Perhaps the most insidious means the far right have of seizing control of debate is their co-opting of the mainstream media. And, more importantly, their method of killing the message by going after the messenger.
Case in point: Newsweek's lack of context in quoting Senator Hillary Clinton on a recent immigration bill.
In an article in the April 3 edition of Newsweek, White House correspondent Holly Bailey reported that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) was "elbowing for attention" and "whacked the GOP with the Bible" when she "impl[ied that] anti-immigration proposals were not only hardhearted, but un-Christian." Bailey's wording suggested that Clinton was seizing on the opportunity to inject religion into the debate. In fact, numerous religious leaders have leveled similar criticism at sponsors of legislation that would critics say would punish "good Samaritans."See how the Republican Noise Machine operated? Here's more:
Clinton, speaking about the Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act (H.R. 4437) at a March 22 press conference, said: "It is certainly not in keeping with my understanding of the Scripture, because this bill would literally criminalize the Good Samaritan and probably even Jesus himself." She was referring to a section of the bill, which passed the House of Representatives in 2005, that threatens up to five years of imprisonment to anyone who assists, encourages, directs, or induces a person to reside in or remain in the United States, or to attempt to reside in or remain in the United States, knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that such person is an alien who lacks lawful authority to reside in or remain in the United States.Pay close attention to what Clinton said, and then pay close attention to the Newsweek article (which is linked to in the excerpt).
Say what you will about Clinton, or her opinion, but you may notice that the attack by Newsweek redirected attention from her criticism of the bill in and of itself, to her mention of Jesus, the parable of the Good Samaritan, and of "the Scripture."
It's because the message was something somebody at the magazine didn't like, but couldn't find a better argument with which to respond. So they focused on attacking her for mentioning religion. The idea was to jump on her for being hypocritical; after all, the Republican Noise Machine would have you believe, Democrats want to "stamp out religion" and so Hillary is being "hypocritical" for mentioning Jesus' name.
There are some books I highly recommend reading, and you can either check them out from your local library or find them at your local bookstore. They are:
Blinded By the Right, by David BrockThese books detail how the far right distorts the truth and how it tries to kill critical news stories by attacking the messengers. I also recommend, for supplemental reading:
The Republican Noise Machine, also by David Brock
Big Lies, by Joe Conason
Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them, by Al Franken
The Oh Really? Factor, by Peter HartThis last deals with some of the lies, distortions and ommissions of fact by Fox Spews personality Bill O'Reilly. But if you're not up for reading that one, you can probably enjoy watching MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann. In the next entry, I will finish off this portion of the series by explaining how you cam control the dialogue on the subject of religion in political debate.