As you probably know, Martin Bashir has resigned from MSNBC:
Just over two weeks ago, MSNBC host Martin Bashir delivered a harsh piece of commentary that culminated in the suggestion that someone should "s-h-i-t" in former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin's (R-AK) mouth. Bashir offered an abject apology on his next broadcast, but a chorus of critics continued to demand action against the host. After a reported "vacation" for the host earlier this week, Bashir announced, in a statement to Mediaite Wednesday afternoon, that MSNBC and Martin Bashir are parting ways....I'vr criticized Bashir because he attacked Palin not merely by drawing attention to the stupidity of her ideas, but by imagining a sadistic personal attack against Palin; it's fine with me that he's gone.
But the whining we started hearing on the right before his resignation is way out of line:
Remember how there was an insane amount of network and cable news coverage about Rush Limbaugh calling Sandra Fluke a slut? Well, the conservative media watchdog group Media Research Center compared how the media covered that outrageous remark last year to how they covered Martin Bashir's disgusting comments about Sarah Palin just last month.There are several reasons why this is a ridiculous comparison.
... the Media Research Center found the coverage disparity striking....
The report cites 32 stories the big three networks ran on Limbaugh, contrasting it with the total lack of stories on Bashir in the two weeks following his initial remarks.
The Washington Post's Erik Wemple raises one of them, though he misses the point:
Bashir is a pipsqueak who does his work in what BuzzFeed cable-TV fiend Dorsey Shaw calls the "super-dead zone" of daytime MSNBC programming; Limbaugh is an American giant. They're not even close to being comparable from the standpoint of newsworthiness. Yet! The victim of Bashir's outburst was none other than Palin, a woman who, like it or not, has a massive following in the United States. That factor evens things out a bit.The first point is inarguable. Limbaugh isn't merely a huge presence in American politics, he's been one for more than two decades. He was so influential in getting GOP congress elected in 1994 that the incoming Class of '94 made him an honorary member. He was close enough to Dick Cheney that he snagged six interviews with him while Cheney was vice president. Just in the past few years, he's struck so much fear in the hearts of Republicans that then-RNC chairman Michael Steele, Congressmen Phil Gingrey, Todd Tiahrt, and Darrell Issa, and even Sarah Palin have had to walk back remarks he didn't like. I don't even think anyone at MSNBC fears (or feared) Bashir, much less any Democrats.
But Wemple says this is offset by the importance of Bashir's target. That's where I see it exactly the opposite way. For years Palin has been in the arena, as a governor, VP candidate, and professional pundit/provocateur; she's chosen to court controversy at a big-league level for a living. What Bashir said went too far, but she ought to have somewhat of a thick skin -- if not, she should find another line of work.
When Limbaugh attacked Fluke, however, she was all but unknown; she'd gone public with a defense of contraceptive benefits, but she wasn't a public figure. When Limbaugh attacked her, he was definitely punching down.
And punching and punching and punching. Erik Wemple today quotes the Media Research Center's Geoffrey Dickens referring to the time "Limbaugh made his crude Fluke joke." "Joke" singular? Wemple knows better -- or at least he used to. At the time of Limbaugh's assault on Fluke -- which went on for three days --Wemple found twenty separate attacks on Fluke at RushLimbaugh.com. Media Matters found 46 attacks on Fluke over those three days; John K. Wilson Of Daily Kos found 52, and made a supercut of the attacks that's painful to watch:
The assault on Fluke was relentless. Limbaugh didn't apologize until Day Four.
And -- oh, yeah -- Limbaugh is still on the air.
No comparison whatsoever.