On Monday, The Daily Caller reported that Sen. Barbara Boxer, at a campaign event over the weekend, "seemingly equated being a politician to serving in the military." The Daily Caller included a 34-second audio clip of Boxer's comments that was posted on YouTube by "Veterans Against Boxer" and quoted a press release from the Veterans for Carly Coalition attacking Boxer over her remarks, which was posted on her GOP opponent Carly Fiorina's website.
Predictably, right-wing blogs ran wild with The Daily Caller article, attacking Boxer for her comments. But just how did Boxer "seemingly equate being a politician to serving in the military" in the audio clip? Here's what The Daily Caller actually reported she said:
"We know that if you have veterans in one place where they can befriend each other and talk to each other. You know when you've gone through similar things you need to share it. I don't care whether you are a policeman or a fireman or a veteran or by chance a member of Congress," the California senator said. "[Democratic Rep.] Maxine [Waters] and I could look at each other and roll our eyes. We know what we are up against. And it is hard for people who are not there to understand the pressure and the great things that go along with it and the tough things that go along with it."
Pretty innocuous, right? Boxer seems to be discussing the importance of camaraderie among those who share similar experiences, which certainly isn't controversial. Boxer didn't single out the military, and she certainly didn't say that serving in Congress is just like serving in the military.
Of course, if you're a right-wing blogger, you take this 34 seconds of audio, toss aside any sense of context, and launch an attack.
The running theme to the series of Journolist stories from Tucker Carlson's Daily Caller has been that the many-hundreds-strong email listserv was Ground Zero of the evil liberal media conspiracy, a hive of scum and villainy from which left-leaning journalists and academics cackled and twisted their Snidely Whiplash mustaches as they plotted to attack Republicans and conservatives and protect progressives and Democrats. Many former Journolisters, including founder Ezra Klein, have complained that the Daily Caller omitted key details and quoted selectively in establishing this theme, and said that Journolist was actually "a long-running argument between people who had different views and different interests."
Now, having long since run out of material they could twist into misleading and scandalous headlines, the Daily Caller has published an article letting us know that not all the members of Journolist were bad guys, and some were actually "heroes" for expressing "admirable integrity or civility." Most infuriatingly, the latest Daily Caller describes Journolist as follows: "But the 400-member listserv, like any community, was a complex arrangement comprised of many individual voices."
It was exactly that sort of perspective that Klein complained was lacking from the Daily Caller's Journolist coverage. And now that they've spent the better part of a week smearing the journalists and academics on the list with a broad brush, they've suddenly decided that it's time to add the proper context to their reporting and make known the key nuances. By highlighting the "heroes" of Journolist, they're essentially admitting that they misled everyone with their earlier reporting, but are also trying to appear magnanimous in process.
It's flagrantly dishonest and cowardly in the extreme. Also, I'm not sure that anyone from the Daily Caller really has the standing to critique the journalistic integrity of others, given their own recent lapses.
Tucker Carlson's Daily Caller has spent the past week excoriating liberal journalists for purported ethical lapses like … um … not like Sarah Palin. Meanwhile, the Daily Caller has taken to running opinion pieces criticizing Democratic Rep. Joe Courtney without noting that the author is the communications director for one of Courtney's Republican challengers!
Ted Mann of the New London, CT newspaper The Day explains:
Also on Monday, I received a Google news alert directing me to the Daily Caller, for an opinion piece that criticizes Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, primarily for having been the subject of media reports about how much money he has raised for his reelection.
The piece, by Jerry Maldonado, is headlined "Is Joe Courtney worried?"
Here's how Maldonado is identified, in a handy disclaimer for Caller readers: "Jerry Scott Maldonado is the author of 'Columns, Quotes & The American Dream.' Tate Publishing Group, due out October 2010. He is a featured columnist for The D.C.G Network of news sites: Sundaynewscape.com, Onequestionnews.com, and Imperialvalleynews.com. Jerry's work has also been featured internationally."
Here's what they don't tell you about Jerry Maldonado: He's the communications director for Janet Peckinpaugh, one of the three Republicans running for Congress against Joe Courtney this fall.
And it's not the first time her campaign spokesman has taken to the Daily Caller's site to talk up Peckinpaugh without disclosing his connection to the campaign.
I wonder why the Daily Caller would leave that connection undisclosed. And I wonder why anyone would waste time reading hand-wringing dispatches on journalism ethics from a publication that would do so.
UPDATE: Here's a July 26 Maldonado Daily Caller column criticizing Courtney. Here's a June 3 Maldonado Daily Caller column praising Peckinpaugh. Here's a July 21 Peckinpaugh press release listing Maldonado as her communications director. And another from July 20.
UPDATE 2: This is kind of hilarious. Here's how Maldonado ends his July 26 Daily Caller column: "I'm Jerry Maldonado and I approve this message." That, of course, is a reference to campaign disclosure laws that require candidates for political office to stand by their ads. Maldonado, in other words, is mimicking the language of transparency in a Daily Caller column that hides the fact that he is employed by a candidate in the race he's writing about.
Despite having clearly run out of any material that could be considered interesting, Tucker Carlson's Daily Caller continues to bang away at the Journolist email archives, publishing yet another story this morning under the sensationalist headline: "Journolist debates making its coordination with Obama explicit." In what's become a hallmark of their Journolist "exposés," the story itself does nothing to bolster the headline's provocative claim.
Here's the extent of the "debate," as it was laid out in the Daily Caller article:
[Harpers' Luke] Mitchell replied: "Fair enough! But it seems to me that a concerted effort on the part of the left partisan press could be useful. Why geld ourselves? A lot of the people on this list work for organizations that are far more influential than, say, the Washington Times.
"Open question: Would it be a good use of this list to co-ordinate a message of the week along the lines of the GOP? Or is that too loathsome? It certainly sounds loathsome. But so does losing!"
Ezra Klein of the Washington Post, the founder of Journolist, quickly jumped in: "Nope, no message coordination. I'm not even sure that would be legal. This is a discussion list, though, and I want it to retain that character," he wrote.
Mitchell replied: "Fair enough, Ezra! The list is great at as it is and I didn't mean to suggest anything out of bounds. I am still curious about the reluctance of the left media to organize, though. The message discipline on the right seems to be one of its key advantages."
David Roberts of Grist seemed to scold Roberts for his idea: "Just read past messages on this list, Luke. Everyone here is a /journalist /or an /independent analyst/. Their job is to /say what they think/, not to support Obama. Suggest that they focus on more electorally helpful -- and equally true -- messages, and they will bridle."
That's it. Mitchell poses the question. Klein immediately and unequivocally shoots it down. Mitchell assents. Roberts points out that the idea wouldn't work due to the integrity of Journolist's members. Moreover, as Klein's response makes clear, the "debate" was with regard to something they would never be allowed to do. So the story has, quite literally, no point.
Whatever impact the Daily Caller might have had with their first salvo of Journolist stories was already undone by their slipshod journalism and persistent dishonesty. Now they just look ridiculous in continually going back to the already-dry well and trying to convince everyone they're still pulling up water.
From the July 25 edition of CNN's Reliable Sources:
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From the July 25 edition of CNN's Reliable Sources:
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After a week of breathless, overwrought, and wildly misleading "exposés" about the now-defunct Journolist email listserv, Tucker Carlson's Daily Caller is slumping into the weekend with a dull, wet thud.
Daily Caller reporter Jonathan Strong's latest offering documents the fact that a few Journolisters were "offended" by MSNBC's Keith Olbermann and wrote critically of him.
The story is even more phenomenally uninteresting than it sounds, and you can tell from the lead paragraphs that Strong struggled mightily to find a hook:
If you were one of the 400 members of the listserv Journolist, perhaps one of the most vicious insults you could hurl at a colleague is: You're just like Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity.
If the reader holds neutral -- or even positive -- views about the Fox News hosts, the insult may not sting. But in the cloistered world of liberal listserv enclaves, Hannityism is a cardinal sin. After all, Fox is a "dangerous," "deranged" "cesspool" that, possibly, the FCC should be investigating.
The feelings against MSNBC host Keith Olbermann, then, must run deep.
Ironically, the most revealing part of the Journolist saga is the fact that former Journolisters and other interested parties are now dismantling the Daily Caller's salacious reporting and revealing Carlson's sneaky, petty machinations. The general consensus seems to be that the Journolist archives never really offered much in the way of newsworthiness -- Carlson himself described them as "pretty banal" -- and the only way the Daily Caller could make them even remotely interesting was to quote emails out of context and outright lie about their contents.
The fact that, after just a few days, they're reduced to reprinting college professors' insults of Olbermann would seem to confirm that suspicion.
Daily Caller has come out with the second part of their big Journolist exposé, and it is even more ridiculous than the first. Yesterday, the big scandal they broke was the fact that liberal journalists and professors talked to each other before signing an open letter condemning a truly awful Democratic presidential primary debate. Today, they're trying to claim that "[l]iberal journalists suggest government shut down Fox News." And, yet again, their sloppily written story doesn't even remotely back up that assertion.
The only evidence the Daily Caller provides of "liberal journalists" suggesting the "government shut down Fox News" is actually an email from a lawyer, not a journalist. In fact, the suggestion actually meets resistance from a journalist cited in the exchange, who seemed absolutely appalled by the notion. The article claims that "Jonathan Zasloff, a law professor at UCLA, suggested that the federal government simply yank Fox off the air," and then offers a quote expressing just the opposite sentiment: "Do you really want the political parties/white house picking which media operations are news operations and which are a less respectable hybrid of news and political advocacy?" While the article appears to attribute that quote to Zasloff, setting up an epic battle between Zasloff and himself, the quote actually comes from Time's Michael Scherer. The article goes on to say that "Zasloff stuck to his position," and he and Scherer continued their debate. Then, it reports this:
John Judis, a senior editor at the New Republic, came down on Zasloff's side, the side of censorship. "Pre-Fox," he wrote, "I'd say Scherer's questions made sense as a question of principle. Now it is only tactical."
Yet, if you read Judis's email, I'm not sure it is reasonable to say that he came down on Zasloff's side. It seems that Judis was actually arguing that the White House should "out" Fox News as a partisan network, though without access to the full context of the email chain, it isn't perfectly clear. Here's the email. Judge for yourself whether Judis was "coming down on Zasloff's side":
Pre-Fox, I'd say Scherer's questions made sense as a question of principle.
Now it is only tactical. Fox, like the business/GOP thinktanks that began in the '70s, are taking advantage of an older Progressive era concept of disinterestedness and objectivity to peddle partisan coverage. It may be that it's counter-productive for the White House to out them, but it would not be unprincipled for the O adm to give precedence to the other networks, and to newspapers like the New York Times and Washington Post that try to adhere to, rather than exploit, the older standard.
Regardless, that's their big scoop.
It should be noted that the first half of the article had nothing to do with Fox News. Instead, it focused on a few people who saw comparisons between the rise of the tea party and the rise of the Nazis. I guess we're supposed to be outraged by the comparison, and indeed, it is inappropriate. But for the right to get upset at liberals invoking Nazis comparisons, seems a bit disingenuous to say the least. After all, Media Matters has documented countless instances when right-wing media figures have done the same. And, has Glenn Beck ever had a show where he hasn't called some progressive a fascist? I mean, get real.
In a follow-up to The Daily Caller's non-scoop about liberal journalists coordinating on an open letter (how does the Caller expect joint open letters to come about? Spontaneously, by magic?) The Weekly Standard's Mary Katharine Ham claims the article proves that "the left's incessant cries of 'racism' have become largely a cynical political ploy." But Ham's argument is spectacularly dishonest.
Ham quotes the Daily Caller revealing that "In one instance, Spencer Ackerman of the Washington Independent urged his colleagues to deflect attention from Obama's relationship with Wright by changing the subject. Pick one of Obama's conservative critics, Ackerman wrote, 'Fred Barnes, Karl Rove, who cares — and call them racists.'"
Ham then writes:
What better to paper over the cynicism and contradictions of the Democrats' candidate than some good, old-fashioned, crude shouts of "racist"?
Liberals do it because it works. In a standard that works rather conveniently for liberals, and has been embraced by much of the media during the post-Obama Tea Party era, white conservatives and their allies are considered racists for merely being white conservatives. No video evidence is necessary to condemn, and no number of repuditations is sufficient to clear conservatives of this taint.
Ham, in other words, portrays Ackerman as having argued for baseless allegations of racism against conservatives he knows aren't racist. But in order to do so, she had to omit a key part of the Daily Caller article, which acknowledged: "Ackerman did allow there were some Republicans who weren't racists. 'We'll know who doesn't deserve this treatment — Ross Douthat, for instance — but the others need to get it.'"
So, according to the Daily Caller article Ham cites, Ackerman explicitly said that conservatives who don't deserve to be called racists shouldn't be called racists. But Ham omitted that fact from her post, and instead portrayed Ackerman as having advocated the "cynical political ploy" of baselessly accusing non-racists of racism.
Again: Spectacularly dishonest.
UPDATE: Josh Trevino defends Ham, claiming: "Douthat wasn't exempted for non-racism, but for irrelevance." Nice try, Josh, but that's completely false according to The Daily Caller report Ham cited. Here's The Daily Caller:
Ackerman did allow there were some Republicans who weren't racists. "We'll know who doesn't deserve this treatment — Ross Douthat, for instance — but the others need to get it."
That absolutely does not say Douthat was exempted for "irrelevance." It quite clearly says Douthat was exempted for "non-racism." Like I said: Nice try, Josh.
UPDATE 2: Trevino further argues that the "lack of hard evidence" that Fred Barnes is a racist proves Ham's point, and disproves mine. This displays a stunning lack of reading comprehension, or stunning lack of honesty. I'm not sure which.
Anyway, here's why the question of whether Fred Barnes is racist is totally irrelevant to Ham's point and my refutation of it: Ham didn't accuse Ackerman of being wrong about whether people were racists. If she had done so, the question of whether Fred Barnes is racist might be relevant. But what Ham actually accused Ackerman of was wanting to label as racist people Ackerman knows are not racist. (That's presumably why Ham used the word "cynical" rather than "false" to describe Ackerman's proposed tactics.) So Ham's point is not proven by showing that Ackerman called a non-racist racist; one must show that he argued for so labeling someone who he stipulated is not a racist.
And the record -- which consists solely of the Daily Caller article upon which Ham based her entire post -- shows quite the opposite. it shows that Ackerman specifically excluded Douthat from such labeling. And Ham left that fact out of her post.
And, because I don't want to have to write a third update, I'll point out right now that no information that may or may not exist in the future has anything to do with this discussion. Ham's claim was based on the Daily Caller article.
UPDATE 3: Oh, all right: one more. Trevino hilariously suggests the Daily Caller's description of Ackerman's reference to Douthat is unreliable. I certainly don't blame Trevino if he finds the Daily Caller's assessment of anything unreliable. But if Trevino finds the Daily Caller's account of Spencer Ackerman's emails unreliable, I wonder why he isn't criticizing Ham for basing a blog post on it?
Another day, another right-wing media freak out. Today, the right is in a tizzy over a Daily Caller exclusive scoop that "documents show media plotting to kill stories about Rev. Jeremiah Wright." Except, of course, their "documents" show no such thing.
The Daily Caller purports to have obtained copies of emails from the "Journolist" listserv, which they report is "comprised of several hundred liberal journalists, as well as like-minded professors and activists." Their big, breaking story exposes that some liberal journalists and a professor were outraged by an April 2008 Democratic Presidential primary debate -- a debate that was widely criticized as being "specious and gossipy." As you may recall, during that debate Obama was asked questions such as, "Do you think Reverend Wright loves America as much as you do?"; "How do you convince Democrats" that not wearing an American flag lapel pin "would not be a vulnerability?"; and "Can you explain" your "relationship" with Bill Ayers, a question that was literally suggested to moderator George Stephanopoulos by right-wing radio hosts.
The debate was, in a word, ridiculous. And numerous media figures agreed. The Daily Caller highlights portions of the purported Journolist emails which showed several participants discussing how best to frame and word an open letter to ABC News condemning the debate. Each of the media figures mentioned in the Daily Caller report was an opinion columnist or a blogger. Hardly the stuff of a mainstream media conspiracy, though the Caller desperately tried to paint it as such. They specifically said that journalists from Time and Politico were involved in the discussion, but the article provides absolutely no evidence to back this up.
So, yes, it appears that the big scandal is that liberal journalists and professors talked to each other about how to frame a publically released letter to ABC News. Stop the presses!
Expanding on the stupidity of the Daily Caller report is the fact that many of these same journalists were very clear and very open about their displeasure with the ABC news debate at the time.
I love it that readers of The Daily Caller think that Tucker Carlson -- the site's founder -- should run for president in 2012.
Responding to a reader's question, Matt Labash offers a list of reasons why he thinks Carlson would make an "excellent president" before "formally" launching the "Draft Tucker Carlson for President campaign."
Of course, Labash is kidding. Then again, isn't the entire notion of Carlson running for any office, let alone president, a joke? He pretty much cemented that one with his stint on ABC's Dancing With The Stars -- or perhaps it was with his cancellation from two of the three major cable news networks.
It would take one hell of a lot of Libertarian Magic Dust to get Carlson elected dogcatcher.
...I happen to believe that Tucker would indeed make an excellent president. An American president should first and foremost be committed to a strong national defense, and Tucker owns more guns than any man I know. Since most of them are unregistered, it'll keep our enemies guessing. War-wise, Tucker believes that we should fight the terrorists in Kansas City so that we don't have to fight them in Kandahar, thus giving us a much needed home-field advantage. He believes in tax credits for smokers, who will take the burden off our Social Security and Medicare systems by dying young, and he'd support mandatory smoking in elementary school on the theory that if you can get children addicted to cigarettes by fourth grade, they'll likely contract lung cancer before they ever draw a dime of entitlement money. (Hello, budget surplus.) While a law-and-order conservative, Tucker doesn't believe in capital punishment – except for those he hates. And he hates a lot of people, so ritual executions could help revitalize Rust Belt towns where unemployed manufacturing workers could be retrained as lethal injectionists. Unlike some presidents I could mention, if elected, Tucker would have a press conference every two weeks, even if he'll only take questions from Daily Caller, Field & Stream, and Fly Rod & Reel reporters. He would also put an addition on the big tent, reaching out to historically hostile constituencies such as young, liberal women, with his campaign slogan, "As long as I have a face, you'll have a seat at the table." Lastly, he will heal old rivalries, like the one between Herbert-Hoover lovers and cat-haters, with his kitten-in-every-pot economic recovery plan.
So I hereby formally launch a Draft Tucker Carlson for President campaign. The question isn't how can we elect him? It's how can we afford not to?
The Daily Caller's Ryan Young writes of concerns about the possibility that cell phone radiation could be harmful to humans: "Some people just like to be scared. And other people can get massive amounts of funding by catering to those people."
Young's warning about people catering to their funders is rather amusing given that the Daily Caller identifies Young as "the Warren T. Brookes Journalism Fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C." See, the Competitive Enterprise Institute exists for the purpose of peddling "research" and "journalism" that advances the interests of its corporate funders like Exxon Mobil and Koch Industries, along with right-wing ideologues like Richard Mellon Scaife. Exxon is a household name, of course, but you may not know anything about Koch. Here's a reminder:
That's Charles Koch as in Koch Industries, which was once required to pay "the largest civil fine ever imposed on a company under any federal environmental law to resolve claims related to more than 300 oil spills from its pipelines and oil facilities in six states." Or perhaps you know Koch Industries better as the company that got rich in part by stealing oil from Indian reservations and federal lands -- that is, from U.S. taxpayers. Then they used the money they stole from taxpayers -- that is, from you -- to fund right-wing think-tanks that advocate policies that would help people like Charles Koch at the expense of, well, you. (Koch Industries agreed to pay $25 million in penalties for stealing all that oil.)
As you can imagine, companies like Exxon and Koch don't much like, among other things, government regulations. (Government regulations, after all, result in Koch having to pay civil fines when it spills oil all over six states.) And, not coincidentally, CEI churns out anti-regulation propaganda with startling frequency. In fact, here's a Daily Caller column written by CEI journalism fellow Ryan Young: "Regulations, regulations everywhere." Naturally, it attacks the EPA, FDA, USDA, OSHA, etc.
I'm sure CEI journalism fellow Ryan Young's criticism of the EPA, which once imposed a record-setting fine on CEI funder Koch industries, doesn't have anything to do with "get[ting] massive amounts of funding by catering" to companies like Koch. Nope, probably just a coincidence. And targeting the FDA probably doesn't have anything to do with the money Pfizer and PHRMA have given CEI, either. But given those "coincidences," Young might want to think twice about accusing other people of catering to funders.
UPDATE: Young seems annoyed that I pointed out that there's often a certain synergy between CEI's work and its funders, which he says is irrelevant. Curiously, he forgets to mention that I did so because he brought the topic up in the first place by accusing (unspecified) other people of catering to (unspecified) funders. I made that clear in the very first line of my post. Maybe he didn't read that one? I referred to that fact in the very last line of my post, too, but maybe he didn't read that one, either.
Right-wing media have denounced Labor Secretary Hilda Solis' campaign informing vulnerable workers, including the undocumented, about the wage standards to which they are entitled. However, the Labor Department's policy of enforcing labor laws without regard to immigration status long predates the Obama administration; moreover, the enforcement of labor laws is widely seen -- even by those who advocate for greater restrictions on immigration -- as a key to discouraging employers from hiring unauthorized workers.
It seems that conservative media attacks on ACORN are never-ending. In yet another outrageous attempt to tie the Obama Administration to the purported "criminal activities" of the community organizing group, Tucker Carlson's Daily Caller is forwarding claims that an "FBI document dump" related to the agency's 2007 investigation into ACORN workers in Missouri is evidence that ACORN requires a "national criminal investigation" which is being halted by the Obama administration.
The Daily Caller cited handwritten notes made in an FBI investigation of ACORN's employees and claimed that they are evidence of widespread election fraud and ties to the Democratic Party, and forwards conservative claims that only the group's purported ties to Obama that are preventing a criminal investigation:
"These documents show the need for a national criminal investigation by the Obama Justice Department into ACORN," said Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch.
"Is Attorney General [Eric] Holder doing nothing because of Obama's close connections to ACORN and Project Vote? The information in these new documents has national implications that cry out for further investigation," Fitton said.
President Obama's ties to ACORN go back to the 1980s.
"ACORN noticed him when he was organizing on the far south side of the city with the Developing Communities Project," according to Toni Foulkes, a former member of ACORN's national board. From 1985 to 1988 Obama ran the Developing Communities Project from an office located in Chicago's Holy Rosary Church.
The Daily Caller implies that all that stands between ACORN and a federal investigation of what they suggest is clearly illegal activity is the Obama administration. However, the very documents they reference prove otherwise. Contained in the newly released documents is the conclusion issued by the FBI in which they recommend "that this matter be closed" and state that "no investigative work remains." The document is dated July 9, 2008, while the FBI was still operating under President Bush.
So it wasn't the Obama administration that decided to limit the investigation of ACORN's work in Missouri to a few workers who broke the law. It was the Bush administration who did so. The FBI, under the leadership of Bush appointee Louis Freeh, analyzed the evidence and recommended closing the case after the ACORN employees in question had been found guilty. It was the Bush administration's FBI who apparently decided that a "national criminal investigation" was unnecessary.
It is clear that the FBI conducted a thorough investigation of the organization, and yes, found that a few employees broke the law. That's why eight people were prosecuted. But the assertion promoted by The Daily Caller suggesting that the actions of a few workers in one regional ACORN* office are evidence that the organization as a whole broke the law is unsubstantiated. Further, the FBI's conclusion makes the notion that the Obama Administration is not investigating ACORN because of the President's connections just as, if not more far-fetched.
Conservative media have claimed that Arizona's new immigration law only allows law enforcement to question a person's immigration status if they are suspected of an unrelated offense. But in a statement given to Media Matters for America, a research analyst for the Arizona House Republican majority disputes these claims.