Bias leads to recklessness

Politicians on the losing side of an issue or argument tend to look for a way to change the subject or redirect the debate to put their opponent on the defensive.

In today’s politically correct world, liberals invariably try to change the subject by charging as loudly and as widely as possible that their opponents are racists. Thus, opponents of ObamaCare were racists, the Tea Partiers are racists, Andrew Breitbart is a racist, and Fox News or anyone to the right of, say, Nancy Pelosi is a racist. 

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It is possible that a few of the folks who throw such charges around actually believe that everyone who differs with them is racially motivated, but most play the race card because it seems to work. This cynical willingness to exploit racial hatred for political or ideological purposes comes through most clearly in the e-mail traffic among the liberal journalists who frequented and perhaps plotted strategy on Journolist, the now happily defunct listserv e-mail discussion group recently outed by Tucker Carlson’s Daily Caller.

Ezra Klein, a former Howard Dean campaign walker currently employed by The Washington Post, had hosted an e-mail discussion group among as many as 400 liberal journalists, hacks and academics who during the course of the 2008 presidential campaign actively discussed how to promote Barack Obama and smear his critics.

Those who were a part of Journolist are today attacking Carlson for publishing “off-the-record” conversations among friends that were never intended to see the light of day. It’s a curious defense from men and women who in the course of their daily employment regularly violate the privacy of those about whom they write, but even a cursory reading of what Carlson has thus far published explains why they are so upset.

Whether the published material “proves” the 400 participants were involved in an active conspiracy to distort news coverage to benefit Obama is not as surprising as the way some suggested maligning the motives and personal character of Obama’s critics as a legitimate way to advance their position without any real pushback from others on the list.

Thus, when the Jeremiah Wright story surfaced and seemed to threaten Obama’s momentum, Journolist participants were outraged and dogged in pursuing ways to neutralize the story, defend Wright and Obama or change the subject. Some were willing to ignore the Wright-Obama connection and hope the story would die; others suggested more active measures. Spencer Ackerman of the Washington Independent believed he knew just how to change the subject. What liberal journalists should do, he wrote, was to pick out one of Obama’s harshest critics and target him as a racist. To Ackerman, it didn’t matter whom they chose to defame: “Fred Barnes, Karl Rove, who cares  — and call him a racist.”

Think for a minute about what he was suggesting. To protect their candidate and change the subject, Ackerman seriously suggested to as many as 400 of his colleagues that they make a concerted effort to destroy the reputation, and perhaps the career, of a journalist with whom they disagreed. Let’s call him a racist, Ackerman argued, not because he is and not because we have any evidence to support such a charge, but because doing so will change the subject and intimidate his colleagues.

One would expect outrage in response, but there apparently wasn’t any. Even those on the list who wouldn’t consider following such cynical advice or who shied away from the idea of rhetorically convicting an innocent man of racism weren’t outraged enough to expose Ackerman as a modern-day McCarthyite for whom the ends would clearly justify any means.

Ackerman’s colleagues didn’t march out en masse to follow his suggestion, but many of them obviously share his penchant for cavalierly exploiting racial tensions to advance their agenda. No mainstream journalist covering the protests at the Capitol prior to the passage of the Obama healthcare bill questioned the claim that Tea Partiers hurled racial epithets and spit on minority members of Congress working their way through the crowd, though no tape or independent verification of these allegations has ever come to light. And now these same people are outraged over what they saw as Andrew Breitbart’s failure to exercise sufficient “due diligence” in the Shirley Sherrod case.

These folks aren’t just biased; they’re willing to condone or cover up lying and recklessness in the effort to achieve the results they favor.

And they dare call themselves journalists.

Keene is chairman of the American Conservative Union and a managing associate with the Carmen Group, a Washington-based governmental 
consulting firm.