Monday, April 04, 2005

Post Bias

William Booth of The Washington Post takes labeling bias to a new low in a feature story today on Andrew Mickel, an anti-corporate leftist who gunned down police officer David Mobilio of Red Bluff, California in 2002:
The coming revolution against the United States government was announced on the Internet via a manifesto by a self-described "proud and insolent youth," a college sophomore who sought to be our leader. This was to be the spark: At 1:27 a.m. on Nov. 19, 2002, Officer David Mobilio of the Red Bluff Police Department was working the graveyard shift when he pulled his cruiser into a gas station in his quiet little farm town. As he stood beside the car, the 31-year-old husband and father of a toddler was shot three times, twice in the back and once in the head, at very close range. Beside Mobilio's dead body, someone left a handmade flag with a picture of a snake's head and the words "Don't Tread on Us." ... Mickel explained that "prior to my action in Red Bluff, I formed a corporation under the name 'Proud and Insolent Youth Incorporated,' so that I could use the destructive immunity of corporations and turn it on something that actually should be destroyed." The name is a reference to the novel "Peter Pan." "Just before their final duel and Capt. Hook's demise, Hook said to Peter, 'Proud and Insolent Youth, prepare to meet thy doom,' " Mickel wrote.
So what does all this bring to Booth's mind? Why right-wingers of course:
But seen another way, as the prosecutors do, Mickel -- with his stubborn stoicism, his cold calculation, his military training, his anti-government diatribes -- seems a cousin to McVeigh. Mickel sees himself as the vanguard of revolution. McVeigh thought the same thing. It is as if Mickel, in his thinking, had gone so far to the fringe left that he started to look a lot like the fringe right.
Never mind that the story spends several paragraphs discussing Mickel's similarities to Ted Kaczynski, the left-wing Unabomber--though he is not labeled as such. Or that there are plenty of other plain-old, left-wing, terrorist extremists out there who blow things up and kill people. Unfair labeling is perhaps the most quantifiable type of anti-conservative media bias, and groups such as the Media Research Center have assembled quite a catalog of examples. But the Post takes this to a new low. In the Post's world even leftists can be accredited to the political right when they become inconvenient. The Post wants to draw parallels with McVeigh, so I have a question: When does the blame for Mickel's crime get apportioned to Ted Kennedy, Howard Dean, and other leaders of the angry left for their inflammatory rhetoric, as conservatives were so quickly tagged with guilt for McVeigh's?

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