When (Right Wing) Bullies Can't Take a Punch

Drenched in contempt, Fox News contributor Sandy Rios appeared on Rupert Murdoch's cable channel last Friday to address the controversy surrounding the Susan G. Komen foundation's decision to cut longstanding ties with Planned Parenthood. In the process, Rios perfectly captured two of the conservative media's least redeeming, yet dominant, traits: perpetual victimization and an inability to lose with class.

When the Komen news first broke last week, conservative activists cheered it as a political and cultural victory. ("A remarkable turning point.") Indeed, activists had been applying political pressure on Komen for years to not support health care provider Planned Parenthood because it offers abortion. But then last Friday Komen backtracked. Facing a furious grassroots response from women, progressive activists, and Democratic members of congress, Komen shifted its stance with regards to Planned Parenthood.

Furious far-right pundits quickly targeted their anger not on the national breast cancer awareness group, but on activists who took up Planned Parenthood's cause and applied pressure on Komen.

Which brings us to Rios on Fox New and one of the more amazing outbursts you're likely to hear on an American "news" channel. First, Rio decried the "absolute shakedown" Komen allegedly faced from critics who responded to the foundation's funding decree. Then, with her anger rising, Rios condemned Planned Parenthood for wallowing "in the business of killing women."

In the business of killing women.

Keep in mind, the Komen fight was one that conservatives had wanted the foundation to wage for years. But when it did, and when it lost the battle, a conservative bully on Fox News suddenly cried foul, denounced any effort to politicize the issue ("shakedown"!), and accused her opponent of murder.

Turns out the bullies have a glass jaw.

Rios was hardly alone in her reckless statements about the Komen controversy. As Media Matters noted, the National Review's Daniel Foster lashed out at the political left for the "gangsterism" it had unleashed on the Komen foundation. Editor Kathryn Lopez denounced the left's "bullying." Rush Limbaugh pinned the blame on "feminazis," while the Wall Street Journal's James Taranto accused Planned Parenthood's supporters of of engaging in "totalitarian feminism." (Headline: "Big Sister Is Watching You: Totalitarian Feminism And The Smearing of Susan G. Komen.")

What exactly is "totalitarian feminism"? According to Taranto's angry missive, it's when liberal women "politicize everything," including health care for women. Because the conservative movement in America, and specifically the Evangelical faction, has never politicized women's health issues, right?

Let's be honest, "totalitarian feminism" is really just right-wing gibberish designed to mask the incessant, trademark whining that now accompanies political setbacks conservatives suffer, or even efforts by opponents to highlight their dishonest ways.

Shorter right wing: when conservatives win grassroots battles of public opinion, it's democracy. When liberals win them, it's totalitarianism. (And "disgusting.")

Poor Jonah Goldberg was also outraged over the Komen results. Writing in USA Today, Goldberg warned that the liberal victory represented an ominous sign of encroaching progressives "imposing their views" on Americans. According to Goldberg, Planned Parenthood defenders should have ignored the far right's relentless campaign to demonize Planned Parenthood and simply accepted Komen's withdrawal quietly. They definitely should not have politicized the foundation's openly political funding cut.

And remember, the whining emanates from a right-wing media mob that relishes in name-calling, character assassination, and casting their political enemies as unspeakable monsters. (i.e. Planned Parenthood is "built on the poison of eugenics" and is an "unabashedly corrupt and evil" organization.) And yet when liberals push back in public? Quickly the tough-talking bullies whimper about how malicious their opponents are and how menacing "gangsters" is lurking in dark corners.

For a name-calling mob of media bullies, conservatives really ought to learn how to take a punch from the truth.

Crossposted at County Fair, a Media Matters blog.