ABC’s Drivel About ‘Partisan Rancor’

Some of the media commentary around the debt ceiling bemoans the state of the partisanship in Washington. Much of the chatter is about a supposed failure to compromise. As Josh Marshall argues, “this is simply false, even painfully so.” By any reasonable standard, the White House and the Democratic leadership have made an array of drastic compromises in order to win favor with Republicans–who are basically refusing to go along, since denying Obama any kind of “victory” is a key part of their electoral strategy for 2012.

But in corporate media, “balance” is essential. So both “sides” must be held responsible, never mind the facts. I was struck by this comment from host Christiane Amanpour on ABC‘s This Week this Sunday (7/24/11):

This week with tempers flaring, the rhetoric has boiled over. Exhibit A, the war of words between two Florida congressmembers, Republican Allan West and Democrat Debbie Wasserman-Schultz.

Wasserman-Schultz fired the first shot on the House floor, criticizing West for supporting a debt deal that would cut Medicare.

West’s response, a furious e-mail to his colleague when he said, “You are the most vile, unprofessional and despicable member of the U.S. House of Representatives. You have proven repeatedly that you are not a lady and, therefore, shall not be afforded due respect from me.”

So how does Washington move past this partisan rancor?

Excuse me? Wasserman-Schultz criticized West’s support for a particular bill. She didn’t say anything outrageous–which is why ABC didn’t air a clip or even quote from her speech, the one where she “fired the first shot.” West’s intemperate “you are not a lady” response would suggest he’s the one with the problem here. But you can’t say it that way. Just like you’re not supposed to say that Republicans are refusing to support Barack Obama’s very Republican budget offers.

About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.