Thursday, May 25, 2017

Pretending Both Sides Are Equal

According to Politico, three Montana newspapers have withdrawn their endorsement of the GOP nominee for the state's lone member of the US House of Representatives in the wake of his alleged assault of Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs (below, C-Span live stream).

You probably know what came next in the report. None of the three- The Helena Independent Review, The Missoulian, or The Billings Gazette- switched to Democrat Rob Quist.

Remarks of the latter tell us a lot about the mainstream media's approach to national politics in this era. Members of the editorial board at The Billings Gazette are "at a loss for words." Not so much, however. They huff and puff

If what was heard on tape and described by eye-witnesses is accurate, the incident in Bozeman is nothing short of assault. We wouldn't condone it if it happened on the street. We wouldn't condone it if it happened in a home or even a late-night bar fight. And we couldn't accept it from a man who is running to become Montana's lone Congressional representative.

They do show some perspective when noting

.... that all the other questionable interactions Gianforte had with reporters, including one case where he joked about ganging up on a reporter, must now be seen through a much more sinister lens. What he passed off as a joke at the time now becomes much more serious.

They conclude

we hope that Republican party members and leaders call this for what it appears to be, an inexcusable act. We hope that partisan politics has not eroded our decency to the point where leaders and supporters feel the need to defend the indefensible.

It does not matter whether they term it "inexcusable." Not only will the characterization mean nothing as GOP members of the US House of Representatives continue to push the agenda of a President who has encouraged violence and continually denigrated the press.  During the general election campaign, the then-leader of that Party admitted that its candidate, Donald J. Trump,  had made a statement "sort of like a textbook definition of a racist comment"- then reiterated his endorsement of him.

But the bigger problem is "we hope that partisan politics has not eroded our decency to the point where leaders and supporters feel the need to defend the indefensible."   Partisan politics suggests that this door swings both ways. Quite the contrary, though, as we recall June, 2011, when Democrats acted in characteristic fashion:

President Barack Obama has joined the ever-growing chorus of Democrats seeking the resignation of New York Rep. Anthony Weiner, putting even more pressure on the embattled lawmaker to quit the House in the midst of a sex scandal that seems to produce a new, embarrassing chapter with each passing day.

“I can tell you that if it was me, I would resign,’’ Obama said during an interview scheduled to air Tuesday morning on NBC’s “Today” show.

“And when you get to the point where, because of various personal distractions, you can’t serve as effectively as you need to at the time when people are worrying about jobs, and their mortgages, and paying the bills, then you should probably step back,” Obama said.

Obama’s comments are the latest — and most serious — blow to Weiner’s 

political career, which has imploded after the Democrat was caught sending lewd photos and online communication to at least a half-dozen women he met online.

In addition to Obama, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.); Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee; Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel of New York; and more than a dozen other House Democrats have called for him to step down.

Over 15 Democratic members of the House of Representatives (including their leader in the House) and the President, also a Democrat, called on Weiner to resign, even though he had requested a leave of absence from the chamber and sought a psychological evaluation.

Three days later he resigned. That's how Democrats do it. The "partisan politics" cited by The Billings Gazette- a charge often trotted out in media- is a facile appeal to "bipartisanship."  When GOP hyper-partisanship is ignored in favor of an appeal to bipartisanship with faulty premise, truth is conveniently discarded.

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