Patterico's Pontifications


Cut Tina Daunt Some Slack

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 10:45 am

I think some of y’all are being kind of unfair to Tina Daunt.

Daunt is the L.A. Times reporter who wrote a story about Fred! Thompson’s three-episode racist role on “Wiseguy.” I wrote a post yesterday about her article, gently tweaking her for exaggerating the concern that “[s]ome conservative political blogs” had shown over the issue. (She cited only one blog — mine — and said: “Several respondents immediately mentioned the ‘Wiseguy’ performance.” It was more like one or two commenters, deep in the thread.) It seemed to me that she was bending the facts to fit the storyline.

But a lot of commenters and bloggers reacted to her article as though she was calling Thompson a racist. That’s not a fair reading of her article. I thought her point was quite clearly expressed in this paragraph, which I quoted:

But in the age of YouTube, this performance could raise an intriguing political question: How does a performer eyeing a presidential run deal with a video history that can be downloaded, taken out of context, chopped into embarrassing pieces and then distributed endlessly though cyberspace?

Isn’t that an interesting question? It’s the very same one raised by commenter Sean P, who is really the only commenter who had raised the issue:

He played neo-nazi con-man “Dr.” Knox Pooley on a five episode arc of the TV show “Wiseguy”. His character gave a couple of speeches denouncing “mud people” and similar slurs which could easily be taken out of context and posted on You Tube.

All Tina Daunt did was a combination of what Sean P and I had done: question how Thompson could be trashed, and speculate about one possible answer.

I didn’t like the headline of her article (“Will Fred Thompson’s racist role have political repercussions?”) but I bet she didn’t write that.

Now, possibly some of you are thinking: OK, she didn’t say Thompson is a racist . . . but by bringing up the issue, and detailing the racist quotes uttered by Thompson’s character, she’s giving his enemies unnecessary firepower. It’s as if someone writing about the war were to say: “it raises an interesting question whether the insurgents will find and use the cache of weapons hidden in the northwest corner of the basement at 15 Qusay Way in Ramadi.” One might question why she felt the need to present excruciating detail on the specific racist things said by Thompson’s character. And, one might ask: why are these clips news?

Well, I suppose you could try to blame her for that . . . but then, you’d have to blame me, too, for writing a post asking how Thompson might get trashed. My feeling was: if you guys can think of some negative against Thompson, his political enemies will be able to think of it as well. So why not discuss it?

Tina Daunt may have been thinking the same thing. None of us has any evidence otherwise — other than the fact that she works at the much-despised L.A. Times, which everyone knows is a hotbed of leftists. (I say that not entirely ironically.)

So cut her some slack. Her article didn’t merit the widescale piling-on that it received.

26 Responses to “Cut Tina Daunt Some Slack”

  1. What is all the hub-bub about Thompson?

    Can anyone one tell me ONE thing he accomplished in the Senate?

    He did say spending on entitlements has to be cut.

    How much does he want to cut Social Security and Medicare? We all want to know.

    semanticleo (710d38)

  2. I see your point but don’t think it matters. (Caveat: I couldn’t give a fig about the guy who substitutes for Paul Harvey on the radio; same for the article.)

    What the reporter did was to write about an aspect of something, thus advertising that aspect. Of all the subjects she could have chosen, she chose this one. So no matter what her intention vis-a-vis Thompson’s non-campaign, the effect of the article is to “raise questions” that were only raised within the frame the reporter wrote.

    And for that reason I don’t think her supposed intentions match her results.

    Chap (67b7df)

  3. Well, all I can say is that the same complaint could be made about me. (Of course, I have a track record as a conservative — but at times I’m not conservative enough for some of the commentariat.)

    Patterico (5b0b7f)

  4. For those interested in having a look, AMillionMonkeys has screencaps of the episode

    RM (9a3272)

  5. Can anyone one tell me ONE thing he accomplished in the Senate?

    We were told that Senate accomplishments didn’t matter… Remember Kerry?

    Scott Jacobs (a1de9d)

  6. I’m willing to cut Tina some slack … but only after she confirms she independently wrote her May 4 LA Times’ article without first reading your March 11 post on how people might trash Fred Thompson. It may be that your and Tina’s great minds speculate alike, or it may be that Tina googled “trash Fred Thompson,” found your post and Sean’s comment, and backed into her article from there. I don’t care if she used your post as confirmation or inspiration but if your post inspired her article then she was more likely motivated by bad faith. That won’t get her any slack from me.

    DRJ (c6d1df)

  7. “We were told that Senate accomplishments didn’t matter”

    What was the quote and who said it. Just askin’

    semanticleo (710d38)

  8. DRJ,

    She might have used the post as inspiration. But I don’t know why that would mean she was more likely motivated by bad faith. If she had found the post through a Google search for “trash Fred Thompson” then you might have a point. But then, maybe she just reads the site. If that were the case, why would writing an article based on the post and comments be in bad faith? In fact, in that case you could consider the reference to this blog as the subtle print equivalent of a hat tip.

    Patterico (5b0b7f)

  9. Plus, do any of you think that a campaign of YouTube videos such as she describes would be effective? I think it would create a backlash and help him.

    Patterico (5b0b7f)

  10. I am no Thompson supporter, but there’s no way an episode of Wiseguy makes for effective attack politics. At most, it’s kinda funny.

    RM (9a3272)

  11. Leo,
    The exact quote is lost to me, but I heard it a lot.

    From the same people who changed their mind on millitary experiance.

    You know, how it didn’t matter that Clinton never served (because his opponents had served, and served with honor) where Kerry’s service did matter (even though I doubt his service was with much honor).

    Scott Jacobs (a1de9d)

  12. I find the whole deal interesting because it does point out that allowing an actor’s performances to color our opinion of that actor’s politics is… well, less than sensible.

    Law & Order anyone?

    Yet it WILL color a lot of people’s opinions on him. For a lot it will be subliminal too.

    Remember Bedtime for Bonzo?

    It’s all gonna happen. What fun.

    Dan S (6f95f4)

  13. So cut her some slack. Her article didn’t merit the widescale piling-on that it received.

    I have to disagree. She intentionally played into the disgusting stereotype of the “racist Republican.” If you think that was an accident I’m afraid you’re a bit naive.

    Capitalist Infidel (fffac6)

  14. Patterico,

    I grant you that it may not be bad faith. On the other hand, I think her motive is suspect because she focused on Sean’s comment, arguably the most inflammatory one in the thread, and failed to show the context or other responses. (No offense, Sean, I know you were simply responding to Patterico’s hypothetical.)

    Tina Daunt mentioned your blog specifically and exclusively, stating: “Several respondents immediately mentioned the “Wiseguy” performance.” Several? Immediately? I don’t think so. What these words tell the average reader is that conservatives know Fred is racist.

    I’m not criticizing your opinion on this. In fact, I like your blog in part because you are open-minded. But when it comes to this, I’m not.

    DRJ (c6d1df)

  15. If we’re allowed to draw conclusions from an actor’s body of work, does that mean that Sean Penn is actually retarded instead of just figuratively?

    Taltos (c99804)

  16. Tina Daunt deserves no slack whatsoever cut for her. None. She wrote a tawdry attack article that was basically a how-to guide for Dems to smear Thompson should he run.

    When and if the LAT runs articles wondering if opponents will use Obama’s Black Separatism and Angry Black Nationalism in both his biographies and his association with the Black Separatist Church and Pastor, and his time in a hard core Islamist Madrassa, I will cut her some slack.

    Until then I will regard Tina Daunt as exactly what she is … part of the Democratic/Media smear campaign along the lines of the LAT carefully timed “revelations” about Arnold in the recall election.

    Let’s be honest: Daunt works for the LAT. She could no more be an unbiased or at least “fair” journalist than Rosie a contestant on America’s Next Top Model.

    Jim Rockford (e09923)

  17. This “story” should have been killed at the editor’s desk. It is a stupid, non-story.

    Patterico is being extremely fair in his treatment of the lady author. Maybe he is too fair.

    Alta Bob (d3d420)

  18. Ms. Daunt’s article raised a legitimate question (no, not whether Thompson is a racist, but whether his performance could be used to discredit him in an underhanded manner), and one that is certainly not unique to Thompson (Rudina, anyone?).

    I do think the article was off base in the way it characterized my comment. Either this website should have been left out of her article entirely (it really wasn’t necessary to the story) OR it should have been described accurately. If she had said, “on at least one conservative website — Patterico’s Pontifications — one commentator speculated that scenes from his Wiseguy performance could be taken out of context and form the basis of a YouTube attack ad” I think she would have been accurate, and more fair.

    Sean P (d593fb)

  19. I don’t see why you’d be surprised that your readers are being unfair to Ms. Daunt. You took her to task for saying that one of your commenters “immediately” brought up Thompson’s Wiseguy role, when in fact that had been the 35th comment on the relevant post.

    Now, that post was made at around noon on the 11th, and the comment in question came at 9 AM the following day. I’m not surprised that some of your readers thought, “he CAN’T be jumping on her for that! An entire page of criticism aimed at an LA Times reporter, because she used ‘immediately’ when ‘the following morning’ might have been more accurate? Patterico’s not that petty! There must be a more substantial issue here!”

    gordo (952e66)

  20. Til his dying day the Lefties kept linking Reagan to a monkey in a movie called “Bed Time for Bonzo” in which said “Bonzo” was a monkey. The inference the Left tried to convey was that he was a piece of shit actor who appeared in lousy movies. They did that from the time he first ran for governor til his last run at the White House. Didn’t work then. Won’t work now. Of course the LAT reporter brought the Thompson piece up quietly so other hard left pubs could trash Thompson to death. You are usually perceptive Patterico, but you are being far to kind as to the motives of an LAT reporter; this was a set up for a smear.

    Howard Veit (4ba8d4)

  21. But a lot of commenters and bloggers reacted to her article as though she was calling Thompson a racist. That’s not a fair reading of her article“…

    Hmmm, but foisting that tenuous grip on reality as news is fair?

    juandos (c47e6f)

  22. Patterico–you were being more than fair to the LAT reporter. I’ll cut the LAT some slack as soon as the next article quoting Sen. Byrd references his tenure in the KKK and offers quotes from the “gentleman from W. Virginia’s” earlier career as a real-life racist.

    kyle (9d9e73)

  23. Ummmm….

    Kyle, please tell me you know how bringing up Byrd’s KKK membership is 100% different than Thompson’s paid roles on film…

    Scott Jacobs (a1de9d)

  24. In a way, Durant’s article can be helpful to Thompson in a future campaign run by getting this out into the open now, as silly as the whole thing may be, instead of having clips of Thompson’s “bad boy” moments show up on YouTube in the future and be “discovered” by some other media site and treated as a major revelation that could negatively affect voters’ feelings about Fred.

    Of course, this assumes that Durant’s story won’t simply go down the memory hole and be totally forgotten when the New York Times or some other big media outlet visits this issue again. During the Bush-Gore campaign back in late August of 2000, the end segment of Britt Hume’s Special Report on Fox that showed a Bush commerical with a zoom in on the word “Democrats” so that momentarily the letters “rats” were all that could be seen on the screen. Britt and the panel treated this as something of a joke, but two weeks later, the New York Times turned the ad into a major campaign controversy that other media outlets picked up and ran with, right up until the first Bush-Gore debate.

    So as inconsequential as Fred Thompson portraying a racist, or Fred Thompson firing a lesbian assistant district attorney during a television show may be, never underestimate the ability of the left within the media to turn fluff like that into an GOP election crisis, if that’s what they think it will take to get voters to change their views on Thompson (based on the elitist idea that the rabble out there are too stupid to differentiate the real Fred Thompson from the parts he plays on TV).

    John (34537e)

  25. Ms. Daunt is a professional journalist, with no agenda other than being a thorough reporter, and her article will not harm Sen. Thompson– who, as yet, is not a candidate for president. Ms. Daunt’s reporting should not deter Sen. Thompson one bit. Remember, Robert Vaughn once played a Nazi, in The Bridge at Remagen, and nobody has ever even subtly accused The Man From UNCLE of being a fan of Hitler. Professional actors play roles in which their scripts dictate their character, and dialogue.

    To put it in perspective, what would be assumed if the great John Malkovich were to run for office, given his brilliant roles? Only that he is a great actor, and a pro.

    Disclosure: I am a Republican, and an admirer of Sen. Thompson from his days as CIA Director in No Way Out. ;>

    Tim Hays (af7624)

  26. It’s a common liberal technique to highlight a dig, so that one can say “I never said that.”

    Things such as “Some people believe Bush lied and should be impeached,” followed by laying out a bogus case for impeachment. Then when the writer is called on the carpet, that writer can respond with “I never said Bush should be impeached.”

    In an email exchange Tina claims she never suggested Ted is a racist. But she did. She wrote the story that suggested that, even though it was phrased as “some people might draw the conclusion.”

    Nice try, Tina.

    I’ve given her a chance to clarify her position for After all, she claims she finds it absurd that people would think a role means Fred is racist. That’s what she claims the point of the story was. So she would want to clarify that, right?

    Frank (9e623f)

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