13 Jan 2011

Why the Left’s Blood Libel Backfired

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In the Washington Post, Jennifer Rubin discusses why the left’s attempt to exploit the Tucson tragedy failed: both new alternative media and, for once, professional journalists actually did their job, and even the White House declined to follow the loony left’s lead.

In the end, they only discredited themselves.

Why were the last four days a mini-disaster for the swampland of the left? It boils down to: facts, response and time.

Members of the left pounced first and didn’t much care about the facts. Before it was clear just how crazy Jared Loughner is, the left blogosphere and their more high-minded print compatriots were ready to affix blame on their opponents. As the facts emerged, more quickly and thoroughly than every before in the 24/7, twitter-driven media environment, the narrative fell apart. A chorus on the left claimed causation between Sarah Palin and the killings (and then the amorphous “climate” and the deaths) and didn’t much care for a careful analysis until it became clear their preferred narrative was false. As for the president, he doesn’t buy it at all. He said: “And if, as has been discussed in recent days, their deaths help usher in more civility in our public discourse, let’s remember that it is not because a simple lack of civility caused this tragedy, but rather because only a more civil and honest public discourse can help us face up to our challenges as a nation, in a way that would make them proud.” (Emphasis added.) Or, as I put it, rhetorical civility and mental illness are discrete problems. And it doesn’t help the liberal line when it turns out this particular lunatic was a-political and didn’t watch news.

So, for my friends on the left: facts count. You can’t spin a narrative and not be expected to be called on the underlying, flawed premise.

The response was unlike anything I have seen since the emergence of the new media. It wasn’t just conservatives that rebutted the left’s narrative, but diligent reporters. We think of “rapid response” as a campaign skill, but in reality that is how pundits, activists, reporters and politicians now react. Because the left’s narrative was so noxious — Sarah Palin or a floating cloud of conservative meanness caused a mass murder — the right was filled with indignation and responded passionately, quickly and effectively. And, meanwhile, in the race to report on the biggest story of the year, the working press furiously disclosed the facts, which, as I noted above, undercut the left’s storyline.

And then there is time. The reason I believe that Obama entirely avoided politics, indeed rebuked the Krugman-Daily Kos narrative, is because he saw the pushing and shoving, read the polls, figured which way the wind was blowing, and steered clear of associating himself with the tone-deaf left. Conversely, because the left couldn’t restrain themselves, they pounced immediately and left a trail of inanity on twitter and websites.

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