David Frum

05.18.1212:05 PM ET

This is What Liberal Media Bias Looks Like

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.)

how do i comment?
Get The Daily Beast In Your Inbox
By clicking "Subscribe", you agree to have read the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy
Thank You!
You are now subscribed to the Cheat Sheet. We will not share your email with anyone for any reason
You are now subscribed to the Daily Digest. We will not share your email with anyone for any reason
You are now subscribed to the Daily Digest and Cheat Sheet. We will not share your email with anyone for any reason
Follow The Daily Beast