On Newsbusters, Michelle Malkin, Big Journalism, Alan Colmes, and David Shuster

Regular readers of this blog probably know some of this, but here goes anyway.

On Newsbusters: I wrote two stories today based on Newsbusters stories, and it occurred to me that I ought to clear a few things up. First of all, I have no axe to grind against Newsbusters. In fact, quite the opposite. Along with Jason Linkins, they saved my career. They did really excellent reporting on my firing from Politics Daily, without which I’d be a former troublemaking blogger-turned-fry cook. Melinda Henneberger tried to ruin my career, and she would have gotten away with it if it hadn’t been for Newsbusters’ and Jason Linkins’ refusal to let her muddy the waters, and for Ed Morrissey’s extraction of a slanderous lie from her. Conservative radio host Media Lizzy also pitched in the smoking gun, and was also shitcanned by Henneberger for her trouble.

For this, I will always be grateful, as I am to Michelle Malkin, who was also very supportive at that time, despite our near-uniform disagreement on just about everything.

More than that, though, I think people tend to dismiss Newsbusters too easily. Certainly, they make no bones about their point of view, and it shows in everything they do. But that doesn’t mean that if you don’t agree with them, you should stay away. The two posts I wrote today were perfect examples. If you strip away all of the editorializing, there are useful facts in both Newsbusters pieces that I linked to that I wouldn’t have gotten anywhere else. Is TPM going to count how many Bob McDonnell pieces were in yesterday’s Washington Post? Does HuffPo have those CNN emails? Looking back a bit more, is Daily Kos going to put together a montage of Ed Schultz spitting fire?

They also watchdog liberal shows and websites for quotes and coverage they don’t like, which has several benefits. First, if Newsbusters hates it, it’ll probably be good content to promote to the left. Sometimes, they have a point, and digesting that can help you become sharper, perhaps avoiding the same mistake. I also have long believed that it is important to call out your own side, as well as the other, because it is the right thing to do. For me, being liberal isn’t about being on a team, it’s about having a set of beliefs and values, and applying them with integrity.

Having said all that, of course, I reserve the right to criticize Newsbusters, and they, me. The key is not to personalize it, not to be completely and personally negating. Any wiseass can string together insults, but it takes real talent to learn from, and teach, your adversary.

That brings me to Michelle. In probably the least helpful endorsement ever, it turns out I’m Michelle Malkin’s favorite liberal. I’m actually very proud of that fact, because it’s easy to gain the admiration of people who agree with you. I also reserve the right to criticize Michelle, but I’m not sure if I ever have, at least not directly. Her influence is such that, like Keyser Soze, I’ve probably fought with those she influences without even knowing it.

I met Michelle at CPAC, and I was very nervous, for a few reasons. One of the things I admire about her is her toughness. The attacks she endures are way out of proportion, yet she doesn’t just endure them, she seems to relish them. For all of her outrageousness, she will feed your outrage right back to you. She also doesn’t try to weasel out of the inflammatory things she says, like Rush Limbaugh does.

This is why I don’t understand the way some people treat her. Max Blumenthal, for example, who I’m decent friends with, went up to her at CPAC once and tried to get her to sign a photo of a Japanese-American internment camp. Keith Olbermann, who I also like, always flashes that awful picture of her, as if being caught in a grimace makes you wrong. If her rhetoric is so wrong, why resort to these kinds of tactics?

In person, she’s just a tiny thing, underscored by this sick video of some guy getting in her face and screaming, followed by a violent fantasy shot of her bleeding. I haven’t read her book, but if I did, I doubt I would have to physically intimidate her in order to get my point across, or use Japanese internment victims as props, or try to deny that she is a very attractive woman.

Anyway, I like my relationship with Michelle the way it is. Despite her toughness, I sense some very raw nerves, and I’m sure her positive feelings about me are fragile. Whatever she sees in me, perhaps she can see in other liberals, so I didn’t want to screw it up by getting in an argument with her, or being too suck-uppy. There are a million liberals for her to fight with. So, I said “Hi,” and I hope I thanked her, and went on my way.

Similarly, I would urge those on the right not to dismiss sites like Media Matters or Crooks and Liars, or personalities like Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow. Any dope can work up a froth, but it takes talent to put your opponent’s argument in context, concede the points that have merit, and argue those that don’t. The right could learn a lot from Maddow, whose charm and cultivated sense of fairness trump a truckload of snark. If Fox News had any brains, they’d give Mary Katherine Ham a show at 9 pm.

That brings me to David Shuster. I did a write-around on an interview I did with him a few weeks ago, and everybody flipped shit when I said “From what I know of Shuster, I don’t think that he’s ideologically driven.” I’m not going to re-argue the point here, I just want to point out that clinging to assumptions is never helpful, it’s not going to help you “win.” I was one of the people who assumed that Shuster was a lefty. Now, whether you think he’s good at it or not, I think Shuster’s passion for journalism is what drives him into a ditch now and then. His contempt for James O’Keefe is obviously about that. Ditto Breitbart. But also, think back to the Chelsea Clinton incident. The central issue there was the Clinton campaign’s use of Chelsea on the campaign trail, while insisting the press stay away.

His throwdown with John Ziegler was also mainly about the press’ treatment of Sarah Palin.

What surprised me most about our interview was Shuster’s acceptance of the roles of people like O’Keefe, Breitbart, and Drudge in journalism. I assumed it might have had to do with his network’s reprimand of his handling of O’Keefe. Now, I think I get what he was saying. I think he views them the same way I view Newsbusters. While I understand, I have to disagree on the particulars.

That brings me to Big Journalism. The key difference here is the fundamental dishonesty with which they operate. It all started at CPAC.

First, a little backstory. I was outside the hotel copping a smoke when I heard some CPAC attendees buzzing about a run-in between Andrew and liberal videographer/columnist Max Blumenthal, that had just occurred (this is an annual rite at CPAC). I learned later, from Max, that he was on his way out of the hotel when he was accosted by James O’Keefe’s ACORN-busting partner, Hannah Giles.

According to Max, she began asking him “bizarre questions,” and a crowd quickly formed. He engaged the crowd for about an hour, and while they started out hostile, by the end, it was much more civil. As the gathering broke up, Breitbart saw Max, and (according to Max) started an argument, part of which can be seen here. (Max’s own video may be available soon.) The crux of the argument was Max’s accusation that Breitbart’s…independent contractor… is a racist. I find it instructive, though, that in both this argument and in his interview with me, he says that the worst thing you can do in America is to accuse someone of racism. Andrew, if you’re reading this, here’s a follow-up: How many notches below that is actually being a racist?

Max also claimed that the DC police who were handling security for the conference advised him to leave for his own safety.

Upon hearing this, I rushed into the hotel to ask Andrew about it. Aside from his dissertation on mucus and weird personal cracks, there are several things worth noting.

First of all, I did not accuse anyone of racism, no matter how much Breitbart wishes I did. I simply asked a question. Breitbart and his crew might want to paint this as an indictment itself, like “when did you stop beating your wife,” but this is just not the case. There’s ample reason to ask it, and it’s a gift-wrapped opportunity for them to put this issue to rest.

In fact, this points up a neat contrast between O’Keefe and myself. I had a reason to ask the question. It’s an issue that’s been raised elsewhere, based on O’Keefe’s own behavior. In fact, after my interview with Breitbart, several CPAC attendees thanked me for “calling it out.”

O’Keefe, on the other hand, decided to set up a sting operation to see if ACORN would give tax help to a pimp and a prostitute. Why? Did O’Keefe have any reason to believe that this was an issue for ACORN? He’s never said so. So what is it about ACORN that made him want to engage in the pimp attack? Where was the probable cause?

If only James or Breitbart would answer that. For it appears that Breitbart’s influence over O’Keefe extends to only let him talk to friendly journalists, but, as our encounter shows, his influence isn’t large enough to include taking responsibility for O’Keefe’s actual product. Apparently, O’Keefe has no editor. This is a great deal for Breitbart, as he gets to exploit O’Keefe’s work, but assumes less responsibility in protecting him.

Also worth noting is that when Breitbart realized what my followup question would be, he grabbed my camera and tried to end the interview. I shouted, to be heard above the crowd, “Because I got him, I got you!” I challenged him to stay and answer the question. As you can see, he wanted to leave because he had no answer, because there’s only one answer.

Now, for some reason, it’s very imp0rtant to Big Journalism’s John Nolte to believe that, after the interview, I said “We got him. We got him.” I don’t understand the significance, but it’s so crucial to him that he even made the quote a nickname for me. The problem is, that’s not what I said.

What I did say is pretty similar, and I only object for the sake of accuracy. The point is, Nolte refuses to correct his reporting.

After Breitbart used the crowd of 100 or so to get away from me, several CPAC attendees urged me to go after him, and I say “Nah, that’s ok, I got him. That’s why he’s running away.”

Saying “We got him” would make no sense, since there was no one there with me. If there had been, I probably would have said that. The fact, though, is that I did not.

Later that night, I went out for karaoke with about 10 other conservative bloggers, mostly from Redstate.

Christian Hartsock, one of James O’Keefe’s friends resourcefully trailed me to the karaoke bar, and accosted me outside, at about 2 am.We had about a 15 minute exchange, during which I completely demolished him. I asked him the same thing I asked Breitbart, and after dodging me for as long as he could, he predictably accused me of racism for equating a pimp costume with black men.

“So you’re saying that pimp=black is racist?” I said.

He warily agreed. “Then why did James tell Fox News that he was surprised anyone believed he was a pimp, when he’s the whitest guy ever? White=not a pimp?”

Boom! He had no response. Looong pause. “C’mon, that was a joke.”

I predicted that he would chop up the video, if he posted it at all, and I was right. Here’s what Hartsock put out. Even in his cherry-picked version, I still crush him:

It should be noted that the Redstaters surrounding me all promised, at the time, to loudly call Hartsock out if he tried to post an edited version. They have all chickened out, and can GFT. Ask any of them, they’ll tell you what happened.

Anyway, Nolte seems to think he can help himself by crawling onto Twitter every now and then to insult me, then run away when I challenge him ass to post the whole Hartsock tape.

The irony is that Hartsock posted the clip in an article where he tries to defend the heavily edited ACORN tapes. Awesome, right?

Aside from correcting the record, the point of all this is that these guys are fundamentally dishonest, so you can’t even trust the facts they present. Other partisan blogs like Media Matters or Newsbusters might leave out facts that don’t support their stories, but by and large, they don’t alter them. There is no place for outright liars like O’Keefe, Nolte, and Henneberger in journalism. I cut Hartsock some slack because I don’t blame him for hiding the utter humiliation I dealt him. We’re all only human.

The irony is that these guys are picking a fight with the one guy who can give them a fair shake. The right is certainly not going to tell them what they tell me, the left has no interest in their side of things, and the mainstream media is just happy to point at them until they stop being entertaining.

Which brings me to Alan Colmes, a guy who is unappreciated by the people he can most help. I said my piece about Alan on Mediaite, and I was humbled to get a big “Thank you” from him. This is a guy who is a better liberal than a lot of the posers who snark it up around the internet, he’s sharp as a tack, and he’s the only liberal who’s in a position to do any good. Everyone else is preaching to the choir, but when Alan points out something that doesn’t make sense, he does it in front of people who actually need to hear it. He might not convince them to love health care reform, but maybe he can convince a few that it’s not going to kill them. And if you think you could have done better than him against Hannity, keep in mind that Keith Olbermann won’t have any guests on who disagree with him.

If this business has taught me anything, it’s that you should always challenge your own assumptions, and that it’s rarely a good idea to personalize that which is not personal. Since I’m only human, I’m sure I will continue to do a little of both, but that’s how we learn. I suppose it’s also important to remember that Andrew Breitbart, Michelle Malkin, Keith Olbermann, Markos Moulitsas, and even Tommy Christopher are all human beings, not bogeymen.

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Exclusive: CPAC 2010 Photos #CPAC10

It’s been a week since I attended my first CPAC 2010 event, and I’m just now getting to put up the many pictures I took at the conference. I decided to give them each their own page, rather than one long entry that would take forever to load. Enjoy!

Exclusive Photos: Ed Morrissey and Mary Katherine Ham Eating…Arugula!!! #CPAC10

While it’s not on the same level as the end of Soylent Green, I’d say it at least stacks up with Animal Farm. MK pointed out that she can enjoy arugula while still recognizing the political problem it poses. And I can do this.


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Peace with Kevin McCullough

Longtime Daily Dose readers are likely familiar with my flame war with Townhall columnist Kevin McCullough from last year’s CPAC. I’m happy to report that we buried the hatchet at this year’s convention.

To his credit, it was McCullough who approached me at Harry’s Tavern in the Marriott Wardman, where I was eating lunch with about 8 friends. That takes some guts.We both agreed we could have handled that whole thing better.

Coincidentally, Big Hollywood linked to those old posts today just as I was updating them.It’s all part of their intrepid mission to prove I’m a liberal. Stop the presses!

I added updates, but I didn’t delete them because they’re my words, I wrote them, I own them. As I said in my updates, I hereby retract the name-calling. As I’m sure is true of Kevin, I stand by any substantive criticisms I’ve made since then. In short, we now disagree without being disagreeable.

Here’s a photo to commemorate the detente, taken by Caleb Howe’s brother, Ben, who surprisingly does wear shoes.

Kate’s Corner ~~~ A young Transwoman’s take on Coulter, Olbermann and HRC

Katie

By Kate Doak.

If anyone thought that sexism wasn’t rife within politics and the media, the events of the last few days should cure them. Between homophobic comments, ACORN rants and penis jokes by some attendees of the recent CPAC summit, not to mention a proverbial tennis match between Keith Olbermann and Ann Coulter over transgender individuals, there’s more than enough ammunition floating around that shows the influence that issues like sex and sexuality have on society today.

Now Ann Coulter and Keith Olbermann have a long history of despising each other’s guts, to the point where a Bullwhip, Chair and Pistol would probably be useful if they ever met face to face and were forced to openly talk about their differences. Like two competing lightening rods, both of these individuals are polarised to their respective ideals in a way that will never change.

As a young Trans-woman, I’ve heard my fair share of transgender-orientated jokes and rants from both conservatives and liberals. For some weird reason, we tend to be regular targets of ridicule for Conservatives, some feminists and parts of the gay community alike. Coincidently as I’m writing this, I’m receiving extremely cold stares from a gay guy who used to reside in my University Dorm and officially complained about my Transition last year. Transphobia can come from anyone, regardless of politics, location or sexuality.

Recently Ann Coulter launched an attack on MSNBC, pretty much calling Keith Olbermann a Mama’s Boy, Richard Wolffe a creepy androgynous “he-she”, and Rachel Maddow a dude. In a strange twist for a Journalism student, words cannot describe the disgust that I’m experiencing typing these comments out. They are examples of Transphobia in their most vile and blatant form. To the best of my knowledge, neither Maddow or Wolffe have commented publicly on Coulter’s remarks. Olbermann on the other hand has decided to trade barbs with Coulter over this, resorting to referencing Ann’s well known nickname, “Mann Coulter”.

Over the years Olbermann has proved to be a very useful ally for the LGBT movement and the Transgender community in general. Coulter on the other hand, has a vindictive streak within her personality, regularly showing that she’s willing to stamp on the weakest in society if it furthers her own social and political agenda. However annoying, offensive and disgusting it may be, hearing Transphobic remarks from Ann isn’t very surprising. Hearing Keith use Transgender people as a punchline against Ann Coulter however, is.

Quoting Olbermann: (video in link)

“All I have to say about Ann Coulter is this. If this guy wants to live his life as a woman I’m going to back his choice up 100 percent. Coultergeist, today’s not worst person in the world.”

Now I know that I’ll catch a lot of flack for this, but Olbermann crossed a line in saying that. Just because Coulter targeted MSNBC with Transphobic remarks, doesn’t give Olbermann the moral right to respond in kind, no matter how justified or satisfying such a return volley might be. At all times a media personality must take into consideration the ideals and values of their audience, while acting responsibly. With this particular story, I don’t think that Keith and his writers did that, as there are plenty of other punchlines that he could have used that wouldn’t have ridiculed one of the smallest and quietest minorities in the world. Both Keith and Ann’s respective tirades do nothing but promote an environment where transgender people are threatened with violence on a daily basis. The horrific murders of people like Angie Zapata, Gwen Araujo and Brandon Teena are testament to that.

The latest round of Olbermann and Coulter’s “Love-fest” also showcases the low priority that organisations such as the Human Rights Campaign, GLAAD and The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force have for the Transgender community at this time. Since this story broke, there hasn’t been a single press release or comment from any of these organisations about either Olbermann’s or Coulter’s comments. This is extremely surprising given the fact that Coulter called CNN’s Anderson Cooper gay and Olbermann a girl, at the Conservative Political Action Conference for 2010 over the weekend.  If it wasn’t for columnists such as Tommy Christopher and the people at Queerty, it is highly probable that the punchline of these comments would have gone un-noticed.

Strangely enough, this isn’t the first time that these organisations have ignored issues concerning the Transgender community for political gain. Soon after The Task Force’s Creating Change 2010 summit earlier this month, I asked the Human Rights Campaign’s Diversity Officer Allyson Robinson via Twitter what her organisation’s policies are towards Transgender people in the military and why there weren’t Transgender provisions within the Bill to repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’. After having to apply considerable pressure, I was then informed that the Transgender community is covered by a “Medical Policy” and that I should talk to “Knights Out” about it. For those of you who don’t know, that’s Washington-speak for “You are too controversial for us to consider helping with this Bill. Go away and be someone else’s problem”. This chain of thought is typical of what the Transgender community has been experiencing for quite a while, where HRC will only advocate for Transgender rights if it is politically advantageous for them to do so.

Ironically, as Transphobic as Coulter’s and Olbermann’s comments are, they aren’t nearly as offensive as the refusal of some LGBT rights organisations to stand up to them.

_______________________________________________________

Kate Doak is a Postgraduate student at the University of New England, Australia.  Over the past several years, Kate’s changed genders once, academic fields twice and has developed a deep passion for radio broadcasting.  When not posting for Tommy Christopher’s Daily Dose, she can be found at www.tunefm.net or on Twitter.

Townhall Columnist Compares Obama to Hitler

Townhall Columnist Compares Obama to HitlerI’m sure this has happened before, but after a great couple of days at CPAC, I thought this kind of thing was relegated to the fringes. I mean, our own Matt Lewis writes at Townhall. What is this, by Kevin McCullough, doing there?

This week President Obama exercised for the first time a policy decision that shares a trait held in common with Adolf Hitler.

Before he gets to this, he accuses Obama of being a socialist (guess he never read Adam Smith), and shows off a pretty strong homophobic streak:

Case and point (sic)… Rachel Maddow.

She is MSNBC’s less funny and perhaps more butch version of Keith Olbermann.

So, to what policy is he referring? Is it the wingnut civilian army conspiracy theory? No, this guy is comparing Barack Obama to Adolph Hitler because…he wants doctors and pharmacists to do their jobs. He wants them to act, medically, in the best interests of their patients. From our own Mark Impomeni:

President Barack Obama will rescind a Bush Administration rule that granted protection to doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and other health care workers who refuse to perform or assist in abortions, sterilizations, and other contraceptive procedures on moral grounds.

Look,I get that there are reasonable objections to abortion, and even to contraception. That’s fine, then you need to get a job that won’t conflict with those beliefs. I don’t want my sister dying on some operating table because Jesus told her doctor to let her die.

I don’t want a raped child to be forced to carry her rapist’s spawn because the ER doc thinks she should. I don’t want any young woman to have to face judgment from some med school dropout who doesn’t want to sell her the pill. If you can’t handle counting pills, try flipping burgers or something.

This wouldn’t fly in any other situation. Notice how there’s no objection to Viagra in there. No, it’s OK to disregard women’s rights, though.

Would you partner with a cop who reserved the right not to shoot anyone? How about a fireman who only wanted to put out certain fires? I didn’t think so.

Like it or not, doctors and other medical professionals have a duty to their patients that must outweigh their personal beliefs.

As for comparisons to Hitler, he’s in good company, which means the GOP is in great shape to continue alienating moderates and independents.

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Stephen Baldwin’s Nobody ******* Pal Kevin McCullough is a Liar, Too

Update: At CPAC 2010, McCullough and I buried the hatchet (to his credit, he approached me), so I hereby retract “dickbag.” I’m leaving the post up because, well, I wrote it, and it serves as a reminder of when to take a deep breath.

Wow, what a dickbag this guy is, I hate to even give him a link. Well, maybe the extra traffic will help him pay for those Viagra he has on layaway.

Remember this from yesterday?  Yeah, the one where I stuck up for Kevin’s buddy.  Well, this dickbag is such a dickbag that he can’t stand it that Baldwin talked to me.  Sick jealousy.  Dude, I wasn’t trying to horn in on your action.

Here are the facts: I talked to the event staff at the book signing, and followed their instructions to the letter.  There was nobody waiting there for them.  Stephen Baldwin was cautious, but polite.  He hadn’t heard the quote, and observed that it was weird that nobody else had.  Exactly my thoughts.  His dickbag buddy made him all nervous, so he understandably didn’t want to say more.

And his claim about how people get quotes is a joke.  First of all, he’s bitching because they’re in an all-fired hurry, but he wants me to play Stephen a clip and let him ruminate for awhile.  Funny, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, and Joe the Plumber didn’t have any such objection.  In fact, this dickbag was the only person in all of CPAC to give me any static at all.

His post about me is hilariously scummy, as he homophobically asserts that I’m “homosexual,” which means, I suppose, that Captain Ed Morrissey is too, since he agrees with me about civil unions.  Or maybe McCullough was just fantasizing out loud, wishing he could get into my disheveled pants.  Nothing wrong with that, I’m a handsome guy with a lot of good qualities.

He also asserts that I “occasionally cross-post at AOL.”  Done laughing yet?  Yeah, I did 133 posts for them last month.  Idiot.  I actually posted the video at AOL, without the dickbag’s static, in a story about Steele.  Maybe he’s pissed that he didn’t make the cut.

He’s on my radar now, though, and good for him.  He’ll get to see what it’s like to actually get traffic to his blog.  Better start checking your facts, asshole.

Here’s that video again, in case you missed it.

Bonus: Click here to find out what Kevin looks for in a man.

Exclusive Joe the Plumber CPAC Video

By exclusive, I mean here and Youtube.

First, here’s a really nice moment where Joe just gives a member of the hotel staff  a signed copy of his book because she tells him her husband loves him.

Here’s some video I shot of Joe shooting a PSA.  The guy asks him to ad-lib the whole thing.  All things considered, I think he did a good job.  Ad-libbing is tough.