Halperin: Hey, why did conservatives defend themselves from being smeared?

Say, isn’t the phrase “war stations” a use of violent imagery?  I’m just sayin’ ….

“I think the media and the politicians have behaved pretty well so far”? The normally sensible Mark Halperin from Time runs off the rails in this segment from today’s Morning Joe, and that was hardly the worst of it. He blamed the “anger of the right-wing commentariat,” including George Will, for the controversy started when CNN and other media outlets began tying the shooting in Arizona to Sarah Palin and Tea Party activism.  Joe Scarborough points out that it was Palin and conservatives who got smeared, not the other way around, but Halperin says that conservatives should have just “turned the other cheek” and stopped defending themselves.

Mary Katharine Ham is aghast:

“I just want to single out one thing. I think the media and the politicians have behaved pretty well so far.I’m worried about the anger of the right-wing commentariat,” Halperin said. “Fox and George Will and other conservatives are in some cases justifiably upset at liberals, but they’re turning this back into the standard operating procedure of ‘all this is war and fodder for content’ rather than trying to bring the country together.”

“Wait a second,” Scarborough responded. “I think they would say that you have that backwards, that a shooting was turned into fodder to attack conservatives.”

Halperin: “And, I already made that criticism, as well. they’re right, but rather than seizing on it and turning the other cheek, they’re back at their war stations. that’s not going to help us.”

The conversation then pivoted from a discussion of the actual facts to yet another lecture on rhetoric, with Scarborough hoping conservatives see it as a “wake-up call” on rhetoric even though he had just established that there was no connection between rhetoric and the shooting.

You know what would help us?  The media actually doing its job rather than participating in the smear campaign.  What exactly did Halperin and his magazine do to report that conservatives were being smeared, as he acknowledges three days later?  If their Swampland blog is any indication, exactly zero.  The only pushback on the meme came from Joe Klein, who wanted to use the tragedy to talk about gun control and the mentally ill  rather than the “need to clean up the mess” in national political debate.

Why did conservatives feel the need to defend themselves?  Because of the extreme, heated, and ignorant rhetoric coming from many on the Left as they exploited the tragedy, and the silence and/or complicity of the media, including people like Mark Halperin.