An additional media note about the sad Gladney chapter: The two-year tale ended up pitting St. Louis blogger Loesch against an upstart local, a liberal blogger named Adam Shriver who runs a site called St. Louis Activist Hub. By the time the not guilty verdict was read yesterday it had become clear to everyone who followed the story that Shriver had absolutely demolished Loesch and her weak Gladney conspiracies.I'll add as well that while there was a lot of questioning of the Gladney story on the left, and especially mockery of the fact that Gladney appeared in a wheelchair, Boehlert by far provided the most responsible coverage among national bloggers, digging into the details of the case and asking the right questions, even from the very beginning. He's stayed on this case for two years, and took a lot of abuse for it, so it's definitely as much of a vindication of his careful approach to the story as it is of my local coverage.
Right from the outset, Shriver was among the very first bloggers to dissect the Gladney video and raise all kinds of factualdoubts about the tall tale the Tea Party was telling about the “union thugs.” And it was Shriver who stayed on the case since 2009 and who, I think, was largely responsible for helping to reveal, yet again, the kind of serial fabricator that Dana Loesch is. Andrew Breitbart, too.
So in that sense, the Gladney story helped highlight the stark, well-established contrast between the liberal and conservative blogospheres, and how Loesch and Breitbart effortlessly trafficked in lies, while Shriver stuck to the facts and undertook meticulous reporting.
And in the end, his story prevailed.
The Riverfront Times should also be commended for, as far as I know, being the only established media outlet in St. Louis to investigate this story and ask serious questions about the validity of Gladney's story. It was the Riverfront Times, in fact, that revealed that David Brown, the man who was originally selling the offensive buttons, who just happened to immediately decide to be Gladney's lawyer and spokesperson that night, had allegedly told another employee that Gladney was his "gravy train.' There were some other media outlets that seemed to buy the tea party story so much that they actually contributed to the pressure campaign against St. Louis County to press charges when, in reality, there was no solid evidence. But the tea party was young then, and still had an ounce of credibility for people who didn't bother to dig in to their statements.
The Gladney story was actually my first real blogging. Activist Hub at that time was used primarily for posting weekly event listings, but when I saw the crazy narrative being pushed by the Right about this story I had to write a post questioning that narrative. I was immediately challanged by tea party blogger Jim Durbin, someone who admitted lying on this story but was nevertheless probably the only tea party person who was actually familier with the full body of evidence (Lord knows Dana Loesch didn't have a clue what she was talking about). I then proved, using Durbin's challange, that Gladney's attorney was lying, kicking off a new stream of right-wing vitriol against me. That probably is the real origin of my acrimonious relationship with the St. Louis Tea Party, though I can't imagine us liking each other even if this hadn't happened. Durbin was the source of all kinds of lies about me, including idiotic claims like "I attack people's children" that still continue on in the fantasyland of the right wing to this day. They continue on, I should say, without a shred of supporting evidence or even an explanation of what they're talking about. That's how sad and pathetic this group is: when they're desperate enough, they'll make accusations and personal attacks without even telling you what they're accusing you of.
And ultimately, that's why I agree with Boehlert that this incident was a great illustration of the, "stark, well-established contrast between the liberal and conservative blogospheres." Even to this day, I never once claimed that I knew that McCowan and Molens were innocent, or that Gladney was guilty of starting the fight. Rather, I dug into the evidence, asked questions about how conclusive it was, and challanged people who claimed that they were certain about what happened. In contrast, the tea party from the very beginning of this mess claimed that they knew beyond all shadow of a doubt that Gladney was "assaulted by union thugs," and they were immune to any facts that didn't fit their narrative and immediately personally attacked anyone who even questioned if there really was conclusive evidence. Though I'm happy to rub the right-wingers face in this one, I think the real lesson is that one should keep an open mind to the facts and analytically evaluate the available evidence. That's what jurors are asked to do, and twelve jurors, including two with tea party affiliations, came to the only rational conclusion: there was not any substantial evidence showing how the fight was initiated.
Update A couple other important kudos: Brian Matthews was someone originally accused of "resisting arrest" at this same incident, and has been repeatedly smeared by the tea party ever since. Ironically, a tea party video intended to attack Brian actually proved that the police account was innacurate, and the charges against him were dropped. Since that time (and probably even before), Brian has been tirelessly advocating on behalf of McCowan and Molens.
Furthermore, the defense attorney Paul D'Agrosa was really good. There were a lot of things I would have included in the defense (like video of one of the tea party witnesses having to be held back from an altercation earlier) but D'Agrosa apparently had a strategy of keeping it simple and focusing on the lack of evidence, and it worked.