Today’s Mike Masterson column deserves its own post rather than just a passing mention. It deserves to be recognized as the essence of Masterson’s journalistic craft, uniting paranoid lunacy, incendiary language, and shameless lying within a few inches of column space. Referring to the Occupy Wallstreet movement that has recently mobilized tens of thousands of protesters, Masterson calls people whose opinions he disagrees with an “unwashed, whining, smelly mob occupying and infesting Wall Street”. The term “mob” appears three times in the rant, as well as the epithet “Flea Party”. Here’s the first paragraph in unabridged beauty:
LITTLE ROCK — I’m sold on one man’s proposed name for that unwashed, whining, smelly mob occupying and infesting Wall Street because they either:
1. Are being paid by big-bucks special interests to be there and create violent confrontations or…
2. Have no jobs, are bored and have nothing better to do but hang out together and screech “Pervert!,” “Boycott!” and “The world is watching!” as they intentionally pick fights with police to create headlines (and Internet videos for the 2012 election) or…
3. Are harboring free-floating anger about life as free Americans and are in search of scapegoats for their rage. Or, all of the above.
Yep, the calculated hatching of America’s newly named “Flea Party” seems to fit this mob. And shazam! It rhymes with Tea Party.
Without any sense of irony, Masterson goes on to complain about lack of civility on the part of those he just insulted. Also devoid of irony is his made-up claim that protesters are puppets of “wealthy, ultra-liberal power brokers” (hint: Masterson’s wife is a Tea Party activist employed as Director of Grassroots for Arkansas by Americans For Prosperity, the front group funded by the billionaire Koch brothers).
Editor Paul Greenberg, famous for his literary sensitivity, might want to remind Masterson that comparing political opponents to parasitic bugs has kind of gone out of fashion after 1945. Although I have the hunch that he doesn’t really mind fascist rhetoric being employed on his editorial page.
UPDATE: On December 6, Masterson was once again caught with his pants on fire, using his position as editor of the Dem-Gaz opinion page to spread a piece of propaganda that is demonstrably a lie: He wrote in his column that Occupy NWA, the Northwest Arkansas sprout of the Occupy Wall Street movement, had falsely claimed the support of hundreds of local businesses. Not so. Occupy NWA had expressed its own support for local business but never claimed or implied that these businesses were in turn supporters of the movement.
The issue was covered sufficiently at Blue Arkansas and Street Jazz. I would add, though, that liberal observers still seem to delude themselves about right-wing spinmeisters like Masterson. Masterson does not, as Richard Drake suggests, need “political bifocals”. He knows what he is doing and so does his boss, Paul Greenberg. Masterson lies because lying is what he does, lying is what he is good in, and lying is what he is paid for. That’s all there is to it.
UPDATE II: Another recent post by Richard Drake, outright creepy.
UPDATE III: Apparently Mike Masterson and Laurie Lee got a divorce.