In looking for answers CNN’s “media expert” only turns over half the rocks.
It is a story tailored to the press: guns were used, on a political target, and it was clearly motivated by our current combative climate. Surely the press would blast this across chyrons and lead hourly segments with the images. Obviously, grave faces would be made during the reports, and a loud debate would erupt on panels dedicated to the event.
Nope. Turns out the target was a regional GOP party office, and that means there is no such hysteria and outrage attached. No calls for a dampening of rhetoric are being made, and certainly no exploration into the contribution the media made to this hateful act will ensue. Most outlets gave the incident a passing mention, with some reports describing the shooting in Volusia County’s Republican Party headquarters as mere “vandalism”.
This reticence flies in the face of what Brian Stelter has had to say in response to other events of this nature from last week. When it comes to mail “bomber” Caesar Sayoc, and the Pittsburgh synagogue shooter Robert Bowers, there is plenty of outrage, and plenty of cause to be thrown. President Trump is predictably to blame, but also culpable here is Stelter’s favorite media target, Fox News.
In this week before the midterms the media is in full throat opposing political violence and threats — but only some violence and threats. Whenever the target of this type of heinous behavior interrupts the talking-points, such as a GOP office in the Daytona Beach area, there is little condemnation to be hurled about. It is a convenient outrage that Brian Stelter exhibits, one that rarely involves him turning around and pointing a finger at the other side — and that never will be pointed at the mirror.
We have spent the past two years listening to this administration getting branded as “Nazis”, so often the first term could be mistaken for a reboot of “Hogan’s Heroes”. On media panels Trump is freely labeled with charges of being a racist, sexist, homophobe. The GOP has been branded as terrorists, and latest policy decisions are said to be “radicalizing” people. Then there are the times guests on shows mention direct violence against the President, with little to no pushback. But Fox is to blame for the climate in this country?
Lost in the wash of the wall-to-wall mail bomb coverage was that just the day prior the New York Times printed a Trump assassination fantasy piece. It was not a slip of the tongue in an interview, or an op-ed The Paper of Record could sidestep from. In its book section the paper commissioned a number of novelists to write a fictionalized account of the Presidency in 2020. One submission by writer Zoe Sharp had the Russians – aided by the Secret Service – assassinating Donald Trump.
No hand-wringing from Brian about the coarsening of our media was heard. Stelter gives no stern lecture about the Times contributing to our current wave of violence.
In focusing his blame on Fox Brian said on a recent panel centered on the synagogue shooting that the network shoulders deep responsibility. “I sure hope some of those Fox hosts, some of those commentators take a moment, take a minute to think about their role in this environment,” Stelter said. “Hopefully there is some soul searching right now in the wake of [the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting].”
In his email column Stelter continued the outrage. “I think it’s clear that suspects were radicalized, to some degree, on the internet. It’s valuable to find out what these suspects were reading and watching and saying.” What is so very striking here is that whenever events are found to involve violence directed at GOP or conservative targets Brian and his guests never manage to see the value in exploring what motivated those actions.
Tellingly when expressing concern over, say, Fox News commentary Stelter sees no culpability in the mad rush by him and his peers to assess blame. Immediately after the first bomb packages were reported last week President Trump was to blame. CNN CEO Jeff Zucker issued a statement laying the responsibility squarely at the President’s feet. Yet in all the noble pontificating made by the pundits these journalists managed to overlook key facts when stating Trump’s anti-Semitism was to blame.
Many of these same journalists were previously outraged at Trump moving the US embassy to Jerusalem, and Nikki Haley’s tenure at the UN was filled with strengthening the bond we have with the state of Israel. Also curious, in order to suggest antagonism with Jews, they need to avoid the fact that Trump’s daughter Ivanka, her husband, and his grandchildren are all Orthodox. But the biggest blind spot of all comes from Stelter’s own words on the matter.
He does not seem curious enough about what Bowers wrote in his social media concerning the President. If Brian looked into the matter he would have seen the shooter was in fact disillusioned by Trump, specifically because he lacked sufficient anti-Semitism. Bowers declared he never owned, wore or touched a MAGA hat. This was because he decreed that Trump was in fact being controlled by the Jews. But we are told his bigoted violence was at the behest of Trump.
Amazingly, as he rages at Fox over the political threats, when carbon-copy events transpire involving the other side there is no condemnation. Despite bearing many similarities to Sayoc when James Hodgkinson shot up a Republican softball team, seriously wounding Steve Scalise, there where far fewer forensic reports of his social media. An avowed Bernie Sanders supporter with an obsession over health care Hodgkinson sought out the GOP and exacted his violence. No curiosity over what motivated him?
Just weeks before the mail bombs there was another postal threat against political leaders in this country. Somehow the name William Clyde Allen is not widely known to the public. Though he sent a variety of letters with ricin-like components the press, and Brian Stelter, have done little digging into what motivated Allen. Possibly this is due to his targeting Donald Trump, James Mattis, and a number of other prominent military leaders. Individuals on that side curiously do not get placed in the “political terror target” category.
Hodgkinson and Allen — and the Daytona shooting “vandal” – somehow evade the media scrutiny. There is no possibility in the eyes of Brian Stelter they could have become influenced by press reports, therefore there is no need to explore the culpability of any members of the media. When you only look in one direction you are bound to only see one culprit.
The press has fallen prey to their own narrative; quick to believe all their own accusations that Trump is a monger of hate. Maybe Stelter’s lack of introspection here is saying something else. Perhaps he and others in the press do not engage in any personal searching because it is a sign they have no soul themselves.