Sunday’s New York Times tried to put “law and order conservatives,” not liberal riot supporters, on the defensive in the violent aftermath of the unjust death under police custody of George Floyd in Minneapolis: “Floyd Case Presents Ideological Challenge for Law-and-Order Conservatives.” The text box: “Even Limbaugh and Pirro can’t defend an officer’s actions.”
Reporters Michael Grynbaum, Annie Karni, and Jeremy Peters opened with the anecdote of Fox News regular Jeanine Pirro getting emotional over Floyd’s death, then pivoted to Rush.
Even right-wing stars like Rush Limbaugh hedged their assessments early on, as the officer’s lethal force drew more condemnation in some corners of the right than the ensuing riots and the burning of a police precinct. “I can’t find a way to justify it,’’ Mr. Limbaugh said of the officer’s actions.
The chilling circumstances of Mr. Floyd’s death – particularly the graphic, indisputable video of his arrest – have, at least for now, posed a political quandary among some conservative politicians, media stars and President Trump, whose usual instinct is to focus on blaming liberals for promoting lawlessness.
But the stark footage of a white police officer kneeling on the neck of Mr. Floyd as he pleaded and moaned “I can’t breathe” produced an unusual moment when those on either side of the nation’s split-screen politics were, publicly at least, evincing a common cause.
The moment may be fleeting….
On his syndicated radio show on Thursday, Mr. Limbaugh expressed dismay at the actions of the police. “Look, you people in law enforcement know I’m at the top of the list of people who support you and understand how hard your jobs are,” he told listeners. “I still – given all of that, do not … I cannot find a way to explain that. I can’t find a way to justify it. I don’t care what the guy did.”
But Mr. Limbaugh also mocked the Democratic mayor of Minneapolis, Jacob Frey, who had made a tearful plea for unity.
The reporters were offended on behalf of liberals unfairly targeted as “Republican boogeymen.”
Among some conservatives, condemnation of the Minnesota police officers was often entwined with disdain for perennial targets of the right: big city Democratic politicians, the media, the Black Lives Matter movement and others who conservatives have blamed for helping stoke the violence. On Friday, the Drudge Report blared a headline in capital letters: “Unrest Spreads in U.S.A.”
So? The Times’ own banner headline from the same edition: “Spreading Unrest Leaves A Nation On Edge.”
The president’s campaign manager, Brad Parscale, seized on the backlash to Mr. Trump’s “looting” tweet to attack “the media, Joe Biden, and the Democrats,” ticking off a triumvirate of Republican boogeymen.
In a campaign statement, Mr. Parscale wrote that Minneapolis was “in chaos” and, without evidence, accused Democrats and the media of capitalizing on the tragedy as “a political opportunity and a chance to make money” — both offenses that Mr. Trump and Mr. Parscale himself are often accused of.
“Whataboutism” is back in style.
The Times turned to “Charlie Sykes, a longtime conservative radio star who now opposes Mr. Trump,” to rip conservatives: “Sykes said it was inevitable that the conservative media outrage machine would ramp up as the right-wing playbook reasserts itself, after the short-term caution in the aftermath of a horrific murder caught on tape.”