Anatomy of an MSM smear of tea partyers

We're being suddenly barraged with a rash of hyper-news reports alleging threats, verbal and physical, by conservative groups and Tea Party members against supporters of Obamacare.  Is it just me or does anyone else believe this current hysteria seems just a tad too convenient?

For example, news accounts Thursday told of a coffin left on the lawn "near the home" of Rep. Russ Carnahan (D, MO).  An eyewitness account of this event, posted by James Hoft, proprietor of the Gateway Pundit blog, tells what happened:

On Sunday night several members of the St. Louis Tea Party Coalition held a prayer vigil at Russ Carnahan's office for the millions of babies that will be slaughtered under the democrat's pro-abortion health care bill. We also prayed for the handicapped and the elderly who will be turned away as they face the death panels created by this bill. And, as we stood outside his office in the rain, we prayed for our country and for the democrats in Washington DC who were stealing away our freedom at that very moment.

We brought a coffin with us to represent the millions of Americans who will suffer from inadequate treatment and perish under Obamacare.

A local St. Louis TV news report gave this account of the event as passed to them by a Carnahan aide (note the editorial opinion injected into this news):

Sara Howard, a spokesperson for Congress Russ Carnahan, confirmed tonight that a coffin was left on the front lawn of the Carnahan's home residence in the St. Louis area.

Coffins don't usually turn up on front lawns, so this could be called creepy.  Howard called it "disturbing", since it was an obvious protest to the recently passed Health Care Reform Act, and Carnahan's yes vote.  A number of democratic members of Congress it seems have received threats and other strange messages, but this is certainly out of the ordinary.

Politico also reported on the event, again citing the same source and theme:

A coffin was placed on a Missouri Democrat's lawn, another in a string of incidents against lawmakers after their vote Sunday on a health care overhaul. 

Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-Mo.) had a coffin placed "near his home," a spokesman said Wednesday evening. 

Associated Press followed along, distributing the same story nationwide:

Hoft responded (his emphsis):

The Carnahans told reporters that the coffin was left on their lawn. This is an absolute lie. We had a prayer service and then left. The state-run media didn't bother to follow up on this outrageous lie before they published their hit piece. The coffin is currently in a member's garage.... Oh, and the protest was on SUNDAY not Wednesday.

Late Thursday afternoon, following the uproar on the blogosphere over the different accounts of the event, Hoft reports Politico revised their earlier posting by adding the following words without explicitly acknowledging the original false premise of their earlier report:

The coffin was from a prayer vigil, and protesters say that the coffin symbolized babies who would be aborted due to the health care law and was not a threat to Carnahan.

Who wants to bet that Associated Press will issue an update?

We already know the MSM template as it applies to conservatives in general and the Tea Party movement in particular.  So, one must be wary of reports attributed to a single source, especially when that source represents a politician involved in one side of the controversy.  Also, political trickery by one side to stage phony events making the opposite side appear outrageous or threatening -- even racist or homophobic -- easily plays into that same template.