Fact-checking WaPo columnist on the ‘McKinley moment’ Media Myth Alert #tcot # tlot #tpot #gabriellegiffords

HT Mark Levin


….”Milbank began his column by declaring: “If any good can come of the horror in Tucson, it will be that this becomes a McKinley moment for Sarah Palin and her chief spokesman, Glenn Beck.” ….

…”A “McKinley moment”? Meaning what? An occasion for self-censorship because of the insinuations and false allegations raised against them in the aftermath of the shootings in Tucson–much as false allegations were raised against Hearst following McKinley’s slaying? Not only is “McKinley moment” an imprecise construct: It suggests that using smears to batter foes into silence is somehow worthy or admirable. Milbank in his column briefly reviewed the false and improbable charges of incitement leveled against Hearst after McKinley was fatally shot in September 1901 and wrote: “The outcry against Hearst’s incitement–there were boycotts and a burning in effigy–dashed his presidential ambitions. “A similar, and long overdue, outcry has followed the Tucson killings.” “Maybe,” Milbank added, “Beck and Palin will be good enough to show us what a real moment of silence is–by having themselves a nice long one.” A more fitting and appropriate response from
the violence in Tucson would be not to seek to mute the rhetoric of foes, but to condemn the smear, to call attention to the hazards of battering opponents with indirect and groundless allegations of incitement. Hearst was so battered in 1901. He, not unlike Palin and Beck, was a brash and controversial figure, easy to dislike. Hearst’s aggressive, activist-oriented approach to newspapering–his yellow journalism–shook up New York City’s media scene in late 1890s and served as a platform for his political ambitions during the first decade of the 20th century. But Hearst was no villain, no violence-monger. As I write in my latest book, Getting It Wrong, Hearst almost surely never vowed to bring on the Spanish-American War of 1898, although that hardy myth is often invoked and readily believed. His newspapers were known to publish intemperate commentary, as were rival newspapers at the turn of the 20th century. And ill-advised surely defines the column written in 1900 by
Ambrose Bierce, who ruminated about a bullet “speeding here to stretch McKinley on his bier.” Milbank’s column suggested that Bierce’s commentary was published in the Hearst papers some six months before McKinley was shot. In fact, it appeared 20 months before the assassination, in a quatrain about the fatal shooting of William Goebel, the governor of Kentucky. Bierce said he meant to call attention to risks of not finding and prosecuting Goebel’s killer. Milbank’s column, moreover, erred in claiming the uproar that followed McKinley’s assassination “dashed” Hearst’s presidential ambitions. Not so. “….

….”In the end, though, his candidacy was doomed–not by the smears and fabrications raised after the McKinley assassination but by the reluctance of William Jennings Bryan to embrace Hearst’s bid. “…


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