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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A day of tragedy, made worse by rightwing media feeding frenzy

Amy Davidson, The New Yorker: A twenty-year-old man who had been watching the Boston Marathon had his body torn into by the force of a bomb. He wasn’t alone; a hundred and seventy-six people were injured and three were killed. But he was the only one who, while in the hospital being treated for his wounds, had his apartment searched in “a startling show of force,” as his fellow-tenants described it to the Boston Herald, with a “phalanx” of officers and agents and two K9 units. He was the one whose belongings were carried out in paper bags as his neighbors watched; whose roommate, also a student, was questioned for five hours (“I was scared”) before coming out to say that he didn’t think his friend was someone who’d plant a bomb—that he was a nice guy who liked sports. “Let me go to school, dude,” the roommate said later in the day, covering his face with his hands and almost crying, as a Fox News producer followed him and asked him, again and again, if he was sure he hadn’t been living with a killer.

Why the search, the interrogation, the dogs, the bomb squad, and the injured man’s name tweeted out, attached to the word “suspect”? After the bombs went off, people were running in every direction—so was the young man. Many, like him, were hurt badly; many of them were saved by the unflinching kindness of strangers, who carried them or stopped the bleeding with their own hands and improvised tourniquets. “Exhausted runners who kept running to the nearest hospital to give blood,” President Obama said. “They helped one another, consoled one another,” Carmen Ortiz, the U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts, said. In the midst of that, according to a CBS News report, a bystander saw the young man running, badly hurt, rushed to him, and then “tackled” him, bringing him down. People thought he looked suspicious.

What made them suspect him? He was running—so was everyone. The police reportedly thought he smelled like explosives; his wounds might have suggested why. He said something about thinking there would be a second bomb—as there was, and often is, to target responders. If that was the reason he gave for running, it was a sensible one. He asked if anyone was dead—a question people were screaming. And he was from Saudi Arabia, which is around where the logic stops. Was it just the way he looked, or did he, in the chaos, maybe call for God with a name that someone found strange?
A can’t quote the entire thing here, but you can go and check it out. It’s definitely worth your time. Most of the media failed miserably to rise to the occasion, but it was the rightwing media who dropped a giant turd on an already horrible day by tormenting a witness, rumor mongering, and fear mongering. The New York Post ran with wildly inaccurate reports, which the rightwing media immediately fell for. As wee see here, Fox harassed an innocent person. Then useless wingnut blogger Jim Hoft posted photos of the Saudi witness, taken from his Facebook page, in a way that served no rational purpose. The stupid, cowardly, panic-stricken rightwing media stampeded between ridiculously obvious false stories, stupid speculation, and baseless assumptions all day.

And the worst part is that, if you take a trip through these blogs and news sites, you get no sense of shame at all. In fact, you get the feeling that they have no idea that they should be ashamed. They’re all just plugging along in blissful ignorance, still guessing stupidly (and often pointlessly) as to what the truth might be, rather than waiting patiently until we know.

Hey GOP, here’s your biggest problem winning over voters: your base is so exhausting, no one wants anything to do with them. Between the panic and the fake outrage and the real (but misplaced) outrage and the other panic and the outrage with that and on and on and on and on, no one can keep up. The relentless stupidity just wears you down.

For fuck’s sake give it a break. Don’t you guys ever get tired of being outraged, panicked, and wrong?

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