Think Again: The Mainstream Media Is Gobbling Up Conservative Crazies

FILE - In this May 1, 2011 file photo, musician and gun rights activist Ted Nugent addresses a seminar at the National Rifle
FILE - In this May 1, 2011 file photo, musician and gun rights activist Ted Nugent addresses a seminar at the National Rifle Association's convention in Pittsburgh. Nugent says he will meet with the Secret Service on Thursday to explain his raucous remarks about what he called Barack Obama’s “evil, America-hating administration” _ comments that some critics interpreted as a threat against the president. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)

Perhaps liberals ought to send Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX) flowers and a box of chocolates. The Texas Republican -- who recently threatened President Barack Obama with impeachment should the president use his executive power to strengthen the nation's gun control laws -- escorted Ted Nugent to President Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday night. If anyone wished to create a more perfect depiction of just how disconnected -- not merely from reality but perhaps even from civilization as well -- the modern conservative movement appears to be, what better symbol than the presence of Nugent? Here's a man who has said:

  • "If Barack Obama becomes the president in November, again, I will either be dead or in jail by this time next year."
  • "Our president, attorney general, vice president, Hillary Clinton. They're criminals ... get everybody in your lives to clean house in this vile, evil, America-hating administration ... we need to ride into that battlefield and chop their heads off in November."
  • While toting a machine gun: "Obama, he's a piece of shit. I told him to suck on my machine gun ... hey Hillary, you might want to ride one of these into the sunset, you worthless bitch."

Nugent has occasionally been visited by law enforcement officials for his inflammatory remarks, and was even barred from performing at Fort Knox for some particularly incendiary comments on the president.

Meanwhile, speaking in Philadelphia on Tuesday, Vice President Joe Biden tried to explain that the right-wing reports alleging that the president sought to take Americans' guns away was a "bunch of malarkey," and added, "To be very blunt with you, we're counting on all of you, the legitimate news media, to cover these discussions."

Good luck with that, Mr. Vice President. The sad truth is that this nonsense is introduced into the media ecosystem by right-wing reality-denying sources, and it almost always makes its way into the mainstream media -- often going unchallenged. Take, for example, Ted Nugent himself. Why in the world, while previewing a report on -- you guessed it -- Nugent's views on firearms, would CNN's Deb Feyerick claim that this violent lunatic enjoyed "a very deep connection with the facts and the facts that he needs to make his argument"? In the first place, it's a logically nonsensical statement.

More importantly, however, it is patently false. There are said to be as many as 80 million guns in private hands in this country. Nobody could take them away, even if they wanted to--and as Vice President Biden tried to explain, nobody does. Yet just three days after Feyerick made herself look foolish in the service of Nugent's nuttiness, during a February 4 segment on CNN's "Erin Burnett OutFront," both Feyerick and Burnett went even deeper into the weeds, wondering aloud what would happen if the Obama administration attempted to "take all the guns away tomorrow."

Predictably, following the president's State of the Union address this week, it was absolutely crucial for mainstream media reporters such as The Wall Street Journal's Siobhan Hughes to cover Nugent's "thoughtful" response--as he was surrounded by competing journalists: "You just can't get more of a predictable flowery script ... and every time he is done speaking, he either does just the opposite or nothing at all." To be fair to Hughes, he wasn't the only one scribbling away furiously. Look at all this coverage of Nugent's remarks and appearance. Those journalists' mothers must be awfully proud.

Of course, covering the wit and wisdom of a hate-filled miscreant such as Ted Nugent is merely the tip of a dirty-media iceberg. The conservative media is filled with false notions, defamatory statements, racism, and conspiracy theories -- all of which and more strain credulity to even fathom that anyone could believe them.

Among the most recent of a multitude of examples -- and the most outlandish of the right-wing conspiracy theories afoot, as Talking Points Memo's Josh Marshall notes--is the contention of ex-FBI agent and anti-Islam activist John Guandolo regarding CIA director nominee John Brennan. Apparently, "Guandolo left the FBI after sleeping with a witness in the investigation of disgraced Rep. William Jefferson of Louisiana," and then proceeded to go on Tom Trento's radio show to make the claim that Brennan "did convert to Islam when he served in an official capacity on the behalf of the United States in Saudi Arabia." Moreover, according to Guandolo, "[Brennan's] conversion to Islam was the culmination of a counterintelligence operation against him to recruit him."

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