Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Activist Hub Highlights From 2011

I'm only about three weeks late doing this, but hey, why not? Here's a summary of some of my favorite posts from 2011.

The two stories I am most proud of are my debunking of right-wing smears that were used to try to damage important St. Louis institutions. The first smear campaign was the tea party claim that “union thugs” from SEIU ruthlessly assaulted a conservative black man outside of Russ Carnahan’s townhall. I carefully documented the flaws in their story as well as outright conspiracy theories (such as the claim that Obama “sent thugs to silence dissent”), and was vindicated when a jury took only 40 minutes to reach a “not guilty” verdict for the former SEIU employees. I was fortunate to also be able to contribute an op-ed to the Post-Dispatch on this topic (and on the next one).

The other smear was a campaign by Dana Loesch and Andrew Breitbart to claim that UMSL and UMKC professors were “advocating violence” in their labor studies class. I worked with bloggers at Crooks and Liars and Media Matters to conclusively prove that Loesch and Breitbart were lying. Furthermore, a student from the class sent me exclusive video showing tea party members trying to provoke students to “take a swing” at him and, together with my friend Kevin, I was able to interview three students from the class who further debunked the claims from Breitbart and Loesch..

I also wrote a Post-Dispatch op-ed questioning the rush from some city officials to badmouth the earnings tax immediately after its overwhelming victory in the city elections. And I used a Sunshine Law request to demonstrate that city officials (who previously refused to answer questions on this topic) met with the Downtown Partnership to discuss the removal of Occupy St. Louis.

Furthermore, I broke the news of the breakup of Dana Loesch with the St. Louis tea party after I was forwarded leaked emails of their bitter email exchanges. I had previously thoroughly documented the infighting that resulted from Missouri’s Second District election, all the way from the first Big Government article attacking Ed Martin.

Finally, there were a couple stories that didn't get much attention, but that I think are good examples of how blogging can improve on mainstream reporting. I noted St. Louis Public Radio using a restaurant front group story to attack the minimum wage by doing a little background research on the group, caught the New York Times misleadingly presenting professors opinions as if they approved of James O’Keefe’s tactics by getting comments from the professors, and offered a critique of the Breitbart/Loesch style of “journalism” when asked by the Washington University Student Newspaper.

I was also asked to be a guest three times on KDHX's Collateral Damage, which was a really fun experience.

I'd like to thank Brian, Cathy, Luella, Kevin, Bunnie, Peggy, Mark and all of the other great contributors for adding their thoughts, and give a major shoutout to Gloria and Stacy for doing an amazing job at ForwardSTL, and Sean at ProgressMO for help with a lot of things. What I've always really been interested in is building a stronger online progressive community, and I think that is happening, albeit slowly.

2012 is off to an interesting start, with my story on Loesch's disgraceful comments about corpse desecration being picked up by Politico, Huffington Post, Media Matters, Think Progress, Mother Jones, the Riverfront Times, and the Washington Post, among others. Hopefully this blog can continue to push back against egregious conduct and extremism, and more importantly will help bring people together with shared values. Thanks very much to all my readers for their support.

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