December 12, 2012

The subjunctive is getting quite a workout today in the politico-media world. What if! scream whole platoons of media critics. They’re denouncing the press’s un-coverage of the general union thuggery that descended on the Capitol grounds yesterday in Lansing, Mich., amid protests over the state’s passage of a “right to work” law. An adjoining hot topic is the treatment of the beating sustained by Fox News contributor Steven Crowder, whose valiant self-defense against union-sponsored haymakers got some prime-time attention last night on “Hannity.”

Here’s some of the subjunctive reaction:

 

 

Conservative columnist Matt Lewis asked, “If tea party activists punched a liberal on video, how would the media respond?”

Even Brent Bozell, president of the Media Research Center, gets into the subjunctive mood: “If a Tea Partier had physically assaulted a liberal journalist or ripped down a structure occupied by a liberal organization all on video, the footage would be broadcast on an endless loop.”

Bozell’s mistake here lies in labeling. His statement suggests that somehow Crowder was working as a journalist yesterday in Lansing. Crowder’s own comments last night on Fox News’s “Hannity” suggest a different mission: “I never went out here to try and be assaulted, as leftists might say,” Crowder told Hannity. “I went out here to prove the left for who they truly are — certainly there’s union thugs — and I’ve achieved that.”

Journalists don’t go to events to “prove” anything.

None of this suggests that Crowder deserved his closed-fist treatment. He didn’t.

Scott Hagerstrom is state director for Americans For Prosperity, Michigan, the pro-right-to-work group whose tent was targeted yesterday by angry union supporters. He didn’t know who Crowder was prior to the day’s events. “I really don’t watch any TV news whatsoever,” says Hagerstrom.

At one point in the protests/hostilities, says Hagerstrom, union activists took aim at a corner of tent set up by Americans for Prosperity on the Capitol grounds. Crowder was there to help hold up the tent. Three times the Americans for Prosperity staff called 911 seeking assistance. “We were surrounded in such a way that we really couldn’t get out,” says Hagerstrom. A bit later, Crowder sustained attacks from toughs, though his wasn’t the only scrap. “No, there were other fights,” says Hagerstrom.

The tent took a tumble, via boxcutters and pole-tackling. Americans for Prosperity had rented the tent and is now trying to figure out how to handle recompense with the rental company for its $10,000-plus value. More: The melee claimed a heater; a rented propane tank was recovered ten miles away on a bridge; an iPad disappeared; and “we had phones taken out of people’s hands,” charges Hagerstrom.

“There’s never any excuse for the intimidation and tactics of putting people’s safety in peril,” he continues.

Nor is there any excuse for the media’s treatment of the affair, argues Bozell. “ABC, CBS, and NBC have suppressed news coverage of violent assaults perpetrated by union thugs in Michigan on Tuesday. The networks deliberately ignored widely available footage of Fox News Contributor Steven Crowder being punched in the face by a union member and union protesters tearing down a tent erected by Americans for Prosperity while people were still inside.” When queried on the matter, the networks didn’t exactly hurry to issue on-the-record responses.

Violence at a pivotal union protest indeed merits strong national coverage. The events, after all, could signal that unions are finally getting their due; or that greedy industrialists are prevailing in another state; or that the country’s longstanding economic woes are giving way to desperation; or some combo thereof.

Yet if folks are truly scandalized by the lack of generalized media outrage about Crowder’s treatment, they should take a second look at Crowder’s actions. Though he appears to have carried himself nobly while under attack, he’s gone buffoonish since then. He said on Twitter yesterday that this is “getting fun.” He challenged his assailant to a Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fight. And he has generally sounded as if he’s enjoying this boost to his career prospects, in a way that his Halloween-candy-exposes-the-fraud-of-income-redistribution stunt did not.

Given how Crowder has carried on, I, too, may well pass on the story of his beating, were I a network executive producer.

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.