By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Normalizing Marjorie Taylor Greene, coddling Scott Walker: Your liberal media at work

Last night, on the “PBS NewsHour,” anchor Amna Nawaz noted in a conversation with political analysts Jonathan Capehart and David Brooks that a number of Republicans have criticized President Biden over the way he’s handled the evacuation from Kabul. Fair enough. But let’s listen in:

You have a number of Republicans coming out recently speaking very critically about the president’s leadership, or lack thereof, as they say, but it really does run the spectrum of Republicans. You have everyone from Senator Ben Sasse, to Senator Ted Cruz, Congresswoman Liz Cheney, Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, and, of course, former President Trump.

Wait, what was that? Marjorie Taylor Greene is, of course, the QAnon-adjacent conspiracy theorist from Georgia who continues to defend the Jan. 6 insurrectionists. Are we normalizing her now? Why, yes, of course we are. The “NewsHour” even threw up a helpful graphic to underscore the point. Good Lord. I wish Capehart or Brooks had said something, but they both let it slide.

Then, in today’s New York Times, former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who was defeated for re-election in 2018, claims a sizable chunk of op-ed space in order to bash teachers unions, whom he targeted repeatedly during his benighted eight years as his state’s chief executive, and to tell us how awesome he was during his time in office. He writes:

Overall, our reforms did more than just help schools and local governments. During my time in office, unemployment in Wisconsin dropped below the previous record low of 3 percent as more people were working than ever before. Median household income was up, as were wages. We balanced the budget every year with a surplus, fully funded our retirement system and had a rainy-day fund 190 times as large as when we started.

You know, we have low unemployment, high income and budget surpluses in Massachusetts, too, and we somehow manage to do it with strong teachers unions. But that’s not my point. My point is: Why? Why Walker? Why now? What is the context? I can’t think of anything taking place in the news right now that would lead an editor either to track down Scott Walker and ask him to write an op-ed or to run something he sent in over the transom.

Then again, the perceived need by liberal-oriented news organizations to bend over backwards to show that they’re fair — even to people who don’t deserve it, like Marjorie Taylor Greene and Scott Walker — is primordial.

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  1. And under the new commenting regime at PBS NewsHour, there is no comments section in which viewers can weigh in on the “Normalizing Marjorie Taylor Greene” issue.

  2. MagellanNH

    I see Dan’s point on this, but when I saw that segment I just took it as trying to show how unifying the Afghan issue is across the entire right side of the political spectrum. For me, the big thing about that segment was that it was the first time I’ve strongly disagreed with David Brooks in quite a while. I almost forgot he’s a long-time card carrying “blob” apologist.

    On Walker I have mixed feelings. Sure, he’s pretty irrelevant these days and it’s not clear what he can add to the discussion. OTOH, between obstruction of policing reforms by police unions and obstruction of public health measures like masks and vaccines by teachers unions, I’m personally reevaluating whether I think public sector unions are a net positive or a net negative for society.

  3. Marcus Breen

    Necessary critical points made here – the “normalizing” of the extreme right by mainstream liberal media is indeed disturbing. It is part of the inevitable shift to the right in the US more generally, as the media accommodates the 750 million who voted for Trump – or, literally in some cases, to live in the Dumpster. The predictions by some left critics that Trump was the beginning of what will be a consistent, steady general swing to the right adds to an understanding of this coverage. Meaning, the normalizing of previously extremist right political views, such as Taylor-Green and Q&A is underway. Journalism and journalists need to stand up for the liberal principles of tolerance and care for fellow citizens.

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