If there's one thing the boys at the Media Research Center and NewsBusters believe (beyond the increasingly dubious claim that the media has an insidious liberal bias), it's ideological purity. Hence its embrace of Heathering, in which snippy remarks are sent the way of any conservative who has committed the offense of not marching in lockstep with the right-wing party line.
Even stalwart conservative Republicans are not immune from the Heathering treatment if they offend the MRC ideology police. So it really shouldn't be a shock that none other than Karl Rove found himself on the receiving end, despite NewsBusters' long history of praising Rove's genius.
Rove's crime? Saying that Christine O'Donnell could not win the general election for Joe Biden's old Delaware Senate seat because she does not "evince the characteristics of rectitude and truthfulness and sincerity and character that voters are looking for."
Criticizing a tea party darling, no matter how truthful the criticism, is simply not permitted by the MRC. And so the Heathering began. Mark Finkelstein looked askance at "rip the winner" O'Donnell, which continued even as host Sean Hannity "defended O'Donnell staunchly."
Finkelstein followed up by what may be a grave insult by NewsBusters standards -- he tied Rove to frequent Heathering victim Joe Scarborough by highlighing how Scarborough said that he agreed with Rove's criticism.
Scott Whitlock then claimed that "liberal journalists" were using the comments to "highlight Karl Rove as an authoritative voice."
On Sept. 16, Finkelstein portrayed Rove's remarks as part of "the trashing of Christine O'Donnell."
NewsBusters' Heathering, though, is fairly tame so far compared with the freak-out other right-wing bloggers have been engaging in, hurling insults at Rove and other conservative former allies insufficiently supportive of O'Donnell with a frequency normally reserved for members of the so-called liberal media.
How long will Rove stay in NewsBusters' doghouse? Perhaps not for much longer, now that Rove has backpedaled.