Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The Lyons roars

Gene Lyons takes on the eliminationist wingnuts in his latest column [link not yet available; will publish it as soon as it is]. As Gene points out, the notion that the New York Times has a liberal bias runs directly counter to his own experience:
The New York Times arrogant? Goodness, yes. Condescending too. During the decade the newspaper devoted to its farcical coverage of the Whitewater hoax, feeding out of Kenneth Starr's soft little hand like a Shetland pony, I experienced that condescension first hand. Even confronted with dispositive documentary evidence its Whitewater stories were bunk, its basic response never varied: "We're the New York Times and you're not."

But left wing? Well, the Times, along with the Washington Post, led the 2000 "War on Gore" that basically gave Bush the presidency. Then-columnist, now executive editor Bill Keller actually quoted his 3 year-old daughter's opinion that the Democratic nominee was a stiff.

After 9/11, the Times, along with the rest of the newspaper consortium, buried its finding that had all the legal votes in Florida been counted in 2000, Al Gore would have been president.

Lest we forget, it was reporter Judith Miller's series of leaked, single-source "exclusives" touting Saddam Hussein's imaginary nuclear weapons, accompanied by TV appearances by Condoleeza Rice and Dick Cheney carefully coordinated with Times publication dates, that helped stampede the nation to war. Columnist Keller thought invading Iraq was a terrific idea.

Now the Times has its reward. San Francisco Chronicle columnist Jon Carroll thinks he knows why. "Many members of the president's base consider 'New York' to be a nifty code word for 'Jewish.' It is very nice for the president to be able to campaign against the Jews without (a) actually saying the word 'Jew' and (b) without irritating the Israelis."

Actually, that's wishful thinking. Anti-Semitism, as such, is old hat among True Believers on the extreme right. For years, the idea's been percolating through the right's well-organized propaganda apparatus that Democrats aren't loyal Americans. Regarding Ann Coulter’s ludicrous book "Slander," I once wrote that "the 'liberal' sins [she] caricatures -- atheism, cosmopolitanism, sexual license, moral relativism, communism, disloyalty and treason -- are basically identical to the crimes of the Jews as Hitler saw them."

Michael Savage, Michael Reagan, Sean Hannity, Michelle Malkin, Limbaugh and others peddle the same sterilized American update of an ancient slur. Limbaugh recently called 80 percent of Times subscribers "jihadists."

Now the Bush White House, desperate to prevail in 2006 congressional elections, has taken up the cry. Reasonable people never want to believe extremists believe their own rhetoric. But quit kidding yourselves. We're witnessing mass psychosis. The next terrorist strike, should it happen, will be blamed on the enemy within: treasonous "liberals" who dissent from the glorious reign of George W. Bush.

Unless confronted, it's through such strategems that democracies fail and constitutional republics become dictatorships.

Gene, as always, says it all.

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