BLAME MARY MATALIN AND VIACOM/CBS
Pam Geller of Atlas Shrugs is all over TV these days -- NBC, CNN, MSNBC, Fox -- mostly railing against the proposed Islamic center at Ground Zero. Steve Benen and Media Matters correctly assert that there seems to be no right-winger who's too extreme to be treated as credible these days by the mainstream press -- Media Matters has a long list of Geller's most appalling statements (calling Obama a Nazi, asserting that he "wants jihad to win," insisting that he "allegedly was involved with a crack whore in his youth"), while Steve notes that Geller once wrote "a 12,000-word post ... that argued, in all seriousness, that Barack Obama is the illegitimate son of Malcolm X." Oh, and she's a birther, too.
How is she managing to go mainstream at this moment? Well, I can't explain the judgment (or lack thereof) of the news organizations that are booking her, but I can explain the timing: she has a book coming out in two weeks. The title is The Post-American Presidency: The Obama Administration's War on America; it's written with Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch, it has a foreword by John freaking Bolton, and it's being published by Threshold, the right-wing imprint run by Mary Matalin for Simon & Schuster, part of the Viacom/CBS media empire.
I'm not holding CNN and NBC and the rest blameless, but really, it was Matalin and her corporate masters who gave Geller a seat at the table of supposed respectability. The rest of the media was bound to follow.
Matalin started this imprint in March 2005 -- not long after the brouhaha involving the Dan Rather National Guard story, which aired on CBS. Penance? Clearly. But what started as penance -- a way for Viacom/CBS to prostrate itself before the then-powerful Bush administration and beg forgiveness -- is now a permanent blight on the landscape. And clearly it's getting more and more toxic.
By the way, Geller was getting mainstream media attention late in May when a group she heads, Stop the Islamization of America, put Islamophobic ads on New York City buses. A real self-promoter, that Pam.