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Boehlert, Beck, Tomorrow, Morans

Most liberals know about Eric Boehlert, a diligent reporter for Salon. I’ve been reading him forever. I just uncovered a shocking and eye-opening article he wrote for Rolling Stone about the press’s mistreatment of Al Gore in the 2000 election. Well worth revisiting. Samples:

Few journalists saw anything wrong with this double standard. In fact, some found it amusing. "You can actually disprove some of what Bush is saying if you really get in the weeds and get out your calculator, or you look at his record in Texas," Time magazine columnist Margaret Carlson told radio morning man Don Imus at the height of the campaign. "But it’s really easy, and it’s fun, to disprove Gore. As sport, and as our enterprise, Gore coming up with another whopper is greatly entertaining to us."

Who decided that covering presidential politics was supposed to be "entertaining" and "fun" for journalists?

The press responds to critics on the right by bending over backward not to look liberal," says Geneva Overholser, a professor at the University of Missouri School of Journalism and former ombudsman for the Washington Post, referring to the common conservative criticism of the so-called liberal media. "The cumulative effect is the opposite: They’re tougher on Democrats." She, too, is convinced there was "something fundamentally wrong" with the 2000 election press coverage.

Last year, a review conducted by two nonpartisan groups, Project for Excellence in Journalism and the Pew Research Center, found that a stunning seventy-six percent of the Gore campaign coverage in early 2000 centered around two negative themes: that he lies and exaggerates, and that he’s tarred by scandal. "We call it the metanarrative," says Tom Rosenstiel, director of Project for Excellence in Journalism. "Journalists are looking for a story line, a narrative device, that plays out over weeks and months, and there’s nothing wrong with that. The problem is if they let the narrative overwhelm the facts, then it becomes a distorting lens. It can lead journalists to ignore and mischaracterize facts as they try to fit them into the story."

More recently is his piece about the loony ravings about Glen Beck:

Here’s a sampling of what Beck’s been drumming into the heads of viewers, a portion of whom likely (and logically) hear his rhetoric as a call to action. That the government is a "heroin pusher using smiley-faced fascism to grow the nanny state." That it’s indoctrinating our children; that we have "come to a very dangerous point in our country’s long, storied history." Beck’s concerned that the "Big Brother" government will soon dictate what its citizens can eat, at what temperature their house can be set, and what kind of cars they’re allowed to drive.

Beck’s sure "[d]epression and revolution" are what await America under Obama, and fears moving "towards a totalitarian state." The country today sometimes reminds Beck of "the early days of Adolf Hitler." Beck thinks that Obama, who has "surrounded himself by Marxists his whole life," is now "addicting this country to heroin — the heroin that is government slavery."

Here’s Tom Tomorrow comic about Glen Beck, teabagging and the “Get a Brain! Morans!  mantra.

In the Shooting-Fish-in-Barrel department, Bob Cesca points out the historical inaccuracies of the teabag analogy.

And unless I’m mistaken, the basic idea of the tea bag revolution is to protest against government bailouts and in favor of tax cuts for the wealthiest five percent of Americans. Ultimately, the tea baggers (can I call them that?) appear to be against allowing the Bush’s tax cuts to expire. Strangely, they also appear to be against President Obama signing into law the largest middle class tax cut in history. They’re also against helping middle and working class "losers" keep their homes. (By the way, your neighbor’s mortgage is your problem. Just watch your property values plummet as soon as there’s just one foreclosure on your block.)

This series of Obama policies, they say, portends tyranny in America. Of course none of the policies of the Bush administration were considered tyrannical by many of the current tea bag leaders. You know the list of Bush trespasses. The illegal searches and seizures, the illegal electronic eavesdropping and torturing. The suspension of habeas corpus, the record deficits, the doubling of the national debt and so on. None of that was tyrannical. But allowing the tax cuts for the wealthiest five percent to expire is absolutely the vanguard of totalitarianism.

The Boston Tea Party was ultimately precipitated by a massive corporate tax cut.

In 1773, the only major multinational corporation at the time, the British East India Company, was teetering on the verge of bankruptcy. According to that obviously liberal organization, the Boston Tea Party Historical Society, one solution was to bail out the corporation by offering it a government loan. But instead, at the urging of the East India Company’s powerful lobbyists and supported by King George III, Parliament passed the Tea Act which almost entirely eliminated the duty — the tax — on British tea exported by the East India Company to the American colonies. How do we know this? Well, the actual subtitle of the Tea Act, for one:

An act to allow a drawback of the duties of customs on the exportation of tea to any of his Majesty’s colonies or plantations in America; to increase the deposit on bohea tea to be sold at the East India Company’s sales; and to empower the commissioners of the treasury to grant licences to the East India Company to export tea duty-free.

The rationale was that lower taxes meant lower prices, which meant the East India Company would sell a lot more tea. Your basic free market precursor to Reaganomics and supply-side economics in action. In other words, the British government’s solution to the East India Company’s financial crisis was, in effect, a tax cut. A big one. Exactly the same economic solution that’s been pushed by congressional Republicans and the tea bag revolutionaries 236 years later.

The tax cut was viewed by colonial patriots as another example of British tyranny against smaller merchants whose business would be severely undercut. Consequently, political activists and, most famously, the Sons of Liberty, organized a boycott against the East India Company’s tea. And later that year, when the Dartmouth, Beaver and Eleanor were docked in Boston harbor, the Sons carried out their famous protest.

Finally, an observation. Not only is Tom Tomorrow is hilarious comic artist, he puts so much satire and argument into a single cartoon. His caricatures and use of colors are always just surreal; I never know what I’m going to see next. I have two volumes of his books (in color), and even though the political humor is dated, I find I still respond to the dazzling shapes and colors. Tom Tomorrow, you are a national hero!

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