New York Times columnist Paul Krugman takes a lot of abuse from right-wingers for his liberal political views and his economic theories that contradict the right-wing way of doing things (never mind that Krugman did receive a Nobel Prize in economics). But did you know that Krugman is just like Fred Phelps, pastor of Kansas' Westboro Baptist Church and best known for leading his tiny flock in odious protests of funerals of fallen soldiers?
That's what NewsBusters' Matthew Sheffield wants you to think. In a January 12 post (cross-posted at the Washington Examiner, where he works as an online media consultant), Sheffield asserts that any liberal who suggests that extreme right-wing rhetoric might be contributing to an environment that may have played a role in the Arizona shooting is acting just like Rev. Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church brood because, as Sheffield explained, liberals think "Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and anyone else who dares to resist the march of history are heretics. That's why they need to shut up, or in the event that they choose not to, have someone else shut them up."
Sheffield transcribed a Phelps sermon asserting that, in Sheffield's words, "Innocent people were killed because American and its leaders have sinned against the higher light." He then claimed that this "is effectively what New York Times columnist Paul Krugman said in a column printed Monday." This is followed by a lengthy section of Sheffield juxtaposing excerpts of Phelps' sermon with Krugman's column.
But Sheffield's little experiment discredits his argument. For instance, Krugman's statement that he was "expecting something like this atrocity to happen" is juxtaposed by Phelps' statement "God appointed the Afghanistan veteran to avenge himself on this evil nation." How are those statements any way analogous? We have no idea.
Krugman has never claimed he wanted to silence all views he opposes, nor does he claim divine approbation for his views; rather, he spoke in his column specifically of "eliminationist rhetoric" that he identified as "coming, overwhelmingly, from the right." Krugman has not called for his opponents to be struck down from above, nor is he running around the country picketing the funerals of those he disagreed with.
Americans may not be able to agree on much these days, but one thing both left and right do agree on is that the funeral protests held by Phelps and his fringe congregation are hateful and despicable. What purpose could Sheffield have in likening Krugman to Phelps other than revel in the vitriolic rhetoric Krugman is trying to tone down?
Terry Krepel, a senior web editor at Media Matters and founder and editor of ConWebWatch, has a great piece up at Huffington Post about how the Washington Examiner is driven by its right-wing tilt.
Here's just a taste:
In early February, Washington Examiner editor Stephen G. Smith gushed over his new chief political correspondent, Byron York, calling him "a prototype of the modern journalist, equally at home in print, on television and on the Web."
One word not uttered by Smith, however, was "conservative" -- as in the political orientation of York's former employer, the National Review. Indeed, York has regularly peddled conservative misinformation from his National Review perch.
York is one of the latest manifestations of the rightward skew of the Examiner, a free tabloid daily created four years ago when conservative billionaire Philip Anschutz took over a chain of suburban papers and refashioned them after the publication he owns in San Francisco -- an interesting move since Anschutz himself hasn't talked to the media in decades.
The Examiner has had a conservative skew from its inception, as exemplified by its early hiring of Bill Sammon, a former Washington Times staffer who penned several books laudatory of George W. Bush and his presidency even while serving as a White House correspondent. Sammon moved last year to Fox News, but he left no ideological vacuum behind.
Ostensible "news" positions at the Examiner have become increasingly stocked with opinion-minded right-wingers -- for instance, Matthew Sheffield, executive editor of the conservative blog NewsBusters, is managing editor of the Examiner's website, and Chris Stirewalt, who has been lauded for his "outspoken conservative perspective," is political editor.
Be sure to check out the entire piece.