Posted by: quiscus | November 25, 2010

November 25, 2010

1.  “Anatomy of a journalistic smear job

Speaking of intent, Ames and Levine devote the rest of their response to claims they believe I made about their motives.  I don’t know Ames and Levine, wasn’t familiar with their previous work, and thus don’t know, wasn’t interested in, and wasn’t making claims about what was secretly in their heads when they wrote this.  As I made clear, my criticisms of their article were based on what they wrote and on the logical inferences of their smear of Tyner (I wrote:  “These are Tyner’s actual crimes in the eyes of these Nation writers, at least judging by the accusations they make” and “therein lies the most odious premise in this smear piece”).  What Ames previously did in Russia, the tribulations Levine and his grandfather suffered in the past, or what they would have said to me had I called them are all totally irrelevant.  As I have told the multiple establishment journalists over the years who raised the same “you-didn’t-call-me-first” complaint:  with media criticism, what a journalist claims after the fact about what they published doesn’t really matter; what maters is the piece they published to the world.  That stands on its own.  And that’s what I assessed and critiqued.

What they wrote about Tyner — and the logically necessary premises of what they wrote — were clear.  By their own admission, “all [they] knew” about him — beyond some obviously irrelevant biographical details which they now regret including — was that (1) he is a confessed libertarian and (2) he documented and vocally objected to the TSA procedures.  That’s it.  And based on that — and that alone — they decided to depict him as a Koch-funded covert operative who was deceiving the public into believing he was an “ordinary guy.”

That’s why I argued — and still believe — that the logical premise of their attack is that “anyone who doesn’t quietly, meekly and immediately submit to Government orders and invasions . . . is inherently suspect” and that Tyner’s crime was not being a Good, Loyal Democrat.   Because that’s all these writers knew about him when they decided to attack him.  Or, as Scott Lemieux put it, Ames and Levine sought “to preemptively discredit any critic whether or not there’s any actual direct connection and without engagement on the merits.”  That’s the logically natural conclusion from their article.  What was secretly in their heads when they wrote it is neither relevant nor interesting to me, and I wasn’t commenting on that (that said, it’s quite odd for Ames to so vehemently object to the notion that he was maliciously smearing Tyner — whom he emphasized with bold-faced print was an admitted libertarian — given that the very same Ames just a few weeks ago wrote this:  “Anytime anyone says anything libertarian, spit on them. Libertarians are by definition enemies of the state . . . . Like Communists before them, they are actively subverting the Constitution and the American Dream”).”

2.  “Baathists may use WikiLeaks to sue US over ‘illegal occupation’


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