You've probably heard about the New Black Panther Party "scandal," in which a guy stood outside a polling place in a heavily black precinct holding a billy club (Adam has been talking about this extensively; see here). Well it's starting to break through to the mainstream media, as these things always do; see, for instance, this Washington Post article in which the passive voice is used extensively. It "has become a political controversy for the Obama administration," yes indeed.
The conservative media pushing this story are indignant that anyone could suggest that race has something to do with their interest in it. After all, they're just passionate defenders of voting rights, and it's obvious that after looking through all the voting rights cases that have occurred in recent years, they decided that this was the most outrageous, and demanded wall-to-wall attention.
We didn't need a lesson in how good the right is in kicking up these dust storms, because they've done it so many times before. It's a very simple formula: take some incident or person who can embody something you want people to believe about the left (elitists, scary black people, etc.); put it into heavy rotation on Fox and conservative radio; immediately begin screaming that the liberal mainstream media are ignoring this vital story; watch while the mainstream media pick up the story to prove they really aren't liberal. Rinse, repeat. It works pretty much every time.
Just something to consider: If Republicans take back the House in November, they'll barely need Fox and Rush Limbaugh and the rest to do this. They'll have subpoena power. And once they start holding hearings, the press will dutifully cover them. Back when Bill Clinton was president and they controlled Congress, they took 140 hours of testimony on whether Clinton had abused the White House Christmas card list. And the GOP is even more conservative now, and even more fervent in their opposition to the current president than they were to Clinton.
-- Paul Waldman