It’s simple: Keep making noise, regardless of the facts, and hopefully with a big assist from the major news orgs, until the other side caves from sheer exhaustion, in order to make the noise go away.
Conservatives and Tea Partyers have managed to generate a third straight day of outrage about Jimmy Hoffa’s non-call for violence on Labor day. The National Republican Senatorial Committee is now raising money off of Hoffa’s speech, circulating an email with a subject line that says: “Take us out?” It calls on Obama to “condemn this call to violence against Republicans.”
The Tea Party group Americans for Prosperity is also citing Hoffa’s “take these sons of bitches out” line as proof of “hate” from “left wing labor bosses.”
Of course, these folks know that Hoffa didn’t call for violence at all. His quote was actually a call for people to go out and vote. And the Tea Party’s most preeminent spokesperson in Congress, Michele Bachmann, used virtually identical langage about her own political foes — at a Tea Party rally, no less.
I asked NRSC spokesman Brian Walsh to comment on Bachmann’s use of the same phrase. He emailed:
“Congresswoman Bachmann can certainly speak to that on her own. Of course, a key difference here is that the leader of the free world, who preaches unity and civilty, wasn’t up on stage patting her on the back like he was with his labor boss buddy on Monday. And then pleading ignorance 24 hours later.”
That’s fine, but it doesn’t address the fact that the NRSC is claiming outright that Hoffa called for violence when he plainly didn’t. Hoffa didn’t call for violence anymore than Bachmann did.
But what Hoffa actually said is entirely beside the point. That isn’t meant in a glib way. It’s central to understanding what’s happening here. Republicans and conservatives are very good at this. They are very good at making an enormous amount of noise in a way that creates the impression of genuine outrage and controversy — and, crucially, sustaining that noise until they get results. They are very good at framing stories like these in a way that maximizes media coverage on their terms. In this case, multiple news outlets have essentially done their bidding, repeatedly reproducing Hoffa’s quote without its electoral context — exactly as conservatives continue to present it. This, even though the context is absolutely critical in enabling readers to evaluate whether there’s anything controversial about what Hoffa said.
But let’s be clear what the real goal is here. It’s to get the other side — Hoffa, the White House, whoever — to cave and issue an apology out of sheer desperation to make the noise go away. An apology would reveal Dem weakness and validate the right’s outrage and its ongoing storyline about labor thuggery. And heck, even if they don’t get an apology (which has not yet been forthcoming from Hoffa or the White House), the right’s undeniable skill at keeping the noise going at full blast has other benefits. It keeps the base stoked. These folks are very good at this game.