a rotten attitude about him gleaned from listening to another person. Then the officials of these threads went out of their way to note how good a person he was. OK.

“And you just want to say, ‘Can you start your empathy by just not being a jerk to the people you come across in your day-to-day life? Can you take a moment and not be so arrogant about your inner-voice that you bring it out immediately in the wake of a tragedy like this and tell us what you feel?’ Be heartfelt empathetic, not head-driven empathetic.”

I have found that when you truly love and care about your fellow man, having power, possessions and even pride becomes a heavy burden.

Do any of our leaders look up to such a task?

IlikedAUH2O on April 18, 2013 at 2:12 PM