Friday, February 02, 2007

More Dirt!

Hillary to Donors: “No Money to Anyone Else” is the title of a new “article” on The Huffington Post.

Hillary Clinton is personally putting out the word that she has no intention of sharing the wealth: "She's calling all the big-hitter fundraisers and saying, 'I want you to understand: NO money to anybody else. You cannot play both sides of the street,'" in the '08 presidential race, says a longtime Democratic operative who has worked for the Clintons in the past but turned down a role in the current campaign, and is so far sitting this one out.
And what's the reaction been? "People don't like it, but they're afraid of her." Yet the far more palpable fear for Democrats, discussed constantly, is that she'll have so much money she'll sail to the nomination

There is no verifiable attribution to this 'report". Both 'quotes' are paraphrases from an anonymous source. Democrats are really afraid of Hillary Clinton! (if Democrats are afraid, imagine how shit-scared Republicans ought to be!).

Who is this “longtime Democratic operative who has worked for the Clintons in the past but turned down a role in the current campaign, and is so far sitting this one out”? We aren’t told. Maybe it’s the author or the source who are scared.

And how is this source who isn’t involved in the campaign, privy to Hillary’s (or her staff’s) calls to major contributors?
Why is this person “sitting this one out”, when Hillary already has a huge campaign chest and the Democratic Party is favored over the Republicans; where win or lose this well-connected person could still make a useful living from working on the campaign?

It is impressive how this story fits the Obama Madrassa/Hillary Political-Hardball sham; anonymous author, anonymous source "close to Clinton", NO evidence and Clinton painted as a manipulative calculating ambitious bitch.

And then there is this NewsMax post, from September 21, 2003:

Dick Morris: Hillary Discourages Donors to Other Dems

"U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton is actively discouraging potential donors from contributing to any of the announced Democrat presidential candidates, so they'll have political cash on hand if she decides to run next year.
So says Dick Morris, who pointed to a meeting two weeks ago between Bill and Hillary Clinton and 150 party fat cats held at the former first couple's mansion in Chappaqua, N.Y."

Dick Morris worked for Bill Clinton on his 1996 re-election campaign but resigned on the day Bill Clinton accepted the Democratic presidential nomination due to Morris’s extra-marital affair with prostitute Sherry Rowlands. The vast majority of his political consulting work had been for Republican governorship candidates, but since the Rowlands affair he has not actively consulted US politicians.
He has however made a partial career as a Hillary Clinton critic in the print press and as a frequent pundit for FOX News where the vast majority of his insights and predictions about Hillary Clinton’s political career have so far proven to be wrong.

The anonymous Huffpo piece may not actually be Dick Morris's work--after all he's been publicly gunning for Hillary for years now--but any like-minded person can plagiarize him for their own coincednetal poltical purpose.
Crtiticism and dissent ought to be based on reasoned and substantiated argument, not unexamined rumor and emotional manipulation. But these days "debate" is not chaired by a disinterested obudsman but by partisans where unsubstantiated utterances are not only given the same consideration as carefully developed arguments but are actually promoted with zealous deference.

This story might actually be true, but if so it should be able to stand the test of open debate and disclosure. Truth is defined by the tests of disagreement, lies are revealed by them. But until the champion of this story stands up to be tested, it remains only a story a particle of the common soil, deserving of disinterested until its quality is revealed and houses might be built from it.

But thus far this looks like dirt to me, not clay.

Dirty Politics, Dirty Pundits and the Dirty Press

“The first anonymous smear of the 2008 presidential race illustrated how easily dubious information can spread” writes New York Times journalist David D. Kirkpatrick in his article Feeding Frenzy for a Big Story, Even if It’s False in which he follows the progress of an anonymously-sourced and anonymously written political story that major news outlets deemed worthy of 11 days of serious coverage.

The original story was posted at on January 17th 2007 with this lede: .

"Are the American people ready for an elected president who was educated in a Madrassa as a young boy and has not been forthcoming about his Muslim heritage?
This is the question Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s camp is asking about Sen. Barack Obama. "

But as Kirkpatrick notes not even the gossipy and often standards-free Drudge Report that frequently links to Insight paid any attention to the story.

“So, as usual, (empahasis added) [Kuhner] e-mailed the article to producers at Fox News and MSNBC” whereupon it then got the exposure Kuhner seemed to think it needed on TV, in the print press and on radio

CNN and ABC, already publicizing the story. felt obliged to confirm it given its obvious lack of provenance. On the 22nd of January John Vause of CNN reported from the “maddrassa” that it was in fact and always had been a secular school.
ABC reporters checked with Obama’s political strategist David Axelrod who instead of exploiting the article’s claim by simply saying that it ‘might be possible’ instead said he "did not believe ... for a second" the story's claim against the Clinton camp.

With the “maddrassa” assertion proven false and the Clinton ‘attack by proxy’ unfounded the only source left was Insight’s editor Jeffrey T. Kuhner. But he refused to even name the author and offered nothing to substantiate the story other than to say:

“CNN's claim that Obama attended a multi-confessional, secular public school needs verification by other news outlets -- such as FOX News -- who will look the facts straight on, without a vested ideological interest in downplaying Obama's Muslim heritage.”

At this point much of the media began to distance themselves from the story and thus also neatly ignored their own roles in peddling it. David Kirkpatrick of the New York Times however went searching for the story behind the story—and then studiously ignored his own research.

“In an interview Sunday, Mr. Kuhner, 37, said he still considered the article, which he said was meant to focus on the thinking of the Clinton campaign (emphasis added), to be “solid as solid can be.” But he declined to say whether he had learned the identity of his reporter’s sources, and so perhaps only that reporter knows the origin of the article’s anonymous quotes and assertions” writes Kirkpatrick.

So the story wasn’t investigative journalism; it was an unsubstantiated opinion piece with a political purpose. So what does Kirkpatrick conclude?

“And at the start of a campaign with perhaps a dozen candidates hiring “research directors” to examine one another, the Insight episode may be a sign of what is to come.”

Oddly enough FOX hack John Gibson arrived at a similar though more specific and partisan conclusion on January 22nd –a week before Kirkpatrick’s article:

"Saying Obama attended a madrassa is tying Obama's name to terrorism. And that, my friends, is real political hardball in action…Are Hillary's fingerprints on the story? Doesn't seem so because they can deny these stories with a straight face…My point is simply this: The senator from Illinois is going to get a baptism by fire if he thinks he's going to challenge Hillary Clinton for the nomination."

Gibson properly identifies one function of the fake report (to smear Obama) and perpetuates the second function (to smear Clinton) by strongly implying that Clinton will probably engage in such tactics (the tertiary smear of Democrats overall is thus a 'given') .

Gibson actually gives the game away, and what is Kirkpatrick’s revelation?

Not that a right-wing hack of record pushed a propaganda piece onto biased media outlets that ignored professional standards and willingly turned it into national “news”, but that campaign staff in general may increasingly use websites as a back-channel for political dirty tricks!

The facts are that Kuhner could count on FOX to give the story legs and could count on its rival MSNBC to put competition before professionalism. Others followed suit, giving the lies relevance through mere repetition.
And yet even Kirkpatrick (who bothered to apply some professional diligence) misses the real story—which is that right-wing operatives (not left-wing) employed these “dirty tricks” and will continue to do so because they will invariably be abetted by the pseudo-journalists and ignorant pundits that infect today’s MSM--and neither will be held to account.

Of course there will be more to come but it will likely be mostly from the Republicans and the right-wing who have the greatest motivation and the greatest means, thanks to the MSM (this event is just the latest in a long line) that will be sure promote each and every smear the right generates

To quote Mr Kirkpatrick, “as usual”.