The upcoming Newsmax cruise features the usual suspects as its "guest speakers" -- Christopher Ruddy, Dick Morris and Ronald Kessler among them. One name caught our eye, though: James Humes, who will give a talk about Winston Churchill.
Last March, Humes wrote a Newsmax column in which he asserted that President Obama said of a bust of Churchill in the Oval Office, "Get that goddam thing out of here." In fact, there's no credible record of Obama ever saying such a thing. Humes anted up with an ugly smear suggesting that Obama "took umbrage at Prime Minister Churchill's actions in 1953 of wiping out the Mau-Mau, the Kenyan terrorists who made a specialty of slitting throats of sleeping white and Black Kenyans."
After the fabrication was caught, Humes' column was quietly altered to concede that "the story was never fully substantiated, despite frequent repetition on radio talk shows." But Humes offered no evidence that any radio talk show forwarded the claim at all, let alone did so "frequently." (The Mau-Mau smear, meanwhile, remains intact.)
It says a lot about Newsmax that it has rewarded the purveyor of this kind of hate and mendacity with the honor of being a "guest speaker" on its cruise.
From a February 2 Big Government post by Pamela Geller, "O'Keefe: The Persecution of an American Patriot":
James O'Keefe, along with Hannah Giles, broke one of the biggest investigative news stories since Watergate on the systemic corruption of radical left governmental organizations. It was, for new media, a defining moment. And while the historic implications of the O'Keefe/Giles expose are not yet fully understood, the media landscape was forever changed.
Despite this seismic shift in modern journalism, the mainstream media scornfully ignored the biggest story of the Obama administration. ACORN, Obama's personal community organizing group, funded with taxpayer dollars, was shown to be a criminal, rapacious, and predatory organization. In clip after clip from O'Keefe and Giles, ACORN's indecency became more obvious and outrageous, and the little remaining trust that the American people had in government/community service organizations morphed into outright contempt.
And the mainstream media yawned.
Until last week, that is, when, like sharks to chum, the media swarm worked itself into a frenzy over the news that James O'Keefe had been "busted" on trumped up charges. In an egregious act of thuggery and intimidation, James O'Keefe was arrested for entering Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA)'s office (the people's office) wearing a telephone repairman uniform. O'Keefe was attempting to document Landrieu's contempt for the American people in not answering the phone from outraged citizens. Landrieu took a massive bribe from Chicago-land President Obama to induce her to help ram the nationalized health-care plan through despite the fury of the American people. Landrieu claimed she wasn't answering her constituents because -- get this -- her phones were broken. O'Keefe was videoing the working phones. Beautiful.
So let's get this straight. James O'Keefe, a great American, was kept in jail without a lawyer for the crime of entering a Senator's office pretending to be a telephone repairman (how many reporters have gotten stories by impersonating one thing or another?), while the Christmas balls bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who attempted to blow up a plane by making sure he was sitting in seat 19a (over the fuel tank) and setting off a bomb he was hiding in his underwear, was given a lawyer almost immediately. His sitting in seat 19A would ensure the greatest possible explosion over the densely populated Detroit area -- and yet O'Keefe languishes without counsel while being prosecuted in the media, and Abdulmutallab gets lawyered up quicker than Pelosi can bang down a double on Air Force One.
Eric Holder will protect any Muslim terrorist. From the Netherlands to the Arabian Peninsula, the Nigerian jihadist, he has always stood up for their rights. And then of course there are the Panthers, Holder's other favorites, with their voter intimidation with nightsticks.
But do not dare pretend to be a Bell repair man. Do not dare to enter a Democrat Senator's office while disagreeing with her politics. If you do that, you will get the revolutionary court putting you into a hole, with the mob cheering like Frankenstein.
There is something really wrong in America when an earnest young man, in pursuit of the truth, is treated like a murderer, and a jihadi, whose intent is to slaughter Americans and overthrow the American government, is mirandized and given the Constitutional protections of an American citizen (which he isn't).
The bottom line is that James O'Keefe was terribly wronged. And that is the story. That would have been front-page news in an era of uncorrupted media. Which is why the new media is, without, question, the single most critical element to winning the war of ideas.
Reuters recently pulled an article about supposed "backdoor" tax increases hidden in the Obama budget. (Drudge loved the piece!) Media Matters had previously highlighted factual errors in the piece. And according to press reports, the White House called Reuters to complain. Reuters then withdrew the story, with a flak conceding to TPM that were factual problems:
"The story went out, and it shouldn't have gone out," said Courtney Dilan, a spokeswoman for Reuters. "It had significant errors of fact."
In other words, Reuters did what responsible journalists are supposed to when they realize they've published something that does meet traditional standards. (Of course, we're still waiting for an explanation as to how such a poorly reported story could be published in the first place.)
The funny part though, is watching right-wing bloggers like RedState's Erick Erickson act so confused and befuddled by Reuters' actions. (They did what???) It's as if RW bloggers are completely unfamiliar with the notion of journalism ethics and accountability.
Behold "conservative journalism."
UPDATED: Naturally, add Breitbart's Big Journalism to the list of RW sites that have no idea why Reuters would withdraw a factually inaccurate story.
Behold, as he plays defense for Fox News [emphasis added]:
The most surreal moment of Arianna Huffington's attack on Roger Ailes on ABC's This Week on Sunday was her denunciation of Fox News for embracing what liberal historian Richard Hofstadter called "the paranoid style in American politics," which she insisted "is dangerous when there is real pain out there."
Paranoid Style could be a regular section title for The Huffington Post. In our 2007 special report, "Huffington's House of Horrors," we made a long list of vicious and hateful writings that Arianna approved for publication about George W. Bush and his administration.
From a February 2 TalkingPointsMemo article:
The news service Reuters withdrew a story last night titled "Backdoor taxes to hit middle class" after the White House reached out and pointed out "errors of fact."
The story, which claimed the White House's deficit reduction plan relies on raising taxes against the middle class by allowing tax cuts to expire, was withdrawn at about 8 p.m. Monday, according to Yahoo timestamps. The original story ran at 4 p.m. The withdrawal promises a replacement story later this week.
"The story went out, and it shouldn't have gone out," said Courtney Dolan, a spokeswoman for Reuters. "It had significant errors of fact."
She would not elaborate on the specific errors, but said Reuters will "address those specific points that were incorrect."
I'd wager there aren't many people right now who would count themselves among James O'Keefe's supporters -- at least, far fewer than there were before he was arrested for entering Sen. Mary Landrieu's New Orleans office under false pretenses with the purpose of committing a felony. But what friends he does have left are doing their damndest to exonerate him in the court of public opinion. The problem is they clearly don't have a whole lot to work with.
Andrew Breitbart -- O'Keefe's patron and mentor -- got the ball rolling with the absurdly concocted smear that the U.S. attorney's office and the Justice Department conspired with the media to "frame" O'Keefe while he sat in a jail cell (a theory that O'Keefe himself did much to undermine). Breitbart's evidence for this allegation has been, well, nonexistent, though he would like to think that U.S. attorney Jim Letten's recusal from the case shows that he's on the right track. Unfortunately for him, Letten recused himself the day after the arrests were made -- days before Breitbart's conspiracy theory took shape.
And then there's Hannah Giles, O'Keefe's partner in the undercover ACORN "pimp" videos, who posted a missive on BigGovernment.com this morning lauding her colleague's actions in New Orleans for "strip[ping] away the MSM's mask of neutrality, revealing the bias below." Giles also informed us what she's learned from the whole situation: "the MSM is the primary force of the Democratic Party. If the MSM is lying to you, guess who else is? Someone has to feed them stories. Time and time again the MSM has been caught in a self-created web of lies, and the vast majority of these reports do one thing, and that is mask the true, ugly face of liberalism."
You can try and recast O'Keefe's arrest as some sort of heroic exposé of the mainstream media's alleged bias, but here's the thing -- there are great sectors of the right-wing new media that devote every waking moment to "exposing" the "bias" of the media, and they do so without getting arrested. She's praising him for risking jail time in order to achieve something the bias sleuths at NewsBusters claim to do (ineptly, I might add) every day. That's not "citizen journalism," that's stupidity.
Giles also accuses Landrieu's office of "vastly exaggerat[ing] the situation" and writes that "Landrieu's overreaction to O'Keefe's video project ought make [sic] the public wonder what the heck is actually going on in the office." According to Giles, the "overreaction" and "exaggeration" Landrieu is alleged to have engaged in was a statement from the senator reading: "This is a very unusual situation and somewhat unsettling for me and my staff. The individuals responsible have been charged with entering federal property under false pretenses for the purposes of committing a felony. I am as interested as everyone else about their motives and purpose, which I hope will become clear as the investigation moves forward."
So the senator is unsettled and curious as to why four men were arrested in her office, and accurately stated the charges filed against the alleged perpetrators. This counts as an "exaggerated" "overreaction"?
Anyway, Giles wrapped things up with a swipe at conservative blogger Michelle Malkin for, in Giles' words, "call[ing] for an example to be made out of [O'Keefe], and instructing other young journalists to not follow in his footsteps." There's not much that Michelle Malkin and I agree on, but we're on the same page when it comes to not teaching kids to get arrested in the name of political activism posing as journalism.
I think I'm starting to understand why the media criticism produced by the Newsbusters crew is so frequently off-base. It's because they have no idea what they're talking about. Ever.
Here, take a look at Media Research Center Vice President Brent Baker's most recent complaint:
Cautioning the Obama administration's "deficit projections...are just that, projections," NBC's Chuck Todd on Monday evening bought into the White House's claim that Democratic health care reform bills that would add millions to the system are actually spending reduction measures, as he warned: "If health care doesn't pass, because this budget assumes health care will pass, that's yet another $150 billion that would be tacked on to the deficit." (Emphasis added)
See the problem? Baker is conflating spending reduction with deficit reduction.
The other problem is that Baker apparently hasn't been paying attention to the health care debate for the past year, as he derides as "ludicrous" the forecast that health care reform would reduce the deficit. In fact, the Congressional Budget Office consistently projected that the various versions of reform would reduce the deficit. White House budget director Peter Orszag says the $150 billion figure is simply an average of the CBO scores for the versions passed by the House and the Senate.
Finally, Baker's headline demonstrates that his lack of understanding of health care and the difference between "spending" and "deficit" is matched by his inability to understand the difference between assuming something and reporting someone else's assumptions. Baker's headline:
Not Passing ObamaCare Will Boost Deficit by $150 Billion, NBC and ABC Presume
Here's the Jake Tapper comment that headline refers to: "perhaps the most surprising, the budget assumes a savings of $150 billion over the next ten years from health care reform." So, that -- quite obviously -- is not an instance of ABC presuming anything; Tapper is telling viewers what the White House presumes. Similarly, NBC's Chuck Todd is clearly telling viewers what the White House is assuming about health care, not what he assumes.
This really isn't very complicated. It's the equivalent of me reading Baker's statement that ABC presumed that health care reform would save $150 billion and said "Brent Baker presumes that health care reform would save $150 billion."
CNN just spent nearly 8 minutes on a segment about Don't Ask, Don't Tell and whether gays should be able to serve openly in the military. Incredibly, in all that time, CNN never once so much as alluded to the fact that the current policy is discriminatory.
Instead, they talked mostly about money and logistics, with CNN journalists repeatedly parroting the Republican non-sequitur that the current economic uncertainty makes this a bad time to allow gays to serve openly in the military.
Eight minutes, and they didn't once mention the fundamental question at hand.
Currently featured on the front page of the Washington Post's web site:
Richard Cohen's frightened plea for more torture and fewer civil liberties
Dana Milbank's inane column about the purported sexiness of the Budget Director
Ramesh Ponnuru's unsubstantiated claim that President Obama "arguably implied" that voters are "stupid."
An "On Faith" guest post by the American Life League's communications director, who describes feminists as "pro-abortion."
Howard Kurtz's daily exploration of the love lives of the powerful and famous.
And that's just what's linked on the front page -- it doesn't include sports columnist Sally Jenkins' reference to "pro-abortion" feminists, who she mocks as "the 'Dwindling Organizations of Ladies in Lockstep,' otherwise known as DOLL" while criticizing "the group-think, elitism and condescension of the 'National Organization of Fewer and Fewer Women All The Time'" and "'The National Organization for Women Who Only Think Like Us.'" Jenkins concludes with a transparently silly attack on those who criticize CBS's decision to run an anti-choice Super Bowl ad while rejecting an ad for a gay dating service: "CBS owns its broadcast and can run whatever advertising it wants." Yeah ... So? That does not immunize them from criticism for the decisions they make.
I'm really starting to worry there's something in the water over at the Washington Post bulding.