Thursday, July 26, 2012

Bad Reporting or Biased Reporting? Dishonest Donald Douglas Tries to Conflate the Two for Partisan Advantage

In reply to: Repsac3, Hate-Addled Internet Predator, Screams 'Liar' at Virtually Entire World on Politicization of Colorado Shooting

First off, the title. Dishonest Donald Douglas at his most hyperbolic. While I understand that HE apparently believes that anyone who dares contradict him does so out of hate, and that by using such words as "harassing" or "predator," he can scare away those with whom he disagrees with threats to reputation (and threats of legal action, when he deems it necessary), the fact is, he just can't stand to have anyone express a view different than his own, and attacks damned near everyone who does in these vitriolic, bilous terms.

Second, this isn't about politicization. While I'm not sure it's the first word I would use, I'm not arguing that Brian Ross didn't wade into politics and stir up partisans by going to air with his shoddy, shitty reporting. I'm saying that there is no evidence--no history on Brian Ross' part, and nothing in what he said in this instance, either--that suggests he did so because he was biased against conservatives, Republicans, or the tea party. He didn't say what he did because he hates the right. He said it because, as so often happens during breaking events, the urge to be first, and to fill airtime and column space overtakes the urge to be right. He did a Google search, saw something that might be relevant, maybe, and talked about it live on the air without bothering to check it out.

Those who're whining that he did this because he instinctively hates the tea party, or that there is some mainstream media conspiratorial attack on conservatives, are selling that meme to play themselves up as victims and give their base an(other) enemy to rally against. It's Machiavelli. It's 1984. It's giving the people a scapegoat. And, though it works, it's often dishonest bullshit.

On to the meat of the post:

For all of hate-blogger Walter James Casper III's embarrassing, over-the-top bleating, he's in fact never shown that Brain Ross's premature speculation wasn't political.
Again, the argument up to now hasn't been that the reporting wasn't political--and I find it quite interesting that Dr. Douglas is attempting to shift that goalpost. The argument has been, was Brian Ross' premature speculation the result of media bias, either on his part, or on the part of ABC.

That said, what Dr. Douglas alleges is true. Not only haven't I proven that negative, I haven't even tried. The burden of proof is on the ones making the accusation, not the ones saying there is no evidence the accusation is worth the hot air and electrons it's made with. And Donald Douglas has in fact never shown that Brain Ross's premature speculation was political partisan, or the result of media bias.
In fact, that Ross sought to tie suspect James Holmes to the tea party was nothing but political, because his statement couldn't be farther from a routine mistake of fact. Ross "investigated" the suspect's name, found out there was a "James Holmes" in Colorado who belonged to tea party groups, and then went on the air with it. He didn't wrongly report the suspect's age or occupation, or some other descriptive non-political fact.
So far, we're on the same page (especially seeing as how much easier it is to "prove" this fact that neither of us was arguing against--that what Brian Ross "reported" was political--rather than the "fact" that was actually in contention, which was whether or not Brian Ross did so because he is biased against the tea party.)
He instinctively went with the same well-worn blood libel smear against the allegedly "violent" tea party movement. He was comfortable smearing the tea party for mass murder because that's what network elites do. Simple as that.
Simple as that, and no evidence necessary, obviously... It's true because Donald Douglas and others of his ilk say it is, and anyone who disagrees with them is a hate-addled internet predator.

Glad we cleared that up.
And of course it was entirely wrong and Ross has been universally condemned for "politicizing" the reporting. Not "misreporting" the story, "politicizing" it in the most disgusting way imaginable.
Actually, if you go back to the Reliable Sources video Dr. Douglas posted in support of his previous diatribe, the terms they use are "mistake," "get things wrong," "sensationalism and rushing from judgment" (I suspect that using "from judgement," rather than "to judgement" was intentional), and "getting thing right first before, you know, getting things, just getting things out there." AND... they never used the terms "politicize" or "bias."

A quick digression regarding this accusation about "politicizing tragedy." EVERY tragedy is political. There are laws passed by legislatures that regulate whatever happened, no matter what the situation is. First responders and relief efforts paid by tax dollars are put into motion, and there are laws, statutes and regulations regarding them, as well. Tragedies are "politicized" the second they happen, by virtue of their happening in a place governed by the rule of law, where government officials vote on who gets how much money, and for what purpose.

What the folks urging others to avoid "politicizing the tragedy" are really saying is, "I like the way this issue is politicized right now, thanks... Please don't discuss anything that might threaten the political status quo." ...which is, of course, politicizing the issue, only in the way they prefer it to be politicized.

Whether we pass stricter gun laws so that it's more difficult for madmen to get the guns, ammunition, and protective gear they use to commit these shootings, repeal gun laws so that innocent citizens can more easily defend themselves against madmen, or don't change anything regarding federal or state gun laws, that action (or decision to take no action) is absolutely political.

Brian Ross was entirely wrong. His shoddy reporting has been universally condemned, because it was really bad reporting. Speculating out loud on air before carefully checking to see whether your thoughts are factual or relevant to the situation is extremely shitty reporting. It happens entirely too often, and it's wrong every time...even when the speculation does end up panning out once it has been checked, as in the case of that guy with the muslim sounding name who shot up that army base. (And follow the link to see a list of some of the faulty, speculative reporting that came out in the heat of reporting that tragedy.)
Regina Thomson, President of the Colorado Tea Party Patriots, repudiated Ross's smear as "shameless and reprehensible."
She is correct. It WAS shameless and reprehensible...but more because it was shitty reporting than because it was a smear, which again, implies it was intentional, a "fact" nowhere in evidence.
This happens every time there's some kind of horrible massacre, for example last year in Tucson. Left-wing journalists, pundits, and bloggers jumped to exploit the bloodshed to destroy conservatives.
I'll agree with that... Every time there is any kind of tragedy, (or for that matter, any slip of the tongue, any 20 year old incident, or any piece of news at all) there are partisans who try to use it to attack the folks they don't agree with and to further their own partisan agenda. In the case of Tucson, there was both the same unsubstantiated speculation masquerading as news, some of which was about political motives for the shooting of a Democratic officeholder--but as in the case of Brian Ross, WASN'T the result of political bias (just that need to say it first and/or fill up airtime and column inches) and partisan political operatives (pundits and bloggers, more than journalists) making accusations designed to hurt the other that case, conservatives. But what Donald fails to mention, perhaps in an effort to paint everyone he hates (everyone he disagrees with) with that one big ol' brush, is that there were also Left of center journalists, pundits, and bloggers who spoke out against such attacks, and many more who did neither; no partisan attacks, and no condemnation of those who did attack, either. Partisan conservatives such as Dr. Douglas--acting far more like the people they're condemning than they'd ever admit--would have folks believe that if ANY liberal does something immoral, illegal, or eeeeevil, ALL liberals are responsible for that behavior.

For the record, here's the first of many comments I (a supposedly hateful, heartless ultra-partisan leftist) made in the wake of the Gabby Giffords shooting:
"The political rhetoric of Sarah Palin's scope sights and "blueboy's" post at Daily Kos are both sadly over the top.

Are either of 'em responsible for this particular violence (or any violence, at all)? Almost certainly not. The coarsening of the culture, including violent or hateful political rhetoric like these examples are surely not good for any society, and yes, nutbags like this guy can perhaps be influenced by them. (To be clear, I'm not saying that there's any evidence that this guy WAS, only that it's possible that nutbags, including this guy, CAN BE.) But even without being a direct or indirect factor in violent acts, such rhetoric does divide us and set the stage for more (more quantity, and more over the top nasty) rhetoric. And that's just sad.

From what we know at present anyway, anyone trying to tie this guy or this massacre to any political party or point of view is talking out of their ass. Nuts are just nuts. (And I don't think that anyone can watch/read his three YouTube "manifestos" and not come away thinking that this guy was fully in control of his faculties.) Blaming "the left" because he listed "The Communist Manifesto" as one of his favorite books (or blaming "the right" because he had a thing about gold-backed currency) is like blaming English teachers because he seemed to be obsessed with grammar. (Perhaps even moreso... He actually discussed grammar in his videos.)

The guy's nuts, so whether he says he did it because he's opposed to one political party or point of view or another, or because the butter dish on his breakfast table told him to, one would have to be a pretty desperate partisan to take the guy seriously and believe that he represents or proves anything about any political point of view.

That's not to say that there haven't been folks who've killed in the name of some sociopolitical cause or another, left and right, but this ain't one of 'em. (And really, ANYONE who kills in the name of a sociopolitical cause is pretty much on the fringe of American society, and not representative of or "proof of the inherent eeeeevil of") Republicans, Democrats, liberals or conservatives, and anyone who says different is again, pretty desperate to promote their own way of thinkin' and/or discredit everyone else's.)"
Yes, there were liberals who said some really stupid and disgusting things after Gabby Giffords was shot. Other liberals called them out for doing so. Blaming every liberal for what any liberal says is hacktacular partisan attackery...and obviously, stupidly wrong, besides.
"And that Repsac3 is now so blindingly enraged..."
" be called out on his dishonesty--- when even far-left "Wonkette" called Ross's smear a reprehensible move --- is just, well, pathetic."
Jim Newell at Wonkette neither called Brian Ross' asstastic reporting "a smear," or said it was "reprehensible." And more importantly, nowhere in the post does Newell attribute what Ross did to bias against Republicans, conservatives, or the tea party, either. (Newell says it's "pure laziness," and not "bother[ing to] try to confirm anything." And Newell calls it "an egregious, early error that will color the impressions of people no matter how frequently or aggressively it’s retracted.")

Donald is apparently trying to conflate the idea that was Brian Ross did was awful, dishonest reporting--which is absolutely true--and that Brian Ross is a leftist partisan who intentionally tried to smear the tea party by falsely tying them to this killer--which is pretty obviously bullshit and, ironically, is only being said by rightwing partisans intentionally trying to smear the left by falsely tying them to Brian's bad reporting. The "universal condemnation" Dr. Douglas keeps referring to is condemnation of Brian Ross' terrible reporting. Most of the condemnation says nothing about media bias or partisanship on the part of Brian Ross or ABC. That condemnation is almost exclusively being ginned up and echoed by a few rightwing partisans, including Donald Douglas.
"As I've reported throughout, the condemnation has been virtually universal, left and right, attacking Ross's initial report as disgustingly political."
Pay careful attention to the individuals and blogs Dr. Douglas cites, as proof of this "universal condemnation" of Ross' "disgustingly political" report.
Here's IBD's editorial from Friday, for example...
And this is the same basic point that Michelle [Malkin] made in her post on Friday...
See Jennifer Stefano, the Pennsylvania State Director of AFP, at Fox News
And here's John Kass, at far-left Chicago Tribune...
"Universal condemnation, left and right" from Investor's Business Daily, Michelle Malkin, a rightwing activist named Jennifer Stefano, on FoxNews (my personal favorite), and John Kass, who, for all of Donald's suggestion to the contrary, doesn't seem to have all that many liberal views, is considered by at least one fan to be Chicago's conservative media rock star @John_Kass speaks:) (and says himself that he's a conservative), and pretty regularly attacks the media as being biased against conservatives...just like he (and all of the conservatives Donald listed here) did this time. That's Donald's idea of "universal condemnation."
We all make mistakes. But this one smacks of political bias. And when you add political bias to the rush of breaking news, as seems to have happened here, things get stinky.
Donald still hasn't offered any evidence of political bias. What he's doing, is speculating without nailing down anything in the way of facts...a lot like Brian Ross did...except that in Donald's case, there is some evidence that his motive is partisan, in the form of, well, his whole blog.
"It could have been an honest mistake, perhaps. It might have come across as a mistake if Stephanopoulos had interjected and said, "No, Brian, we don't have enough evidence to make that connection to the tea party." Instead, the former aide to Bill Clinton thanked Ross for his reporting."
Did Dr. Douglas forget the video he so recently posted in support of his meme, where veteran reporters discussed how an anchor in the middle of a show, especially, has to trust that a veteran investigative reporter did his job, and cannot spend time second guessing what correspondents report.
"It's no wonder that virtually the entire political establishment reacted the way it did. ABC News was out there on a limb, as James Taranto reported at the Wall Street Journal..."
James Taranto at the Wall Street Journal... More of that "universal condemnation, left and right" no doubt (Anyone think Taranto's a liberal?)

The entire political establishment reacted to awful, lazy, fact-free reporting--not biased reporting. Trying to conflate the two is a bullshit move, and folks see right through it.
"...and for someone to come along and then essentially call all these people "liars" is simply beneath contempt. But that's Walter James Casper for you. He's been working the Internet for years, attempting to undermine and destroy conservatives."
A whole lot of my "work" is here... I disagree with conservatives, and I discuss exactly where and why, citing what they actually say whenever possible. (This post is an example, but feel free to check out anything else I've written, and judge me as you will.) I don't destroy anyone. I can see why Donald Douglas might not like that, but his hyperbolic attacks on me, personally, are pretty far over the top.
Walter James Casper is now back to stalking this blog and sending me unsolicited tweets.
"Stalking" = reading his blog.

"unsolicited tweets"? Yeah, apparently this really is a thing. Like this commenter, I always though it was just good netiquette (Twitterquette?) to @ whoever one is talking to or about on twitter, but obviously not everyone feels that way... which of course, has to make one wonder what these are, and what federal law enforcement agency or branch of military service I should be reporting them to... y'know, like Donald threatened to do over unwanted comments on his moderated blog. (Obviously, I shall refrain from using @AmPowerBlog in any/all unsolicited tweets in future. Lord knows who Dr. Douglas will try to report me to, otherwise...)
"He's even kicked back up the old "American Nihilist" hate-site after I reported it to the Irvine Police Department previously."
In light of the Brett Kimberlin lawfare intimidation scandal, I started questioning whether giving bullies what they want is a good thing. Maybe I will kickstart this blog back to a regular thing or maybe I won't, but I refuse to let Dr. Douglas make that decision for me.
"The left tries to shut folks down with stalking and intimidation, but you have to shine a light on the hate and defeat them."
Irony Alert (Who's reporting who to the police, elected representatives, lawyers, ...?)
"He never went away after being reported to the police, despite announcing that I'd "won the Internet." He just shifted gears a bit, and is now back in the hunt for his next political kill."
"His ranting is self-refuting..."

UPDATE 1: Dr. Douglas adds Dennis Prager at National Review Online to his list of "universal condemnation, left and right" (who all seem to be conservative, for some reason) alleging bias on the part of Brian Ross and ABC.

UPDATE 2: Still more of that "universal condemnation, left and right," this time including Noel Sheppard at (conservative), Peter Wehner at Commentary Magazine (conservative), Jonah Goldberg also from National Review Online (conservative), and, in a first, an actual non-conservative--Jon Stewart--alleging possible media bias on the part of Brian Ross. And none of them offer any proof in the form of previous reportage, cocktail party comments, or any other verbiage in support of Brian Ross being biased against conservatives, republicans, or the tea party. Jon Stewart, like Donald Douglas and everyone on his list of almost "universally" conservative opinioneers, is welcome to their opinions (all one of them)...but the facts just don't support the allegation of media bias.

Kudos to Dr Douglas for his persistence, though... He does keep trying...

PREVIOUSLY: "Dishonest Donald Douglas Lies About Media Bias (and me, of course)" and "American Nihilist: In Reply: More on Unsubstantiated Speculation Masquerading as News"

BACKGROUND: "Criminalizing the Internet - The Ongoing Saga"

American Power: Repsac3, Hate-Addled Internet Predator, Screams 'Liar' at Virtually Entire World on Politicization of Colorado Shooting

American Power: California Penal Code Section 646.9 on Criminal Harassment and Cyberstalking: Statement of Warning to Hate-Blogger Walter James Casper III

Reliable Sources video


In Reply: Using tragedy as partisan political attack

ABC News Should Fire Brian Ross, And Other Notes On Being Terrible

ABC News' Colorado Shooting Apology Is Not Good Enough -

Michelle Malkin � Blame Righty impulse blows up in media faces…again

The Pennsylvania Leadership Conference - BIO: Jennifer Stefano

Media must stop falsely accusing the Tea Party every time tragedy strikes | Fox News News Forum - Thread

Ray's 2.0: More insanity: Twitter's blocking tweets as "unsolicited mentions"

What'd I Say?: In Reply: "I never thought that person did it because of their political leanings, I think they did it because they were cowardly bullies." (Popehat, Team Kimberlin, Donald Douglas)

American Power: Of Course Brian Ross Blamed the Tea Party

Explaining Brian Ross’s Mistake - Dennis Prager - National Review Online

American Power: More Universal Condemnation of ABC News' Brian Ross

Jon Stewart Slams Brian Ross: 'What Story Does a Guy Have to Blow to Get in Trouble at ABC?' |

Jon Stewart Destroys ABC’s Brian Ross � Commentary Magazine

Brian Ross’s Brain Cramp - Jonah Goldberg - National Review Online

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