This morning, Saturday, February 13th, NPR has done one of those things that the media regularly does -- provided us with a case for comparison.
One of the US's better known idolaters of war, former Senator Charlie Wilson, died on February 10th. Scott Simon eulogized him very personally on NPR's Weekend Edition Saturday. It was a fawning string of inanities from an NPR host who has worked for years to perfect a breathless, simpering delivery.
Absent from Simon's treatment was anything even remotely resembling the slander attack of David Horowitz on Howard Zinn provided via Allison Keyes.
My suspicion (indeed, certainty) is that a thorough review of politically charged obits would reveal this kind of 'fair and balanced' treatment by NPR and most other so-called news organizations in America. Of course, in the eyes of NPR and Scott Simon, Charlie Wilson was _not_ a politically charged figure. He was adored by Democrats and Republicans alike -- which accounts for all of the political spectrum in NPR's field of vision.
Another illuminating comparison (albeit, not of two obits) is that of Yasser Arafat, who was gently villified (to put it as best I can) on his death and Ariel Sharon, who was lionized when he became comatose though he is every bit -- and far far more -- the war criminal Arafat was. Indeed, Simon himself offered another of his utterly hollow accounts on the occasion of Arafat's death. Simon recounted being held by Palestinian captors briefly. His captors pointedly asked whether Simon was Jewish. (It probably goes without saying that Simon has never noted virulent anti-Arab racism in Israel.) The point is that Simon felt no need to offer mealy-mouthed accolades for Arafat. Moreover, he made 'relevant' an irrelevant detail that had nothing to do with Arafat, but did serve Simon's purpose of demonizing, en masse, the entire Palestinian people -- just as the inclusion of Horowitz's slander served NPR's purpose of diminishing Zinn.
There are a great many critics of Zinn, some conservative, some liberal, some left-wing, who could have added some texture to any recollection, though it is plainly clear that the NPR and general US media standard is to offer near-unalloyed praise -- unless there is a 'need' to take the person down a few notches, or flaws so glaring that they must be at least acknowledged. Thus, in the case of Sharon, the briefest mention is made of Sabra and Shatila. Likewise, in the case of Reagan, the treasonable and impeachable crimes of Iran-Contra are mentioned -- but only in passing.
It is for the American Left that the special case arises, where it is necessary to slander the dead, lest their views be too popular.