Discourse in America has devolved over the years to the point that it has created an acrimonious environment in the political scene. There is plenty of blame to go around on all sides. But media activist outlets like The New York Times are demonstrating a remarkable level of hypocrisy when it comes to this issue.
The Times published a piece on Wednesday claiming that right-wing talk radio was largely responsible for provoking anger in the lead-up to the riots at the U.S. Capitol building on Jan. 6. The authors singled out several different talk radio personalities like Glenn Beck, Mark Levin, Rush Limbaugh, and selectively pulled quotes to intimate that these individuals were partly to blame for the assault on the Capitol.
“Two days before a mob of Trump supporters invaded the United States Capitol, upending the nation’s peaceful transition of power and leaving at least five people dead, the right-wing radio star Glenn Beck delivered a message to his flock of 10.5 million listeners: ‘It is time to fight,’” the authors wrote, noting that Beck also told his audience, “It is time to go to war, as the left went to war four years ago.”
The piece also points out that Beck “had speculated for weeks about baseless claims of voter fraud in the presidential race.”
Surprisingly, the authors admit that “Mr. Beck did not lobby for his listeners to invade the Capitol,” and later urged protesters “to really kind of channel your inner Martin Luther King,” claiming that violence is “just not who we’ve ever been.”
But the article still contends that “the language he used on his Jan. 4 show was typical of the aggressive rhetoric that permeated conservative talk radio in the weeks before the Washington siege.
The author also honed in on Mark Levin, who said stealing elections “is becoming the norm for the Democrat Party” and called on his listeners to “crush them, crush them. We need to kick their ass.”
In the piece, the authors claim that right-wing talk radio plays a balancing act ostensibly to protect themselves from being blamed for inciting violence. They wrote:
This type of push-and-pull — stoking listeners’ anger, then pulling back and disavowing the more extreme views voiced by callers — is typical of corporate right-wing radio hosts, whose success relies on provocation but whose multimillion-dollar paychecks depend on staying within the bounds of their publicly traded distributors.
As an example, the Times attempts to use an exchange between Fox News host Sean Hannity during his radio show. They wrote:
Mr. Hannity, on his Dec. 18 radio show, said of the election: “There’s no doubt this was stolen. No doubt whatsoever.” But he balked on Jan. 5, when a caller named Kim referred to Gretchen Whitmer, the Democratic governor of Michigan, as “Governor Hitler.”
“Easy, now,” Mr. Hannity said. “When you make those references, everyone says, ‘Hannity allowed someone to make a Nazi comparison!’”
The authors’ objective, of course, is to make it seem as if Hannity actually supports Nazi references in relation to the left, but wants to seem as if he doesn’t. Nevertheless, this entire piece is an exercise in “do as we say, not as we do.”
If the writers of the piece wished to be intellectually honest, they would acknowledge the many instances where left-leaning politicians, leaders, and media activists engage in the same type of rhetoric without a word of criticism from the Times.
CNN media activist Christiane Amanpour came under fire last November for remarks she made comparing the Trump administration to the Nazis. On the 82nd anniversary of Kristallnacht, a brutal Nazi attack on Jews, she claimed that it was an assault on “fact, knowledge, history, and truth,” and that Trump represented a modern-day version of the attack on these values.
Last week, Virginia Heffernan, a media activist with The Los Angeles Times, wrote a piece arguing that her Trump-supporting neighbors were similar to operatives working with Islamic terrorist group Hezbollah and the Nazis. (See: Los Angeles Times Writer Promotes Unity By Comparing Trump Supporters To Hezbollah Terrorists And Nazis)
Also, we can’t forget about CNN anchor Don Lemon, who insisted that Americans who voted for Trump are the same as neo-Nazis and white nationalists involved in the assault on the Capitol.
“You’re in the crowd who voted for Trump. If you voted for Trump, you voted for the person who the Klan supported. You voted for the person who Nazis support. You voted for the person who the alt-right supports. That’s the crowd that you are in,” Lemon said. “You voted for the person who incited a crowd to go into the Capitol and potentially take the lives of lawmakers. Took the lives of police officers. Took the lives of innocent lives who were there on the Capitol that day.”
These are only a few examples of high-profile leftists who have used language that could be construed as incitement. This video shows even more left-wingers using harsh rhetoric against the right.
— Maj Toure (@MAJTOURE) January 10, 2021
As I said previously, there is plenty of provocative rhetoric being used by people on both sides of the political divide. But it won’t abate unless those who want more civility are willing to conclusively repudiate those who don’t regardless of political affiliation.