The Left-Wing Wolf Pack howled up a coordinated attack to oust State Sen. Bill Kintner of Papillion from the Nebraska Unicameral last week. It never would have succeeded without the biased, left-wing print news media nipping at the story’s heels to direct the outcome. The news media became an attack dog instead of a watchdog. It makes real journalists cringe to see the devolution of the profession.
Soon-to-be-former State Sen. Bill Kintner of Papillion, Neb.
Kintner, an outspoken conservative in the state legislative body, was badgered into resigning to avoid a threatened expulsion by his peers. The reason: not treason, not embezzlement, not corruption. He had cybersex, which isn’t illegal, and he made an ill-advised retweet last Sunday night of another person’s Twitter joke, which isn’t illegal, either.
But the news media didn’t report the severity of the misdeeds that have resulted in expulsion in the past, nor the fact that no one in Nebraska’s 150-year history has ever been expelled from the Legislature before. So the molehill got blown up into a mountain. By Wednesday morning, Kintner had been forced to resign.
How? The state senators were whipped into line, Sanhedrin-style, by the high priests of Political Correctness in the Unicameral. The priests in turn were backed up before and after the resignation by slanted, unfair, accusatory hit jobs dressed as newspaper stories and opinion columns.
Informed opinion based on facts is great. Invective and innuendo: not so much. They did their job, though: lots of inflamed constituents lit up the phone lines into the Capitol with a tsunami of ill-informed complaints against Kintner. The comments sections on the two papers’ stories were so ugly, it made you wince to read them. Glance through the invective on Twitter and Facebook against Kintner, and you’ll want to take a shower. It looked like “everybody” was against Kintner, when it was just the handful of usual radical suspects connected by the World-Herald/Journal-Star/social networking trifecta. Nebraska’s population: nearly 1.9 million. The media need only inflame .00001% of them to take down an elected official. And that’s scary.
Despite the minor nature of Kintner’s misdeeds, the ouster still happened . . . because the news media became a “player” in this one-act, instead of a dispassionate “reviewer. Fake news prevails in the Nebraska print media, and was effective in reaching its goal, sad to say. (Consider the probable reasons why, below.)
The state’s two biggest newspapers, The Omaha World-Herald and the Lincoln Journal-Star, both used pejoratives, half-truths, selective omissions, and an appalling lack of story-behind-the-story reporting as weapons against Kintner over the past year. It resulted in a politically-motivated vendetta and knee-jerk reaction for a handful of politicians to drive Kintner out of his elected position . . . because their media comrades made it possible, not because it was justified.
Yes, Kintner is a bombastic person who seems very self-assured to the point of cockiness, makes sometimes offensive word choices, and can rub you the wrong way. And yes, he broke the law doing an awful and embarrassing thing. Its nickname: “MasturGate.” In 2015, he used his state-issued computer to have mutual-masturbation on-screen cybersex with a woman while alone in a Boston hotel room away on business. He later reported himself to the Nebraska State Patrol because she tried to extort him for money. Worst of all, his wife Lauren, chief policy adviser to Gov. Pete Ricketts, has ovarian cancer. Obviously, a stressful situation all the way around.
But look: Kintner didn’t wreck state property or reduce its value. He paid a $1,000 fine for the illegal use of the state’s property for a personal pursuit. He apologized publicly to his wife and the Legislature.
There have been three state senators in recent years convicted of drunken driving; they were neither censured nor expelled. One state senator was convicted of illegally gambling away $63,000 in campaign funds; she was neither censured nor expelled. Kintner’s verbal barbs and off-putting comments were nothing compared to the shocking, racist, sexist, anti-Catholic ranting and raving by State Sen. Ernie Chambers, who in more than 40 years in the Legislature has never been officially threatened with expulsion or censure, but is tolerated over and over as the bullying and barbs keep coming.
So it was a molehill whipped up into a mountain by various political machinations.
Media exaggeration? Rampant, with cascading consequences, in this case, against Kintner. A big exaggeration in the media that has fomented record levels of self-righteous indignation by the Left is how our President’s hot mic, off-the-cuff boast in 2005 about women coming on to him because he is rich and famous (read transcript) has been misconstrued and exaggerated by the Leftist media into Trump supposedly bragging about sexual assault and contributing to “rape culture.” Nooooo, it was not. It was sexual opportunism, which Trump claims he didn’t start. “Wanted” sexual advances, in other words. Be sure to check out the young woman’s comportment and manner of dress, too.
So the point of Kintner’s retweet – to make fun of the women’s distorted picture of their own attractiveness, not to reject them as possible rape victims – was distorted into harsh hatred instead of gentle humor.
Hypocrisy? Even worse. Kintner’s gaffes cost him his job. But 1,000 times as many outrageous statements, personal insults, and sexist and racist epithets by Sen. Chambers over the 40+ years he has been there are tolerated, laughed off and encouraged to continue. Kintner was kicked off for causing “state, local and national reaction” – but how many times has Nebraska been embarrassed worldwide for crazy things Sen. Chambers has said? And why haven’t the two main papers lambasted Chambers over the years or gone toe-to-toe?
If it weren’t for the support of the two big newspapers, no doubt the state senators would have understood that if they were going to expel Kintner for impugning the integrity of the Legislature, to be consistent they would have to expel Chambers as well. But at this crucial time, the newspapers utterly failed to put Kintner’s misbehavior into the context of Chambers’ behavior, though that hypocrisy was right before their eyes:
State Sen. Ernie Chambers (hearing coming up over whether or not he actually lives in his district, but nominally, it’s North Omaha)
- Kintner threw a pen at a colleague for voting against him (Kintner denies it, by the way) and posted a horrible photo of a beheaded woman on his Facebook page to make a point about inherent risks in unvetted refugees coming here? How do those “allegations” compare in the violence category with State Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha saying that if he had a semiautomatic weapon, he would mow down his fellow state senators . . . that if he had a gun he would shoot a police officer – “shoot first and ask questions later” – (this was days before a suspect in or near Chambers’ district shot and killed new mother and police officer Kerrie Orozco in Omaha) — saying that white police officers are “expected” to kill black citizens . . . that our nation’s founders only wanted freedom and liberty so that they could rape black women and girls . . . that the local police were like ISIS . . . that police were licensed to kill black men, women and children.
- Kintner disrespected women by saying no one understands them and they don’t understand themselves? How about when Chambers stated that a female assistant attorney general’s appearance was such that she probably couldn’t “get a man,” so she would need a vibrator to find sexual pleasure?
- Kintner is a racist because he used the word “wetbacks” in discussing illegal immigration? (Kintner was speaking of the national border patrol program, “Operation Wetback,” from the 1950s.) How about the countless times Sen. Chambers has said things like “white people collectively are the most ignorant group on the face of the earth,” “all white people are racist,” “white people don’t keep their word” and white people “polluted” his blood.
- Kintner is disgustingly disrespectful because he used the word “crapload” in a formal legislative forum? On Friday, Chambers called his “jackasses” on Friday . . . a vocal atheist, he once blasphemously cut off the head of Jesus Christ from crucifixes and laid one on each senator’s desk . . . he said, “Black people are the handy scapegoats for everything wrong in this country, so they kill us all the day long. If Black people obtain the upper hand they should do the same to White people.”
- Kintner called his colleagues “monkeys” in an op-ed because they prefer to do the same things in the same ways? And that’s terrible? Sen. Chambers once said the Legislature was “a monkey-see, monkey-do body” taking on any “crack-brain idea” from other states. He also once declared at a public hearing that “a trained monkey” could pull the switch on the electric chair and that the state employees who really were trained to do that were no better than monkeys.
- Kintner refused to apologize for his ill-advised retweet? Chambers refused to apologize for threatening to shoot police officers.
If this context had been reported on in recent days, there is no doubt that a more constructive, tolerant, redemptive consequence such as counseling could have been devised to keep Kintner in his job and not steal the accountability power from his constituents.
The newspapers also should have pointed out how Kintner’s infractions paled compared to the usual reasons that politicians get expelled from legislative bodies. A simple Google search would have shown that, for instance, treason, bribery, racketeering and tax evasion are why 20 men have been expelled from the U.S. House of Representatives or the U.S. Senate in our nation’s entire history. A few dozen more were censured, reprimanded or resigned before official punishments could be meted out for very serious criminal offenses, mostly involving financial corruption.
No one has ever been expelled from the Cornhusker State’s legislature since statehood began 150 years ago. Kintner’s misdeeds were nothing compared to the state’s first governor’s theft of federal money intended for the state, and other financial fandango by other elected officials throughout state and local government who were removed from office.
It doesn’t appear that anyone suggested counseling, treatment, social media tutorials, volunteering at a women’s shelter, or other more redemptive consequences. Instead, the legislative liberals went right for the nuclear option – expulsion – and instead of just reporting it, the media promoted it, and afterwards, exulted in it.
The World-Herald’s p. 1 headline, “In Blaming Liberal Boogeymen, Kintner Ignores His Own Demons,” was pretty ironic given that Sen. Chambers was the one who cut off Jesus’ head from those rosaries, and sued God, yet Kintner has said he is a man of faith, who sinned, but acknowledges God’s existence and sovereignty, while Chambers does not. Therefore: who is “demonized”?
The episode points up how media today are so vulnerable to manipulation, and there’s an ugly, arrogant, condescending vein to much of the prose that is obviously driving more and more readers away. As that happens, and the audience dwindles down to hard-core leftists, the media gets more anxious, and the rhetoric gets darker and more manipulative.
Last year’s print attacks on Kintner had mostly subsided as the session began earlier this month. Most people thought Kintner’s consequences were punishment enough for the cybersex scandal. They thought his constituents would either re-elect Kintner or un-elect him next time since their opinions were supposed to be paramount, not the opinions of the “thought police” in the Legislature or outside their district. Most people had moved on.
But in the meantime, here’s how fake news got its marching orders and followed through:
- President Trump won, in a harsh rebuke to the editorial positions of both newspapers and many of the hyper-politically left-wing state senators, who endorsed either former Sen. Hillary Clinton or former Sen. Bernie Sanders.
- In a surprising mini-echo, conservatives replaced liberals in all but one of the committee chairs in the Unicameral.
- That put a lot more power into the hands of conservatives like Sen. Kintner, and a lot less maneuverability into left-wing Sens. Ernie Chambers of Omaha and Adam Morfeld of Lincoln.
- Plus, political hybrid Bob Krist of Bennington, who ran as a conservative but has voted a number of times with the Left, was knocked out of his plum position as chairman of the Executive Board, and was reportedly and understandably upset.
- Nebraska Democratic Party chair Jane Kleeb, the Bossette Tweed of Nebraska left-wingers, had been (rhetorically speaking) punched in the face by Trump as he immediately re-authorized the Keystone Pipeline that she thought she had blocked when Democrats were in the White House and State Department.
- And then the women’s marches on Jan. 21, which the Left hoped would showcase all the reasons Trump was a lousy choice for President and be a magnet for people to join the Leftist cause, instead morphed into an absurd, atrocious freak show with women in vulva costumes, celebrities and little kids alike flinging the “f” word, messages on sanitary napkin pads posted on walls, and other off-putting images that were causing a stampede of independents and moderates toward the GOP fold.
What do politicians and media do when they are thwarted and losing power? Find someone to bully and scapegoat.
I.e., Bill Kintner.
Now, Kintner had reversed the liberals’ 2015 repeal of the death penalty, also media-driven, when a strong majority of Nebraska voters agreed with the conservative position that it ought to remain in place, a real rebuke to three left-wingers in particular, the aforementioned Sens. Chambers, Morfeld and Krist.
State Sens. Adam Morfeld of Lincoln and Bob Krist of Bennington, ringleaders with Sen. Chambers of the ouster.
Kintner also had opposed nearly every one of their pet bills: pro-LGBT, pro-wealth redistributing Medicaid expansion, pro-socialistic Learning Community in metro Omaha, pro-illegal immigration, pro-voter fraud enablement.
And Kintner had vowed to oppose the big ones they have coming up this session. So they were already provoked and anxious over the defeats and misfortunes in the state and national left-wing movements, probably felt the pressure to win at something, anything, from their big donors, and had a motive to try to get Kintner out of the way, kind of like an obvious plan for high-sticking and dirty-boarding the opposing team’s star player in a hockey game.
Then Kintner provided them with the opportunity.
Last week, he retweeted L.A. conservative talk show host Larry Elder’s Twitter post from the women’s march of Jan. 21:
. . . and by that one click of his mouse, Kintner set off a firestorm.
In a statement, Sen. Morfeld had to stop to compose himself, apparently fighting back tears, as he vowed to devote the entire session, if necessary, to exact punishment from Kintner, for allegedly re-injuring sexual assault victims by his retweet of the Larry Elder post.
Apparently, Sen. Krist got up such a head of steam to draft L.R. 21, the expulsion resolution, that the version making the rounds claimed that Kintner had engaged in cybersex for “personal financial gain” – see p. 338 – which veterans of the Legislature said could have been used to sway undecided senators who did not know that Kintner was the victim, not the perpetrator, of the cybersex scheme. Kintner’s resignation last Wednesday made LR 21 moot, however.
With perplexing irony, The World-Herald blasted the handful of elected officials around the country, including Kintner, who tweeted or retweeted photos of what most people would agree were offensive or at least embarrassing signs, quotes and bad behavior from the women’s marches, instead of the sign-carriers or f-bombing and White House arson-threatening speakers themselves. “Sexist, Vulgar Posts on Women’s Marches Rebound on Officials,” the newspaper blared, ignoring countless thousands of egregious marchers and zeroing in on four or five tweeters or retweeters.
The completely nasty Facebook page with a few years of vicious ridicule of Kintner has been renamed. The new target of the vitriol: State Sen. Mike Groene, another solid conservative. Watch: we’ll start seeing negative verbiage about him and his stands in the print media, Facebook and Twitter very soon.
And what has Sen. Chambers been up to lately? Bellowing on the Unicameral floor that the other senators had better vote his way because “I OWN YOU!”
Looks like maybe he does.