IF YOU CAN'T BLAME LIBERALS, BLAME THE MEDIA
When right-wingers began distancing themselves from Terry Jones's planned Koran-burning on 9/11, I joked, "How long do you think it's going to be before they start declaring that [Jones is] a liberal?" Well, more and more righties have now denounced Jones, though I don't think anyone's figured out a way to blame him on us.
However, via Steve Benen, I see that Howie Kurtz has found the next-best scapegoat:
Are the media turning this crazy Koran-burning scheme into the next Manhattan mosque?
The story of this kooky pastor seems to me to be substantially overplayed, with potentially dangerous consequences.
...Why does the world need to follow the antics of one obscure book-burner in Florida? You can say we're just covering the story, but our combined megaphone has made it into an international story....
I suppose Kurtz has a case to make -- a 2004 Koran-burning by Flip Benham, the leader of a religious-right group called Operation Save America, drew little attention.
But Kurtz's column is going to be used by right-wingers as the ideal means to shift blame away from themselves and their recent orgy of Muslim-bashing. And that wave of bigotry is precisely why it was appropriate to cover what Jones is planning.
... how did we get to this point? The first national report I found was carried by Religious News Service on July 21.... Not much happened.
OK, let's go back to that Religious News Service story and note a key detail:
In response to the posting of the event on Facebook a little more than a week ago, Jones said that ... organizers got the idea, in part, from another Facebook page, called "Everybody Draw Muhammad Day."
Remember that? It was an abortive effort to offend Muslims who believe that representations of Muhammad's face should not be made -- and it was enthusiastically endorsed by Pam Geller, Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch (the coauthor of Geller's book), Andrew Breitbart's Big Government, Mark Steyn at National Review Online, RedState, Michelle Malkin, Glenn Reynolds, Hot Air, and a host of others on the right.
And, of course, in the months that followed, most of these people spread grotesque distortions about the Islamic cultural center near Ground Zero.
Was the press supposed to report on a rising level of Islam-bashing by these supposedly respectable right-wingers and then ignore Jones, who seemed like a natural offshoot of the new anti-Islam movement because, to a great extent, he was?
Sorry -- the press coverage has been appropriate. People who are deemed to be within the pale have helped unleash ugly, vicious hatreds. Arguing that the fringier haters should have been ignored is a way of letting those "respectable" people off the hook. And now we're going to hear that it was the media (read: the liberal media) that endangered our troops and embassies, not Jones, and not, by extension, the rest of the Muslim-bashing right.
UPDATE: And so it begins -- from NewsBusters, here's "Did Media Negligently Create Koran Burning Controversy?" Yes, this will be a very, very useful meme for the right.
AND: This also relates to the point I tried to make above.