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Re: The media and Senator Johnson’s condition: is the MSM a tool of the right?

Senator Tim Johnson continues to be in the prayers of many today as he is recovering [1] from brain surgery he had last night after suffering “stroke-like” symptoms.

Johnson is still in critical condition, but something else in critical condition for much different reasons is the reaction from the usual suspects on the far left on how the media has framed Johnson’s health almost from the word go in terms of how it could impact the Senate. While I join those on the left and right in condemning the MSM for how they came out of the gate last night with reports on how his condition could affect the balance of the Senate come January, I’m a bit mystified as to the far left’s attempts today to try and paint the media as a tool of the right simply because they are writing about what this means in terms of what the future may hold for the make-up of the Senate. Check out some posts from some of the lefty blogs at Memeorandum [2] and you’ll see what I mean.

Take this one from Kos himself [3], for example:

Can Fox News and the AP hold off on the drooling, at least until it might be more warranted?

I mean, what’s with the AP headline?

Senate back to 50-50 with Johnson out

Firs of all, Johnson isn’t out. Furthermore, we don’t know what Gov. Rounds would do if forced to fill a vacancy, so we don’t know if it would be 50-50. (The pressure to appoint Johnson’s son as a “legacy” fill-in until the 2008 elections would be intense.)

But we can’t let the facts stand in the way of barely restrained premature celebrations.

Uh – “premature celebrations”? I could maybe understand if it was just Fox News talking about how the Senate could look if Johnson can no longer serve out his term, but – well – just about every media outlet [4] is speculating on the same thing. It’s clearly been established via the admissions of many in the MSM [5] that the media are liberally biased, so why on earth would they possibly be “celebrating” the possibility of the Senate going into Republican hands again?

Now let’s take a look at what Judd from the liberal Think Progress blog [6] is saying:

Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD) is at George Washington University hospital, recovering from brain surgery.

Meanwhile, Fox News is speculating how the balance of power could shift in the Senate, even if Sen. Johnson survived. Fox’s Steve Doocy said that although “the issue of incapacitation is not spelled out in the state law” there “would be a precedent of the federal level.”

Another Fox anchor added, “We’ll have to see what happens in terms of what exactly his condition is and who’s going to weigh in on whether it’s an incapacitation or whether that’s just clear from the facts.”

This is filed in the “Radical Right Wing Agenda” category at Think Progress. Surprise surprise. Noteably absent from Think Progress’ blog in any posts there are the countless other articles [4] written by others in the MSM speculating on what the future may hold for the Senate should Johnson be too ill to continue serving. With one of their own in the hospital in critical condition, there’s still time to engage in some good ol’ read meat Fox News bashing, eh?

Chris Bowers at the MyDD blog also singles out Fox News’ coverage here [7], with no mention of the too-many-to-count stories of MSM speculation across the spectrum on Johnson and the Senate balance.

By my count, we’ve got one very popular far lefty blog insinuating that the entire MSM are “celebrating” over the possibility of Johnson being too ill to serve as of the entire MSM were conservatively biased (and we know they’re not) and two other popular far lefty blogs deliberately ignoring the fact that news outlets other than Fox are rampantly engaging in such speculation, as noted by the Google News link I provided, which I’ll link up to once more [4].

I sincerely wish Senator Johnson a full, quick recovery. I also sincerely wish that the far lefties in the blogosphere would show a little more honesty on the issue of media coverage in terms of who is engaging in what as it relates to what’s going on with Senator Tim Johnson. Ceasing the nonsense about how the entire MSM is “celebrating” a possible Johnson incapacitation would be helpful, too.

As a side note, I wonder how long it will be before some nut starts a conspiracy theory that Karl Rove (or some other evil right wing politico) had “something to do” with what happened to Johnson because they “couldn’t take” that we’d lost both houses of Congress? Hey, it happened with Minnesota Senator Paul Wellstone in 2002 and Missouri Governor Mel Carnahan in 2000 [8] when he ran against John Ashcroft for the Senate (as a refresher, both died in plane crashes a few weeks before the elections) , so why not this one, too? Never underestimate the power of a cooked up conspiracy theory from the Nutroots [9].

Update 2:29 PM: Toldjah So [10] (hat tip: ST reader Sev).

More: MKH [11] points to some very tasteless political speculation about Strom Thurmond back from 2001 at the liberal Nation magazine [12], speculation that was done before Senator Thurmond passed away. WuzzaDem [13] takes a look at what’s happening at the Daily Kos on this story in the comments section.

Update 3:24 PM: Webloggin’ [14] is also checking out the Kos conspiracy theorists (hat tip: Greg Tinti [15]). Dan Collins at PW [16] is monitoring the lefty reaction to this story as well.

Others blogging about this: Tom Maguire [17], Suitably Flip [18], Blogs of War [19], FullosseousFlap’s Dental Blog [20]