Via the Daily Rushbo, belated reaction to the media’s latest attempt to bash a square peg into a round narrative hole. Over at Slate, Dave Weigel says it’s unfair to equate Brian Ross with “the media” because Ross isn’t really a partisan, just a guy so hungry for sensational scoops that he’ll happily follow a lead from either side, on air, right up his own rear end. I actually prefer that explanation to the standard “committed left-wing hack trying to score a cheap point on the right” theory because I think it better captures how egregiously the press has mainstreamed the false “tea-party violence” storyline after three years of endless hysteria about it. After all, it’s not news when a liberal reporter or pundit tries to scapegoat the right for an act of mass violence; they have an agenda, they see an opportunity, and they take it, facts be damned. More ominous to me is the idea that the narrative template of tea partiers as domestic terrorists is so firmly set in media circles that even a comparatively “nonpartisan” reporter like Ross would gravitate to it after a mass shooting. To see what I mean, go skim Gabe Malor’s round-up of media/online scares about the TP over the last three years following major acts of violence in America. Everyone remembers the aftermath of the Tucson shooting, when the demagoguery was most pronounced because a political figure was at the center, but it’s the tip of the iceberg. The story of the deranged tea partier has achieved the status of Larger Truth, and so Ross, hackishly yet quite naturally given his profession, had it pop to mind as a possible angle after Aurora. Imagine his confusion upon discovering that it’s horribly irresponsible to impute political motives to James Holmes without knowing anything about him when it was A-OK to do so with Jared Loughner.
Here’s a transcript of Limbaugh’s monologue in case you don’t have time for the clip. Exit question: Have we reached a national consensus yet on whether it’s okay to politicize mass killings? I’ve been told that’s a decidedly bad thing to do after a terrorist attack, but if the politicization involves gun control, there appears to be some wiggle room.