Right-Wing Smears Disguised As Media Criticism

Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

We have often commented on the sad state of conservative media criticism and how the supposed press analysis from the right is often nothing more than partisan rants or transparent scapegoating.

It's actually gotten worse as the right-wing media now regularly unleash smear campaigns and pretend they're calling out the supposedly liberal media; nasty, drive-by smear campaigns built on obvious, provable lies.

It's an ugly trend. Just ask CBS' Norah O'Donnell and the New York Times' Jennifer Preston. Preston was maligned late last week by Tucker Carlson's Daily Caller in the form of a Neil Munro 'article' that alleged Preston was somehow advising the White House about its Twitter strategy regarding the debt ceiling debate.

The claim, based on Munro's (purposefully?) absurd misreading of Preston's tweets, was almost comical in its foolishness. (She never offered the White House any advice.) As the Washington Post's Eric Wemple noted, the Daily Caller attack was nothing more than an indefensible "cheap shot." Preston, who often covers social media for the Times, was simply doing her job by asking which hashtag to follow after the president urged people to tweet their thoughts on the debt debate to their representatives.

Nonetheless, the smear excited the GOP Noise Machine as the usual suspects (i.e. the ones allergic to fair play) eagerly pushed the non-story, which then prompted further attacks against Preston online.

We saw the same kind of cheap shot aimed at CBS's Norah O'Donnell yesterday. Like the ugly Daily Caller ambush, the sloppy O'Donnell smear was also utterly fabricated.

At Commentary, Seth Mandel implausibly claimed O'Donnell had harangued White House spokesman Jay Carney during a briefing about the debt deal, complaining "we" got "nothing" out of the negotiations. In other words, Mandel pretended O'Donnell, speaking on behalf of the liberal media, was mad about the debt negotiations. (Not progressive enough!)

Right, except the video of the exchange makes it perfectly clear O'Donnell said this [emphasis added]:

I hear Democrats saying you gave them everything they wanted and we got nothing!

This is pure sophistry. And trying to defend it is pointless.

But guess who ran with the poorly manufactured smear campaign under the banner of Media Criticism? If you guessed Fox News and Michelle Malkin's site, among others, you are correct.

Complaining about the so-called liberal media has been a hallmark of the conservative movement for more than four decades. Concocting hollow smear campaigns targeting individual reporters represents a more recent, and contemptible, trend.

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Norah O'Donnell
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Commentary Magazine
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