Know Your Right-Wing Speakers: Michelle Malkin
Know Your Right-Wing Speakers, Feb. 6, 2006
Syndicated battle-axe Michelle Malkin is best known for her “seemingly mean-spirited” rants and tendency toward the fallacious. This unlikely graduate of the leftish Oberlin College has been criticized for her oft-unfounded and almost always sensationalist columns, which now run in about 200 newspapers across the country, as well as her occasional appearances as a commentator for that network of Fairness and Balance we all know and love.
A fan of racial profiling who has made it her business to relentlessly “criticize the MTV generation’s morally deprived icons,” Malkin began her super-conservative punditry career in newspaper journalism at the Los Angeles Daily News in 1992, where she spent two years as an editorial writer and weekly columnist. Next she joined the editorial board of the Seattle Times, where she continued to pen screechy Coulter-esque editorials and weekly columns for three and a half years.
So distasteful are her rants that in November 2004 a Norfolk Virginia newspaper, the Virginian Pilot, dropped Malkin’s nationally syndicated column. Another columnist for the paper, Bronwyn Lance Chester, explained, “I think [Malkin] habitually mistakes shrill for thought provoking and substitutes screaming for discussion…. She’s the worst of what’s wrong with punditry today. She adds absolutely nothing to genuine political discourse.”
Malkin, the author of three books, received a lot of heat for her second to last, a revisionist history titled In Defense of Internment: The Case for ‘Racial Profiling’ in World War II and the War on Terror (2004). In it she uses weak arguments and evidence to claim that the U.S. government’s imprisonment of Japanese-Americans in internment camps during World War II was justified.
The book has created an uproar among historians, scholars, and Japanese-Americans. The Japanese American Citizens League condemned the book as a “desperate attempt to impugn the loyalty of Japanese-Americans during World War II to justify harsher governmental policies today in the treatment of Arab and Muslim Americans.” The Historians’ Committee for Fairness, an organization of scholars and professional researchers, charged that Malkin’s book represents "a blatant violation of professional standards of objectivity and fairness."
Eric Muller, a University of North Carolina Law Professor and member of the Historians’ Committee for Fairness, suggests the true intent of Malkin’s research is to create a haphazard list of excuses for the Bush administration’s internment of thousands in Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere.
During the 2004 election, Malkin declared herself a member of the “security moms,” the demographic of women who base a wide range of their political opinions on protecting themselves and their families from an impending terrorist attack. Malkin seemed to invoke her “security mom” lens as the justification for her far right-wing ideas on racial profiling, border security, gun ownership, and other issues.
In addition to her high profile “security mom” persona during the 2004 election season, Malkin also is known for her appearance on MSNBC’s “Hardball,” where she said there were “legitimate questions” that one of John Kerry’s Vietnam wounds was self-inflicted. Host Chris Matthews proceeded to ask Malkin eleven times if she was suggesting that Kerry wounded himself, but Malkin refused to answer. On her blog, Malkin also attacked Matthews’ MSNBC colleague Keith Olbermann for allegedly calling her “an idiot.” Olbermann writes on his blog that he felt terrible and was preparing a formal apology, but after checking the tape of the show and re-reading the blog, he found he had “never called Michelle Malkin an ‘idiot’, never used the word.” Added Olbermann, “She’s an author or a journalist or something, and she misquoted the insult to herself.”
Malkin remains adamant in her defense of Japanese internment and maintains a page on her personal weblog entitled “Subversives,” listing “ethnic Japanese … who engaged in subversive activities.” Her contentious blog posts, which feature tirades on topics from immigration to rap music, have made her a hot topic in the blogging world. One favorite is the Malkin Media Diversity Test.
In Malkin’s latest book, Unhinged: Exposing Liberals Gone Wild, released in October 2005, she documents the hypocrisy and lunacy of her favorite target, liberals. Malkin’s goal is “turning MSM conventional wisdom on its head and showing that the standard caricature of conservatives as angry/racist/bigoted/violence-prone crackpots is a much better description of today’s unhinged liberals than of us.” For a look at some of these crackpots, check out her clever Unhinged Mugshot collection, which allegedly provides the evidence for her thesis: sometimes people commit crimes. Sometimes these people are liberals. Thus, liberals are angry/racist/bigoted/violence-prone crackpots. The best part, though, is when you scroll down and realize that none of her examples are elected prominent officials, popular columnists, or anyone else who can fairly be described as having many liberal adherents. They’re just regular folks arrested at protests and the like. Malkin, apparently, thinks that all liberals ought to be held responsible for the actions of a few obscure people who share their party registration or opposition to the Iraq War. Her less-than-witty prose grows tiresome relatively quickly as she points out the hypocrisy and insanity of the American left with such zingers as “it’s not conservatives producing a bullet-riddled bumper crop of assassination-themed musicals, books, and collectible stamps.”
Malkin also made headlines last December when, in her syndicated column, she criticized the “Associated Press, NBC News correspondent Andrea Mitchell and others in the Bush-bashing press corps” for “accus[ing] the White House and 10 soldiers from the Army’s 42nd Infantry Division of ‘staging’” a now infamous October 13 video conference in which Bush spoke with soldiers stationed in Iraq. According to Malkin, NBC News was “indulging in its Bush-deranged feeding frenzy” over what Malkin asserted was a totally impromptu and genuine conversation. Perhaps NBC made such assumptions because the preparations for the event, in which soldiers were told what they would be asked and coached on their answers by administration officials before the President arrived were accidentally transmitted to reporters via a live satellite feed.
As one blogger dedicated to tracking Malkin’s blogs and columns wrote shortly after Malkin came into public view following the events of 9/11, “Get to know this one because it won’t be long before she takes up the Ann Coulter/Pat Buchanan mantle as one of the most rabid hatemongers in the country today.”
You can see Malkin’s most recent distortions catalogued and debunked on Think Progress here.
Illustration: August J. Pollak