Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Weinergate and Coincidence

I have been disappointed but not surprised at the shameful reaction of the conservative blogs to the unfolding #Weinergate saga. However, I've also been both dissappointed and surprised at some of the reactions from the lefty blogosphere. In particular, because of disdain at Andrew Breitbart (which I understand), some people wrote diaries at Daily Kos claiming that Andrew Breitbart had hacked Anthony Weiner's account or that the picture posted at Big Government was photoshopped. These claims are, quite frankly, completely unsupported by any evidence, and it's sad to see part of the Daily Kos community pushing them as if they had been shown to be correct. Even more sad was the fact that people who asked questions about these ideas were often attacked in the comment sections as being "Breitbart defenders."

But my focus in this diary is to point out a kind of argument that's seen on both sides of this debate. The argument goes like this: Fact X just seems too remarkable to be a result of a coincidence and therefore any story that treats it as a coincidence must be false.

On the Right side, the claim revolves around the fact that one of Anthony Weiner's previous tweets included the line "That's 5:45 in Seattle." Since the recipient of the lewd text lives in Seattle, the argument goes, it's just too improbable to think that it was a coincidence. Now, as Tommy Christopher has pointed out, Weiner's beloved Yankees were playing that night in Seattle, so it's possible that he was somehow referring to that, but so far I haven't really seen any explanation of why that line was included in a tweet about going on Rachel Maddow's show. So, it seems kinda strange.

On the other side, however, there's the strange fact that only one person seems to have seen Weiner's original tweet and retweeted it to Breitbart, Loesch, and others. And that person, @patriotusa76 on Twitter, has been making bizarre claims about Weiner on Twitter for weeks, accusing him of "following young girls." In fact, on May 11, that same guy, the one person who RT'd the original tweet, declared that there are "sex scandal pics" of Wiener and asked if he was the next Chris Lee (the NY congressman who resigned after posting shirtless pictures of himself on craigslist). Here's a screen shot:

So again, it seems like a very strange coincidence that the one person who RT'd the photo has been obsessed with Wiener for months, frequently claiming that he's having relationships with "young girls," and previously hinting that he had "scandalous" photos of Wiener. And again, I haven't seen any attempt from @patriotusa76 to explain what that May 11 tweet was about.

In both cases, there are pretty strange coincidences. However, we know that at least one of the coincidences has to be, in fact, a real coincidence. In fact, they might both be remarkable coincidences if it turns out that it was a hack but that @patriotusa76 had nothing to do with it.

So it seems pretty obvious to me that the responsible thing to say is that these coincidences are interesting, but not at all convincing. Strange things happen in the world. In fact, as conspiracy theorists prove over and over, when you dig through every potential detail of a story, you are bound to find strange coincidences. But the reality of this story so far is that there's not really enough information to make any definite proclamations. Weiner says it was a hack. Basically, whether people believe him at this point mostly has to do with whether they think Weiner is a trustworthy person. Hopefully, more facts will emerge in the upcoming days that will help reveal the truth. And hopefully, the mainstream media will start behaving responsibly and stop pushing innuendo before we have any solid information.

Breitbart Disgustingly Accuses Weiner of "Having Relationships With Young Girls"

CNN shamefully decided to have Andrew Breitbart on today to talk about his websites' role in the #Weinergate scandal, and naturally he manages to sink to a new, disgusting low. Breitbart describes Representative Weiner following people on Twitter as "having relationships" with "quite young girls." For anyone who isn't familiar, following someone on Twitter means absolutely nothing. It is about 1/500th as significant a relationship as being friends with someone on facebook. So for Breitbart to hint at some kind of sexual impropriety based on Twitter follows is unbelievably irresponsible. Shame on CNN.

Here are Breitbart's idiotic claims:

Debunking Breitbart's Hilarious Claims of 'Just Reporting The Facts" On Weinergate

In a post on Big Government, Andrew Breitbart absurdly argued that his websites have been "responsible" in their coverage of the #Weinergate scandal:
Ever since we first broke this story on Big Government and Big Journalism, we’ve been cautious in our reporting, making every effort to present the facts of the story in a fair and accurate way. For example, in connection with our original report, we noted that Congressman Weiner claimed his Facebook account was hacked, and we withheld the name and identity of the woman who allegedly received the offending photo from Congressman Weiner’s account.
Unfortunately for Breitbart, the facts do not support his claim. First of all, as I documented this weekend, Dan Riehl wrote a post accusing Congressman Weiner's spokesperson of "lying" without supporting his contention. As is typical of Breitbart's bloggers, he chose the least charitable interpretation and then pretended that there were no other explanations available.

Second, while Breitbart's bloggers were careful on their blogs, they clearly were declaring that Anthony Weiner was guilty on Twitter. For example, Breitbart has called Weiner (D-9") throughout the events, he explicitly disawoved the notion of presumed innocence, and he outright claimed that the "facts add up against Weiner:"

Likewise, John Nolte, Editor of Breitbart's Big Hollywood, joked about Weiner on Twitter in a way that clearly assumes guilt:

Furthermore, Breitbart declared that Weiner's contention that his account was hacked was "implausible:"

Similarly, though Breitbart bloggers did not "out" the victim (the person who was the target of the lewd tweet) on their websites, they repeatedly "outed" her on Twitter. Both Nolte and Larry O'Connor, editor of Breitbart TV, directly linked to stories discussing her identity and revealing personal information about her:

Breitbart blogger Lee Stranahan put out the victim's name on his first post, and shamelessly linked to every piece of personal information about her he could find online.

So I'll admit that some of the claims in Daily Kos diaries (which, as everyone should know, are not diaries that represent the views of the front-page bloggers) were pretty sloppy. For example, the immediate knee jerk claims that Breitbart had "hacked" the site or was responsible for the photoshopping only served to make liberal bloggers look bad. However, the claim that Breitbart, for the first time in his life, "responsibly reported" on this story is also laughable. The facts will come out through investigation, and having a mob of people publicly pushing innuendo and personal information of private citizens is irresponsible.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Bretibart Blogger Dan Riehl Baselessly Accuses Weiner's Spokesperson of "Lying"

I've already wrote about why I think it's very likely that Representative Anthony Weiner's twitter account was hacked (though, obviously, the facts are still coming out). But here's some further evidence backing up the claim that Breitbart's bloggers are, predictably, doing an incredibly sloppy job covering the story and trying to use it to attack Weiner.

On Big Journalism, Dan Riehl claimed that Anthony Weiner's spokesperson "lied" twice to the New York Post. However, this claim of "lying" was based only on Riehl's preconcieved notions of what happened. Here's the first claim that Riehl says is a "lie:"
Here’s the first [emphasis Riehl's]:
The tech-savvy congressman saw the picture almost immediately. He had been tweeting about a hockey game just a few minutes earlier.
An analysis of Rep. Anthony Weiner’s Twitter timeline has already been done here at Big Government that clearly shows Weiner’s Twitter account had been publicly silent for 3 hrs. and 24 mins. prior to the Tweeting of the inappropriate image. Consequently, there was no Tweet about a hockey game “just a few minutes earlier.” Therefore, that statement simply isn’t true.
Riehl's claim is that it was a "lie" because Weiner didn't delete the picture "immediately" and hadn't been posting about hockey a few minutes before the picture was posted. Here's the problem. Riehl assumes that the claim that he had been watching the hockey game shortly beforehand refers to the time that the photo was posted; however, an equally and perhaps better way of reading the comment is that it meant that he had been tweeting about hockey shortly before "seeing" the tweet, since the previous setence was: "The tech-savvy congressman saw the picture almost immediately." So there's no reason to believe, unless one has already made up their mind, that Weiner hadn't been tweeting about hockey shortley before seeing the tweet. Furthermore, the term "immediately" is purely subjective. True, it wasn't deleted within minutes, but it was deleted within a few hours and wasn't allowed to fester in his Twitter stream for days.

The second claim Riehl said was a "lie:"
Rep. Weiner’s spokesman then falsely claims that after removing the image in question, Weiner joked about the incident a mere 15 minutes later. Again, from the Post:
Weiner pulled the shot himself, but not before it had been retweeted and screen-grabbed by several followers. Weiner, a voracious user of Twitter, wrote a humorous response about 15 minutes later.

In fact, on his Twitter account, Weiner appeared to dissemble and bumble about for over an hour before firing off the tweet about his Facebook account being hacked. Here’s a recreation of the timeline, starting with the Tweet Weiner claims was sent by an alleged hacker and ending with the “FB Hacked” tweet.
Again, the claim that it was a "lie" was based on the idea that the reference point was when the photo was posted. Again, an equally plausible reference point was the time that Weiner first saw the photo. In that case, Riehl has no evidence to justify his claim that it was a "lie" that Weiner joked about the tweet 15 minutes after seeing it.

The sloppy schmournalists at Breitbart's sites are always happy to accuse people of "lying" without bothering to look for alternative explanations. If they were actually committed to finding the actual facts, they would not be so sloppy.

Update: Weiner was lying. I stand corrected.

The Problem With The Right-Wing's Yellow Journalism on Weinergate

On Friday night, a photo of an erection in shorts was posted on Congressman Anthony Weiner's twitter account, seemingly directed at a woman from Seattle. Weiner posted shortly after telling people that his account was hacked but, unsurprisingly, the goober's from Breitbart's websites are declaring that this is all-but-conclusive proof that Weiner is engaging in scandalous behavior. Unlike a recommended diary at Daily Kos, I don't think that Breitbart photoshopped the photos or that they weren't really posted on Weiner's account. However, I think there are pretty clear reasons to think that the account was hacked.

Basically, the "Weiner is guilty" crowd is arguing for the following idea: Weiner intended to DM (Direct Message) the picture, but accidently sent it publicly. The idea is that it is improbable but not impossible that Weiner would be so sloppy as to send a lewd photo publicly. But the problem with this theory is that EVEN if the message had been sent in a DM, it wouldn't have been private! The photo was posted to RepWeiner's yfrog account. Yfrog is an application that allows you to post photos. It does allow the option of direct messaging: however, any and all of the photos you post on it are publicly available. So even if Weiner sent a DM through his yfrog account, the photo would be available to the public.

At this point the "Weiner posted the photo himself, but meant to DM it" theory becomes completely ridiculous. Because it would mean that he intended to post a lewd photo of himself in a publicly-viewable yfrog account listed under the name RepWeiner. It was already highly implausible that Weiner would be so incompetent as to accidently send a lewd photo publicly but while intending to send it privately, but the idea that he would post a lewd photo under his name in a public forum and then also make the mistake of accidently tweeting it publicly is all-but too implausible to take seriously.

Any honest, sane, ethical purveyors of information will wait for the full facts to come out to make declarations of what ultimately happened; which of course is exactly why the Breitbart bloggers are doing the exact opposite.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Another Failed Attempt To Defend Breitbart's Smear Attacks on Sherrod

A blogger who calls herself "Liberty Chick" attempts to respond to my post schooling Breitbart-defender Lee Stranahan as follows:

This links to the following:

So she's falling back on the already debunked claim that Breitbart *did* include Sherrod's redemption by mentioning the following quote in his original post:
Eventually, her basic humanity informs her that this white man is poor and needs help. But she decides that he should get help from "one of his own kind." She refers him to a white lawyer.
Two problems. First, Glenn Beck actually did include that quote in the radio program, including in the clips played in Stanahan's post claiming that Beck was "lying." This makes it especially ironic that the Breitbart crowd is now claiming that Beck, not Breitbart, is the guy who originally edited the clips out-of-context, since the entire Breitbart defense is based on the claim that Breitbart said she sent the farmer to "one of his kind".

Second, that clip is *not* the part of the story that redeems Sherrod. It pretty clearly is designed to make Sherrod appear racist, as it claims that she referred the farmer to "one of his own kind." I suppose this is why Breitbart continues to call Sherrod "racist" in subsequent interviews. But the actual redemptive part of the story is as follows, and was left out of Breitbart's original video:
SHERROD: So, everything was going along fine -- I'm thinking he's being taken care of by the white lawyer, then they lift the injunction against USDA in May of '87 for two weeks and he was one of 13 farmers in Georgia who received a foreclosure notice. He called me. I said, well, go on and make an appointment at the lawyer. Let me know when it is and I'll meet you there.

So we met at the lawyer's office on the day they had given him. And this lawyer sat there -- he had been paying this lawyer, y'all. That's what got me. He had been paying the lawyer since November, and this was May. And the lawyer sat there and looked at him and said, "Well, y'all are getting old. Why don't you just let the farm go?" I could not believe he said that, so I said to the lawyer -- I told him, I can't believe you said that. I said: It's obvious to me that he cannot file a Chapter 12 bankruptcy to stop this foreclose, you have to file an 11. And the lawyer said to me, I'll do whatever you say -- whatever you think -- that's the way he put it. But he's paying him. He wasn't paying me any money. You know, so he said -- the lawyer said he would work on it.

And then, about seven days before that man would have been sold at the courthouse steps, the farmer called me and said the lawyer wasn't doing anything. And that's when I spent time there in my office calling everybody I could think so to try to see -- help me find the lawyer who would handle this.
I'm not surprised that Liberty Chick would try to jump into the conversation without even being up to speed on the discussion. A typical Breitbot.

Difference Between Media Matters and Stranahan? Media Matters Backs Up Claims

Breitbart coffee-fetcher Lee Stranahan wrote a response to my post debunking his claim that he exposed Glenn Beck lying about his role in the Shirley Sherrod fiasco. Stranahan writes the following:
But here’s the real irony of these idiot “liberals” saying how bad this story makes me look – Eric Boehlert’s employer Media Matters reached exactly the same conclusion I did with LESS research than I included in my post; they put in one short clip, I included 3 from the radio show and 4+ from Beck on TV. And Media Matters for America also used it as an example of Beck making ‘false claims’ in a second post, too. So apparently MMfA is working for Andrew Breitbart now.
What Stranahan doesn't realize, however, is that Media Matters, unlike him, actually found a false statement from Beck to back up their claim that Beck made a false statement.

Recall that Beck spent the beginning of his radio program going along with Breitbart's false narrative of Sherrod being a "racist," but then at the end of the program Beck's co-hosts played Sherrod's statement and said that it looked like it was "taken out of context." Stranahan claimed that this showed that Beck had been lying about his role in the story. However, this is the quote Stranahan used to back up his claim that Beck was lying:
Shirley Sherrod, is the next example. We didn’t rush to condemn her. This is another seemingly “redistribution of wealth” woman — who I would bet that I vehemently disagree with on probably everything. But she asked for the rest of the tape to be heard, the farmers in the story backed her up. It was a turning point story. We defended her and said her side of the story demanded to be heard — because context matters…
This quote, however, is not false. Beck's claim that "we defended her" is true because they did defend Sherrod at the end of the radio program. The other quote Stranahan claims is a "lie" is Beck saying he was "sitting in his office" and decided that there was "something wrong with the story" and therefore decided not to "do" the Sherrod story. First, it's not clear what point Beck was talking about: was he referring to his TV show on Monday, where he did not talk about the story even though it had been up since 11:30 AM that morning? Was he talking about his TV show on Tuesday, when questions had been raised about the veracity of Breitbart's smear tapes but the full tapes had not yet been released? If either of those were what he was referring to, then Stranahan has no proof that he was "lying." And since it's impossible to look into people's minds, he never will have proof that those claims from Beck were lies.

On the other hand, Media Matters actually did locate a false claim from Beck. First, the post Stranahan pastes on his blog post does not claim Beck was lying; it merely points out that Beck did play Breitbart's heavily edited Sherrod clip on his radio show. However, the different post that Stranahan uses to point out that Media Matters said that Beck made "false claims" about the story actually uses a different quote from any of those that Stranahan uses. That post includes the following quote from Beck's radio program:
Instead, the outlets say -- I'm the one jumping to conclusions. I'm the one smearing and lying. Oh, man! You know, last night, they were talking about how I damaged this woman. And I hurt her career. I'm sorry. I think the only time I talked about her, I supported her. That's weird. That is weird.
Since Beck included the hedge words "I think," the bolded text isn't strictly false, but for practical purposes it's false enough since Beck did not support Sherrod at the beginning of his radio program. So Media Matters, unlike Stranahan, correctly identified a clear example of a "false claim," from Beck about the story.

So it turns out that Beck did make a false claim about his role in the story. As you might imagine, I'm not overly upset about this revelation. However, Stranahan accused Beck of "lying" on this issue before he was even able to actually identify an example. So Media Matters still engaged in responsible coverage, and Stranahan did not. And of course all of this is really a distraction from the main point that Breitbart pushed deceptively edited video to try to portray Shirley Sherrod as racist. All of Stranahan's clumsy jumping jacks are really nothing more than a lame attempt to attract attention away from Breitbart's credibility-destroying role in smearing an innocent woman.

VIDEO: Nieves Afraid to Publicly Debate People He Called Sub-Human

In another "off air" moment captured by livestreaming, someone who works at State Senator Brian Nieves' radio program asks Nieves if he can invite on the people Nieves has spent the last week calling sub-human, less than a man, evil thugs. Like a true bully/coward, Nieves is completely against the idea, claiming that "he's run in to these people" many times and that they try to bait him into a situation where "there's no way to win the argument."


VIDEO: Nieves Tells Co-Host To Falsely Claim Critical Letters Were From Liberal Blogs

During an unhinged facebook rant where he called one of his constituents "sub-human" approximately one week after an unhinged radio rant where he called one of his constituents "sub-human," and "less than a man," State Senator Brian Nieves announced that he'd have a lot to say about the scandal on his radio show that's co-hosted by Michelle Moore on Thursdays. Moore livestreams the program, which allows comments to be picked up when the radio is not on air. As you might imagine, Nieves says some pretty interesting things.

Prior to yesterday's show, Nieves can be seen coaching Moore to claim that three letters about him acting like a schoolyard bully were from "liberal blogs." In fact, each of the three letters about Nieves' bullying was printed in the Missourian, the newspaper for Washington, Missouri. Nieves tells his co-host that, "from a strategy standpoint," he doesn't want people to know about the letters in the Missourian and that "there are a lot of old ladies" who "want him to be nice all the time."

Watch here:

Thursday, May 26, 2011

VIDEO: Nieves Calls Constituent "Sub-Human" And Announces His Address Over The Radio

About a week ago, Sarah Jo at Show Me Progress wrote a disturbing post based on the experience of a friend who visited State Senator Brian Nieves in his Senate office. In the post, Sarah Jo describes the shameful bullying behavior of Nieves towards his constituents, including two people over the age of 70:
Shortly after his exhortation on behalf of the rights of citizens to bear arms, the Senator returned to his office, called the two retired teachers into his office and shut the door. There on his desk was a copy of the newspaper with my friend's LTE. Two male aides stood on either side of the Senator, arms folded across their chests, as the Senator began a screaming session that lasted close to 20 minutes. His opening salvo was "You stupid f....." He shouted, shook the paper in the man's face, walked around him several times all the while shouting obscenities and threats. Sen. Nieves was in the Navy and ridiculed my friend for having served in the Army as if that had anything to do with the topic at hand.

My friend is a large man and could probably have decked Nieves but knew enough to restrain himself. He tried talking sense to Nieves, but that just set Nieves off even more. He called my friend "doughboy" pointing to his physique which is exactly what Nieves called the aide to his competitor last August in a similar verbal assault. In fact, Nieves gave my friend a copy of the 12 page handwritten police report by the young man last summer. Nieves' point was that my friend had put his family at risk by noting in his LTE that Nieves was going out of town at a meeting. (No, it doesn't make any sense since Nieves is gone 3-4 days every week to Jeff City, but we are not talking about a rational person here.)

At one point, my other friend who was "blindsided" by Nieves' screaming obscenities, held up his hands and asked if the three of them could sit down and talk quietly. At which point, Nieves screamed at this man too. Keep in mind these are well-bred gentlemen who are accustomed to civilized encounters with other people and who may never have experienced such low class behavior in their lives. And they are both over 70 years old.
Yesterday, three letters to the editor from Nieves' constituents appeared in the Missourian that backed up this account. And earlier tonight, Sean at Fired Up Missouri posted lowlights from a disturbing facebook rant from Nieves where he calls the constituent he screamed at sub-human, evil, a bully, a thug, and a very dangerous man. Nieves also, tellingly, wrote the following:
Maybe I should make public HIS address, phone number, schedule etc etc etc....
And why was Nieves so upset? According to Nieves, it was because the constituent, Tom Smith, had written the following about him earlier in a critical letter to the editor:
We learned he was preparing to go to Cincinnati on April 28 and 29 to attend the American Legislative Exchange (an ultra right-wing think tank) and was very excited about going.
Maybe the dates didn't need to be said, but the quote is pretty benign and was used to illustrate the fact that Nieves used the conference as an excuse to blow off constituents but was later seen standing around talking with other Senators.

But Nieves response was absolutely, unambiguously outrageous. In the following video, from Michelle Moore's USTREAM feed from May 19, you'll see Nieves calling Smith "Sub-Human," a "thug," an "idiot," and "less than a man." You'll also see that Nieves goes out of his was to say "Tom Smith, retired NEA teacher from Washington Missouri" over and over and even shamefully says the street that Smith lives on:

At this point, it is beyond debate that Brian Nieves has no business being within 300 yards of a legislative body. He really is a disgrace to Missouri.

Conservative Blogger Exposes Breitbart/Stranahan's Latest Dishonesty About Sherrod Story

Of course, everyone by now knows the story of Andrew Breitbart's websites presenting highly edited video of Shirley Sherrod designed to make her look racist while leaving out the redemptive arc that was the whole point of her original story. But one thing you might not be aware of is that Glenn Beck was actually given credit on that story for acknowledging that the original videos were out of context and correcting the record on his Fox News Show. For example, here's what the New York Times wrote:
The administration’s haste to fire Ms. Sherrod was unfair and unseemly. She told of how an agriculture under secretary phoned her to demand she resign instantly via her BlackBerry. The official anxiously cited the likelihood the furor would “be on Glenn Beck tonight.”

By the time the conservative commentator took up the issue, the full transcript of the speech was out and Mr. Beck was citing Ms. Sherrod — but as a victim of administration recklessness. This time, he was right.
Beck's website The Blaze was also later credited with revealing the fact that James O'Keefe's smear job against NPR was also based on an out-of-context clip where the person was actually quoting someone else (sound familiar?). For these reasons and because Breitbart thinks Beck is trying to grab his share of the conservative media market, Breitbart and his minions have been working overtime to attack Glenn Beck lately.

The latest example was a piece by Breitbart's resident faux liberal Lee Stranahan claiming that Beck told "Out of Control Lies" about the Sherrod fiasco. Actually, it's not really important whether Stranahan is liberal or conservative, because what is beyond doubt at this point is that Stranahan is a completely untrustworthy source of information who endlessly distorts reality to try to defend his employer Breitbart. And his latest on Sherrod is a great example of this.

Stranahan claims that Beck was "lying" when he said that he "didn't rush to condemn" Sherrod and that he held off on the story. Here's Stranahan:
As you’ll see, both of those statements are totally false. Glenn Beck not only didn’t initially defend Sherrod but he actually dropped the entire context that Sherrod’s video clip was originally presented in. Close to a year later, Beck still hasn’t been honest about his initial context dropping attacks on Sherrod.
And later:
This is patently false. Yes – on his TV show on July 20th, Beck defended Sherrod…but as you’ll see, this was after Beck has attacked Sherrod for three segments of his radio show.
And worst of all:
At no point during Beck’s radio show does he do anything that could possibly be construed as defending Shirley Sherrod. Nor does he say anything about waiting to hear her side or waiting to see if more of the video will be released. In fact, at the end of the show Beck taunts Sherrod and says she will be the focus of his TV show that night.
So Stranahan is claiming that Beck attacked Sherrod throughout the radio show, but later pretended that he had reservations about the story from the beginning. Stranahan does acknowledge that he's heard there is a "Fourth Hour" of Beck's radio show available for subscribers, but like a true "Breitbart schmournalist," he doesn't bother to check what's in that fourth hour before declaring that Beck is a liar. Unfortunately for Stranahan, it turns out that, contrary to Stranahan's claims, the radio show did in fact defend Sherrod and say that it looks like the videos were out of context. Here's a short clip showing them doing just that just released from conservative Joe Brooks:

Here's the full fifteen minute version for those who are truly dedicated:

Stranahan also claims at various times that Beck's show used "clip-job" editing. However, Beck included Breitbart's line that Sherrod sent the farmer "to his own kind," which of course is the basis of Breitbart's claim that he included the redemptive arc of Sherrod's story in his original post. In fact, Breitbart tried to make her sound racist even in that part of his post, and the actual redemptive arc was something else entirely.

So while Beck's radio program on July 20th was initially critical of Sherrod, they defended her at the end of the show and, in fact, argued that it looked like she had been wronged and that this was an example of the media taking stories out of context. In other words, Stranahan's attempt at attacking Beck to defend his employer Breitbart was based entirely on falsehoods.

h/t to Joe Brooks for releasing the relevant video.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Sarah Steelman Afraid To Endorse Paul Ryan's Extremist Plan

Fired Up Missouri has a post up that indicates that Sarah Steelman might be getting nervous about the massive unpopularity of Republican Paul Ryan's plan to eliminate Medicare as we know it. Not only is Steelman afraid to endorse Ryan's plan, she also comments that she's specifically concerned about Medicare. Check out her comments:
I think it’s important for people to understand that we need to protect what our commitments are today and honor those and look at look at how we can reform these programs in the future. Because these people did pay into Medicare.
Most people are thinking that Paul Ryan's plan is going to be damaging to Republicans in 2012, but it will be interesting to see how it plays out in Republican primaries, especially considering that Akin has bragged about helping to craft the plan.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Akin/Ryan Plan to Phase Out Medicare

For some reason, in the wake of the decisive victory by Democrat Kathy Hochul in the blood red Republican district NY-26, I feel like it's a good time to remind people that Republican Senate candidate Todd Akin voted for Paul Ryan's plan to phase out Medicare as we know it. In fact, he not only voted for it, he bragged about helping to craft the plan:
I had the privilege of being part of the process of crafting this budget.
And given that Akin is so proud of his role of helping to craft the plan to get rid of Medicare, I think we should do him the honor of renaming it the Akin/Ryan Plan to Phase Out Medicare.

h/t Fired Up Missouri

Cantor Wants to Hold Disaster Relief for Tornado Hostage

Absolutely, mind-blowingly shameful behavior from Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. Cantor suggested that the House should hold disaster relief for the deadliest tornado in the past half century hostage for the sake of his political ideology. From Think Progress:
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said Monday that if Congress passes an emergency spending bill to help Missouri’s tornado victims, the extra money will have to be cut from somewhere else.

“If there is support for a supplemental, it would be accompanied by support for having pay-fors to that supplemental,” Mr. Cantor, Virginia Republican, told reporters at the Capitol. The term “pay-fors” is used by lawmakers to signal cuts or tax increases used to pay for new spending.

Fired Up Missouri has information about how you can help tornado victims.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Clear Path To Victory for Senator McCaskill

PPP is out with some new polling, which shows that Missourians really, really like Medicare and Social Security:
McCaskill's Missouri shows the largest divide in surveys done by the Democratically friendly Public Policy Polling, especially on Medicare. When asked, "In order to reduce the national debt, would you support or oppose cutting spending on Medicare, which is the government health insurance program for the elderly?" just 19 percent of respondents said they would, while an overwhelming 77 percent said they would oppose cuts.
And similarly with Social Security:
In order to reduce the national debt, would you support or oppose cutting spending on Social Security, which is the retirement program for the elderly?
Ohio: 16% support, 80% oppose
Missouri: 17% support, 76% oppose
Montana: 20% support, 76% oppose
Minnesota: 23% support, 72% oppose
The problem for Republicans? Here's Fired Up Missouri on the candidate most likely to survive the GOP primary:
Akin proudly endorses the GOP plan to phase out Medicare as we know it. "I had the privilege of being part of the process of crafting this budget," he bragged to constituents last month.
So if 77% of Missourians oppose cuts to Medicare, and Todd Akin helped craft a budget that tries to get rid of Medicare, it seems pretty clear to me which message Senator McCaskill should be pushing.

More National Recognition of Gateway Pundit as "Daft" and "Unmoored from Reality"

Jim "Gatway Pundit" Hoft was recognized by Atlantic blogger Jeffery Goldberg, not exactly considered a bleeding heart liberal, for initiating a wave of hatemail from Hoft's unhinged followers:
The hate mail has come in a flood. Usually, my hate mail is from Nazis and Hamas sympathizers, decrying my bloodthirsty, neoconnish tendencies. Now the hate mail is coming from the right. Much of it is indicative of how the discussion about Barack Obama on the right has become unmoored from reality. I think this particular wave was launched in part by a post on a daft right-wing website called Gateway Pundit, which featured a post about me under the headline, "Far Left Israel Hater Jeffrey Goldberg Attacks Netanyahu For Defending Jewish Homeland." Me, a far-left Israel-hater! Would someone please alert Glenn Greenwald about this stunning new development?
For those who are curious, Hoft was enraged because Goldberg suggested that Obama might not be a secret Muslim extremist trying to destroy Israel.

h/t Eric Boehlert.

Dana Loesch "Aggravated" With St. Louis Tea Party Founder Bill Hennessy

Yesterday, St. Louis Tea Party founder Bill Hennessy (who invited Loesch to help him organize the original rally) announced that Ed Martin was the "one tea partier" running for Congress in the new 2nd Congressional District:
Were there no Tea Partiers in the race, I’d probably back Ann. But there is one, and only one, Tea Partier in the Republican race for Missouri’s new 2nds District. He earned that title, not by paying some organization for its endorsement, but by helping to organize the first events—before Tea partying was cool.

We asked Tea Partiers “Why Do You Tea Party” in 2009. When I read their answers, I realize that there is only one of us running for the 2nd District, and that’s Ed Martin.

Oddly enough, Hennessy seems to think it speaks very highly of Ed Martin that he came to the rally without knowing whether Hennessy was racist:
By taking the stage that on February 27, Ed, Dana, Lembke, the Loudons, Jackie Smith, and everyone else took a chance. I could have been a racist or anarchist. I could have been a problem.

But they came anyway.
Anyway, Hennessy's early endorsement of Martin apparently doesn't sit well with Dana Loesch, who hosted a GOP establishment candidate, Ann Wagner, when Wagner announced her candidacy. Loesch is apparently "aggravated" with Hennessy:

Hmmm, getting kinda interesting. Apparently Ed Martin hasn't written his check to Shock City Studios yet this cycle.

Brian Nieves Introduces Ed Martin

According to Darin Morley, Brian Nieves introduced Ed Martin at an Ed Martin for Congress rally this weekend. Does anything else even need to be said?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Big Oil Shill Todd Akin Running For Senate

Todd Akin is officially running for U.S. Senate vs. Claire McCaskill, leading one GOP consultant to say that Missouri Republicans have a "less-than-stellar field." Most people probably already know that Akin loves oil companies much more than he loves working families, but just in case the Missouri Democratic Party put out this helpful press release:

Todd Akin: Standing Up for Big Oil, Not Missouri Families

Jefferson City, Mo.—The Missouri Democratic Party released the following statement today in response to Rep. Todd Akin’s announcement that he is a candidate for US Senate:

“Todd Akin’s extreme record of fighting for special interests speaks for itself,” said Caitlin Legacki, Missouri Democratic Party spokeswoman. “While Todd Akin votes to protect tax breaks for oil companies in exchange for $50,000 from his Big Oil friends, Missourians are getting gouged at the pump. In what will surely be a long, messy and expensive GOP primary, Missouri voters expect Todd Akin to answer a lot of important questions about where he really stands."

Since his election to Congress in 2000, Akin has established himself as a leading supporter of Big Oil and extreme special interests. While Big Oil companies continue to reap billion-dollar profits, Missouri families are paying nearly four dollars a gallon at the pump. Six times in the last five years, Akin voted to protect billions of dollars in federal subsidies for Big Oil companies.


· As recently as May 5, Akin voted to protect the Section 199 domestic manufacturing tax credit for the five largest oil companies. [Vote 293, 5/05/11]

· Meanwhile, Todd Akin Has Accepted $47,750 From The Oil And Gas Industry. Since beginning his congressional career, Akin has accepted $47,750 from the oil and gas industry. [Center for Responsive Politics, accessed 5/16/11]

· Akin has repeatedly voted to protect tax breaks for big oil companies:

o In March 2011, Akin voted against a measure that would have repealed oil and gas production tax breaks for major integrated oil companies for the proposed two-week period in the House budget continuing resolution. [HJR 44, Vote #153, 3/01/11]

o In 2008, Akin voted against considering the rule to allow the House to vote on the Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation Tax Act, which would allow for the House to vote on the bill. Included in the legislation was a provision to eliminate a manufacturing tax deduction for larger oil and gas companies. The motion passed, 224-186. [HR 5351, Vote 78, 2/27/08]

o In 2008, Akin voted against a motion to end debate on the Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation Tax Act, which would allow for the House to vote on the bill. Included in the legislation was a provision to eliminate a manufacturing tax deduction for larger oil and gas companies. The motion passed, 224-186. [HR 5351, Vote 78, 2/27/08]

· Akin Opposed Repealing Big Oil’s Tax Breaks. In 2007, Akin voted against shifting certain revenue from royalties and tax incentives for oil and gas companies into a reserve fund for alternative and renewable energies. The bill would have required current offshore fuel producers who are not paying federal royalties to agree to pay royalties when fuel prices reach certain thresholds or pay fees based on how much fuel they produce. The bill passed 264-163. [New York Times, 1/19/07; Speaker Pelosi Press Release, 1/18/07; CQ Floor Votes, 1/18/07; HR 6, Vote 40, 1/18/07]

· .After He Opposed Removing Tax Breaks for Big Oil Companies from 2006 Tax Bill. In 2006, Akin voted against a motion to instruct conferees negotiating H.R. 4297, the Tax Reconciliation Bill. The motion instructed House conferees to 1) Accept three bipartisan provisions from the Senate that would require big oil companies would pay their fair share of taxes by removing subsidies and closing loopholes for large integrated oil companies and 2) strike the extension of the capital gains and dividend tax cuts. The total for these two proposals was $51 billion. In 2005, the previous year, the top five oil companies reaped more than $100 million, three times their profits in 2002. The motion failed 190-232. [McDermott Talking Points, “Republicans Fight for Big Oil Subsidies and Loopholes”; HR4297, Vote 109, 4/27/06]

Democracy Now Exposes the Dishonest Smear Campaign of Loesch and Kinder

Democracy Now had Judy Ancel on as a guest in studio and did a great job laying bare the nasty smear campaign against UMSL and UMKC led by CNN contributor Dana Loesch:
Also of note: they criticized the Post-Dispatch for failing to call out the lies.

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Case Against Bogus "Correction"

Big Journalism is demanding that the Post-Dispatch issue a correction for their most report about the despicable Dana Loesch/Andrew Breitbart smear campaign against UMSL and UMKC. Here is the paragraph Big Journalism takes issue with:
This isn't the first controversy created by Breitbart's heavy editing of videos. In another recent incident, a U.S. Agriculture Department employee was fired over what appeared to be a racist remark made in a speech. It was later revealed that the edited video left out a part of her speech that explained her comment as being part of a lesson on racial healing.
Big Journalism falsely claims that Breitbart actually did include the "redemptive tale" of Sherrod in his full video, because he included the following quote:
Sherrod describes how she racially discriminates against a white farmer. She describes how she is torn over how much she will choose to help him. And, she admits that she doesn’t do everything she can for him, because he is white. Eventually, her basic humanity informs that this white man is poor and needs help.
They conveniently left out the next two sentences of Breitbart's post:
But she decides that he should get help from “one of his own kind”. She refers him to a white lawyer.
So, again, Breitbart is trying to frame this as Sherrod actually being racist. In fact, he referred to her actions as racist multiple times in his initial post and in his interviews on the subject, including one with Dana Loesch. Furthermore, Breitbart's claim that he captured the "redemptive tale" simply by including a snippet of her referring the farmer to "one of his own kind" is completely false. In fact, Breitbart left out the crucial portion of the redemptive tale where Sherrod describes the great lengths she went to in order to help save the white farmers farm:
SHERROD: So, everything was going along fine -- I'm thinking he's being taken care of by the white lawyer, then they lift the injunction against USDA in May of '87 for two weeks and he was one of 13 farmers in Georgia who received a foreclosure notice. He called me. I said, well, go on and make an appointment at the lawyer. Let me know when it is and I'll meet you there.

So we met at the lawyer's office on the day they had given him. And this lawyer sat there -- he had been paying this lawyer, y'all. That's what got me. He had been paying the lawyer since November, and this was May. And the lawyer sat there and looked at him and said, "Well, y'all are getting old. Why don't you just let the farm go?" I could not believe he said that, so I said to the lawyer -- I told him, I can't believe you said that. I said: It's obvious to me that he cannot file a Chapter 12 bankruptcy to stop this foreclose, you have to file an 11. And the lawyer said to me, I'll do whatever you say -- whatever you think -- that's the way he put it. But he's paying him. He wasn't paying me any money. You know, so he said -- the lawyer said he would work on it.

And then, about seven days before that man would have been sold at the courthouse steps, the farmer called me and said the lawyer wasn't doing anything. And that's when I spent time there in my office calling everybody I could think so to try to see -- help me find the lawyer who would handle this.
The white farmer in question later told CNN that Sherrod had saved his farm.

Dana Loesch and the Big sites caught caught in a despicable, dishonest smear campaign, and now they're doing everything they can to try to distract and change the subject. Don't let them do it.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Today In Unsurprising News: Big Government Editor Mike Flynn Is Dishonest

I've already written about how CNN contributor and Big Journalism editor Dana Loesch led the despicable smear campaign against two University of Missouri system instructors, using doctored video to rile up her rabid fans while claiming that she's seen the full tapes. But Loesch is not the only Breibart editor caught being blatantly dishonest in this. When the first edited clips came out, I demanded that they release the full videos and in particular questioned the clip that claimed that Judy Ancel had said "Violence is a tactic, and it's to be used when it's the appropriate tactic."

This is what Big Government editor Mike Flynn said in response:

So Flynn was arguing that, for the life of him, he just couldn't think of any possible scenarios where the quote would have been taken out of context. Of course, the actual quote did have a completely different meaning from the garbage originally presented on Big Government and on Loesch's radio show, since Ancel was actually quoting a character in a movie:
...he represented the kind of thinking that went into the Student Underground Coordinating Committee and then later, probably-- Well, coinciding with the Black Panthers, I'd say. You know, he said "Violence is a tactic, and it's to be used when it's appropriate -- the appropriate tactic."

Whether they-- They never come back to him to ask him what he thought of the window smashing in that march. Or whether or not that was done by them, or others, or provocateurs. We don't know that.
So maybe Flynn really didn't have a clue what the actual quote was?
Except, for the tiny problem of this other tweet from him:

So Flynn had the full 30 hours of video, yet was pretending that there was no possible way that Ancel's quote could have been edited out of context. Pretty clear-cut case of dishonesty.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Dana Loesch Led Despicable Smear Campaign Against University of Missouri System

The past two weeks, Dana Loesch has led a smear campaign against two course instructors at the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) and University of Missouri-Saint Louis (UMSL) based on shamelessly chopped-up video designed to create a false narrative. Two days ago, UMSL called the videos "distorted" and "definitely taken out of context" in a written statement and even right-leaning local CBS station KMOX finally reported on the misleading editing job. The fact that Loesch is being dishonest should not be news to any readers of this blog, but this case is substantially different from the norm for a couple of reasons. First, it's different because the instructors targeted by the smear campaign have already received numerous threats based on the right-wing's deceptive attacks. And second, in this case, Loesch has unquestionably been the leader in pushing out the manufactured lies recently debunked by Media Matters and Crooks and Liars. Her role in this story is similar to the role Andrew Breitbart played in the Shirley Sherrod story.

On Monday of last week, the day the story broke, Loesch repeatedly advertised having "exclusive audio" on the smear campaign on her radio show:
Here's Loesch on her Monday radio show playing her"exclusive" audio that suggests that a UMKC professor said, "Violence is a tactic. It's to be used when it's the appropriate tactic," and implies that an instructor at UMSL endorses the use of industrial sabotage:

This, as shown in unedited versions of the tape, is completely false. Ancel was actually quoting a character from a movie shown in class, At the River I Stand, which emphasizes the success of nonviolent tactics:

And in the full video (which Loesch' friends chopped in the middle and at the end) Giljim explicitly stated that violent tactics do more harm than good:

At no point in the show did Loesch explain the full context of the professors' remarks.. Loesch repeated the claim later in the show, again calling it "exclusive" content, and characterizing the professors' attitudes as, "oh well, violence is all right. Ho hum. It's what we have to do."

Here's Loesch misleadingly quoting Ancel and saying that this is in the context of "spreading communism via unionization:"

In this video, she suggests the class is advocating for "violent means...for an end that we want."

There's a lot more, but you get the idea. Loesch was shamefully pushing completely dishonest interpretations of the videos and using them to rile up her listeners. While calling for the teachers to be fired, she compared the class to the shooting at Virginia Tech and called it "institutionalized violence:"

Then Loesch told her listeners to harass Ancel via email over the dishonest quotes:

As I mentioned earlier, both Judy Ancel and Don Giljim have been the subject of numerous threats since Loesch and Breitbart started pushing the distorted videos.

Just think about that. Loesch and Breitbart create completely distorted smear videos, then direct their followers to contact them, resulting in the instructors getting threats. I mean, it's bad enough for them to send their hordes after people when they're using their standard misinformation, but in this case they actually manufactured the story themselves, riled people up, and then directed those people to send angry messages to the instructors based on false information. What could possibly justify such despicable behavior?

One thing that wouldn't really justify the behavior, but might at least lessen it's level of despicableness, would be if Loesch really had no clue that the videos were distorted. However, she repeatedly has claimed that she knows about the content of the full videos.

Here's Loesch claiming that she "can't wait" to release the full videos:

She also has stated that she's seen the full 30 hours of footage multiple times:

And she repeatedly bragged about having "exclusive" content:

So let's put in context what Loesch is saying. She is admitting she had access to the full videos. Yet she is amazingly pretending that they were not edited out of context. In order for her to be telling the truth, she would have to literally believe that the quote, "Violence is a tactic. And it's to be used when it's the appropriate tactic." is identical to this quote:
...he represented the kind of thinking that went into the Student Underground Coordinating Committee and then later, probably-- Well, coinciding with the Black Panthers, I'd say. You know, he said "Violence is a tactic, and it's to be used when it's appropriate -- the appropriate tactic."

Whether they-- They never come back to him to ask him what he thought of the window smashing in that march. Or whether or not that was done by them, or others, or provocateurs. We don't know that.
No one, not even Dana Loesch, could believe those quotes are equivalent. Thus, she deliberately distorted information, pushed it out, and used lies to get her followers to send angry (and possibly threatening) messages to the university instructors she smeared. And yet CNN seems to think it can still have a shred of credibility with her as a contributor. Truly mind-boggling.

The Yes Men Punk Peabody Coal

Press release:
Tackling Childhood Asthma Not Coal Industry Priority After All
No more My Little Pony inhalers in stock

Contact: asthma@coalcares.org, (314) 472-5539

A charitable initiative by the world's largest coal company to provide free “novelty-themed” inhalers to asthmatic children may have seemed for a moment like a (somewhat misguided) breath of fresh air, coming as it did from an industry whose emissions are directly linked to childhood asthma, and which isfighting to gut clean air legislation that would save children’s lives.

Coal Cares™ (www.coalcares.org) purported to “make asthma cool” with decorative and pop-culture inspired inhalers (“The Bieber,” “Harry Potter,” “My Little Pony,” and “My First Inhaler” were particular favorites). The site also announced that Peabody would offer $10 coupons towards asthma medication (about 5%-20% of the cost) for families living within 200 miles of a coal-fired plant. It featured a “Kidz Koal Korner” with asthma-related games for tots, an extensive asthma trivia section and FAQ (Peter the Great was asthmatic, who knew!), and a thorough condemnation of solar and wind alternatives.

It was, of course, a hoax, and it was aimed at Peabody Coal, which is lobbying ferociously against new pollution standards for power plants proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), standards the agency says will prevent 120,000 cases of childhood asthma each year in the United States. Peabody spent over $6 million lobbying Congress last year, and the industry has created a dizzying array of fake “grassroots” front groups to distort the public debate and fight legislation.

(Meanwhile, a new study by the American Lung Association notes that coal-fired power plants produce more hazardous air pollution in the United States than any other source, with the pollution killing 13,000 people a year. Coal-ash disposal alone increases risk of cancer, learning disabilities, birth defects and other illnesses due to exposure from heavy metals such as arsenic, lead and mercury.)

The Coal Cares™ hoax was devised by a group called Coal is Killing Kids (CKK), a small environmental and public health group that aims to challenge Big Coal’s expensive lobbying against sensible updates to the Clean Air Act. “We don’t have their milliohttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifns, but we do have a knack for incredibly tasteless jokes,” said Veronica Tomlinson, a pediatrician and member of CKK. CKK worked with the Yes Lab, which is a project of The Yes Men to help activist groups carry out media-savvy creative actions on their own.

"Sure, it’s kind of tasteless to say that ‘Bieber’ inhalers are a solution to childhood asthma," said Janet Bellamy, a spokesperson for CKK. "But it's a great deal more tasteless to cause that asthma in the first place, as coal-fired power plants have been proven to do." Added Justin V. Bond, another spokesperson for CKK: “It’s even more tasteless to disproportionately kill poor people.” Coal-fired power plants are very often built in areas populated by low-income citizens, who then bear the brunt of the health effects.

“People may laugh at our sick jokes,” said Bellamy, “but they also understand the real health impacts of burning coal. That’s exactly what the coal industry doesn’t want people to think about, because if enough of us were aware of it, we would shut these plants down once and for all.”
KMOX also reported on the story.

Dana Quixote Gloriously Defeats Imaginary Soros Bloggers!

Dana Loesch was extremely proud of herself for valiantly defeating invisible "Soros bloggers" who live in her head and claimed that Adam Sharp entered the UMSL classroom where Don Giljim was teaching.

The only problem? Nobody actually said that.

However, we did say this:
  • Sharp went to the UMSL campus specifically to pester the instructor and students. In fact, the public announcements all stated that Giljim was not even going to be in class.
  • Sharp was trespassing on the UMSL campus in a building that's supposed to be restricted to students, faculty, and staff.
  • Sharp appeared to be trying to follow Giljim into the classroom.
  • Sharp filmed students in the classroom.
  • Sharp pestered students as they left the classroom.
  • Sharp's friend Ben Evans dared students to "take a swing" at him as they were waiting outside the police station to see what happened.
  • Activist Hub Radio 5/8/11

    This week Adam and I discuss the bin Laden death and the Afghanistan War and critique the media's coverage of the Don Giljum Judy Ancel Labor studies course controversy. We then talk about the media generally and Adam's excellent post. There are two segments.

    Segment on the media

    Afghanistan War & Bin Laden

    Also we are on itunes so please subscribe to Activist Hub Radio on Itunes.

    Loesch and Breitbart Use Student As Human Shield

    Yesterday, after UMSL declared that the highly edited videos Dana Loesch and Andrew Breitbart were pushing were "distorted" and "definitely taken out of context" and the St. Louis media finally started covering the blatant dishonesty, the Breitbartians new spin was to link to a long post on Big Government from the student who had originally leaked the video arguing that the class was biased. I'm sure the student posted of his own accord, and probably though he had good reasons for doing so, but it seems pretty obvious to me that he is being used by people who are trying to deflect blame and cover their own dishonesty.

    Basically, the student is severely damaging his own credibility for the sake of minimal gain for anyone other than Loesch and Breitbart. First, video was leaked of his fellow students without their permission, and so openly declaring that he leaked the video with the flimsy excuse that he distributed them "in their entirety to a number of my friends in order to obtain other opinions on the propriety of what occurred in the class" does not present him in a very good light. The student also remained silent for two weeks while clearly dishonestly edited videos were being publicized and pushed around the internet by people he shared the video with, so his coming out with a statement now is not very credible. And his statements don't really add much new information; we already heard the inflammatory selectively edited quotes, and we already saw that they're willing to pick and choose information to push their agenda, so why would the media now want to believe a written account after just being burned by bogus videos? So the student's testimony is extremely unlikely to influence anyone in the media or the broader public other than the fringers at the Breitbart's sites, and the "Right" does not gain anything from his account. In fact, the only people who gain anything are Loesch, Breitbart, and the cronies who (badly) edited the videos: a group that is now fighting for nothing other than "plausible deniability."

    On the other hand, the student loses quite a bit by "outing himself" and implicitly condoning the videos. Even though he didn't do the malicious editing himself, and though he clearly wants to look like he's presenting a more balanced view, he is now, for the rest of his life, inextricably linked to the dishonest editing tactics of a few of Breitbart's hacks. They get to use the cover that they were just presenting the information that the student was suggesting, while he is linked to videos that were dishonestly edited by someone else. It really was a pretty unfortunate decision by the student, unless he is planning on working only for people in the future who care nothing about credibility.

    The student claims that the class was "biased." Though certain neoMcCarthyists will inevitably agree based solely on the fact that a communist organizer was allowed to present in the class, most people will find the claim to be pretty subjective and will not have the desire to sit through 18 hours of video footage (even if it was available) to see if the class really was "unfair." From what I've seen and heard (including interviewing two students from the class), I don't think the class content was inappropriate. But even if it was, this would in no way justify doctoring videos to falsely claim that professors were "advocating violence" or "teaching industrial sabotage." I can't plant heroin on Andrew Breitbart, call the police, then wait until I get caught to say, "oh well, he doesn't really sell heroin, but I just wanted to draw attention to the fact that he has bad personal hygiene." Lying is lying, distorted video is distorted video, and the student has made a bad mistake of allowing himself to be a fall guy for Loesch and Breitbart, who should really bear the responsibility of pushing fundamentally dishonest information.

    Monday, May 9, 2011

    Update: KMOX Gets It Right This Time Around

    With the new UMSL statement, KMOX set the record straight:
    The University has released a statement concluding that the original videos showcased by the website BigGovernment.com “were definitely taken out of context, with their meaning highly distorted through splicing and editing.”

    In one instance, the edited video omitted a comment by instructor Don Giljum saying that intimidation tactics would not work in this day and age. In another clip, the BigGovernment video cut out a portion of a statement by a Kansas City instructor in which she attributed a statement condoning labor violence to a historical labor figure — making it sound as if she was condoning violence.
    Though I have a strong feeling that the political inclinations of many of the people who work at KMOX are quite far away from mine, I think the fact they were finally able to set the record straight speaks highly of their commitment to being a hard news organization.

    New Statement from UMSL on Breitbart/Loesch Smears

    Sounds like UMSL made the right decision:
    Dear Colleagues,

    We have finally completed viewing the videos originating at the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) from the UMSL course Introduction to Labor Studies. The excerpts that were made public showing the University of Missouri-St. Louis (UMSL) instructor Don Giljum and students as well as the UMKC instructor and students were definitely taken out of context, with their meaning highly distorted through splicing and editing from different times within a class period and across multiple class periods.

    As stated previously, our campus supports academic freedom, civility, diversity, open discourse and the pursuit of knowledge. We support the academic freedom of faculty, staff and students at UMSL. Contrary to some reports, Don Giljum has not been fired from the campus faculty, and in fact, is completing the course; he remains eligible to teach at UMSL. We sincerely regret the distress to him and others that has been caused by the unauthorized copying, editing and distribution of the course videos.

    During the past two weeks, we have received communications over a wide spectrum of viewpoints, and we appreciate people letting us know what they think. We have learned more about video and Internet technologies that can be beneficial or detrimental to positive, civil discourse, and security issues related to the use of such media. We shall explore ways to improve security in the use of electronic media for instruction, research and other activities.
    Tom George
    Professor of Chemistry and Physics

    Glen Cope
    Professor of Political Science and Public Policy Administration
    Reminder: you can see just how dishonest the Loesch/Breitbart videos are here and here.

    KMOX Correction Request

    On April 28, KMOX posted an article regurgitating smears about UMSL and UMKC professors that originated from Andrew Breitbart's websites and Dana Loesch's radio show. KMOX reporter Kevin Killeen said the following about UMKC professor Judy Ancel:
    In one clip, Ancel appears to be telling students that violence is a legitimate tool of organized labor.

    “Violence is a tactic and it’s to be used when it’s the appropriate tactic,” Ancel said.
    Killeen's claim is false and misleading, as can be seen in the full video:

    Killeen also says the following about Don Giljim:
    In one clip, Giljum appears to tell students that being a labor activist is not always calm discussion.

    “I can’t really honestly say that I’ve never wished, or have never been in a position where I haven’t wished real harm on somebody, or inflicted any pain and suffering on some people that, you know, didn’t ask for it,” Giljum said, “It certainly has it’s place.”
    Again, this is misleading, as it selectively leaves out portions of Giljim's full quote explicitly saying that the need for those tactics have changed and that the tactics would do more harm than good, as can be seen in the video:

    Killeen also wrote the following:
    The tape also shows Giljum telling students how his union intimidated a company CEO by sending union members to his church and a shopping mall to “bump into him” and ask the CEO how the negotiations were going. To the delight of students giggling, Giljum said the CEO became so intimidated that he started wearing a “flack jacket” on the plant floor to protect himself.
    However, this leaves out the very next line from Giljim, who says "I don't know why. Nobody did anything like that, or threatened anything like that:"

    Killeen reported three completely misleading claims. Despite being told about the misleading nature of the full videos, he has still not made a correction or acknowledged the full videos nearly two weeks later. If KMOX continues to ignore the full videos and leave these lies uncorrected, this indicates an amazing level of disrespect for people who rely on them for news.
    Please contact Killeen at kakilleen@kmox.com , News director John Butler at kmoxnews@kmox.com , and Director of Programming Steven Moore at swmoore@cbs.com and tell them to issue a full correction. It should be clear that this involves chttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifreating a new report describing the longer videos and the fact that these videos contradict Loesch and Breitbart's original claims, rather than simply adding a sentence to a stale old story from two weeks ago. You can also call the KMOX newsroom at (314) 444-3234.

    Update #2: KMOX has a new story with the UMSL statement and does a good job pointing out the misinformation.

    Loesch's Argumentative "Skills"

    Dana Loesch "debated" Frances Martel on the Stage Right Show yesterday and called the woman she was debating, Frances Martel, a "bitch." Naturally, her obsessive fans will take this as evidence of how brilliant she is, since unoriginal name-calling is the pinnacle of tea party argumentation. She also hilariously told Martel, who grew up in a communist country, that she understands communism much better than her, and declared that women are not allowed to have a discussion about motherhood unless they're mothers. Naturally, she ended this particular part of the discussion by declaring that she "carries herself" much better than Martel.

    You can listen to a snippet here:

    h/t Taunia Adams

    Sunday, May 8, 2011

    Losing Faith in the Mainstream Media

    I just read Jo Mannies article about the UMSL incident that completely fails to point out that Breitbart's videos were maliciously edited and amazingly fails to even provide readers a link where they can see the fuller videos. Just like the Post-Dispatch and KMOX, she doesn't inform her readers of the relevant facts despite having every opportunity to do so.

    I can't even describe how depressing it's been in this case to see how badly the St. Louis media has covered the story. Though I've always been critical of the media, I used to think that they'd get the story right if they were just given easy access to the correct information. In this case, they were given easy access to the correct information; they did not get the story right. I used to think that the media could get the story right if it was demonstrated just how systematically dishonest Andrew Breitbart is. He has been shown to intentionally distort video over and over, yet they did not get the story right. I used to think that maybe reporters could get the story right if you gave them a personal phone call and talked about the issues rather than just sending them a link to the information on a blog. I gave reporters a personal phone call on this issue; they failed to get the story right. I used to think that maybe reporters preferred Breitbart's side of the story because they were always presented with video, a more digestible medium than the written word. In this case, there was video available that clearly showed Breitbart's bloggers were lying; the media ignored it and did not get the story right.

    In this case, Jo Mannies, Kevin Killeen, and Tim Barker were given every opportunity to get the story right, yet they still failed miserably, in a way that should be embarrassing for any St. Louisan who cares about having a competent mainstream media. Compare this to the Kansas City Star, who from the very beginning rhttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifecognized this as a dishonest hit job from a known con man. I keep trying to make excuses to believe that maybe the state of the media in St. Louis isn't as bad as others say, but I'm not sure I have any left.

    Update: Jo Mannies at the Beacon has now updated her post with a link to the Media Matters analysis and KMOX put out a new story that got it right. Now it's up to the Post-Dispatch to make it 3 for 3!

    Saturday, May 7, 2011

    KMOX Allows False Information to Fester On Website for Over a Week

    I had a nice conversation with KMOX reporter Kevin Killeen earlier this week. Unfortunately, it followed the same pattern I've experienced many other times with the CBS affiliate that hosts Rush Limbaugh in St. Louis: they're very nice and polite, they say I raise good points, and yet they fail to fix the problem.

    KMOX was one of the first St. Louis media outlets to pick up the Breitbart smear story, and they reported it without noting Breitbart's extensive history of dishonesty. In the article, Killeen wrote that "Giljum appears to tell students that being a labor activist is not always calm discussion," (with an accompanying quote that's been edited to change the meaning) and that "Ancel appears to be telling students that violence is a legitimate tool of organized labor." Both of these claims and their corresponding video clips have been shown to be unambiguously false.

    Keep in mind the serious consequences of this kind of dishonest attack: both Ancel and Giljim have received numerous threats based on the distorted videos. So by unquestioningly passing on videos from a source that has been shown to be dishonest on numerous occasions, KMOX is facilitating threats and intimidation against two innocent people.

    On Friday of last week, I emailed links to Killeen with video that showed, conclusively, that the Breitbart sites had taken the video out-of-context. He responded by thanking me for the links, and telling me that he'd follow up on Monday of the next week with UM officials because he "already had a full assignment sheet." I didn't understand why he would need a quote from the University of Missouri just to point out that the original video was distorted and his reporting about it was wrong, and I also didn't understand why a news organization would decide to wait three days to correct a falsehood, but I gave him the benefit of the doubt.

    The next week rolled around and Killeen still did not write any correction. So I sent the following message to Killeen:
    Last week, you published a story based on videos from professional con man Andrew Breitbart. The links I sent you included clear video evidence that Breitbart's videos were edited completely out-of-context to put words into the instructors mouths. For example, you wrote that it "appeared" that Ancel was saying violence is an appropriate tactic, when in fact she was quoting a character from a movie to promote class discussion. I'mhttphttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif curious how long you want misinformation to sit on the KMOX web site without being corrected.
    I received no response from Killeen and in fact he wrote a new story that doubled down on the original dishonesty. His new story focused on the fact that UMSL claims Giljim resigned voluntarily, and Giljim said he was pressured, but it made no mention of the fact that the full videos show that the quotes were distorted. In fact, it doubled down on the original dishonesty by linking to a sound clip from Dana Loesch (BTW, a competitor to KMOX's Mark Reardon) that repeated the exact same falsehoods.

    At this point, I called Killeen and asked him why he was not fixing this false information. He responded that he thought that the editor had added the links I sent him (Media Matters and Crooks and Liars), and that he would try to get them to change the story. I just checked back today and, unfortunately, the only "change" they made was to add the Media Matters and Crooks and Liars links to the "related content" section at the end.

    Needless to say, these changes are virtually meaningless. As a radio station, the main audience is the people who hear the original report on the radio, who have been provided with no reason to question the original, false story. Out of the significantly smaller audience who read the stories online, very few are likely to come back to the site several days later to check to see if there are any updates. And of that small group, how many are going to notice a change in the "related content" that doesn't appear in the main story?

    KMOX put out factually incorrect information. They were notified of this fact over a week ago, and still have not updated their original story nor issued a correction. They wrote a story based on Breitbart's smear video, yet have refused to write a story based on video that proves it to be false. And, in fact, they have not even adjusted the content of their claims in the new stories they've written since the longer videos came out.

    I personally am not sure how KMOX expects people to regard them as a purveyor of trustworthy information when they so flippantly disregard information that shows their reporting to have been mistaken. It's one thing for a news service to make a mistake; it's quite another for them to hide this mistake even after it's been revealed. The later amounts to intentionally misleading their audience. Hopefully, they will move quickly to fix this mistake.

    Update: They set the record straight with a new story.