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An Exhibition of Conservative Paranoia

Exhibit 48: The Heathers at NewsBusters

The political angst of Tim Graham and crew is awfully close to having a body count: They're kicking conservatives out of the club for being insufficiently loyal to John McCain and Sarah Palin.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 11/7/2008

The cult teen black comedy "Heathers" focused on a clique of girls who were the arbiters of the "in" crowd at their high school. The crew at NewsBusters is pretty much doing the same thing to their fellow conservatives.

The offense for getting kicked out of the club (and the resulting invitations that won't be sent for parties, hanging out at the mall, etc.): insufficient fealty to the right-wing cause in the form of daring to criticize John McCain's campaign, his selection of Sarah Palin as a running mate, and -- horrors! -- saying the occasional nice thing about Barack Obama.

The punishment: getting ostracized and being on the receiving end of snarky insults. Just like the movie Heathers.

Tim Graham kicked off the Heathering in an Oct. 1 post suggesting that conservative writer Kathleen Parker's column critical of Palin's selection was written with the purpose of getting Parker on TV more: "Parker, a semi-regular on The Chris Matthews Show, doesn't seem to see how her souring on Palin might look to some like a way to demonstrate 'independence' and hence more Matthews bookings. On Sunday, Matthews read from her column and cheeringly noted she was booked."

Joining in the Parker-bashing was Mark Finkelstein, who insisted in an Oct. 4 post that Parker "became, overnight, liberals' favorite non-liberal pundit for her column calling on Sarah Palin to step down from the GOP ticket" and that Parker had an egg-like substance on her face because, after Palin's non-sucky performace during the vice presidential debate, "Parker is dismayed to have the Palin that made the author famous pulled out from under her."

When New York Times columnist David Brooks called Palin "a fatal cancer to the Republican Party," the Heathers tried to turn him into Martha Dumptruck.

Scott Whitlock led this attack by putting scare quotes around "conservative" in describing Brooks, adding that he is "someone who makes a habit out of bashing other right-wingers."

Graham let loose the Swatch dogs of war in an Oct. 9 post, calling Brooks "the man PBS’s 'NewsHour' unit selected to represent in some way 'conservative' opinion in America." He continued:

Many conservative and Republican taxpayers might ask: why are our tax dollars going to Washington to fund PBS, while they select "conservatives" to represent us who hate the politicians we support, and blithely sit around with liberals at pricey restaurants like Le Cirque and complain that those hicks from Texas and Alaska aren’t reading enough Niebuhr? Are we going to go to the polls to elect a commander in chief, or a senior fellow in Niebuhr studies?


David Brooks is nothing like Paul Gigot, who was both a good reporter and conservative idea man as a Wall Street Journal columnist. He’s a lot more like PBS’s last insult as a "conservative" representative: David Gergen. He's someone who inspires giggles when you reread in him in Newsweek in 2000 claiming "The conservative McCain backers see themselves as rebels against the establishment." Brooks defines the arrogant Manhattan establishment, looking down their snooty noses at the Alaskan moose-hunters. He is only a rebel against the people he’s supposedly speaking for on PBS.

Yikes. Why do we have a feeling that Graham is running around Northern Viriginia trying to find a place that sells ich luge bullets?

Graham bashed Brooks again in an Oct. 15 post as an "increasingly fraudulent 'conservative'" (translation: he won't robotically regurgitate McCain talking points), though he did relent a bit and concede that Brooks "tried to be generous at the end and say the 'landscape has been so biased against McCain.'"

Related article on ConWebWatch:

The Palin Brigade

Graham also hammered on Brooks the next day, for committing the offense of speaking the truth that Barack Obama handled the debate attacks from John McCain well and that McCain didn't cause enough damage to significantly alter the campaign. That's not how Graham saw it, of course; he sneered that "Brooks was digging McCain’s campaign a grave" and did a "gush for Obama."

P.J. Gladnick joined the Heather campaign against Brooks in an Oct. 18 post:

The New York Times "House Conservative" seems to know his place. Pretend to be a "conservative" while advancing the liberal agenda of getting Obama elected (along with slamming Rush Limbaugh). Should the "House Conservative" veer from that path, he will find his invites to exclusive Manhattan parties, where they probably now express "strange new respect" for Brooks, dry up along, perhaps, with his job.

Would Gladnick continue to be allowed to post at NewsBusters if he didn't write stuff like this, attacking fellow conservatives who deviated even slightly from right-wing dogma? Probably not.

Philadelphia radio host Michael Smerconish was the next victim. Back in June, Finkelstein ridiculed Smerconish's suggestion that he might vote for Obama with a handful of right-wing talking points:

I mean, Obama might be a perfectly good guy to have in a group going to see Rashomon at the local indie movie house and chat about things afterward over a decent glass of Chardonnay. But what kind of Republican would consider voting for someone to the left of Barbara Boxer on abortion, who has said that Breyer, Bader Ginsburg and Souter are the kind of Supreme Court justices he admires, and who would leave the Iraqi people to the tender mercies of al Qaeda regardless of what his generals are telling him about progress on the ground?

In a Nov. 4 post, Gladnick gets all snippy about "conservative" (the scare quotes are Gladnick's) Smerconish's endorsement of Barack Obama, channeling right-wing blogger Brian Maloney's baseless assertion that Smerconish endorsed Obama only to please his corporate bosses and to gain greater exposure in the form of his show expanding to Washington, D.C.

Gladnick called Smerconish's endorsement "self-serving" and "career-enhancing," adding ominously, "It's all part of the Faustian bargain. Selling your soul comes with a huge price tag as Smerconish will find out."

Like what? A glass of bad plankton? Meaningful passages underlined in his copy of "Moby Dick"?

Who will get kicked out of the club next in NewsBusters' own little version of Westerberg High? Stay tuned ...

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