Defending GOP mini-mobs, Michael Barone makes stuff up. (We'll wait for the correction...)

Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

Barone's recent Washington Examiner column is awash in casual misinformation, as the conservative writer claims liberals just can't handle criticism. That all the mini-mobs were doing this summer were raising substantive differences with Obama's policies. And c'mon, why are Democrats so thin-skinned. Are they afraid of democracy? Of dissent?

Yadda, yadda, yadda. Just the usual nonsense.

But then Barone (surprise!) started making stuff up:

But it's interesting that the two most violent incidents at this summer's town hall meetings came when a union thug beat up a 65-year-old black conservative in Missouri and when a liberal protester bit off part of a man's finger in California. These incidents don't justify a conclusion that all liberals are violent. But they are more evidence that American liberals, unused to hearing dissent, have an impulse to shut it down.

Oh my, suddenly conservative martyr Kenneth Gladney is 65-years old? I have to say that this story of the supposed "union thug" beat-down keeps getting better and better over time. It's just another classic round of right-wing telephone tag masquerading as journalism. And in this game of tag, Barone is definitely it.

I doubt the columnist even cares what the actual facts of the story are. But on the off chance he does, he ought to post a correction because, as far as I can tell, in the context of the health care debate, no "65-year-old black conservative in Missouri" was ever beaten up this summer. Period. Barone just made that part up.

What did happen this summer was that Lou Dobbs and right-wing blogosphere, desperate for proof union thuggery, helped peddle the questionable tale of Gladney, who is a black conservative from Missouri. The exaggerated claim was that outside a town hall forum, Gladney had been brutally beaten (nearly to the point of death, according to some comically embellished accounts) and that a union thug was to blame. `Wingers even had YouTube video of the bloody beating to prove it.

The problem was when you watched the clip, viewers saw Gladney get pulled to the ground before he popped right back up less than two seconds later. Viewers saw Gladney walking around after the incident without an obvious scratch on his body, and in no apparent pain.

But within hours, and then days, the tale improved greatly. Soon Gladney showed up in a wheelchair at a right-wing rally thrown on his behalf. Why? because he was viciously beaten!!! Or something.

So yeah, the whole tale has been vastly improved over time in order to suit the right-wing mantra of how violent liberals are. And sure, if Barone wants to peddle that nonsense in his column, he's free to do so. And Lord knows he's peddled worse junk over the years.

But here's where the correction comes in and I'm not sure how Barrone is going to avoid this one. He wrote that the black conservative victim in Missouri was 65-years-old. (Oh, the humanity!) In fact, Gladney, according to the St. Louis Post, is 38 years old. Barone was only off by 27 years. And yes, it's a big deal becuase the supposed age of the (supposed) victim is supposed to send Barone's readers into shock. (They're beating up seniors!)

Question: Does Barone, and the Washington Examiner, do corrections? Or are facts for suckers.

UPDATED: Sadly, Gladney's martyr-like website is down due to lack of payment. The Washington Independent's David Weigel also notes that it's been a whole month since union thugs supposedly beat Gladney within an inch of his life, and yet not one of his attackers have been charged with a crime; a vicious crime conservatives claim was captured right on tape!! Guess the St. Louis PD doesn't see it that way.

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