It's a good item. I do want to think about this stray point:
You know the conservative account of how the media covered Tea Party rallies, heaping disproportionate attention on offensive signs and crackpot attendees, as if the least defensible elements of the protest movement represented and defined the whole? That's basically how the pro-war faction covered the protest movement that opposed the war.I think that's basically fair -- but also unfair. With the anti-war protests, it was pretty clear what the main point was: they didn't want the United States (and allies) to invade Iraq. Reasonable coverage of those protests could have started and ended with that; making hay over crackposts in the crowd was clearly superfluous.
I'd argue that the same was not true about Tea Party rallies. Within the Tea Party movement (or whatever you want to call it), there were certainly some people with coherent policy demands or ideologies. But as a whole, it was extremely difficult to figure out what the Tea Party was about. And not just from a few people carrying crazy signs; there was plenty of stuff from the podium that was, well, pretty goofy. It was in fact perfectly plausible to hypothesize that, say, bigotry against Barack Obama was a significant part of Tea Partyism. And that therefore the more explicit evidence was a plausible clue to what was going on.
That's not to say that the bigotry theory was necessarily correct, and it's certainly not to say that the coverage never took isolated or out-of-context evidence and generalized inappropriately. It's just...look, it's usually a good idea in politics (if not in political analysis) to ignore motives. Arguments stand and fall on their merits, regardless of why they're made. That's why I usually defend hypocrisy; in politics, hypocrisy is at most a very minor sin, if that. But the Tea Partiers, at least in my view, practically begged us to consider their motives, because much of what they were saying on the surface just didn't make any sense (as in the iconic "keep government away from my Medicare").
I'll stop there...I'm not sure I have a final point. Just that the situation is complicated.
Oh, and that has almost nothing to do with what Friedersdorf is up to on the post overall, for which I only need to say: Nice catch!