Wednesday, December 04, 2013


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.

... 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.
There are several reasons why this is a ridiculous comparison.

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 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.


pstanley88 said...

A relatively unknown liberal attacking a completely well-known conservative = a relatively well-known conservative attacking a completely unknown liberal.

What don't you get about that?

It's basic algebra. The completely's, relatively's, well-known's and unknown's cancel each other out.

Leaving: A ... liberal attacking a ... conservative = a ... conservative attacking a ... liberal.

It's the MSM First Law of Both Sides Are to Blame(TM).

Danp said...

MSNBC overreacted greatly when David Schuster used the term "pimped out" about Chelsea Clinton. Bashir, like Limbaugh (and Don Imus), purposefully looks for sensational hyperbole. I won't miss him at all. When you have reason and logic on your side, you don't need this nonsense. Limbaugh, on the other hand, doesn't have that advantage, and his fans don't care.

Meanwhile, don't be too surprised if Bashir becomes the next "democrat strategist" on Fox News.

Victor said...

I could take him in small doses, but he was too histrionic for me.

Ten Bears said...

False equivalences are as much a part of the Kool-Aid as Ambien, Prozac, Viagra and crotch-shots on Fox. Projection, the repetition of the lie, is a far older (a whole nuther chapter of history) science refined eighty years ago by thr Nazis and like all of our sciences rooted in nineteen-thirties Germany works quite well.

No fear.

John Taylor said...

What Bashir said was pretty stupid. When has Sarah Palin ever apologized for the ugly smears she throws around recklessly? I can't remember her ever retracting one of her baseless attacks.

Glennis said...

Sarah Palin has a "massive" following?

Kathy said...

How about MSNBC gives Bashir's time slot to Joy Reid and Alec Baldwin's to W. Kamau Bell? Sounds like a good plan to me.