Will the press tell the truth about the Kevin Jennings witch hunt?

Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

At Think Progress, Eric Alterman and Mickey Ehrlich provide excellent context to the unfolding right-wing media smear campaign against the Obama administration's Kevin Jennings. Media Matters all week has been documenting the unbridled hatred, and at times open homophobia, that's driving the GOP Noise Machine attacks against Jennings. Alterman and Ehrlich shine a spotlight on the mainstream press and ask what its role is when a character assassination plot like this gets pushed out.

They write:

Unlike the Jones and ACORN cases, we've received no new information in any of these [Jennings] accusations. All the right has done is repeat accusations made against Jennings by the Family Research Council who began the "Stop Kevin Jennings" campaign and the accompanying website, StopJennings.org, back in June. But so long as the mainstream media invites the lunatic fringe to set its agenda, our politics will remain in thrall to a man who claims that Obama retains a deep-seated hatred against his own white mother, and invites black school kids to beat up white ones because, well, just because…

That can't be why they got into journalism in the first place.

The sad truth is that today's serious political press corps, when faced with right-wing hardball, often retreats to a he said/he said reporting style in an attempt to not ferret out the facts; to avoid being held responsible if the conclusions anger conservatives.

We're seeing much the same unfold this week with the Jennings story. But this right-wing attempt to hijack the news, as Alterman and Ehrlich detail, is even more insidious: It's a naked attempt to ruin a public official's reputation by inventing incendiary allegations. Period.

Question: Is the press really going to stand by and not only watch that happen, but also indirectly contribute?

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