August 8, 2012 by David K. Sutton
Harry Reid resorts to Republican-like tactics and the media loses it’s mind
I wrote last week about Senator Harry Reid’s claim that Mitt Romney didn’t pay taxes for 10 years. In that post I agreed with Jon Stewart’s segment where he called Harry Reid “terrible,” and I still stand by that assessment mainly because Reid felt the need to say, “His poor father must be so embarrassed about his son.” That’s not only terrible, it’s awful.
Over at The Daily Beast, Michelle Goldberg writes that a “Democrat is successfully engaged in the sort of hardball tactics that Republicans usually have a monopoly on, and the media don’t quite know what to make of it.” I wholeheartedly agree with that assessment as well.
When it comes to making wild, unsubstantiated allegations, the GOP benefits from the soft bigotry of low expectations—at this point, few people can bring themselves to get that worked up about insane Republican mudslinging. Yet when a Democrat even tiptoes in that direction it’s news, and a chance for pundits to demonstrate the bipartisan bona fides so valued in the Beltway. It’s not balance, though, to equate the toughest rhetoric coming from each side when they’re saying such radically different things. – Harry Reid Is Vilified by a Press Corps That Tolerates Much Worse From the Right: Michelle Goldberg, The Daily Beast
Goldberg points to some of the most outrageous claims by Republicans and contrasts it with Harry Reid’s claim. Some prominent Republicans have made it no secret they are birthers or at least sympathetic to the birther movement that claims Obama wasn’t born in America. And more recently you have the claim by Representative Michele Bachmann that the Muslim Brotherhood has infiltrated the Obama administration. Both of these outrageous claims are reported in the media almost as if they are perfectly legitimate issues, when it should be the media’s job to call out these falsehoods.
The media should not give a platform to the extreme voices in the Republican Party (or any party or institution) without any checks. I’m not talking censorship, I’m saying you don’t let these people off the hook. You press them on the issue, and if they don’t produce any evidence, then you continue to push back. What you don’t do is continue to report it when there is zero evidence. And that is exactly what is going on with the Reid claim, except his claim is much less severe and could easily be proven right or wrong by Mitt Romney releasing his tax returns. So while I don’t agree with Reid’s tactics, it’s mostly harmless. Yet this didn’t stop the media from losing it’s mind, like ABC’s Jonathon Karl when he said Reid’s claim was “one of the most outrageous charges that I’ve ever seen actually made on the Senate floor.” Really? I think Reid is wrong, but it’s the most “outrageous” charge ever?
And I haven’t even gotten into the Republican reaction to Reid’s claim. Do I even need to at this point?
There is definitely a double standard here. We are so accustomed to crazy Republican nonsense, we basically tune it out and then move on to the next issue. And maybe that’s ok, because I think Democrats should hold themselves to a higher standard and not stoop to the level of Republicans. / photo by Center for American Progress Action Fund