David Frum

05.18.12

This is What Liberal Media Bias Looks Like

abdnor

When conservatives complain about liberal media bias, here's what is meant: check out today's obituary for former South Dakota Senator James Abdnor. Abdnor defeated incumbent Senator George McGovern in 1980. That might seem a long time ago, but the New York Times cannot forgive the offense.

The 1980 South Dakota Senate race offered stark contrasts: Mr. McGovern had national stature, a liberal voting record, many legislative achievements and eloquence as a campaigner. Mr. Abdnor was all but unknown outside his state, had a conservative voting record but few legislative accomplishments, and was as plain-spoken as politicians come, with the added distraction of a word-slurring speech impediment. He said Mr. McGovern was out of touch with the state, but Mr. Abdnor refused to debate.

Deceased senator a stuttering fool? Wait, there's more.

In addition, Mr. McGovern had been married for 37 years and had five children. Mr. Abdnor was a lifelong bachelor. His survivors include four nieces and two nephews.

Ah, I see. A gay stuttering fool.

There's still more.

Mr. Abdnor won easily, 58 percent to 39 percent. Analysts said the outcome had less to do with issues than with a negative campaign by the National Conservative Political Action Committee, which portrayed Mr. McGovern as a friend of Fidel Castro because he had visited Cuba, and as “antifamily” or a “baby killer” because he opposed a constitutional ban on abortion.

Not only a gay, stuttering fool—but a gay, stuttering fool who fluked into his election win due to the mean-spirited efforts of others. (For what it's worth, McGovern himself described Castro as a friend. But don't tell the Times.)