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An Exhibition of Conservative Paranoia

Exhibit 41: The Macaca Never Ends

The MRC's Tim Graham is out to make sure that if others won't let George Allen's infamous remark die, he won't either.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 12/7/2006

Tim Graham as a macaca problem.

Not that the director of media analysis for the Media Research Center and NewsBusters blogger ever used the word that got Virginia Sen. George Allen in trouble during his re-election campaign (at least, not to our knowledge). You may recall that Allen's use of the word -- a racial insult in some circles, including that of Allen's mother -- was directed at S.R. Sidarth, a staffer for his opponent, James Webb, and a U.S.-born citizen of Indian descent; you may also recall that blogger Dan Riehl used NewsBusters to make false allegations of racism against Sidarth, as ConWebWatch documented.

Graham's problem, rather, is that Allen's use of the word is discussed at all.

During the Allen-Webb campaign, Graham amply demonstrated his obsession with it. Dismissing at first as a "supposedly racist gaffe," then a "molehill" and "less-than-monumental" -- and, of course, smacked around the Washington Post for "piling on" and "on the front page for the fourth time."

The battle continued into October; in an Oct. 18 NewsBusters post, Graham attacked "the long-running, transparently partisan 'Macaca' campaign waged by Michael Shear, Tim Craig and the rest of the [Washington] Post" against Allen, adding in parentheses: "Today’s Nexis count: 92 Post articles, news and editorial, with the word 'Macaca.' Four of them were news accounts on the front page."

After Allen narrowly lost to Webb in the November 7 election, you'd think that after the obligatory grumbling about the liberal media costing Allen his victory, the folks at the MRC would get over it. Indeed, MRC president Brent Bozell obliged in a Nov. 15 column, claiming the the Washington Post used the "macaca" statement in "treating Allen with left-wing aggression and loathing, as if he ripped out the fingernails of small children every night as a giggly hobby" and updating Graham's Nexis count: "By Election Day, 112 Post news stories and editorials had used the word 'macaca.' " But as Media Matters' Eric Boehlert points out, Bozell overstated his case:

Bozell claimed the Post "pound[ed] away day after day from August to November," devoting "front page after front page, editorial after editorial, story after story" to criticizing Allen. Yet I found just three lonely post-Labor Day editorials devoted to criticizing Allen's re-election run, which was actually pretty generous of the Post considering that Allen's Keystone Kops campaign was marked by an almost constant flow of self-inflicted wounds.

Bozell also failed to note his own organization's imbalance during the campaign; as ConWebWatch detailed, the MRC's devoted a whopping four stories in one day to the issue of out-of-context excerpts from Webb's fiction books -- a burst occurring coincidentally (or not) as the Allen campaign decided to make an issue of it.

Even after this post-mortem, though, it was not the end for "macaca" obsession at the MRC. Graham has apparently decided that if others were going to mention it, he was going to castigate them for doing so.

A Nov. 21 NewsBusters post by Graham noted that in an article "about the racist N-word-screaming outburst of former Seinfeld star Michael Richards, and how it might ruin his career (such as it is)," the Post "once again highlights the Post obsession/achievement," adding, "The only other people mixing 'macaca' into the Kramer mess is a left-wing satire site." Graham stated:

I don't think it's fair to compare "macaca" to screaming the N-word at a heckler. But the Post has tried very hard to make the two words mean exactly the same thing, and they're not letting up, even after they defeated Allen.

Graham similarly had no intention of letting up.

A Nov. 22 post complained that "[l]ike clockwork," Post columnist Eugene Robinson "merges Michael 'Kramer' Richards screaming the N-word at a black heckler with defeated Sen. George Allen's 'Macaca' reference, alongside Mel Gibson's drunken anti-Semitic rant," further complaining:

It doesn't matter how many black friends George Allen has, how many black people endorsed him for re-election, how many blacks have denied they ever saw a racist bone in George Allen's body. There is, in the minds of The Washington Post crowd, a seething "Segregation Forever" George Wallace in there inside his head, and it doesn't matter if there's evidence to the contrary. They're going to just keep fiendishly pushing the "Macaca" button as if it proves Allen is forever tainted with a scarlet "R" for racist.

A Nov. 22 post showed Graham further exasperated, upset this time that "not one, but two columns in Newsweek from black staffers" on the Michael Richards rant "both worked in George Allen’s Macaca remark," adding "it’s questionable whether 'Macaca' ... justifies putting modern-day conservatives into comparison with South African rapist/stranglers and the Virginia plantation owners of the 17th century." Graham conspiratorially added: "It should be noted that the original Macaca-gaffe manufacturers at the Washington Post are corporate cousins of Newsweek."

On Nov. 28, Graham was irked at a Time columnist because "in referring to Richards, Mel Gibson, and the canceled O.J. Simpson special, he works in Allen, the RNC Harold-Ford-mocking ad, and Rush Limbaugh's alleged hate for Michael J. Fox."

Graham diverted himself in a Dec. 1 post praising Post columnist George Will for writing a "brutal column" about Webb and "scouring him for being rude to President Bush at a reception" (but failing to note that Will misrepresented the incident to make Webb look like a rude hothead and Bush a victim). But the "macaca" lure was too strong: Graham also took Will to task for waiting until after the election to write that column, bashing Will for "scouring Sen. George Allen ... seven days before the election," concluding, "[W]hen you help make the 'Macaca majority,' then you should look in the mirror before despairing over the man you helped usher in."

In that Nov. 21 NewsBusters post, Graham wrote: "The Washington Post just cannot leave 'macaca' alone." Neither, it seems, can Graham.

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