Patterico's Pontifications


Alan Dershowitz: Media Matters Could Be 2012’s Rev. Wright

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:34 pm

Why is Prof. Dershowitz upset? Is it because Media Matters proposed to hire private investigators to probe the private lives of Fox News reporters, and discussed using frivolous lawsuits as weapons of terror?


Liberal Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz says Media Matters could become the Rev. Jeremiah Wright of 2012 for the Obama campaign if the White House and the Democratic Party don’t clearly distance themselves from the organization.

“Well I think if swing voters in the pro-Israel community had any idea how extreme Media Matters was on issues of Israel and supporters of Israel, they would regard Media Matters as another, you know, Rev. Wright,” Dershowitz told The Daily Caller.

It’s difficult to evaluate the professor’s complaint based on the linked article. No examples of anti-Israel bias are given. I’m willing to believe it, since I consider Media Matters to be disgusting, dishonest, and incredibly partisan. But I have never read the site with an eye towards the writers’ attitudes towards Israel.

So all I can do at this point is think:

Guess it’s time to sick some private investigators on Prof. Dershowitz . . .

Broken promise, broken budget

Filed under: General — Karl @ 12:23 pm

[Posted by Karl]

Kudos to Jake Tapper for reporting the obvious, as so many of his colleagues downplayed it:

“This is big,” wrote White House director of new media Macon Phillips in a February 23, 2009 blog post, ”the President today promised that by the end of his first term, he will cut in half the massive federal deficit we’ve inherited. And we’ll do it in a new way: honestly and candidly.”

Indeed, President Obama did make that promise that day, saying, “today I’m pledging to cut the deficit we inherited in half by the end of my first term in office. This will not be easy. It will require us to make difficult decisions and face challenges we’ve long neglected. But I refuse to leave our children with a debt that they cannot repay — and that means taking responsibility right now, in this administration, for getting our spending under control.”

The 2013 budget the president submitted today does not come close to meeting this promise of being reduced to $650 billion for fiscal year 2013.

White House flack Jay Carney rationalized:

It was a promise based on what we knew about the economy at the time as has been well established in this briefing and many other places. The economy turns out to have been far worse and in far greater distress when the president was running for office and then took office than we knew at the time.

Really? Obama’s own transition website earlier carried this message:

“Our country faces its most serious economic crisis since the great depression. Working families, who saw their incomes decline by $2,000 in the economic ‘expansion’ from 2000 to 2007, now face even deeper income losses. Retirement savings accounts have lost $2 trillion. Markets have fallen 40% in less than a year. Millions of homeowners who played by the rules can’t meet their mortgage payments and face foreclosure as the value of their homes have plummeted. With credit markets nearly frozen, businesses large and small cannot access the credit they need to meet payroll and create jobs.”

However, if you buy the idea they didn’t know how bad things were at the time, what faith should anyone put in their pronouncements of how we are doing now?

Anyone mistakenly believing Obama has any interest in the budget beyond election-year rhetoric should note that the budget proposed yesterday adds $6.7 trillion in new debt from 2013-22 and projects debt as a share of GDP rising from 74.2 percent this year to 76.5 percent in 2022 (the actual results would almost certainly be much worse, given the Obama budget’s improbable growth estimates).  Also, this nifty NYT interactive gadget graphically shows how quickly we’re turning into a HMO with a military, but with much less military.


Media Matters: Hey, Let’s Investigate the Private Lives of Fox News Reporters!

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:32 am

Some ideas for stalking one’s ideological opponents, from a Frisch — Karl Frisch of Media Matters:

A little after 1 p.m. on Sept. 29, 2009, Karl Frisch emailed a memo to his bosses, Media Matters for America founder David Brock and president Eric Burns. In the first few lines, Frisch explained why Media Matters should launch a “Fox Fund” whose mission would be to attack the Fox News Channel.

“Simply put,” Frisch wrote, “the progressive movement is in need of an enemy. George W. Bush is gone. We really don’t have John McCain to kick around any more. Filling the lack of leadership on the right, Fox News has emerged as the central enemy and antagonist of the Obama administration, our Congressional majorities and the progressive movement as a whole.”

“We must take Fox News head-on in a well funded, presidential-style campaign to discredit and embarrass the network, making it illegitimate in the eyes of news consumers.”

That phrase “presidential-style campaign” makes me smile a bitter, tight smile.

What Frisch proceeded to suggest, however, went well beyond what legitimate presidential campaigns attempt. “We should hire private investigators to look into the personal lives of Fox News anchors, hosts, reporters, prominent contributors, senior network and corporate staff,” he wrote.

After that, Frisch argued, should come the legal assault: “We should look into contracting with a major law firm to study any available legal actions that can be taken against Fox News, from a class action law suit to defamation claims for those wronged by the network. I imagine this would be difficult but the right law firm is bound to find some legal ground for us to take action against the network.

Note well: the memo does not suggest fact-checking Fox News, or taking them on with respect to the issues. No, instead the memo discusses trying to discredit the network by digging into people’s personal lives. By a strategy of planning to file lawsuits before any specific legal grievance is identified. Media Matters planned to respond to Fox News, not by responding to the message, but by stalking the messenger.

Unfortunately, this sort of thing appears to be an increasingly popular tactic among fanatics. The tactics you see discussed are, believe it or not, rather mild compared to what the fanatics are capable of. Once a fanatic has determined that his opponent is not just misguided, but in fact evil, simply due to the political opinions he holds, it is easy for the fanatic to justify all manner of outrages, including the criminal.

Framing your opponent, for the fanatic, becomes a convenient way for him to “catch” you at what he believes you are doing anyway. Trying to get you killed is simply one more method a psychopath uses to try to obtain your silence.

I have been a victim of the sort of thuggery I describe in this post, as have others close to me — to an extent that would probably shock many of you to hear about. So if this seems personal for me, well, it is. The full story will be told one day, but for now, suffice it to say that this post is not an academic exercise for me.

I picked this story up at Hot Air, and several commenters are making comparisons to the Stasi — which is, I think, an apt analogy. What I find disturbing is that some of them also claim that we need to “get tough” with the other side and start using their tactics against them. This sort of attitude is all too common whenever one side is shown the most despicable tactics of the other side’s fringe.

But it is important not to succumb to this point of view. I say this as someone who has seen criminal ugliness first-hand. The most dangerous attitude in the world is that of self-righteousness. It allows one to rationalize all manner of abuses that, in the abstract, would horrify anyone with a sliver of a conscience.

While we seem to see so very many stories about this sort of thing happening on the left, I have also witnessed thuggish attempts to silence dissent on the right. Organized smears and a mob mentality are not the exclusive province of either side. What is important is finding a way to articulate your principles without falling victim to the sort of thuggery Media Matters proposed (and probably engages in to some degree) — and also to avoid falling into the trap of engaging in thuggery yourself.

This country was built on the idea that speech can be countered by more speech. Increasingly, it seems that some take the attitude that speech you don’t like should be countered by destroying the messenger. Media Matters has fallen into this despicable category.

I don’t know that they are capable of feeling shame. But I still feel compelled to say: shame on them.

Shame on them.

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