Media cried wolf: Calling every Republican a racist lost its bite

Once upon a time in the world of cable news, a guest or host or anchor calling anyone a racist would have considerable impact.

From what we've seen this week, when it comes to that word, those days are long gone. A person simply can't turn on the news or scroll Twitter for even more than a minute before hearing the word "racist" or "racism."

For example, CNN and MSNBC said the word "racist" more than 1,100 times from Sunday to Tuesday, according to a tally conducted by Grabien Media, an online media production and news prep service. 

The count, which doesn't include on-screen graphics commonly known as chyrons, came two days after President TrumpDonald John TrumpO'Rourke: Trump driving global, U.S. economy into recession Manchin: Trump has 'golden opportunity' on gun reforms Objections to Trump's new immigration rule wildly exaggerated MORE in a Sunday tweet said four Democratic congresswomen should "go back" to their home countries. All four congresswomen are U.S. citizens and members of minority groups, and three were born in the U.S. 

The president and his GOP allies on Capitol Hill have underscored that his argument is simply an ideological one based on the four congresswomen, dubbed "the squad," and what he argues is their collective embrace of pro-socialism and therefore anti-American, anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic policies. 

Some critics in the media and on the Democratic side, along with a handful of Republicans, argue the opposite: The president's comments about the squad constitute naked racism. He's a fascist. He's mentally unstable. He's a 21st-century Hitler. In this insane climate, this kind of rhetoric is all perfectly acceptable — and has existed since Trump announced his candidacy.

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGraham warns Trump on Taliban deal in Afghanistan: Learn from 'Obama's mistakes' Appropriators warn White House against clawing back foreign aid Trump meets with national security team on Afghanistan peace plan MORE (R-S.C.) put things in proper perspective on the watering down of the racism charge against anyone with an "R" next to their name. 

"Something I have learned: If you are a Republican nominee for President – or President – you will be accused of being a racist," Graham tweeted earlier this week. "[Rep.] John LewisJohn LewisCummings invites Trump to visit Baltimore House Democrat knocks Trump's Cummings tweet: 'This guy is a terrible, terrible human being' George Wallace's daughter: 'I saw Daddy a lot' during 2016 election MORE [D-Ga.] compared John McCainJohn Sidney McCainFighter pilot vs. astronaut match-up in Arizona could determine control of Senate The Hill's Morning Report — Recession fears climb and markets dive — now what? Trump makes rare trip to Clinton state, hoping to win back New Hampshire MORE’s campaign to being like that of George Wallace. It comes with the territory unfortunately." 

That's 100 percent correct. McCain was attacked in the 2008 presidential campaign as being a grumpy, get-off-my-lawn racist running against former President Obama.

ADVERTISEMENT

Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioTrump moves forward with F-16 sale to Taiwan opposed by China The Hill's Morning Report — Trump and the new Israel-'squad' controversy Trump crosses new line with Omar, Tlaib, Israel move MORE (R-Fla.) broke down the examples from 11 years ago.  

And 2012 nominee Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyA US-UK free trade agreement can hold the Kremlin to account Ex-CIA chief worries campaigns falling short on cybersecurity Overnight Defense: US, Russia tensions grow over nuclear arms | Highlights from Esper's Asia trip | Trump strikes neutral tone on Hong Kong protests | General orders ethics review of special forces MORE, who bent over backward to make himself more likable to Democrats and the press alike, was accused of "stoking the racial politics of yesteryear." 

Everything seems to be racist or soaked in racism these days, even the 1969 Apollo 11 moon landing. 

"America may have put the first man on the moon, but the Soviet Union sent the first woman, the first Asian man, and the first black man into orbit — all years before the U.S. would follow suit," wrote The New York Times on Thursday in a piece marinated in identity politics titled, "How the Soviets Won the Space Race for Equality."

But the Times's perspective on the Apollo moon mission pales in comparison to The Washington Post's on Tuesday. 

"The culture that put men on the moon was intense, fun, family-unfriendly, and mostly white and male," opined the Post.

There's an old children's book we've all read called "The Boy Who Cried Wolf." 

Now we're seeing it again — and again and again. Thousands of times in the past week we've heard or read the word "racist" or seen it blatantly implied. 

Call it "The Media That Cried Wolf." 

And we all know what happened to the boy who cried wolf too often: People stopped listening.  

Joe Concha is a media reporter for The Hill and co-host of "WOR Tonight with Joe Concha" weeknights on 710-WOR in New York. Follow Concha on Twitter @JoeConchaTV.