The Media Research Center, the right wing's premier sniffer of liberal bias, had its awards show last night. It was a hotel ballroom affair with tuxedos and fancy flower arrangements and a keynote address by Rush Limbaugh, who accepted an award for "Media Excellence." Ann Coulter and Sean Hannity could not make it because they were sick.
The annual MRC awards show is generally a lighthearted affair, a time for like-minded ideologues to shower each other with praise and make common cause against the unseen pinko minions who supposedly inhabit the nation's newsrooms and labor every day to flush America down the toilet. Most of the awards go to liberal pundits and so-called liberal journalists for saying things critical of President Bush and his policies. Suffice it to say, people like Keith Olbermann and Rosie O'Donnell tend to get lots of nominations. Blah blah blah. No surprises there.
But there was one part of this year's awards show that caught my attention. It wasn't the criticism of New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. for admitting he was in favor of gay marriage and a woman's right to choose. And it wasn't the criticism of HBO's Bill Maher for calling President Bush a "retarded child emperor."
I was caught by the criticism rained down upon Andy Rooney of "60 Minutes," who was nominated for the "God, I Hate America Award." Now I suppose there are lots of reasons conservatives can come up with to despise Rooney. He is, for starters, a self-described liberal, albeit the kind of liberal who usually spends his time worrying about junk mail and cat food.
But here is the quote that the Media Research Center uncovered as evidence of Rooney's disdain for his country. "Americans are puzzled over why so many people in the world hate us," Rooney said on "60 Minutes." "We're trying to protect ourselves with more weapons. We have to do it, I guess, but it might be better if we figured out how to behave as a nation in a way that wouldn't make so many people in the world want to kill us."
I had to read it again to be sure. Best I can tell, Rooney committed the following unforgivable crime: He suggested that America should try to behave itself as a country on the world stage. With radical rhetoric like that, he might as well just give up his "60 Minutes" gig and spend all his time burning the Stars and Stripes. Or something like that.