Part 5—Good decent person gets hurt: Rodeo clowns have been driving the right for at least thirty years now.
Let’s be clear on what we mean by that statement.
We don’t mean that the right has been driven by actual rodeo clowns—by people like Tuffy Gessling, whose clown act two weeks ago led metaphorical rodeo clowns to compare him to the Klan and the Westboro Baptist Church.
We mean that the right has been driven by people who are like rodeo clowns, although most actual rodeo clowns are probably much better people. For one example, consider what Rush Limbaugh did on March 10, 1994.
We were driving to Huntington (West Virginia) that day to stage an hilarious comedy act. For that reason, we were listening in real time when Limbaugh linked Hillary Clinton to the death of Vince Foster, a death he described as a murder.
Two days later, Howard Kurtz described what millions of people had heard. To its credit, the Washington Post ran his report on page one (for additional text, see below):
KURTZ (3/12/94): On Thursday, a newsletter published by the consulting firm Johnson, Smick International alleged without evidence that Foster committed suicide at a secret apartment he shared with top administration officials, and that his body was moved to the Virginia park where it was found. Radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh went a step further, saying the newsletter "claims that Vince Foster was murdered in an apartment owned by Hillary Clinton." White House spokeswoman Dee Dee Myers called the newsletter report "a complete fabrication," but several media outlets picked it up. "Foster's secret apartment hideaway revealed," the New York Post said.Foster wasn’t murdered by anyone. Nor did he die in a secret apartment. There was no apartment, secret or otherwise, owned by Hillary Clinton.
Aside from that, Limbaugh got it right! But millions of people got conned that day by this repellent rodeo clown, where “rodeo clown” is a term of art, not a job description.
(Many people on the right are still in the grip of Limbaugh’s invention. Last Sunday, Maureen Dowd brought a few of these people out of the woodwork, as you can see in the comments to her screed about the hideous values and conduct exhibited by everyone ever named Clinton and by everyone who has ever known any such person, including Anthony Weiner and his hideous wife!)
Limbaugh has long been a rodeo clown. On the right, millions of people have been deceived by his repellent clowning.
Such figures have driven the right for decades. But now, rodeo clowns have begun to service us rubes over here on the left!
Consider a good, decent person who recently quit a job she seems to have liked. She did this after getting misled by Benjamin Crump, a Limbaugh-like man of the left.
The person in question is Brenda Howard of Clinton, Maryland. In Sunday’s Washington Post, she wrote an account of the reasons why she felt she had to leave her job.
Complete with headline, this is the way her essay began. Everything Howard says in this passage is technically accurate:
HOWARD (8/18/13): I left my job over a computer-desktop hoodieEverything Howard says in that passage is technically accurate. Zimmerman really did “follow and kill” Martin, although it isn’t clear he was following Martin when the fatal altercation occurred.
A year and a half ago, a news story exploded out of Sanford, Fla. George Zimmerman, an armed, 28-year-old man of mixed white and Hispanic ancestry, followed and killed Trayvon Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old African American. The tragic episode was touched off because Zimmerman, out on neighborhood watch patrol, found Martin to be suspicious as he walked home from a store wearing a sweat shirt with a hood.
(Zimmerman says he was walking back to his truck. The location of the fight might seem to support this statement.)
It’s also true that Zimmerman “found Martin to be suspicious,” and that Martin was “wearing a sweat shirt with a hood” when these events occurred. It just isn’t clear that Zimmerman found Martin suspicious because he was wearing a hoodie..
You may be wondering how any of this led to Howard quitting her job in a doctor’s office. If you read her full essay, you’ll see what happened. You’ll also see why we feel sure that Howard is a good decent person, as most people are.
Howard can understand and respect other people’s points of view. She doesn’t criticize her former employer for the disagreement that occurred. She doesn’t speak poorly of her former co-workers, some of whom complained when she used an image of a hoodie for the wallpaper of her office computer.
Howard understands that this may have created “anxieties” for some of her former co-workers. As a decent person will do, she regrets the fact that she had no opportunity to explain her motives and feelings to them.
Her employer told her she had to change the wallpaper. Howard felt she couldn’t do that, given her feelings about the Martin case. For this reason, she quit a job she had held six years, then told the story to many people in Sunday’s Washington Post.
Here’s what we were struck by in this story:
Howard seems to believe that Zimmerman found Martin suspicious because he was wearing a hoodie. It isn’t surprising that she would think that. Within a few weeks of the killing, attorney Crump was aggressively peddling that idea.
Zimmerman freaked about the hoodie! The claim was part of a package of false facts and unfounded claims about the killing of Martin. Crump was aggressively selling this package. The national “press corps” was buying.
With remarkable speed and uniformity, the national “press corps” quickly adopted those false and unfounded claims. In the most repellent example, the New York Times even reported that two gunshots had been fired that night—a warning shot and a kill shot—thus advancing a heinous false claim which came directly from Crump and a second lawyer.
Because it was so blatantly false, that heinous claim was soon abandoned. Other claims were widely accepted as fact, including the claim that Zimmerman found Martin suspicious because he was wearing a hoodie.
Sixteen months later, still apparently sure of this claim, a good decent person quit her job as a matter of principle.
Did Zimmerman find Martin suspicious because he was wearing a hoodie? Everything is possible, of course, but there is no evidence of that in this case. In real time, as he spoke with the Sanford police, Zimmerman described behavior by Martin which he found suspicious, even menacing. He only mentioned the hoodie when the police dispatcher asked him what Martin was wearing.
Like everyone else, we have no way of knowing what Martin was actually doing that night, if anything, when Zimmerman first observed him. We don’t know why Zimmerman phoned the police.
We don’t know if Martin behaved in the ways Zimmerman described to police, in real time and then later.
We do know this: Following the lead of Crump, the mainstream press corps disappeared the description of suspicious and menacing behavior which Zimmerman gave to police. Rodeo clowns of the left and the mainstream simply began to tell the tale in the highly novelized form which had come from attorney Crump, a rather dishonest fellow now cast in the role of “liberal” rodeo clown.
Crump’s account of what happened that night included many false facts and unfounded claims, highly evocative phraseology and a lot of disappeared information. Because the left and the mainstream press corps memorized and recited the story this way, many good people—good people like Howard—have never heard a discussion of what Zimmerman actually told the police, which may or may not have been accurate.
Instead, they have repeatedly heard a pleasing tale in which a “wannabe cop” shot and killed “an innocent child” because he was wearing a hoodie. There is no evidence that the hoodie played a role in what occurred. But if “journalists” were willing to type the heinous tale of the two gunshots, what wouldn’t such useless enablers be willing to pimp to us rubes?
Sixteen months later, a good decent person quit her job because of her feelings about the hoodie. And as fate would have it, attorney Crump was holding court in the Washington Post that same day!
On page C4 of Sunday’s paper, Howard told her tale of lost employment. As is the norm in such cases, attorney Crump was given more prominent placement.
Crump appeared at the top of the op-ed page, offering a fact-challenged column in which he hides behind Medgar Evers and Emmett Till. We’re not sure we remember the time when Evers, a truly great historical figure, promoted fake facts and unfounded claims to get someone convicted of murder.
If memory serves, that is precisely the kind of conduct Evers was killed for opposing. History professors could help us with that. But they went into hiding, perhaps in France, as Crump’s novelized story advanced.
For the past three decades, rodeo clowns have turned brains on the right into embarrassing mush. Today, these brains believe that Obama was born in Kenya. Back then, these brains believed that the Clintons had conducted a string of murders.
Limbaugh conned many people when he engaged in that heinous conduct concerning the “murder” of Foster. Today, corporate media are finally hiring similar rodeo clowns on the left.
Crump is a free-lance rodeo clown. He too has invented fake facts about a death which he still describes as a “murder.”
That said, we also have our salaried rodeo clowns. Last week, they were upset by an actual rodeo clown. He was like the Klan, Lawrence clownishly said. He reminded Alex of the people at the Westboro Baptist Church!
The national interest has been massively harmed by the wild bull rides of Rush and Sean. At long last, we have talented screechers of the “left” like Jonathan, Alex and Lawrence.
For decades, such people have driven the right. At long last, the corporate world is gifting us liberals with our own “rodeo clowns!”
The wages of rodeo clowning: Limbaugh invented fake facts about a high-profile death—a death he was calling a “murder!” Below, you see the way Kurtz described the deteriorating media landscape two days after Limbaugh’s broadcast.
Kurtz focused on the press corps’ treatment of the Whitewater “scandal.” His account of Limbaugh’s behavior came deeper in his text:
KURTZ (3/12/94): Media Awash in Whitewater, Some Critics WarnHere’s the best link we can find.
The torrent of headlines has come fast and furious: "President Runs Afoul of the Watergate Trap"; "Foster File Shocker"; "Rose Staffers Say Hillary Ordered Papers Shredded"; "Bill on Hillary: SHE'S NOT A CROOK."
As the Whitewater affair has reached white-hot intensity, some journalists and White House supporters have begun to argue that the coverage has been excessive. They say the media have gotten caught up in a scandal mentality and that comparisons to Watergate are far-fetched.
Walter Cronkite, the former CBS News anchor, called the recent coverage "definitely overheated. The clear attempt in both the Watergate break-in and the coverup was to subvert the democratic workings of our government. There's nothing nearly comparable to that in the Whitewater affair."
Marvin Kalb, director of the Joan Shorenstein Barone press center at Harvard University, sharply criticized the media's performance. "Without any significant legal evidence linking the president to any criminal activity, everyone and his uncle in the press is on board this train, and they are riding to a destination that is utterly unknown to them," he said. "There is a rushing to judgment that is unprofessional and distasteful. The press is going to have a lot to answer for when this is over."
The short-term impact is clear. As dozens of reporters, some dreaming of Pulitzer Prizes, burrow deeper into the story, health care and other parts of the Clinton agenda have been crowded off page one.
Does any of that sound familiar? The Clinton agenda had been wiped away, Kurtz said, as “everyone and his uncle in the press” climbed on the scandal train. Later, Kurtz described Limbaugh’s claim about Hillary Clinton’s connection to Vince Foster’s “murder.”
At this point, the Post was still advancing the idea that the Whitewater coverage was overblown. Marvin Kalb proved to be a seer in one respect.
“Everyone and his uncle” were on board the scandal train, just as Kalb said. Kalb was wrong in his second claim. The press corps didn’t have to answer for its conduct in the end.
The children you see on The One True Channel are too useless to talk about this. They assure you that no one has ever been treated the way Obama has!
It must be race, the children exclaim. Then they discuss the rodeo clown who seems so much like the Klan.
Later, they spend the piles of cash they get from their corporate employers. As Limbaugh proved several decades ago, rodeo clowning produces good pay when performed in New York or D.C.