Friday, October 12, 2007

Anatomy Of A Smear Campaign, Liberal Media Edition

”I told her redneckness has got to be a disease..
You catch it on your fingers and it just crawls right up your sleeves...”
-- Lyle Lovett

Apparently Lyle Lovett isn’t the only one who thinks redneckness is a disease -- the GOP wants you to think Democrats in Congress are afraid to attend NASCAR races without being immunized first.

Talk about milking a fake story every which way to Sunday. We’ve seen this happen so many times that these campaigns now take a predictable course: GOP comes up with talking point, Drudge repeats talking point, and Fox, CNN, USA Today, etc. jump on the bandwagon.

Okay here’s the story. Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), who chairs the House Committee on Homeland Security, is sending delegations to healthcare facilities at NASCAR tracks and other mass gathering sites:
The committee is examining whether the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is coordinating with state, local and private law-enforcement and health care responders to prepare for possible mass emergencies.

Got that? Once again, they are not attending NASCAR races but visiting healthcare facilities:

Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said his committee aides were visiting health care centers, detention facilities and other operations where they could be exposed to communicable diseases.

Thompson recommended the delegation receive immunizations for hepatitis A, hepatitis B, diphtheria, tetanus and influenza before visiting these healthcare facilities, which is standard procedure. The North Carolina Republican Party seized on this to spread a misinformation campaign and score partisan political points:

"Democrats should know that there is no preventive measure yet designed to ward off the blue-collar values and patriotism that NASCAR fans represent," said Linda Daves, the chairwoman of the North Carolina Republican Party. "If they aren't careful, they just might catch some of it."

Oh, spare me. It’s the classic straw man argument, and the media falls for it every time. But what should we expect from the folks who had no problem Swift Boating a 7th Grader?

The GOP’s message is that “Democrats are scared of catching a disease from blue-collar NASCAR fans,” and as if on cue, our “liberal media” has dutifully picked up the talking point. Check out these headlines:

• FOX News: “Aides immunized before NASCAR race”
AOL News: “Democrats Require Immunization Before Pandering to Rednecks”
USA Today: “House aides advised to get shots before attending NASCAR races”
Alabama Press-Register “A NASCAR disease?”
• Kansas City Star: “Democrat’s NASCAR remark revs up GOP”

etc. etc. etc.

I love the ”liberal media.” Once again, the delegation was not attending NASCAR races but visiting healthcare facilities. And yet the media still recycles the GOP talking point that Democrats think NASCAR fans are contagious.