Editor's note: A version of this opinion piece appeared on the Media Research Center's NewsBusters blog.
Imagine for a moment a Fox News host calling one of the liberal Supreme Court justices such as Sonia Sotomayor a "troll."
Liberal heads would explode across the fruited plain including in newsrooms from sea to shining sea.
With that as pretext, check out what MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow said about Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia on Comedy Central's Daily Show Thursday:
RACHEL MADDOW: It's weird to see Antonin Scalia in person. It’s weird.
JON STEWART, HOST: Does he, you know, I only read some of the transcripts of what he was saying. And he was saying certain thing like, “We've got to get rid of this because it's one of the last vestiges of racial preferences,” the Voting Rights Act I guess.
MADDOW: He said that, he said when Congress re-upped the Voting Rights Act, they looked into whether or not it was still necessary. Ten months of debate, 21 hearings, 15,000 pages of evidence, and in the Senate they voted 98-0 yeah we still need that. But he said, “That vote really, what does that vote mean?”
STEWART: Didn’t he say something like, “We told them to fix this in 2006 but clearly they won’t or can't, so we have to do it for them?”
MADDOW: Because it’s not, it’s not a real vote. It’s a racial entitlement now. Voting is a racial entitlement, something that you are entitled to on the basis of your race.
Wait a second. Do you know how that sounds?
But I think he does know how that sounds, and that's the neat thing about being there in person because you can see oh, actually, he's a troll. He’s saying this for effect.
STEWART: I see.
MADDOW: He knows it’s offensive and he knows he's going to get a gasp from the court room which he got. And he loves it. He's like the guy in your blog comment threads using the N-word. “Ahh! Oh, made you mad? How about if I say this? Did it make you mad? Did it make you mad?”
STEWART: Does he do anything like this, did he go, “Oh, and by the way, I have something for you?” Ba-boom. [Raises middle finger] Was he like, he’s just that guy?
MADDOW: He's that kind of guy.
MADDOW: So, when we're all shocked that he said something so blatantly racially offensive – we’re talking about the cornerstone of the Civil Rights Act -- he's thinking, “Oh, yeah, I did. That’s right.”
MADDOW: Yeah, so that's, that’s neat to see. It’s also neat to see Sonia Sotomayor from way down at that “I’m new here” end of the bench sort of lean around the bench and give him what for. All of her questions are technically to the lawyers, but she is talking to Antonin Scalia every time, and it's like a brawl between them. It’s just so great.
STEWART: Are the people that have been there a long time and know Scalia when he says it do they do one of these, but the new kid is a little shaken by that or just angered by that at least?
MADDOW: Ready for it and has a rejoinder that’s going to, that would make him feel embarrassed if he wasn't a troll who loves to make people mad.
Let's rewind the tape here, so to speak: “He’s a troll… He's like the guy in your blog comment threads using the N-word.”
I guess that despite the outrage that would happen if a Fox News host said this about a liberal jurist, Scalia is fair game because he’s conservative.
So, here's an exit question: Are these media double standards starting to make you sick?