Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning
Robin Abcarian of the Los Angeles Times appears to be the type of reporter comedian Stephen Colbert had in mind during his blistering act at the 2006 White House Correspondence dinner:
"Here's how it works: the president makes decisions. He's the Decider. The press secretary announces those decisions, and you people of the press type those decisions down. Make, announce, type. Just put 'em through a spell check and go home. Get to know your family again. Make love to your wife. Write that novel you got kicking around in your head. You know, the one about the intrepid Washington reporter with the courage to stand up to the administration. You know - fiction!"
As revealed by her front-page Los Angeles Times article, "Swinging at the left, hit or miss," Abcarian, apparently armed with nothing more than the baseline, mainstream media accounts of the Shirley Sherrod scandal, paid a visit to the West Los Angeles office of the man whom Brad Friedman aptly described as a "pathological liar" and "race baiter;" jotted down Andrew Breitbart's latest spin about himself and the Shirley Sherrod fiasco, and then dutifully spit out a fawning account which accepted at face value Breitbart's latest claim that he simply failed to "wait for full video" of the Sherrod speech, and which described Breitbart as a "new-media phenom;" a "transformed...liberal" who became "a star of the 'tea party' movement" after experiencing an epiphany during the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court Justice Clarency Thomas, whom Breitbart describes as "an American hero" who was unfairly targeted by "a cavalcade of Caucasians asking...about his very private video rentals!"
In Abcarian and the Los Angeles Times, Andrew Breitbart, the consummate con-artist, had found yet another vehicle for rewriting history...
The Clarence Thomas Confirmation Hearings: Testing Ground for Right-Wing Spin Machine
Given the remarkable amnesia on display throughout the corporate media even with respect to relatively recent events, such as Breitbart's central role in the ACORN pimp hoax, it is not all that surprising that Abcarian and the Los Angeles Times would allow themselves to be the vehicle through which Breitbart would simultaneously smear the good Senators who were charged with having to carry out their constitutional duty of "Advice and Consent" during the contentious 1991 confirmation hearings while at the same time that Breitbart extolled Thomas's supposed virtue.
The Thomas nomination fight contained two stages. The first was marked by both its contentiousness and the nominee’s evasiveness.
David Brock, a former hard-right dissembler who experienced his own epiphany, revealed in Blinded by the Right:
Senator Howell Heflin, a conservative Alabama Democrat expressed concerns about Thomas’s "confirmation conversion." Senator Patrick Leahy (D.VT) questioned the truth of a Thomas answer, technical or otherwise. “Thomas said that he did not believe he had ever expressed an opinion about Roe even in private nor had he ever formulated a personal opinion on the case in the 18 years since it was decided.” Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) likened the Thomas nomination to playing a game of "Russian roulette with the Supreme Court,” adding: “If we confirm a nominee who has not demonstrated a commitment to core constitutional values, we jeopardize our rights as individuals and the future of our nation. We cannot undo such a mistake at the next election or even in the next generation."
The second phase arose when Anita Hill, a diminutive African American law professor who had served under Thomas at the E.E.O.C. stepped forward to deliver, under oath and in graphic detail, an account of unsolicited sexual advances. She also furnished the committee with "detailed accounts of contemporaneous conversations she had had about Thomas’s behavior with others," including a California Workers’ Compensation Judge before whom this writer has appeared, Susan Hoerchner.
Brock, who had watched the proceedings with the preconceived notion that Hill’s charges were a political dirty trick, “shocked [his] colleagues by saying that [he] intuitively believed her…. [He] had already concluded, before Hill testified, that Thomas had likely perjured himself before the committee on Roe….[He] was the only one in the room who thought that Hill was telling the truth—or who would admit to thinking so."
But, since in 1991, Brock was, like Andrew Breitbart, a paid-for propagandist, he did not allow his "intuitive belief" to impede his participation in the vicious, right-wing smear campaign inside the Senate chambers and magnified by the right-wing media echo chamber --- a tactic ascribed to in the copies of David Horowitz’s The Art of Political War given to every Republican member of Congress during the 2000 election, each bearing a Karl Rove-inscribed endorsement. Horowitz instructed his readers to follow Lenin’s injunction: "In political conflicts, the goal is not to refute your opponent’s argument, but to wipe him from the face of the earth."
Brock's contribution was his self-admitted hit-piece, The Real Anita Hill.
Los Angeles Times failed to access Breitbart's long history of deception
Recently, in Andy Breitbart, Pathological Liar, Race-Baiter, Undone, Brad Friedman expressed the belief that Breitbart credibility had, once and for all, been demolished even within the corporate media.
Oh, and also, he now adds in desperation upon having taken on a foe who was willing to fight back: "I feel bad that they made this about her, and I feel sorry that they made this about her...Watching how they've misconstrued, how the media has misconstrued the intention behind this, I do feel a sympathy for her plight."
This observation came after an extended series in which Brad had persisted in unraveling Breitbart's webs of deceit, including AP: Breitbart Deceptively Posted Wrong Video as 'PROOF' Tea Baggers Didn't Hurl N-Word at Dems, in which he revealed how Breitbart attempted to negate a 'Tea Bagger's' use of the N-Word by deliberately passing off the wrong segment of a video in which that word was not used; Breitbart's Latest Ill-Researched Conspiracy Theory Hit Job on Elena Kagan, John Bonifaz in which Breitbart neglected to mention Bonafaz's support for the impeachment of Bill Clinton in citing Bonafaz's support for the impeachment of George Bush as evidence he was "far left" and a long-running series of articles, such as CA A.G. FINDS 'NO VIOLATION OF CRIMINAL LAW' IN 'SEVERELY EDITED' ACORN 'PIMP' VIDEOS; RELEASES RAW TAPES FOR FIRST TIME, which exposed Breitbart's role in the deliberately deceptive effort to smear and destroy a benevolent community organization which, among other things, assisted the poor, who are unlikely to vote Republican, in effectuating their right to participate in democracy by way of voter registration.
This information was readily available on line. Yet neither Abcarian nor the editors of the Los Angeles Times bothered to check either before interviewing Breitbart or before they published this fawning, front-page apologia.
Update 09/04/10 I submitted the following email to the editors of the Los Angeles Times:
Your attention is respectfully directed to the piece we posted in response to yours, entitled: "Shoddy Journalism at the Los Angeles Times."
It would be refreshing if your paper were to inject integrity by printing an article that covered factual matters that the Abcarian piece so clearly missed.
Short of that, we would greatly appreciate your response to our post.
It is too soon to know what response, if any, we will receive. But readers who are as concerned about journalistic integrity are certainly free to weigh in with the editors of the Los Angeles Times.
"New-media phenom"? For the benefit of the editors of the Los Angeles Times there is this Stephen Colbert demonstration of the Breitbart school of journalism, which we previously posted...
One suspects, Ms. Abcarian, that, when they realize that your "new media" amounts to nothing more than deceptive editing by your "phenom", Andrew Breitbart, most Americans will prefer the "old media" and real journalists like Bill Moyers who observed in Moyers on America, quoting C.P. Scott of The Guardian: "Comment is free. Facts are sacred."
Ernest A. Canning has been an active member of the California state bar since 1977. Mr. Canning has received both undergraduate and graduate degrees in political science as well as a juris doctor. He is also a Vietnam vet (4th Infantry, Central Highlands 1968).