One of the many tools they use as part of this process is something I call "malevolent association." This isn't quite the same thing as "guilt by association," or even the increasingly popular "guilt by nonassociation." In guilt by association, figures who are not directly related but have had at least some point of contact are lumped together as part of an effort to discredit someone. In the latter case, figures who are not even indirectly related or have no points of contact, but might be perceived to at least have some vague ideological association, are lumped together.
"Malevolent association" is the final step here. Here, those who are directly opposed to the person or organization the media is trying to discredit are associated with the target as part of an effort to discredit. For example, the MSM constantly told us during the campaign that "violence erupted" during Donald Trump rallies without telling us it was Trump's opponents who were actually responsible.
Now, we have another case. At an anti-Sharia protest by the group ACT for America in Harrisburg, PA, an "antifa" far-left protester was arrested for allegedly stabbing a police horse. She faces multiple charges. Some media outlets accurately reported what group she was with and what her intent was [Update: ANTIFA Demonstrator attacks police horse during March Against Sharia, by Valerie Waltz, Fox 43, June 12, 2017].
However, other media outlets tried to associate ACT for America with the very person who was protesting them and who allegedly attacked an animal. They did this by simply not reporting suspect Lisa Joy Simon (who doesn't exactly look like a conservative) as a member of antifa or, indeed, even the presence of counter-demonstrators at all. Instead, they reported the alleged crime, and then repeated smears against ACT for America.
For example, reporter Robert Moran (whose Twitter feed shows him to be very anti-Trump) writes:
A 23-year-old Philadelphia woman was arrested Saturday in Harrisburg after she allegedly attacked a state police horse with a flag pole during a protest, authorities said.No mention of her association with antifa, or even that they were there. Obviously, the intent was to associate the alleged criminal with ACT for America. Other outlets also used the same technique but updated the story later (when, presumably, fewer people will read the story.) Philly.com, however, has not updated this story with the relevant information.
Lisa Joy Simon was still in custody Monday night at the Dauphin County Prison in lieu of $100,000 bail on charges of aggravated assault to police, taunting police animals, resisting arrest, and related offenses.
Shortly after 11:30 a.m Saturday mounted officers with the Pennsylvania State Police and Harrisburg Police were conducting crowd control at an Act For America rally against Islamic religious laws being followed in the United States...
[Philly woman charged with attacking police horse at protest, Philly.com, June 12, 2017].
This kind of rhetoric has real consequences because conservative groups, especially on college campuses, are often held responsible for outrageous "security costs" required because of left wing violence, especially by "antifa." The premise is that conservatives, or in this case, opponents of Sharia law, are the ones responsible for the violence, even though it is being actually committed by their most hateful enemies.
One of the best parts of the Trump phenomenon has been how thoroughly the explicitly political role of the media was revealed. But we can all recognize open bias. Sometimes it's more subtle, as here. And all of our readers need to be aware of it and call it out.