Dec
08
2009

GOP: Sauce for the Goose Is Terrible for the Gander

We've noted the corporate media's double standard on Nazi analogies: When conservatives are compared to the Third Reich, however obscurely, it's an outrageous slur, but when leaders of the right charge progressives with Hitler-like tendencies, it's unremarkable political rhetoric.

Political Animal's Steve Benen (12/8/09) rounds up some similar examples of criticisms that are outrageous when applied by the left to the right, but no big deal when they go the other way–starting with the manufactured controversy over Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's likening Republican foot-dragging over healthcare reform to conservatives' lack of urgency over women's suffrage and ending slavery:

If we're to believe the faux-outrage, the reference to slavery was the rhetorical element that went too far. But this, apparently, is a new concern–the right has been far more direct in making the same comparison. Harry Reid was talking about key moments in history in which the right was wrong, but Michele Bachmann recently called the Democrats' legislative agenda "nothing more than slavery," and no one said a word. Indeed, conservatives routinely insist that the left is trying "enslave" America, and the political mainstream just shrugs its shoulders in response.

This is not uncommon. In 2005, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) described the Bush administration's torture policies and system of secret prisons as being reminiscent of "Soviets in their gulags." At the time, the media and Republicans were apoplectic about Durbin's remarks, sparking a week-long frenzy. Several conservatives called on the Senate to censure Durbin, and Karl Rove, at the time a high-ranking White House official, argued that Durbin's quote was evidence that liberals are traitors. Durbin eventually offered a tearful apology.

But notice that just a few days ago, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), a member of the Senate Republican leadership, called Medicaid a "health care gulag." Rep. John Shadegg (R-Ariz.) recently called Dems' health care reform efforts "Soviet-style gulag health care." Neither reporters nor other members of Congress batted an eye.

Also note, when Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) said Republicans are promoting lethal healthcare policies, it was a huge national controversy. When Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) said the same thing, no one seemed to care.

Journalists really ought to try putting the next GOP press release on this topic in the circular bin. "He called me a name back" is a complaint that you should have learned not to take seriously by the second grade.

About Jim Naureckas

Extra! Magazine Editor Since 1990, Jim Naureckas has been the editor of Extra!, FAIR's monthly journal of media criticism. He is the co-author of The Way Things Aren't: Rush Limbaugh's Reign of Error, and co-editor of The FAIR Reader: An Extra! Review of Press and Politics in the '90s. He is also the co-manager of FAIR's website. He has worked as an investigative reporter for the newspaper In These Times, where he covered the Iran-Contra scandal, and was managing editor of the Washington Report on the Hemisphere, a newsletter on Latin America. Jim was born in Libertyville, Illinois, in 1964, and graduated from Stanford University in 1985 with a bachelor's degree in political science. Since 1997 he has been married to Janine Jackson, FAIR's program director. You can follow Jim on Twitter at @JNaureckas.