Tuesday, March 01, 2005

"A NEW LOW"? Yesterday a former Oliver North associate named Cliff Kincaid attacked me for doing exactly what he's been doing: criticizing left-leaning bloggers for engaging in a sexual witch hunt over the matter of Jeff Gannon, the pseudonymous male prostitute caught servicing the Bush administration at White House press briefings.

Kincaid is the editor of Accuracy in Media Report, published by Accuracy in Media, the far-right media-watchdog group founded by the late Reed Irvine. Kincaid writes:

The Boston Phoenix, a counter-culture publication, has taken the anti-Gannon campaign to a new low, citing a left-wing blog as reporting "rumors" about an unnamed "high-ranking, married White House aide who may or may not have had a homosexual affair with Gannon" and who "may or may not" have provided Gannon with a confidential document about CIA employee Valerie Plame. There is no evidence cited for any of this, but that doesn't seem to matter at this point.

Kincaid is quoting from my column in this week's Phoenix. Here is what I actually wrote:

Readers of the Web site Raw Story ... know that there are rumors involving a high-ranking, married White House aide who may or may not have had a homosexual affair with Gannon, and who may or may not have provided Gannon with a confidential document concerning the investigation into who leaked the identity of former covert CIA operative Valerie Plame to syndicated columnist Robert Novak and other journalists.

This is piling rumor upon rumor. And in any case, Gannon told Anderson Cooper that reports about his having claimed to have seen the Plame document were based on a misunderstanding. In fact, he said he'd only seen a Wall Street Journal article describing the document.

That was immediately followed by my quoting Washington Post media reporter Howard Kurtz, who told me:

I'm a big fan of bloggers, but the blogosphere has also become a repository of a lot of mean-spirited rumors that seem unaccompanied by a shred of evidence. I am not going to publish any such unsubstantiated crap without being able to pin down the facts. That's one of the things that distinguishes the much-maligned mainstream media from the freewheeling world of the blogosphere

Could Kincaid have got it any more wrong? You see what's happening here. I took Raw Story to task for rumor-mongering. Then Kincaid came along, twisted my words out of context, and then took me (or, rather, the "counter-culture" Boston Phoenix) to task for - yes - rumor-mongering! Thus does Kincaid contribute to the notion of a monolithic left, trying to bring down George W. Bush because one of his favorite reporters likes to pose naked on the Internet.

I sent Kincaid an e-mail yesterday, suggesting that he take a reading-comprehension course and pointing out that if I were really interested in "taking the anti-Gannon campaign to a new low," all I had to do was name the White House aide mentioned in Raw Story. It's not like it's a secret. In fact, I'm sure many Media Log readers know exactly who I'm talking about. But, as Kurtz says, it's "unsubstantiated crap."

Anyway, if Kincaid responds, I'll be sure to post it here.


Anonymous said...

He, of course, knows exactly what he's doing. The right has made spinning via erecting straw men a high art.

I do know who you are referring to in the Raw Story article, and I think you're right in showing restraint... In addition to this being unsubstantiated, this stuff just gets out of hand very easily, and ultimately hurts the legitimate aspects of the case.

It certainly doesn't help this specific case either. The right is spinning this as the left having some kind of problem with homosexual reporters, which is patently ridiculous. The actual problem we have isn't that he is gay, it is that he is a prostitute (and I mean "is," despite his protests about this being in his past). I'm not sure how much success they are having in this particular case, but they're trying like hell.

Just goes to show, Dan, that even when you try to be fair to them, you can't win. It's just sad.

Anonymous said...

By Jove, they are going to stick it to yah...Even through you showed great restraint....

The beauty of being on the Right means never to say your are sorry....Your integrity is never called into account,,,as is the case with any leftward leaning opinion...

Perhaps a legacy leftover from when the government targetted communists, and before them, the Wobblies.

at EmperorNortonII@yahoo.com

AnthonyG said...

Now Do You Understand, Dan?Kincaid has no reading problem, he's smearing you with the Right's standard disinformation techniques --the same kind Herald Hacks used on Murphy.

Disinformation is what Kincaid does for a living.

Wake up, Dan: you don't operate in a world where fair, thoughtful debate takes place, where superior arguments, facts and evidence define public discourse, and where honest professionals referee disputes.

You work in a profit-driven profession defined by neuro-marketing, character assassination, PR manipulation and the battle for eyeballs. It is dominated by profiteers, partisan right-wing political operatives, hate-mongers, propagandists, ideologues and hacks.

There are no honest referees of any consequence, and the bad guys not only control the information delivery system, they also are independently subsidized by fascist gazillionaires like Moon, Murdoch and Scaife.

There is nothing you can do to un-smear the record or clarify what you were saying --as you might do in a J-school panel discussion --and the Kincaids of the world don't give a sh*t anyway.

Dan, you have only yourself to blame. You willfully accept the illusion of honest legitimate debate in our Right-Wing dominated media. You willfully give cover to biased phonies like Howard Kurtz whose relativism & hypocrisy make smears of you possible.

When Gannongate broke, you should have criticized the Republican Right openly and forcefully on the disinformation issue
(as many serious progressive journalists did).

Instead, you treated it as humorous gossip --condemning bloggers while praising Wonkette's anal sex jokes as an approrpiate response.

This, of course, tells conservatives that you are a weakling --as sure as the body language of a bumpkin tells big city muggers who to target.

The only way to deal with Right Wing propagandists is to fight them for every inch of public bandwidth on every issue, bar none.Until your willing to call bullsh*t on the Right's disinformation pathology every single time you might as well get used to the abuse.

Anonymous said...

For another look at l'Affaire Gannon, visit the NashuaAdvocate.

And consider this...Did Jeff Gannon contribute to the political demise of beloved Tom Daschal?

It would seem Gannon did play a significant role in smearing long-time home state commentators and reporters there, hereby casting doubt on objective coverage of Daschal himself. This in itself merits more attention.

It is my opinion that Gannon's services re Daschal were enough to gain him his press credentials; not some homosexual affair with a Republican big fella.

Most American people are dupes, like the voters in Kansas...And Ohio...like the young, angry German families in 1929 too.

Emperor Norton II


Steve said...

Man, AnthonyG, you've got some real potential. I hope you read Somerby. You've got a similar style, but you've got to develop a humor component. :-)

I don't think the Gannon thing means all that much, except as yet another exhibit in the administration's propaganda program. It was telling that Putin thought Bush had Rather fired. It was played in our media as showing how little Putin knew about how the press worked in this country. But I think Putin was onto something. (Not that Bush directly had Rather fired. Just that Bush's media surrogates forced Rather into retirement.)

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't ask the unnamed White House official if he were gay. I would ask if he has had any dealings --social or personal-- with Gannon, that would not involve his duties in the WH.
If he answered no, I would say that the reason for the question is that he'd been seen at gay clubs at his home base.

Rose Selavy said...

I agree that trying to have rational discourse with many on the right seems to be futile. Just go on one of those right-wing "discussion" boards, like the one at frontpagemag.com, and try to argue by presenting data and research to back up your statements. You'll just get more ad hominem attacks.

And I also agree, that you shouldn't apologize for the left, Dan. I haven't followed the bloggers' writings on Gannon's sexual affairs, but I don't think the point is to denigrate him for his sexual orientation. I think the point is to expose (to red staters) the hypocrisy of the Bush administration's bogus claims to some sort of conservative "Christian" "morality."

Btw, can someone point me to the Raw Story piece which names names ?
Robin Williams made a really funny joke the other day on Bill Maher's HBO show about Gannon being involved with Karl Rove.

Anonymous said...

It doesn't name names per se,however:[url]http://rawstory.com/news/2005/index.php?p=73[/url]

Anonymous said...

It doesn't?!?!

AnthonyG said...


I've been worshipping Somerby since he launched The Howler and was first moved to read DK based upon his recommendation.

My vehemence is based on the fact that I regard Kennedy as a talented, intelligent and insightful "good guy" journalist (as Somerby would call him) so my expectations are higher than for other so-called progressives.

Progressives and centrists are fighting today's political war of mass marketing & PR with yesterday's outmoded paradigm of journalistic fair debate and argumantation.

That's why they're getting pummeled and the public is getting snookered in the process.

Anonymous said...

The public's snookered because it is uneducated and cannot think for itself. Which is why it is now back sleeping with superstition. The public ought not need the lazy press to remind them of the anthrax guy - who served no purpose but to cut the most effective line of communication with its representatives. The public ought not need the corporate media to remind it that the entire Iraq disgrace was formulated to thwart folks from understanding that Sept 11th was a total failure of this government.

Rose Selavy said...

I think folks on the left/liberal/progressive side need to be careful about making arrogant and condescending statements that the public "cannot think for itself." I understand the frustration that fuels those kinds of statements, but I think the problem is more complex. I think the problem is probably more that a lot of the public is not well informed and more people would make wiser choices if they were exposed to more accurate information. In other words I think the media's the main problem.

AnthonyG said...

I think people are capable of thinking for themselves --as long as they get accurate information.

The problem is we get carpet-bombed with right-wing disinformation and Junk News from corporate pushers like the Boston Herald, FOX News and Talk Radio; it's no different than junk food: cheap, always within reach and continuously promoted.

It's no accident that a majority of Americans --unlike people in other countries-- came to believe Saddam was involved in 9/11 after the Republic Right saturated the US media with that fallacy for months.

AnthonyG said...

BTW -- folks ought to read Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Laurie Garrett's parting memo to colleagues on our corrupt, craven corporate media:

Long gone are the days of fast-talking, whiskey-swilling Murray Kempton peers eloquently filling columns with daily dish on government scandals, mobsters and police corruption. The sort of in-your-face challenge that the Fourth Estate once posed for politicians has been replaced by mud-slinging, lies and, where it ought not be, timidity...

When I started out in journalism the newsrooms were still full of old guys with blue collar backgrounds who got genuinely indignant when the Governor lied or somebody turned off the heat on a poor person's apartment in mid-January...

Jon Garfunkel said...

I didn't even mention RawStory in my piece (which really focused on why it took 12 months for the story to break). I would have simply said that RawStory is trafficking in unsubstantiated rumors-- while at the same time its editors are calling for online pubs to have some sort of "standards." Ha.