Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Nobody Yelled “Kill Him” About Obama at a McCain or Palin Rally

Nobody Yelled “Kill Him” About Obama at a McCain or Palin Rally

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:54 am

Everyone in the country seems to think someone yelled “Kill him!” at a McCain/Palin rally, about Barack Obama. It’s just not true.

The “Kill him!” phrase was originally reported by the Washingon Post — and it was clearly yelled about William Ayers and not Barack Obama.

I quoted the relevant language in this post:

“And, according to the New York Times, he [referring to Ayers -- P] was a domestic terrorist and part of a group that, quote, ‘launched a campaign of bombings that would target the Pentagon and our U.S. Capitol,’” [Palin] continued.

“Boooo!” the crowd repeated.

“Kill him!” proposed one man in the audience.

That is unambiguously a call to kill Ayers, not Obama. As TNR writer Michael Crowley said in a comment to this post of his (h/t L.N. Smithee):

I took “kill him” to mean Ayers–not Obama. It’s just a far, far likelier explanation given the context. That’s still an ugly thing to shout–but on the other hand Ayers probably would have gotten the death penalty had his bombs actually taken a life. If I thought people were actually yelling that about Obama I would feel very differently.

Indeed. [UPDATE: Dana Milbank, who originally reported this, agreed. According to a Politico blog entry: "Milbank said that his impression was that the man meant Ayers, not Obama." Thanks to "no one you know."]

And yet outlets across the country are reporting that the man yelled “Kill him!” about Obama. For example, the New York Times reported:

Crowds in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania have repeatedly booed Mr. Obama and yelled “off with his head,” and at a rally in Florida where Ms. Palin appeared without Mr. McCain, The Washington Post reported that a man yelled out “kill him.”

The implication is clear that “Kill him!” was yelled about Obama. This implication is made explicit in an article from the Associated Press:

The Secret Service confirmed Friday that it had investigated an episode reported in The Washington Post in which someone in Palin’s crowd in Clearwater, Fla., shouted “kill him,” on Monday, meaning Obama. There was “no indication that there was anything directed at Obama,” Secret Service spokesman Eric Zahren told AP. “We looked into it because we always operate in an atmosphere of an abundance of caution.”

Like many AP articles, this article has been reprinted in numerous publications, leading to the widespread myth that someone yelled “Kill him!” about Obama.

Incidentally, the stories are also reporting that someone yelled “Off with his head!” in reference to Obama. I’m not sure why I should believe them, since they’re lying about the “Kill him!” phrase. But let’s accept that as true for the sake of argument, and put this single isolated incident of a yelled threat to Obama in context. I have an isolated incident of Obama supporters threatening the life of someone on the McCain ticket, too. Obama supporters yelled Let’s stone her, old school!” outside a Palin rally, about Sarah Palin.

Oh, the ugliness of the left!

Ah, you say, but there has been widespread ugliness on the right, going beyond a single random call for violence against Obama. We’ve seen people calling Obama an “Arab” (not really an insult, but never mind that) or a “terrorist” or a “liar.” And you guys on the left don’t do ugly stuff like that, right?


We have the plethora of insults and booing of McCain at Obama rallies, including screaming that he is a “liar”; the ugly and profane T-shirts about Sarah Palin; and much more nasty and violent behavior from the left.

That’s the point I was making in my post yesterday, in which I wrote a story about the ugliness of the left in the same style as the media has been writing stories about the ugliness of the right.

We on the right have our random fringe lunatics, and so do you on the left. Stop pretending you’re better.

There’s only one difference between your fringe lunatics and ours: the media reports about ours.

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