Conservatives have been all excited about right-wing investigative journalism coming from the likes of Andrew Breitbart. They're less excited, however, when the investigative eye is trained on one of their own.
Last week, we highlighted reporting noting that the record does not necessarily support Glenn Beck's longtime claim that his mother committed suicide when he was a teenager -- in fact, there is a possibility that her death may have been an accident. We made no editorial comment about it but merely noted what had been reported.
But that was too much for some. At NewsReal, the group blog at the David Horowitz Freedom Center, Kathy Shaidle was unhappy that we committed such a horrible act, going on to falsely suggest that we claimed "Glenn Beck is modeling his life and career on that of fellow Washingtonian... Kurt Cobain." (Shaidle also asserted that "billionaire leftist" George Soros "bankrolls Media Matters." He doesn't.)
Meanwhile, NewsBusters' Jeff Poor uncritically repeats Beck's "impassioned plea to stop looking into his past," noting that "the McClatchy-owned The News Tribune of Tacoma, Wash. and the left-leaning Salon.com ran stories questioning whether or not Glenn Beck's mother, Mary Beck committed suicide. It was later propagated by the left-wing storefronts." The "left-wing storefronts" remark links to Media Matters. Doesn't that make Poor's employer, the Media Research Center, a "right-wing storefront"?
Poor seems to be missing the point. Isn't a person's demand that the media stop looking into him a red alert that the media should be looking even more? If Beck has nothing to hide, why is he acting like he does? And why don't conservatives want anyone to know?
So far, 80 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 October 6 sponsors, in the order they appeared:
It's to the point where you can't even make it through the first paragraph of one of the fringe pub's posts without running into massive, skyscraper-like misinformation:
Why is House Speaker Nancy Pelosi so quiet about Kevin Jennings? Jennings is in the news because he is the Obama administration's Safe Schools czar, in bureaucratese the assistant deputy secretary of the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools inside the Department of Education. And because he has now admitted that when, as a teacher, he was sought out by a 15-year-old boy asking for advice about an affair with an older adult male, Jennings suggested wearing a condom.
As anybody who's been following the Kevin Jennings Witch Hunt knows, the boy in question was at least 16 years old, the legal age of consent in Massachusetts where the incident occurred. This has been known for days. The Spectator however, just doesn't like that fact, so it opts for its own version of the truth.
Meanwhile, love that opening line:
Why is House Speaker Nancy Pelosi so quiet about Kevin Jennings?
The Spectator pretends the radical right's Kevin Jennings Witch Hunt demands the attention of our nation's leaders. Interesting notion. Let's turn the tables and ask, why is Sen. Mitch McConnell so quiet about Kevin Jennings? And why is Rep. John Boehner quiet about Kevin Jennings. Indeed, why is the entire GOP leadership so quiet about Kevin Jennings? (Could it be because they just don't care?)
I'm sure the Spectator, with its ace reporting skills, can get to the bottom of this political whodunnit.
UPDATED: Parallel Universe Alert! In the comment section of the Spectator piece, a reader notes that the boy is question was 16 years old, not 15, and wonders if the Spectator ought to correct the story.
Here's what author Jeffrey Lord wrote back:
Remember that the source for this story is Kevin Jennings himself. He has, as noted, said he should have handled this differently. Something he presumably would not believe if the student were of legal age. I am aware of no statement by Jennings that the boy was of a legal age. If Jennings provides that fact and can document it we will be happy to correct.
ColorOfChange.org has confirmed that 19 new companies whose ads aired recently during Fox News Channel's Glenn Beck program have asked Fox to stop their ads from running or pledged to not to run ads on the show going forward. The latest additions -AmMed Direct, Citrix Online, Concord Music Group, Diageo, Eggland's Best, Equifax, Eulactol USA (producer of Flexitol), GetARoom.com, Hoffman La Roche (maker of BONIVA), Metropolitan Talent Management, ooVoo, Overture Films, Scarguard, Schiff Nutrition (maker of Tiger's Milk and Fi-Bar), Seoul Metropolitan Government, Subaru, Toyota-Lexus, Waitrose and Woodland Power Products, Inc. - bring the total number of companies that have distanced themselves from Beck to 80. This after Beck called President Obama a "racist" who "has a deep-seated hatred for white people" during an appearance on Fox & Friends.
The news comes on the heels of stories that broke throughout British newspapers on Monday, reporting that advertisers seen during Beck's program in England are feeling the heat as well. Diageo - a London-based alcohol company that makes Guinness, Tanqueray and many other brands of spirits - joined Waitrose - a popular British supermarket chain used to supply groceries to the Royal Family - and cut their advertising ties with Beck. Waitrose, along with the U.S.-based Metropolitan Talent Management, adds to a growing list of companies who are not only taking a stance against Glenn Beck, but against Fox News Channel.
"From the beginning of our campaign, we promised to continue to put pressure on anyone who supports Beck's race-baiting rhetoric," said James Rucker, Executive Director of ColorOfChange.org. "Seeing our efforts resonate in another country gives our members a renewed sense of hope that we can rally together and stand up against racial demagoguery in America."
Yesterday, we brought you news that El Rushbo himself, Rush Limbaugh, has confirmed his interest in buying the NFL's St. Louis Rams:
Almost six years to the day after radio host Rush Limbaugh resigned in disgrace from his brand-spanking new gig on ESPN's Sunday NFL Countdown for, as CNN reported at the time, "his statement that Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb was overrated because the media wanted to see a black quarterback succeed," El Rushbo confirmed today that he's interested in buying the St. Louis Rams.
This could get interesting. According to an OpenSecrets.org review of Federal campaign contributions between 1989-2009, the Rams are the bluest team in the NFL giving 98% of its contributions to Democrats. (H/T to S.L.)
Now, Michael Roston over at True/Slant now brings us, "Limbaugh's 10 awesomest terriblest remarks about pro football that I found while watching the Steelers beat the Chargers on Sunday night."
01. Rush compared black football players on the field to fighting gang members.
02. Rush can't let go of his enmity with McNabb and the Eagles.
03. Limbaugh thinks Michael Vick's dog murder is funny.
04. Rush will surely attract scores of female fans to the Edward Jones Dome.
05. Rush will help promote the NFL's youth health initiatives.
06. Rush has a strong knowledge of sports gambling.
07. Rush will not welcome liberals at Edward Jones Dome.
09. Rush is ready to liquidate a couple of NFL teams.
10. Rush has compared other football owners to rapists.
Be sure to head over to True/Slant and read the details behind each of the top ten hits. It's insanely, ummm humorous? Depressing?
Here's MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell, interviewing Time's Karen Tumulty moments ago:
Karen, let me ask you one other thing. There was an event with doctors at the White House at the Rose Garden yesterday. And I have to pursue this more, in more depth, but do you know anything about this photo opportunity when they were told to bring their white lab coats, and those who forgot and came in, in business attire were handed lab coats by White House staff members so they would look like doctors for the photo op?
After Tumulty noted that this is "not such a huge deal" because the people were in fact doctors and do in fact "support the basic bill," Mitchell haltingly replied:
Well, again, it is an interest group, Doctors for America, but it was certainly, uh, assisted by White House staff. It just seems like a lot of choreography for a White House which claims to be doing things authentically. [Smirking, shaking head] It just, you know.
It just, you know.
Well, no, I don't.
Here's a free tip: When you're unable to articulate what's wrong with an action more eloquently than saying "It just, you know" while scrunching up your nose and shaking your head, its probably because there's nothing wrong with it.
Look: These were actual doctors. If they were not doctors, and the White House dressed them up to look like they were, that would be problematic.
But that isn't what happened. They were doctors. There was nothing misleading about asking them to wear lab coats so people would know they were doctors rather than, say, insurance company executives.
(By the way: handing someone a lab coat is not "a lot of choreography." It takes about two seconds.)
Now, why did Mitchell feel she had to ask Tumulty about this? Why does she think she has to "pursue this more, in depth"? How much "depth" is there to pursue?
Mitchell can't articulate a reason why it matters, but the right-wing is up in arms, so she thinks she has to "pursue" the Great Doctors Wearing Lab Coats Scandal of Ought-Nine in more depth.
UPDATE: According to Tommy Christopher at Mediaite, the controversy is not only dumb -- it isn't true. Under the header "Why Was The NY Post Alone in Reporting 'White Coat-gate? Because It's Not True," Christopher writes:
The picture bothered me, because I didn't recognize the staffer who was handing out the white coats.
I checked on it, and a White House source told me that the White house did not provide the extra lab coats. Doctors for America paid for and brought the extras. OOPS!
I wonder if Mitchell's in-depth pursuit of this crucial story has turned up that little detail yet.
From WorldNetDaily editor and CEO Joseph Farah's October 6 column, headlined "Obama's freak show":
But this guy, Barack Obama, is giving us all more than we bargained for in the way of craziness, chaos, radicalism, extremism and immorality on a scale that would possibly make even Bill Clinton blush. Well, maybe not that much.
We've got a homosexual activist by the name of Kevin Jennings as czar of "safe schools." Talk about the fox guarding the chicken coop! This guy is a disciple of Harry Hay, founder of Radical Faeries and a longtime advocate for the North American Man-Boy Love Association. Do you feel like your child is safe with him in charge of school safety?
Then there's science czar John Holdren who wrote in a college textbook that "illegitimate children" born to unwed mothers should be seized by the government and put up for adoption if the mother refuses to have an abortion. He also argued the Constitution supports "compulsory" abortion.
Then there's Cass Sunstein, the regulatory czar, who explains that embryos are "just a handful of cells" and that an adult dog is more rational than a human baby.
Now come the revelations about his nominee to be commissioner of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission - Chai Feldblum.
She signed a manifesto praising polygamy and arguing traditional marriage should not be privileged above other forms of union.
Another outspoken homosexual-rights activist - it seems almost a prerequisite in the Obama administration - she is a signatory to an online petition entitled "Beyond Same-Sex Marriage: A New Strategic Vision For All Our Families and Relationships." Among the stated "partnerships" the petition seeks to protect is "households in which there is more than one conjugal partner."
She also proclaimed gay sex as "morally good" - not just neutral, mind you, but something God apparently smiles upon.
I wonder what kind of database Obama uses to locate people like this? Is it Monster.com? That would be appropriate. Or is it FreaksUnlimited.com? Maybe Obamanations.com? No, it's got to be Perverts.gov.
I'm telling you, the entire federal government is going to have to be fumigated some day when these deviants and degenerates are finally sent packing.
Kane's rebuttal is pretty standard fare these days. He claims Media Matters only dissects his work because we're holding some sort of personal grudge against him. (I must have missed that MMA memo.) And then Kane fails to address a key criticism we made of his work. It's a pretty goofy dance, but it's the one Beltway journalists seem to prefer.
Quick primer. Two weeks ago I noted that in a piece about Democratic fundraising woes, Kane wrote in the very first paragraph that one of the reasons that coffers were less full this year was because Democrats were bashing big business, thereby scaring off wealthy donors.
Wrote Kane [emphasis added]:
Democratic political committees have seen a decline in their fundraising fortunes this year, a result of complacency among their rank-and-file donors and a de facto boycott by many of their wealthiest givers, who have been put off by the party's harsh rhetoric about big business.
Yikes! A "de facto boycott." Yet Kane never backed up that claim in the article. In fact, later in the piece he softened the claim, suggesting, it had "become increasingly difficult to raise money on Wall Street." That, of course, isn't a "boycott," which is how Kane opened his piece.
Yet in his lengthy response today during an online chat to a reader who raised the Media Matters critique, and who specifically asked about the WashPost's claim that anti-big business rhetoric from Dems had created a "boycott" among donors, Kane remained mum. He offered no evidence to support his claim that (alleged) anti-big business rhetoric was driving donors away. I suspect that's because Kane doesn't have any proof that there's a donor "boycott" in place.
Also, note the headline of Kane's Post piece announced Democrats were "Jarred by Drop In Fundraising." Yet nowhere in the article did Kane quote a single Democrat who expressed being "jarred," or anything remotely like that. In fact, some Democrats in the article suggested the fundraising dip was completely expected given the historic money heights the party reached in 2008.
Kane however, failed to address that point in his rebuttal as well.
UPDATED: Kane claimed Media Matters tried to "to invent some form of conservative bias" in his reporting." Not true. In my critique, I merely pointed out the obvious weaknesses in his reporting. I didn't suggest "bias" had anything to do wtih the shortcomings.
In my column last week, I wrote (again) about the need for reporters -- who have spent the whole year telling us that cloture is the health care vote that matters -- to start telling us how Senators will vote on cloture. I wrote that a major news organization like the Washington Post should simply contact every Senator's office and ask if they'll filibuster a health care reform bill that contains a strong public option.
During an online Q&A today, Washington Post reporter Paul Kane was asked which Senators would filibuster such a bill:
Helena, Montana: When Max Baucus said that he supported the public option but he didn't think there were 60 votes for it - who does he think will join the Republicans in filibustering it? Democratic members of his committee? Can Reid hold the caucus together for cloture, even if some will vote against the bill?
Paul Kane: This is the insider's insider's question right now, the one that not even my friends at Politico and my alma mater Roll Call are writing.
Will the Ben Nelson/Landrieu/Lieberman crowd vote 'no' on cloture (the filibuster vote)? Will they vote yes on cloture, then vote however they want on final passage?
Activists on both sides are exploring this issue, trust me. I think that's where this whole debate is headed.
My gut: I don't know the answer. Sorry, I don't.
So ... Maybe that's something the Washington Post should start working on?
(I assume Paul Kane isn't responsible for making such decisions about resource allocation, but maybe he should mention the idea to an editor?)
UPDATE: Later in the Q&A:
Ask the question, maybe?: Given how much reporters write about the need for 60 votes to break a filibuster, it's pretty stunning that you never get around to asking Senators whether they'll vote to sustain or end a filibuster. Isn't it long-past time for reporters to start asking Senators if they will filibuster the public option -- not just whether they support it, or think it has enough votes: Will they filibuster it? Has the Post reported on this and I've just missed it?
Paul Kane: Most folks like Nelson and company just dodge the question, when asked, telling us it's way too soon to deal with questions like that.
Which raises a rather obvious question: Why don't news organizations report that "folks like Nelson and company" refuse to say they'll filibuster? All year, they've been reporting that cloture is the vote that matters. And whenever "Nelson and company" make so much as a grunt indicating unhappiness with a public option, journalists rush to report it. So why won't they report the fact that when it comes to the vote that matters, "Nelson and company" are unwilling to commit to filibuster? That would certainly paint a less pessimistic picture of the prospects for health care reform.