When right-wing journalist Tucker Carlson launched The Daily Caller along with a former aide to Dick Cheney and a multimillion dollar bankroll from a big-time GOP donor, Carlson insisted that the Caller would not be a right-wing site. That's always been one of the most hilarious of Carlson's many absurd claims, as today's announcement that the Caller has hired Ginni Thomas reminds us:
Long-time Washington policy leader Ginni Thomas, the founder of the group Liberty Central, has agreed to join The Daily Caller.
As The Daily Caller's special correspondent, Thomas will interview key political and community leaders -- from high-profile politicians to grassroots activists -- with a focus on listening to those outside the Beltway.
Thomas draws on a wide range of experiences. She's worked in the public sector, the private sector, and the non-profit sector. Before founding Liberty Central, Thomas opened Hillsdale College's Washington office and was with The Heritage Foundation for nearly 10 years as a director of government relations and senior fellow. Prior to that, she worked for years as a high-level Congressional aide.
The Caller's announcement didn't make this clear, but Liberty Central is a tea party group, and Thomas' experience as a "high-level Congressional aide" was on the Republican side of the aisle. Oh, and her husband, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, was recently caught failing to disclose nearly $700,000 in income Ginni Thomas received from the right-wing Heritage Foundation. I guess those are the kinds of things you leave out if you want to pretend you aren't a right-wing website while hiring a longtime right-wing activist as a "correspondent."
The taunt came from Daily Caller blogger Jim Treacher back on March 8, when the NPR sing story first broke and the Daily Caller staff was feeling good about sponsoring Jame's O'Keefe latest video attack.
Here's the item in full. Try not to laugh out loud knowing what happened when people did examine the two hours of raw O'Keefe videos [emphasis added]:
In the unlikely event that you haven't seen James O'Keefe's latest sting yet, here it is:
P.S. NPR responds: "We are appalled by the comments made by Ron Schiller in the video, which are contrary to what NPR stands for." Good luck with that one!
P.P.S. In deference to the "edited video!" screechers, they've put up the entire two-hour conversation here. Have fun, Media Matters senior fellows!
The real punch line? Since March 8, Treacher hasn't had the guts, honesty, or whatever to concede that the NPR videos were debunked by none other than a Glenn Beck website.
Well, actually Matthew Boyle is a staffer on the Daily Caller's editorial team. But in dealing with James O'Keefe over the last two weeks and helping the conservative activist roll out his undercover NPR videos, Boyle has acted much more like a publicist than a journalist.
Meaning, Boyle has dutifully, and excitedly, transcribed whatever hand-fed claims O'Keefe has been making about his sting videos and about NPR. More telling though, was the fact that when the NPR story began to crumble, and when troubling questions were raised about O'Keefe's unethical editing (questions raised by a conservative site, no less), Boyle and the Daily Caller temporarily pulled the plug on the O'Keefe story. But that was just the beginning of Boyle's woes.
After publishing nearly two dozen cheerleading NPR-related items last week (most of them penned by Boyle), the Daily Caller suddenly dropped O'Keefe's NPR story when gaping holes began to appear. The Daily Caller and Boyle refused to acknowledge what everyone else in the press and politics who followed the story was talking about: O'Keefe's NPR story had been torpedoed by Glenn Beck's site, The Blaze.
Boyle, who seemed to enjoy access to O'Keefe during the roll-out of last week's NPR sting, suddenly appeared to have no interest in interviewing O'Keefe about the video discrepancies. Instead, Boyle and the Daily Caller hunkered down in damage control mode and opted to play massively dumb about the unraveling of the right-wing sting.
And that's why I'd suggest Boyle acted more like a publicist and less like a reporter on this story. He rode the O'Keefe crest early last week and pushed out all kinds of items and updates. Until, that is, the story collapsed. Then Boyle decided to look away and refused to do any independent reporting. The NPR controversy took an unexpected turn late last week at which point Boyle and the Daily Caller simply refused to the follow the story's turn because it wasn't the story the Daily Caller wanted to tell.
That's all bad enough. But then Boyle made things worse.
The Daily Caller's Matthew Boyle has been spearheading that publication's exclusive coverage of James O'Keefe's series of NPR videos, and he's back again this morning with a stenographic write-up of the latest O'Keefe offering.
Under the headline: "New O'Keefe tape shows George Soros has donated to NPR before last year," Boyle writes:
In conservative James O'Keefe's Project Veritas's third major National Public Radio (NPR) sting tape release, Betsy Liley, the taxpayer-funded radio network's director of institutional giving is heard saying controversial left-wing billionaire George Soros has donated to the organization before last October's $1.8 million gift.
Shocking, right? Well, no -- NPR has publicized their Soros and Open Society funding, including it in press releases going back to 2000. This is easily obtained, publicly available information, and it completely undermines what O'Keefe claims is the big reveal of his video. It's the sort of information that a journalist -- or, at least, someone pretending to be a journalist -- would research before accepting O'Keefe's allegations at face value. It's clear that neither Boyle nor his editors took the time to fact-check O'Keefe's allegations. Or maybe they did and just didn't care.
The Daily Caller should update and correct Boyle's story, and then perhaps take a refresher course on basic due diligence.
Right-wing media figures are demagoguing an Obama Administration initiative to combat bullying and harassment, likening it to "big brother" and "Facebook stalking" of students. In fact, the initiative is an effort to assist schools and parents in preventing and dealing with bullying and harassment, which is estimated to affect as many as 13 million students each year.
Last week, Media Matters documented problems with James O'Keefe's video of NPR fundraising executives and pointed out that the "sting" does nothing to undermine NPR's actual news reporting, which even conservatives acknowledge is fair.
Now, we have uncovered new evidence raising questions about whether quotes O'Keefe attributed to an NPR employee are accurate.
O'Keefe's video (and much of the subsequent news reporting) portrayed former NPR employee Ron Schiller as blasting the Tea Parties as xenophobic. Here's how O'Keefe presents Schiller's statement:
Last week Tucker Carslon's Daily Caller played the role of obsequious media host as it helped roll out James O'Keefe's undercover sting on NPR fundraisers. Reading the Daily Caller's cheerleading coverage, most of it written by Matthew Boyle, you were led to believe the right-wing activist had nailed the NPR execs dead-to-rights.(Biased!)
Now, serious questions about the tactics used in the editing of the tapes, and the overall validity of the sting, have arisen. Yet Carlson's Daily Caller has suddenly gone quiet about the sting it essentially co-sponsored last week. Last week, Carlson's magazine published nearly two dozen breathless articles and blog posts about O'Keefe's undercover gotcha. But to date it hasn't written one piece addressing the mounting complaints about the ethical shortcuts O'Keefe took.
Not only hasn't the Daily Caller acknowledging the troubling questions being asked about the sting, but it has refused to explain to readers whether it knew about the editing discrepancies before it published its rah-rah O'Keefe coverage.
What's worth noting is that in the past, O'Keefe often used Andrew Breitbart's sites to launch his right-wing stings. This time though, he teamed up, again, with Carlson and the Daily Caller. The irony is that Carlson is now learning the lesson Breitbart learned the hard way: Hype O'Keefe's dubious work at your own peril.
And yes, Breitbart's sites last week also could not stop writing about O'Keefe's mighty NPR sting. But when it became clear O'Keefe opted for dubious and dishonest editing tactics yet again, Breitbart's team of bloggers -- like the staff at Daily Caller -- decided to play dumb. None of them have acknowledged the brewing O'Keefe controversy.
Behold "conservative journalism."
James O'Keefe III has a funny definition of the word "explosive." Earlier today, he promised over Twitter a "new explosive tape" from his "sting" on National Public Radio. But if you actually watch the video he was referring to, you get the sense that this was less of an explosion than a fizzle. Sure, O'Keefe and the rest of the right-wing attack machine are trying to play it up by claiming it proves NPR was up to something deeply sinister -- the only problem for them is that the video doesn't show that at all.
Here's what it does show: a 40-minute phone conversation between Betsy Liley, NPR's senior director of institutional giving, and O'Keefe croney Simon Templar, here pretending to be "Ibraham Kasaam" of the phony Muslim Education Action Center. The video identifies the MEAC as a "Muslim Brotherhood front group," but there's nothing in the video to give that indication.
Over the course of the call, Liley requests a written letter from the MEAC with more details about the donation and suggests that NPR's legal team and the MEAC hammer out a gift agreement. She also gently prods "Kasaam" to reveal more information about the MEAC's history and legal structure, requests a 990 form, and notes, unprompted, that "At Perdue, we've turned down some significant gifts."
The takeaway was that the discussion over a donation was in the preliminary stages at best, and NPR had not committed to accepting MEAC's offer. There is no evidence in the tape to suggest that NPR ever planned on accepting the gift -- much less that they were going to "hide it from the government" as the Daily Caller blithely suggests. When "Kasaam" asks if "NPR would be able to shield us from a government audit," Liley's response is: "I think that is the case, especially if you are anonymous, and I will inquire about that."
By the way, NPR has released a statement. Politico reported:
NPR released a statement condemning Liley's statements in the video.
"The statement made by Betsy Liley in the audio tapes released today regarding the possibility of making an anonymous gift that would remain invisible to tax authorities is factually inaccurate and not reflective of NPR's gift practices. All donations - anonymous and named - are fully reported to the IRS. NPR complies with all financial, tax and disclosure regulations."
Liley, who was caught on the initial videotape laughing at the suggestion that NPR was sometimes called National Palestinian Radio, was placed on administrative leave with Ron Schiller on Tuesday afternoon.
"Through unequivocal words and actions, NPR has renounced and condemned the secretly recorded statements of Ron Schiller and Betsy Liley. Mr. Schiller is no longer with NPR and Ms. Liley has been placed on administrative leave, pending an investigation of the matter," the NPR statement continued.
"No stronger statement of disavowal and disapproval is possible. NPR will not be deterred from its news mission and will ultimately be judged by the millions and millions of listeners and readers who have come to rely on us every day."
Expect this to get a lot of play in the hysterical, cyclonic right-wing scandal factory. Big Government's Larry O'Connor, displaying either deep incredulity or a stunning ignorance of American history, has already gone so far as to label this "NPR's Watergate Moment." Others have followed and will follow. Even if there is no money to follow.
UPDATE: NPR has released a series of emails making clear that they were unwilling to accept any MEAC donations without more information about the organization, and that NPR would be required to disclose any such donations to the IRS. Here is one such email:
From: Joyce Slocum
Sent: Friday, March 04, 2011 11:00 AM
Cc: Vivian Schiller; Betsy Liley; 'firstname.lastname@example.org'
Subject: Contributing to NPR
Dear Mr. Kasaam,
We are very grateful for the kind consideration being given by the Muslim Education Action Center to a generous gift to NPR. I'm sure you will understand that we need to verify certain information with respect to any organization that proposes to make a significant gift to NPR. In the case of an organization that holds itself out as a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, contributions to which are tax deductible, we need in particular to satisfy ourselves that the organization is in compliance with the applicable requirements of the Internal Revenue Service ("IRS"), so as to ensure against any risk of being caught up in later compliance activity. In most instances, we're able to verify this information without troubling the donor organization, by using publicly accessible information. Unfortunately, we have not been able to locate the necessary information about the Muslim Education Action Center, and so we need to ask that you provide it.
The Muslim Education Action Center does not appear in IRS Publication 78, which lists all organizations which have received a 501(c)(3) determination letter from the IRS, and whose status as a tax exempt organization has not been suspended or revoked. (Only churches are exempt from the requirement of obtaining an IRS determination letter, though even many churches voluntarily do so.) Since the Muslim Education Action Center does not appear in Publication 78, we need to ask for a copy of the IRS determination letter as to its 501(c)(3) status.
Also, most tax exempt organizations are required to file an annual form 990 in order to maintain their tax exempt status. Failure to file for three consecutive years results in an automatic revocation of tax exempt status. Again, because such organizations are required to make their three most recently filed annual 990 returns and all related supporting documents available for public inspection, we are usually able to obtain copies of these from the organization's own website, or if not there, from GuideStar or the Foundation Center. We have been unable to locate the 990's for the Muslim Education Action Center through any of these sources, so need to ask that you also provide those for our review.
I would very much appreciate receiving the requested items at your earliest convenience, so that I might review them and provide appropriate guidance to my client.Please do not hesitate to call if you have any questions or I may otherwise be of assistance.
Joyce D. Slocum
Daily Caller columnist Gary Aldrich has a "plan to restore fiscal sanity" that the Caller promotes with the page title "Balance the budget | cut federal workforce." But Aldrich's plan wouldn't balance the budget -- not even close. Here it is:
As our country moves closer to bankruptcy, the only chance we have at balancing our budget is to make substantial cuts to the ever-expanding bureaucracy.
A target goal of reducing the federal workforce by 25 percent, excluding military personnel, would go a lot further in solving the mess our country faces.
Aldrich never gets around to including any estimates of how much this would save, probably because the answer is "not much." The 2011 deficit is projected to be about $1.5 trillion. There are about 1.3 million non-Defense civilian Federal employees, and they make about $163 billion in salary and benefits. Cut 25 percent of that, and you've saved about $40 billion -- and, thus, shaved a mere 2.71 percent from the deficit.
But that's not all: You've also thrown 325,000 people out of work, which tends to be bad for the economy, which tends to be bad for the deficit. In any case, it's 325,000 more unemployed people. You know … if you care about that kind of thing. Gary Aldrich doesn't.
Today, the Daily Caller, Fox Nation, Hot Air, and climate change skeptic website Climate Depot promoted a video created by Senator Jim Inhofe's (R-OK) press office which consists of clips from yesterday's Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing. In the video, Senators Inhofe (R-OK) and Barrasso (R-WY) suggest that we shouldn't trust the scientific consensus on global warming because in the 1970's, scientists predicted global cooling.
In fact, there was nowhere near a scientific consensus about a global cooling in the 1970s. A 2008 literature review published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society concluded that "[t]here was no scientific consensus in the 1970s that the Earth was headed into an imminent ice age" and that "emphasis on greenhouse warming dominated the scientific literature even then." The study further noted that "[w]hen the myth of the 1970s global cooling scare arises in contemporary discussion over climate change, it is most often in the form of citations not to the scientific literature, but to news media coverage." And sure enough, in the video, Barrasso cited headlines from media coverage at the time rather than climate research.
By contrast, climate scientists today overwhelmingly agree that man-made climate change is occurring. A 2009 study of 77 active climate scientists found that 97% agreed that "human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures." Likewise, a 2010 study found that "97-98% of the climate researchers most actively publishing in the field support the tenets of AAC [anthropogenic climate change] outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change."
Nevermind all that, though, because, according to Sen. Inhofe, "even the president's people are agreed with me." In a move celebrated by the right-wing blogs, Inhofe quoted from a 1971 article written by President Obama's science advisor, John Holdren discussing the potential impact of an "ice age."
But even the 1971 article published by Holdren and his colleague Paul Ehrlich concludes that "making the planet too cold" was a "comparatively short-term threat." Holdren and Ehrlich continued by stating that the "major means of interference with the global heat balance is the release of energy from fossil and nuclear fuels. As pointed out previously, all this energy is ultimately degraded to heat. What are today scattered local effects of its disposition will in time, with the continued growth of population and energy consumption, give way to global warming" (emphasis added).
At any rate, what Holdren or anyone else wrote in the 1970s tells us nothing about what the field of climate science tells us today. Conservative media clearly prefer distractions like this to facing the fact that for decades, climate scientists have been amassing more and more evidence that the planet is warming and human activity is contributing to that trend.
David Bossie has no idea what the word "hypocrisy" means:
[I]nsiders connected to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid are hatching plans to protect the tenuous Senate Democrat majority. These Reid insiders are forming a "super" political action committee, called Majority PAC, to raise unlimited money in order to go on the offensive in Senate races across the country. Reid's people are within their rights to form the PAC, thanks to the Citizens United v. FEC victory at the United States Supreme Court last year. … However, because the entire Democrat Party machinery was against this landmark decision last year, this blatant reversal reeks of hypocrisy.
No. That isn't hypocrisy. If someone said no one should form such a PAC, even if it's legal, then that person turned around and formed one, that might be considered hypocrisy. Or if David Bossie were to say "I would never distribute doctored transcripts in an effort to mislead the nation about my political opponents and you shouldn't either," after having done exactly that, he would be guilty of hypocrisy. But saying "we don't think this campaign tactic should be legal, but as long as it is, we're going to use it" isn't hypocrisy. It's merely a refusal to unilaterally disarm.
And that's what Bossie is suggesting Democrats must do in order to avoid being hypocrites: Unilaterally disarm. By Bossie's logic, campaign finance reformers should never employ legal campaign finance tactics they think should not be legal. That, of course, would severely disadvantage those reformers electorally, and thus make the prospect of reform unlikely.
Bossie's position is like saying that if a nation advocates a worldwide ban on the development of new nuclear weapons, it is a hypocrite unless it unilaterally stops developing such weapons while its enemies continue to do so. It just doesn't make any sense, and it just isn't what the word hypocrisy means.
The Daily Caller complains about a new poll showing public support for unions:
The New York Times and CBS News have released a general public poll on Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's budget plan as it relates to public sector unions, and critics are saying the poll results don't necessarily support the conclusions drawn in the Gray Lady's Tuesday front-page story.
The Times story was titled, "Majority in Poll Back Employees in Public Sector Unions." But the paper and CBS used phrases such as "taking away" collective bargaining rights when conducting the poll.
At no point in the Daily Caller article is there any indication of what is (supposedly) wrong with "phrases such as 'taking away' collective bargaining rights." Pro Tip: If you're going to suggest that the wording of a poll question is problematic, you should go ahead and explain why. In this case, it clearly isn't: Wisconsin public employees currently have collective bargaining rights that the state's governor is trying to take away.
Then there's this gem:
By framing the issue as a battle over collective bargaining rights, rather than balancing the budget, and including what "you've read and heard" about the issue opens the door for more bias, [Ira] Stoll said.
One problem with this complaint: The controversy in Wisconsin is a "battle over collective bargaining rights, rather than balancing the budget."
Basically, the Daily Caller is worried that accurately descirbing the controversy will bias respondents in favor of unions.
Despite the fact that President Obama was born in Hawaii, Tucker Carlson's Daily Caller lets frequent Caller columnist and "Fox News Forum Contributor" Tommy De Seno go birther in a column headlined "The birther movement is President Obama's fault":
I've long maintained that the existence of the "birther movement" is President Obama's fault. He could dispel the rumors about his birth by simply showing everyone his 1961 birth certificate. By doing so, he would also save a lot in legal fees. Yet, no one has ever asked Obama why he'd rather lose money than show his birth certificate. It's time to ask that question.
If he really wants the birthers to shut up, he has the power to do so by releasing the 1961 document. Why not just do it then? It's a simple task.
I call shenanigans on the straw-man argument that "the birthers still won't believe him." Yes, they will. And so too will others who just don't know where he was born, not because they are kooks, but because Obama himself acts kooky in spending money to win lawsuits he could win for free by showing his birth certificate.
By defending the lawsuits and not showing the 1961 document, Obama feeds the suspicion of those who already think he is lying. That's why this issue has the power to linger, and that's Obama's fault alone. I hope the birthers continue to bite his ankles until he releases the records. He deserves nothing less for making this issue stay with us.
That blame-the-victim birther nonsense won Tommy De Seno a spot on the Daily Caller's front page:
On July 29, 2009, FoxNews.com published a similar piece by De Seno, as Media Matters noted at the time. That piece was headlined "Obama's to Blame for the Birther Movement" and, contained many of the same lines he uses in the current Daily Caller piece. Both quote Ronald Reagan's "trust but verify" line, for example. Both contain the lines "Sure his grammar school records show that he was enrolled as an Indonesian Muslim, but some people will say anything to get their kid in the right school. It doesn't really answer the question." Both ask of Obama's purported failure to prove his birthplace, "Why not get rid of a conversation that has been with America since the campaign"? Both reference John Kerry's Yale records.
So here's what we've learned today: The way to get a piece published on the Daily Caller's front page is to recycle an 18th-month-old FoxNews.com column peddling birther conspiracy theories.
Remember when Tucker Carlson insisted the Daily Caller wouldn't be a right-wing site?
Here, The Daily Caller's Caroline May quotes Phyllis Schlafly saying feminists "are really spooked by [Sarah] Palin because she's done everything and she is a success. Besides she is pretty and they cannot stand her" without quoting a single feminist or progressive in response.
But don't worry, Tucker Carlson's very serious journalism web site features an opposing viewpoint alongside that article: Carey Roberts' attack on Palin's "over-heated gender-bending rhetoric," which runs under the header "Sarah Palin needs to rein in her harsh feminist rhetoric."
And that's how things work at The Daily Caller, which Carlson once insisted would not be a right-wing site: The smear that feminists don't like Sarah Palin because she's pretty is 'balanced' by the claim that Palin herself is a shrill feminist.
(Roberts previously wrote a Daily Caller column that distort[ed] domestic violence laws in order to argue for loosening the definition of domestic violence, earning a rebuke from the National Network to End Domestic Violence.)
It's not entirely clear that the crew down at The Daily Caller knows what "complicit" means.
This is the sixth video in less than two weeks seemingly showing Planned Parenthood acting complicit in the sexual trafficking of young girls. Last week Live Action released five videos depicting similar happenings -- one in New Jersey and four in Virginia.
Four paragraphs later, The Daily Caller gets around to completely undermining the suggestion that Planned Parenthood has been exposed as "complicit in the sexual trafficking of young girls":
Prior to the videos' release and suspecting a sting, Planned Parenthood alerted U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder of a possible sex traffic ring at worst, a political hoax at best.