Donahue As An Example of a Large Problem
by Chris Bowers, Fri Feb 09, 2007 at 09:34:14 AM EST
Yet at least one prominent right-wing figure came to Hudson's defense: the Catholic League's Bill Donohue, who has spent the last several days calling for the heads of two John Edwards bloggers. Donohue ardently defended Hudson in a statement, even invoking the Virgin Mary in downplaying his sexual assault.
Bill Donahue also does not care about the values of Catholicism itself. I was raised in the Catholic Church (maybe I'll post some altar boy pictures sometime). My father (happy birthday Dad, by the way) is the former President of the Syracuse Inter-religious council, and still very active in that group. Needless to say, I know a thing or two about Catholic values. One of those values is forgiveness. Donahue failed to extend that value to the Edwards bloggers after their statements yesterday. Instead, he continued to call for their heads. however, when Mel Gibson was the subject of scrutiny for anti-semitic remarks, Donahue immediately lent him a hand of forgiveness.
Making sure that the Bill Donahues of the world are quoted at will in a wide variety of news outlets is one of the great success of the Republican Noise Machine. The right has developed a "think tank" and advocacy group structure that allows them to consistently portray partisan, ideological attacks against Democrats and progressives as both newsworthy and as non-partisan, or at least as coming under the veneer of speaking for some larger group. No matter what subject is being discussed in the news and what smear attack is being attempted, there are Donahue's all over the place who consistently appear in established news outlets, and who are portrayed as something quite different than the professional, partisan attackers that they are. In fact, somehow it has become news simply that the Bill Donahues of the world are outraged. That is why, for me, this entire episode had nothing whatsoever to do with the actual content of the blog posts in question, but instead about standing up to this false, partisan smear machine for what it is. Once we accept their terms of the debate, that this is supposedly about outrageous statements instead of being about how those statements made it into the media in the first place, he have already lost and reified the power structure that allows the right-wing to smear Democrats and progressives at will.
Whatever stuff we dig up on Bill Donahue--and there will be quite a lot we can dig up on Donahue--we have to remember that the focus of these campaigns must always remain squarely on news outlets that fail to properly vet sources like Bill Donahue, not on Donahue himself. As long as the Bill Donahue's of the world are allowed to continue to operate freely within the established media under the false cover of advocacy and non-partisanship, the smear machine will never go away. I hope that what we accomplished yesterday is a step in the right direction on that front, but I still worry that all of the changes we forced will remain specific to this one story, and not make a real dent in the overall operation of the Republican Noise Machine. Part of the responsibility to change this rests upon Democrats to not cave in to these attacks. Part of the responsibility to change this rests upon progressives to build a counter "think tank" structure. Most of the responsibility, however, rests upon the media to stop buying into this structure, and to actually vet their sources before allowing any smear from any winger to suddenly become national news. Until they do so, change will be painfully slow and incremental, and we will have to keep going to the mattress every time something like this comes up. It certainly feels good to have helped slow down one of these attacks, but we won't be so successful every time. We can't always expect to be successful on our own.