Your show on Monday was truly exciting. It's always encouraging to learn that one's work is being followed closely, and after you dedicated an entire program responding to Media Matters' labeling of you as 2009's Misinformer of the Year, I no longer had any doubt that you and your team take the time to read what we write.
And so, I thought I would write you this blog post, just to make sure that you have heard the story of a woman I'll call Mary. She's one of your biggest fans.
2009 was a big year for you, Glenn. Your Fox television program débuted, and became a network hit -- so big that you were kept on even after a major advertiser boycott significantly limited your show's profitability. You published a new book which soon became a top seller. Your radio audience is immense. You began re-imagining yourself as an insurgent leader at the head of throngs of followers. And of course, you were rewarded handsomely for your efforts, raking in tens of millions of dollars.
What will 2010 hold?
Glenn, I watch your show almost every day. I even take notes, like you often ask your viewers to do. What's more, I went to the 9-12 protest in Washington, DC. No, there weren't 1.7 million people there, as you claimed, but there were indeed tens of thousands -- some of your most passionate supporters, no doubt. For more than five hours, I recorded interviews with as many people as I could, repeatedly asking them why they were there, and which news sources they trusted. (Here's one of the videos that came of it.)
And then there was Mary. She was eager to share her views, and I spoke with her for a long time, not far from the Capitol building. Mary was from Maryland, and after we ran through some of her deepest concerns -- ACORN, Obama's czars, and so on -- she felt comfortable enough to really open up. On the brink of tears, she talked about how much your show meant to her, how she rushed home every weekday to make sure she caught it at 5 p.m. on Fox News. Mary talked about the community she now felt she was a part of -- that no matter how bleak things looked, she could always go to the 9-12 website, and put her thoughts down in a message board, and that others would write her back with words of encouragement and support.
And she talked about how much she trusted you.
Glenn, you reach millions of people every single day. People trust you. They listen to you. They count on you to help them understand their world.
There is nothing wrong with challenging conventional wisdom. There is nothing wrong with, as you so often claim to do, speaking without fear. I'm not interested in silencing the passion of your supporters. Yes, there are those among them whose ideas I find deplorable and unworthy of the best traditions of this country. But I also recognize that there are plenty of people out there who feel like Mary does, who just want a government that works for the average person.
Mary's energy is a good thing. Her desire to better her country is encouraging. And you are abusing it.
You are abusing it, Glenn, because you are confusing her. You are misleading her. You are misinforming her. You are distracting her from that which impacts her life the most. You are making her tilt at windmills, and lunge at shadows - and all while you are profiting so mightily from her deception.
At Media Matters for America, we documented hundreds of your statements throughout 2009, taken from your radio show, from your TV show, from your public appearances, and from your books. Sometimes, we would highlight moments of deliberate intolerance and xenophobia, or unprovoked attempts to incite racial fears and tensions. At other times, we focused on your dramatized efforts to convince the public that the Obama administration was literally attempting to physically harm them, or the instances when you joked about killing public officials.
We focused on moments such as these because of our fears concerning the harmful impact you were having on the tenor of our public discourse -- and because we know, as do you, that there are unstable, troubled people among your listeners and viewers who simply need one more push before they do something terrible.
But I'm not worried about Mary being one of those people. I'm worried about Mary for another reason. She watches your show because she wants to be informed, because she wants to know where she should be devoting her energy. And every day, you point her in the wrong direction.
Mary cares about corruption in our government. But because of you, she thinks the source of federal corruption resides solely with ACORN employees. When we talked, she didn't seem concerned with, for example, the massive military contractors and lobbyists that misused far more public money than ACORN could have dreamed of receiving from the government. And little wonder: over a two-and-a-half year period, your TV programs mentioned ACORN 1,045 times. They mentioned Jack Abramoff, Bob Ney, Blackwater, Halliburton, and KBR 28 times combined.
Mary cares about limiting the influence of special interests. But because of you, "special interests" for her means SEIU. She's a working person, but you've worked to turn her against a union that tries to better the lot of its more than two million dues-paying members -- and hence millions of working families. Rather than focus on the substance of its work, you have relentlessly and dishonestly portrayed it as a self-interested gang of thugs that should have no impact on legislation.
At the same time, throughout 2009, you repeatedly hosted Phil Kerpen, the policy director for Americans for Prosperity. According to available transcripts, Mr. Kerpen was a guest on your Fox News program at least 7 times during the year (on 6/26, 8/4, 8/21, 8/24, 8/25, 10/19, 10/20 if you are interested). But not once did you mention where Americans for Prosperity gets its money, including more than $3 million in recent years from the Kochs, a billionaire oil family that has also given more than $9 million to the libertarian Cato Institute. Does that count as a special interest in your mind, Glenn? Do you think you owe it to Mary to tell her who is paying the guests you hold up as trustworthy, honest brokers?
This past year, you told her that the White House is using the NEA as a propaganda organ. But where were you when it was revealed that numerous mainstream media outlets -- those same media outlets you constantly castigate for their supposed liberal bias -- failed to divulge that some of their top military analysts had ties to military contractors, seriously compromising their credibility? In May of 2008, a Media Matters study found that over a six-year period, those same analysts had made 4,500 television appearances collectively. I checked the transcripts from your old Headline News program. You didn't mention the story once. That isn't propaganda in your eyes, Glenn? A single NEA conference call represents an existential threat to Mary's liberty, but this massive breach of the public trust didn't?
Where is the consistency here, Glenn? What are the principles you are acting in the name of?
Sadly, these are just a few of the pseudo-scandals you lavished such attention and rage on throughout last year. By doing so, you have engaged in misdirection of the worst sort, abusing the trust of the best members of your audience and fueling the unpredictable ire of the worst.
But it's a new year, Glenn -- and that means you have a new opportunity to use your platform as a tool to help, rather than hurt, this country and your viewers. Imagine if you committed yourself to real reporting, and embraced serious commentary and a balanced selection of independent, uncompromised guests. Imagine if you used your precious airtime to sincerely investigate the issues that tens of millions of Americans are contending with every day. Imagine how much good you could do.
Of course, I'm not expecting you to change. Indeed, you've already promised to double down on last year's strategy. And so, Media Matters and progressive groups everywhere will be ready, exposing the xenophobia, the ignorance, the fear-mongering, and the misinformation that you so cavalierly embrace. And we will continue to do everything we can to help people like Mary understand that they deserve more than to be lied to.
It's odd that since Christmas the right-wing media have been screaming about inadequate airline security. (Too soft!) But then when somebody they know and admire is momentarily detained at an airport for refusing to answer questions, the same right-wing screamers scream that airport officials are harassing the wrong people.
And so, as conservatives continue their never-ending quest for martyrs, real and imagined, we have the tale of conservative darling, and milblogger, Michael Yon was was recently stopped by TSA officials at the Seattle-Tacoma airport upon his return to the U.S.
Blogger Michelle Malkin did not approve [emphasis added]:
I've met Michael and have blogged about his enterprising war coverage as an embed in Iraq and Afghanistan for years. The idea of him being treated as a national security threat and handcuffed is as ridiculous as anything we've seen from Janet Clown-itano and her cadre.
Actually, according to Yon's own telling of the event, he was detained by TSA officials after he repeatedly refused to answer their questions while they randomly searched his luggage. (Apparently Yon decided which TSA questions were appropriate, and which ones were not.) But was he ever detained as a "national security threat," as Malkin stressed? Not even Yon makes that claim.
Also, note that in Yon's original telling he claimed he was "arrested" at the airport, which is not accurate. As he later explained, the TSA never placed him under arrest and neither did local port authority police. Yon made the "arrested" claim because he was placed in handcuffs by airport officials, and that meant he'd been "arrested." But that's just not true.
So to summarize, Yon claimed he was "arrested," which was not true. And then Malkin claimed it was because Yon was targeted as a "national security threat," which was also not true. But hey, other than that it makes for a great story.
UPDATED: Blogger Ed Morrissey might want to change his "Michael Yon arrested at Seattle airport" headline since, y'know, Yon was not arrested.
Just a thought.
From Erickson's January 6 Red State.com blog post:
Okay, so this post really isn't about the Crimson Tide, but there is a crimson tide out there this morning - the Democrat dead pool.
Bill Ritter, the Governor of Colorado, is gone.
Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) is gone.
Chris Dodd (D-CT) is gone.
These three all announced on the same day and on the heels of all the other Democrats retiring and Parker Griffith switching to the GOP.
Meanwhile Evan Bayh is looking more and more vulnerable in Indiana.
Something is happening. Whatever it is is most definitely bad for Democrats and good for freedom.
The crimson tide of Democrat destruction rolls on. Is it a coincidence that Alabama has an elephant as its mascot?
Mounting a fact-challenged defense against his being named Media Matters' Misinformer of the Year, Glenn Beck claimed during the January 4 edition of his Fox News show that former White House adviser Van Jones was the "only person, by the way, we have ever accused of being a communist." One day later, Beck explained how the progressive movement used secret language to hide its plans to collapse the system, instead using words like "transformation" and "social justice." Beck went on to describe the secret language of progressives:
BECK: What I would call socialist or communist, they'll call just social justice or progressive. That is critical to understand, because it really is what helps these people sleep at night, and what's allowing them to get away with it.
Among the secret initiatives Beck identified from progressives' 100-year campaign were the United Nations, the teaching of case law, income taxes, and the Federal Reserve system. Not that Beck called any of those things communist.
Regular viewers of Beck's show might recall his glorious debut on Fox News just about one year ago. His first broadcast was preceded by commercials in which Beck breathlessly lamented a national discourse that devolved into ad hominem attacks such as "those donkeys trying to turn us into communist Russia." I think Beck's record speaks for itself.
Eighty advertisers have reportedly dropped their ads from Glenn Beck's Fox News program since he called President Obama a "racist" who has a "deep-seated hatred of white people." Here are his January 5 sponsors, in the order they appeared:
It would be difficult to sum up all the things that are wrong, silly, and ridiculous with former half-term governor Sarah Palin's terrorism policy paper/Facebook status update, so we'll just break it down, piece by piece.
We are at war with radical Islamic extremists and treating this threat as a law enforcement issue is dangerous for our nation's security. That's what happened in the 1990s and we saw the result on September 11, 2001.
Funny, I heard the exact same thing on The O'Reilly Factor last night from Dick Morris. Equally funny is how Sarah Palin found the one way to make herself even less credible on national security matters -- copping material from Dick Morris. Moving on:
It simply makes no sense to treat an al Qaeda-trained operative willing to die in the course of massacring hundreds of people as a common criminal.
What an odd thing to write, particularly when you consider that earlier today we learned that Zacarias Moussaoui -- the Al Qaeda-trained operative willing to die in the course of massacring thousands of people on 9-11 who was tried by the Bush administration as a common criminal -- had his conviction upheld in court after a federal appeals court denied his appeal. Slogging forward:
Reports indicate that Abdulmutallab stated there were many more like him in Yemen but that he stopped talking once he was read his Miranda rights.
I certainly haven't seen any "reports" to that effect. In fact, CNN reported today that they spoke to law enforcement officials and they "would not say whether [Abdulmutallab is] cooperating or if he was read his Miranda rights." Continuing:
Giving foreign-born, foreign-trained terrorists the right to remain silent does nothing to keep Americans safe from terrorist threats. It only gives our enemies access to courtrooms where they can publicly grandstand, and to defense attorneys who can manipulate the legal process to gain access to classified information.
You know, I've heard this one before too -- and it's already been debunked. Federal courts don't do televised trials, thus making a "public grandstand" pretty close to impossible. And lastly:
President Obama was right to change his policy and decide to send no more detainees to Yemen where they can be free to rejoin their war on America. Now he must back off his reckless plan to close Guantanamo, begin treating terrorists as wartime enemies not suspects alleged to have committed crimes, and recognize that the real nature of the terrorist threat requires a commander-in-chief, not a constitutional law professor.
Gotta love the false choice between tough ("commander-in-chief") and smart ("constitutional law professor").
I always suspected Palin had an ulterior motive for quitting as governor, and now I know what it is -- she wanted to spend more time absorbing warmed-over right-wing talking points and copying-and-pasting them onto Facebook as her very own. Mission accomplished.
No wonder Breitbart's Big Government site never really bothers with posting corrections. They're so messy, what with all those facts and things!
That's what the "conservative journalist" is discovering after belatedly posting an "update" yesterday in which Breitbart kinda/sorta conceded Big Government's claim that ACORN CEO Bertha Lewis had visited the Obama White House was not accurate. This, after a WH spokesman went on the record to deny the claim, insisting the "Bertha Lewis" who showed up on WH visitor logs was not the same as the ACORN CEO.
Here's how Breitbart danced around the issue yesterday:
Since we have no information on how to hunt down the "other" Bertha Lewis — Ms. Psaki wouldn't reveal who she is, citing "privacy concerns" — Big Government will err on the side of prudence and grant the White House its side of the story.
But then during a subsequent round of his signature, late-night, incoherent tweets, Breitbart seemed to backtrack and claim what while he couldn't prove it was ACORN's Lewis at the WH, Media Matters couldn't claim it wasn't her. Or something.
Well, now Esquire quotes Lewis directly and she confirms she was not at the White House this year [emphasis added]:
Still, Lewis seemed almost shell-shocked: "We can't understand this obsession, and the vehemence. They just make up something and keep repeating it over and over — yesterday, I'm cleaning my house and I get a call, someone from my office saying 'This guy from Breitbart is going crazy saying you were in the White House!' Apparently some woman named Bertha Lewis visited the White House in September, so automatically they assumed — but it wasn't me."
So, the WH has flatly denied the story and Lewis herself has flatly denied the story. Does anybody at Big Government have even the slightest evidence to back up its concocted story about the ACORN chief visiting the WH? Anybody?
I didn't think so because remember, Big Government is a rising star of "conservative journalism," where facts are optional.
UPDATED: And where does all this leave Fox News, which predictably, and foolishly, followed Breitbart's lead on this bogus story. Remember, Fox News execs recently claimed they had instituted a "zero tolerance" policy for on-air mistakes. So now that this latest Breitbart misadventure has been thoroughly debunked (doesn't 2010 feel an awful lot like 2009?), when will Fox News admit that it peddled a phony story?
Here are the nut graphs [emphasis added]:
The White House on Sunday urged senators to quickly hold a vote on its nominee to head the Transportation Security Administration, but the battle showed little signs of easing as a Republican reiterated his concerns about the pick.
The White House's appointment of Erroll Southers, a former Federal Bureau of Investigation agent, has been held up by Sen. Jim DeMint, who has raised questions about Mr. Southers's position on worker unionization. The South Carolina Republican wants Mr. Southers to promise that he would oppose granting collective-bargaining rights to the TSA's tens of thousands of employees.
This is a rather extraordinary situation, and, I dare say, if the players were reversed and it were a lone Democrat who stood in the way of filling a key national security post in a GOP administration (and stood in the way for partisan reasons that had nothing to do with security), the press coverage would not be quite so ho-hum in the way the Journal article is.
I'd also suggest that if a Democrat were holding up a key national security post, the Journal would definitely let critics tee-off in print. But in today's increasingly GOP-friendly WSJ newsroom, readers only hear from DeMint. Not a single critic (let alone Democrat) is allowed to directly voice objections to the senator's hold.