Today on Hardball, Chris Matthews made what is easily the most cogent observation I have yet seen in the MSM, regarding Rep. Joe Wilson's unrestrained attack on President Obama. Last Wednesday, Rep. Wilson accused the president of being a liar by shouting from the bench during the president's Joint Congressional Address.
Wilson promptly apologized to The White House for failing to "control his emotions," suggesting that the outburst was spontaneous and unplanned.
Initially, I had no intention of commenting on the story, which I saw blanketing news coverage on T.V. and on the Internet. Yet, Matthews made the point that other pundits who commented on the story should have made, or at least considered. Namely, he suggested this was, almost certainly, not an "emotional outburst" or failure to restrain oneself from spontaneity, but a planned, attention-grabbing gimmick that Rep. Wilson had strategically calculated.
There are no shortage of pundits and political analysts who make their livings by guessing the political motives of elected officials, and yet, to my knowledge, Matthews is the only one who has questioned, by insinuation, the sincerity of the apology made by Wilson to The White House Chief of Staff (though many have pointed out that Wilson's accusation was, in itself, dishonest).
More concerning is that, in all probability, Wilson's calculation will prove accurate, and he and his party will gain politically from the uncivil act (whether through Congressional distraction from health care, campaign contributions, or another spectacle to fire up the conservative base).
We should all run the exercise of imagining the media reaction, were a Democrat to have shouted "liar" at President Bush during one of his State of the Union addresses, especially one in which the topic was the Iraq War. The result is clear: they would have been politically skewered, not only by Republicans, but by the MSM (obviously, one can not rise to the challenge of PROVING the reaction, however, anyone who remembers the then dogmatic climate, and the "patriotism" attacks on other lawmakers who chose to question President Bush's policies, would likely agree). This double-standard should be noticed and addressed.
Why are Republicans able to frame the issues in ways that are favorable to them, even within the left-leaning media outlets, and frequently when the methods themselves are dishonest? Why do Republicans, within the media, excel in getting away with far more egregious acts than Democrats ever would? It is one of their most impressive talents as a party.