Just before the 2012 election, the Daily Caller, a website run by Tucker Carlson, produced a blockbuster report claiming that New Jersey senator Robert Menendez had frequented underage prostitutes in the Dominican Republic, and they had the prostitutes’ testimony to prove it. Bizarrely, mainstream media did not pick up the story, Menendez was re-elected, and to almost no one’s surprise, the whole thing now appears to have been a slander cooked up by Republican operatives. How did such a thing happen? The answer is, it’s ACORN’s fault. Hold on while I explain.
It turns out that Republican operatives pitched the Menendez story to ABC News at the same time as the Daily Caller, but after looking into it ABC decided it was probably bogus, as they explain here. It was pretty obvious the women were being coached, and their stories just strained credulity:
Her account of sex with Menendez in the video interview was almost word-for-word the account given by two other women who were produced for interviews about having sex with the man they knew only as “Bob.”
Asked during the interview with ABC News how she knew that the man named “Bob” was a United States Senator, one of the other women said she had put the name “Bob” into a web search site and a picture of Menendez popped up.
Only a liberally biased journalist could be at all skeptical of that story, which explains why ABC passed on it, and the Daily Caller ran with it. And lo and behold, one of the women eventually came forward with an affidavit saying she had been paid to accuse Menendez of patronizing her services. And this only the latest in a string of instances in which conservative media outlets have embarrassed themselves by “reporting” things that turn out to be absurdities or outright fabrications, from Jeff Sessions’ crazy GAO report to Chuck Hagel’s relationship with the fictional “Friends of Hamas” (Michael Calderone has a long story exploring this issue).
What does this have to do with ACORN? You’ll remember that the group, which had been mismanaged for a long time, was brought down by a video in which young James O’Keefe claimed he had gone into ACORN offices dressed as a pimp, with a girl he claimed was an underaged prostitute, and got advice on how to set up his prostitution business from ACORN staff. It turned out that much of what O’Keefe said was false (he didn’t actually wear the pimp outfit when visiting the offices, and he got tossed out of one ACORN office after another before finally getting some employees on tape giving what seemed like helpful advice), but the damage was done. Conservative media at all levels swung into action against ACORN, joined by Republican politicians. In short order, the group disintegrated, and went out of business in 2010.
This weekend, Up With Chris Hayes featured a panel with a group of conservatives about the state of the conservative media, and during the discussion, Hayes made an excellent point, tying the buffoonery of outlets like the Daily Caller, Breitbart, and the Washington Free Beacon back to ACORN. “The ACORN thing ruined a lot of conservative media,” he said, because it worked. O’Keefe targeted ACORN, and when it was all over, ACORN no longer existed. “It sent everyone chasing down this rabbit hole: what’s going to be the next undercover sting operation that destroys part of the left?”
I’d argue that looking for something that will produce the next ACORN—an actual scalp—is part of the explanation for why these outlets do what they do how they do it, but at heart it’s an issue of psychology. It’s about how they view liberals in general and Barack Obama in particular: not as people who are wrong or misguided, but deeply, fundamentally, corrupt and immoral. So even when these conservative journalists hit upon a story that may have some substance to it, their fervent belief that corruption and immorality lies beneath every administration policy and beats within the heart of every Democrat ends up twisting their approach to the story and eventually destroying their credibility. It will never be enough for them to discover that, say, a program to track guns moving from the United States to Mexico was incompetently handled, and the people responsible should be held accountable. Instead, they have to believe that it was all part of a grand conspiracy to send jackbooted thugs into Americans’ homes to take away their guns, a conspiracy that went all the way to the Oval Office. When it turns out not to be so dramatic, they end up looking foolish.
And when you’re so convinced that your opponents are corrupt to their very core, crazy sting operations exposing that sinister corruption begin to look like the appropriate way of attacking them. Why bother poring through the details of policy, when those bastards are probably using underage prostitutes and stealing money and intentionally letting Americans die in war zones and consorting with terrorists and who knows what else?
As I argued last week, the problem for the right goes beyond the media people themselves; it runs through their elected officials and the audiences to whom both are appealing. And lo and behold, it turns out that the budget bill House Republicans just submitted contains a provision mandating that no government funds be given to ACORN, which is kind of like prohibiting the government from buying any Wang computers. But if you can’t find any new corruption to attack, you might as well go after an organization that ceased to exist three years ago. That’ll show ‘em!
By: Paul Waldman, Contributing Editor, The American Prospect, March 6, 2013
The Daily Caller, that bastion of faux journalism created by faux journalist and former bow-tie wearer Tucker Carlson, is giving away one gun every week until election day. Just in case the vote doesn’t go as elected, I suppose, Daily Caller readers will be able to exercise Second Amendment remedies, courtesy of the man who recently hosted convicted criminal and fraudster Jack Abramoff, saying he has “a decency I’m willing to vouch for.”
Via The Daily Caller:
The Daily Caller will be giving away one gun per week until Election Day – November 6, 2012.
The FMK9C1 is an American-made high capacity 9mm designed by Jim Pontillo and manufactured in
California. Each gun is engraved with the Bill of Rights and comes in one of three colors.
To enter this week’s contest, simply sign up below to receive updates from The Daily Caller. Our DC
Morning emails are an informative and amusing way to keep up with the latest news.
To enter the giveaway you must complete the form below agreeing to all terms and conditions associated with the contest.
I assume the “one of three colors” consist of red, white, and blue.
For those readers not intimately familiar with Tucker Carlson’s Daily Caller, last month a Daily Caller writer penned a piece lamenting how his bike was stolen, and — although he has absolutely no proof whatsoever — the thief must have been a black person.
Joe.My.God. notes that Tucker Carlson is a “proud gay-basher.”
In a very extensive report, Media Matters profiles the gun manufacturer. An excerpt:
The gun’s manufacturer, Jim Pontillo, has attacked American progressives for supposedly seeking to promote communism in America and claimed that “people calling for secession” are not “fanatics who hate America” but are instead acting “in the Founding tradition.”
This ad is currently running on the website’s NRA-sponsored “Guns and Gear” page: http://thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/callerguns.jpg
Who knows, maybe the Susan G. Komen Foundation can go in on the deal and add a pink gun to the ”one of three colors”?
30,000 Americans are killed by guns each year. Tucker Carlson’s disgusting readership drive may backfire.
By: David badash, The New Civil Rights Movement, May 24, 2012
In case you’ve missed the media storm du jour, the Daily Caller reported Monday night that Bachmann suffers from incapacitating migraines, and engages in “heavy pill use” to combat them. This has spurred, among other things, cries of sexism.
Fox News Channel host Martha MacCallum, for example, said that “it does feel sexist … Has anyone asked this of the male candidates out there? Do you have any medical issues that you think we should know about?” (As a side note, asking candidates such questions about medical issues is, I think, fairly routine and legitimate.)
Monica Crowley, a conservative talk show host appearing with MacCallum, chimed in, “This does smack of that old school ‘Woman As Hysteric’ kind of thing.”
Well not so fast. Here’s what the Caller reported:
The Minnesota Republican frequently suffers from stress-induced medical episodes that she has characterized as severe headaches. These episodes, say witnesses, occur once a week on average and can “incapacitate” her for days at time.’
Here’s a simple sexism test. Replace reference to Bachmann with references to, say, Mitt Romney. Would a story saying that Romney “frequently suffers from stress-induced medical episodes” that “incapacitate” him for “days at a time” get the same attention? I should think so.
Now, does that mean that the Caller story has merit? That’s trickier. It’s legitimate … if it’s legitimate. In other words if she really is “frequently … incapacitated” for days at a time then, yes, that’s a legitimate line of inquiry. But if it’s a case of occasional migraines getting blown out of proportion by anonymous, embittered former staffers, that’s something else entirely.
Then there are the pills. “The migraines are so bad and so intense, she carries and takes all sorts of pills,” a source tells the Caller. “Prevention pills. Pills during the migraine. Pills after the migraine, to keep them under control. She has to take these pills wherever she goes.”
Well. “Pills” could be anything from aspirins to greenies. Lots of people take pills on a regular basis—taking pills is not in and of itself disqualifying or even troubling. If there were any evidence to suggest that these pills could affect her judgment that would be a different question, but the Caller story doesn’t have it.
One final issue here that the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza notes, that this isn’t the first time former Bachmann aides have badmouthed her to the press:
A cavalcade of disgruntled former aides (are there ever “gruntled” former aides?) willing to go public with questions and criticisms of Bachmann is decidedly problematic for her presidential candidacy.
After all, if those who know (or knew) her best lack faith in her ability to do the job effectively, it will almost certainly force voters to re-examine their first, generally positive impressions of her.
Indeed, with friends like that, who needs migraines?
By: Robert Schlesinger, U. S. News and World Report, July 20, 2011