David Cole on the whole Harriet Tubman thing — and how the “defacement” campaign will play out in the media:
Tompkins disagreed with my assertion that the media purposely highlights racist imagery for lurid or sensational purposes: “If the incident incites news, then you cover the news,” he said. There’s no calculation, no editorial agenda. You show up, you cover what’s there. A robot could do it. I reminded Tompkins of a story I wrote about several years ago: At Glenn Beck’s massive 2010 “Restoring Honor” rally at the Lincoln Memorial, Lyndon LaRouche cultists were passing out pamphlets on the outer edge of the event depicting Obama as Hitler. In a crowd of 300,000 people, an AP reporter managed to find one of those tiny pamphlets, like a bloodhound genetically modified to find a Nazi needle in a conservative haystack, and he featured it prominently in his article without letting his readers know that it was from LaRouche’s organization, not Beck’s.
A year later, at MoveOn.org’s anti–Scott Walker rally outside L.A. City Hall, the Larouchies brought a giant ten-by-twenty-foot banner with the same Obama/Hitler image. The banner dwarfed every other sign at the event, yet in a crowd of barely 2,000, not a single press organization (including the AP) photographed or mentioned the contentious image.
I told Tompkins, “The fact is, the press can ignore wacky extremists as easily as it can cover them. Ignoring loons with questionable or self-serving intentions can be done.”
He abruptly (and uncharacteristically) cut off the correspondence.