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The Corporate Media's Outrageous Double Standard on Romney and Ted Nugent

Mitt Romney's campaign welcomed the endorsement of a washed-up rock-n-roller who said President Obama could "suck on my machine gun." Where's the outrage?
 
 
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In the realm of political outrages, a clear double standard exists: those directed against the president of the United States or his Democratic allies are simply regarded as white noise. Ever since the election of the nation's first African-American president, the media seem to have become acclimated to a right-wing rhetorical landscape so fraught with racism and violence that words once unthinkable as public utterances by supporters of a Republican candidate barely register as such. Yet, cowed as they are by the right-wing message machine, media figures often feel that they dare not ignore even the most ridiculous of right-wing talking points.

When CNN commentator Hilary Rosen took let loose some snark at Ann Romney's life as a privileged stay-at-home mom, the lag time for a media response could be measured in minutes. Ann Romney, wife of the likely GOP presidential nominee, "never worked a day in her life," Rosen said. The Rosen remark, said Ann Romney in an overheard conversation at a Romney fundraiser, turned out to be an "early birthday present." The Romney campaign wrapped it up with a bow and ran with it, and for the next six days, the Rosen remark drew an endless supply of tweets, op-eds and television punditry. 

So when Mitt Romney's campaign warmly welcomed the endorsement of a washed-up rock-n-roller who called President Barack Obama "a piece of shit" who should "suck on my machine gun," one would imagine media bedlam ensuing. But despite our best efforts -- blogging, tweeting, listicle-writing -- the media responded with radio silence.

True, Nugent didn't issue his threats on CNN, and the Obama campaign inexplicably ignored the endorsement. But the guy was already on record as a racist and a misogynist (in 2000, he called then-First Lady Hillary Clinton "a toxic cunt"), and nobody seemed to care.

It wasn't until Nugent issued forth with a new round of violence-laced rhetoric, aimed at the president and other Democrats, at last week's National Rifle Association conference -- and Right Wing Watch posted the video -- that the media took any notice of Nugent's chummy relationship with the Romney folks, or even asked the Romney campaign to answer for the venom spewed by a celebrity supporter whose endorsement the Romney camp applauded when it was issued, via Twitter, last month.

Endorsement From Well-Known Bigot and Misogynist Draws No Interest

When Ted Nugent, the one-hit-wonder known for the ditty, "Cat-Scratch Fever," endorsed Romney on March 2, you'd think some eyebrows might have been raised. Nugent, after all, kicked up a bit of dust in 2008 when he played Texas Gov. Rick Perry's inaugural ball decked out in a shirt emblazoned with the Confederate flag.

Then there was that nightclub show in which he referred to the president as excrement and signaled his desire to insert a machine gun barrel into the commander-in-chief's mouth.

But Politico dutifully reported the Nugent endorsement without those pesky elements of context, even after the Republican presidential candidate's son, Tagg Romney, issued a gee-whiz Tweet

Ted Nugent endorsed my Dad today. Ted Nugent? How cool is that?! He joins Kid Rock as great Detroit musicians on team Mitt!

(Kid Rock's predilection for suckitude, according to his lyrics, is directed at women he calls "ho's" and involves not a gun, but a part of his anatomy.) 

With the introduction of video evidence of Nugent's malevolence, media began to take notice -- especially since Nugent's latest eruption of verbal violence, at the NRA conference in St. Louis, took place a day after Romney's own appearance before the gun enthusiasts. During his NRA appearance, Nugent compared Obama and Democrats to a coyote that is "pissing on your couch" and should be shot. He also urged his listeners to be like Braveheart, and "cut off [Democrats'] heads in November." From Right Wing Watch:

Nugent called President Obama a criminal and denounced his "vile, evil America-hating administration" which is "wiping its ass with the Constitution." Taking it a step further, he said that "If Barack Obama becomes the president in November, again, I will either be dead or in jail by this time next year."

"If you can't galvanize and promote and recruit people to vote for Mitt Romney, we're done," he continued.

[...]

Nugent concluded with a call to cut off the heads of Democrats in November: "We need to ride into that battlefield and chop their heads off in November. Any questions?"

A Tale of Two Responses

So, following Nugent's latest attempt to incite violence against the president and his political allies, the Romney campaign strongly denounced the rhetoric and rejected Nugent's endorsement, right?

Wrong. Here's what the Romney campaign had to say about Nugent's comments, via campaign spokesperson Andrea Saul:

“Divisive language is offensive no matter what side of the political aisle it comes from. Mitt Romney believes everyone needs to be civil.”

"Divisive language"? How about "calls to violence from a known racist"? Did Saul really mean to implicitly equate Nugent's hatred with Rosen's bungled attempt to say that Ann Romney didn't make a great spokesperson for the average American mother?

And Romney has yet to reject the Nugent endorsement. Instead, the a campaign spokesperson told NBC News that the Romney camp never sought Nugent's nod. But that's not the way Nugent tells it. His March 2 Tweet says he had a long "heart&soul" talk with Romney before he made the endorsement, and he told the Texas Tribune that he exacted a promise from Romney that, if elected president, the Republican would ardently defend the Second Amendment right to bear arms. (Nugent sits on the NRA's board.)

Now, by way of contrast, here's how President Obama responded to Hilary Rosen's comments about Ann Romney:

First of all, there is no tougher job than being a mom. I've watched Michelle, who for most of her career had juggled work and family. but there were times she was on maternity leave and I promise you that's work. That was an ill-advised statement by somebody on television. It's not something I subscribe to. My general rule is, you don't talk about the spouses of elected officials because they've got a really tough job. They're out there supporting their husband or wife who's chosen to serve in the public eye. I think they're off-limits. So on both counts it was the wrong thing to say and I haven't met Mrs. Romney but she seems like a wonderful woman and I know she's devoted her life to her family. [Emphasis added.]

The Secret Service says it is looking into Nugent's calls to violence against the president, although no formal investigation has been launched. Still waiting to hear Romney say that calling for violence against the president of the United States is "off-limits." 

 

Adele M. Stan is AlterNet's Washington correspondent. Follow her on Twitter: www.twitter.com/addiestan
 
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