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'Angry mobs' or 'civil town halls'?

From NBC's Domenico Montanaro
The Democratic National Committee sent out a press release this afternoon with the headline: "What You Won't See On National Cable News… Civil Town Halls On Health Insurance Reform." The DNC chides cable news for airing negative images at town halls with this video of local news reports describing tamer town halls.

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Yet, one could argue, it was the DNC that encouraged this storyline with its Web video, "Enough of the Mob."

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The video is full of the most incendiary images from some of the town halls, including Rep. Frank Kratovil hanging in effigy, Devil horns on an image of Rep. Lloyd Doggett, and protestors chanting and holding up signs. A dour sounding announcer proclaims: "The right-wing extremist Republican base is back. ... Now desperate Republicans and their well-funded allies are organizing angry mobs -- just like they did during the election. Their goal: Destroy President Obama."

It further charges that Republicans have "called out the mob," since "they have no plan for moving our country forward." The ad ends with: "Call the Republican Party. Tell them you've had enough of the mob.

First Read reached out to the DNC, which sent along the following response: "We have said all along that a large majority of Americans want a civil discussion about how to move health insurance reform forward because soaring costs are hurting their families and businesses and they understand that we need reform now," DNC spokesman Hari Sevugan said. "But the media has focused on an vocal, venomous minority who are the most disruptive at events and suggested they are representative of what's going on in the country. In the grassroots, there are thousands of town halls, community meetings and discussions between neighbors over the backyard fence or at the kitchen table where folks are talking about how to move forward to get reform done, not shouting one another down. That's the story that's not being told."