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Some Enquiring Minds Don't Want To Know

There's an old definition of an "honest" politician -- "one who, once bought, stays bought." There's a refreshing bluntness in that definition, something that's all too rare in these days.

One place where you can find such blunt honesty is at Media Matters For America. Their mission statement clearly defines what they see as their prime directive:

Media Matters for America is a Web-based, not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) progressive research and information center dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media.

Got that? They only worry about CONSERVATIVE misinformation in the U.S. Media. Anything else? They are not interested.

That means that if a matter does not have an angle that involves "conservative misinformation," they don't worry about it. And if they want to get into some story, they have to have some kind of "conservative misinformation" angle to justify it.

Such as, say, the recent "astroturfing" of the Sarah Palin smear video by a vice president of a PR firm who has hefty ties, both familial and professional, to Democratic politics.

Well, Media Matters has decided to weigh in on the matter. And how to justify digging into this expose' of out-and-out fraud?

Why, by declaring The Jawa Report a conservative part of "the new media," and labeling much of their report "misinformation."

OK, now that they've got their pretext for "monitoring" this subject, how well do they do at "analyzing and correcting" it?

Pretty shabbily.

Jawa was at the center of an overexcited right-wing blog launch Monday morning ("extensive research" was involved!) with a completely circumstantial report that basically accused somebody who may or may not have had indirect relations with the Obama campaign of posting an anti-Palin video on YouTube "aimed at discouraging people from voting for McCain/Palin." Period.

I'll ignore the sneering "extensive research)" dig, and start with the "cimpletely circumstantial" part of the allegation.

Yup, the Jawa Report's story was completely circumstantial. Big whoop. They said up front they had no smoking gun, just an incredibly long chain of events and evidence and facts that, put together, represented either exactly what they alleged or the biggest series of coincidences the world has ever seen -- by far.

And Media Matters' summary of the charges? Rusty and colleagues "basically acused somebody who may or may not have had indirect relations with the Obama campaign of posting an anti-Palin video on YouTube."

Nice summary, missing some nuances that might have been too subtle for the razor-sharp wits at Media Matters.

The "somebody" in question is a professional in the field of public relations, and works for a firm that has a record of producing such political videos. Ethan Winner is no amateur, but a professional -- and, as such, has access to resources that the average person would have to pay through the nose to get.

As for as "may or may not have had indirect relations with the Obama campaign," that would be through Obama's Chief Media Strategist, David Axelrod. Axelrod worked with the firm's founder back in the 1990's. The voiceover artist's voice bears a striking resemblance to a woman whom Axelrod has employed for at least one Obama ad. And that same woman seems to be Axelrod's agency's main female voice artist.

And that video is not merely an "anti-Palin video." It asserts as fact something that has been definitively proven as false. To the average person, that is called a "lie."

It states that Sarah Palin was a member of the Alaska Independence Party. In response to this allegation when it first arose, Palin released her complete voter registration records from the day she first registered to vote -- and proved, conclusively, using official government records (the forging of which is a felony) that she had joined the Republican Party back in May of 1982, and has never left the party -- the only changes she has made were of name (when she married) and of address (whenever she moved).

This lie was debunked over a week before the ad was posted, and it's simply not credible that anyone so obsessed with Palin's alleged involvement with the AIP would not know about the public release of the voter registration records.

So, here we are into the second paragraph (ignoring the sneering introductory paragraph), and we already have three major points of "misinformation" from Media Matters. Does it get better?

Oh, hell, no.

We know, it didn't make much sense to us either. We guess Jawa's point was that the Obama campaign was somehow trying to create the perception of a viral video when in fact the clip was professionally made. We're talking real above-the-fold breaking news, right?

Wrong. From the Jawa Report's original story:

This does not mean that we believe that Barack Obama's campaign is behind the stealth Palin smear campaign. In fact, a preliminary analysis of Obama's campaign expenditures filed with the FEC did not find any payouts to Winner & Associates or Publicis. But our familiarity with how to search FEC expenditures is limited, and there are tens of thousands of recorded transactions.

Does Media Matters even READ the stuff they're trying to debunk?

Well, it turns out the Los Angeles-based public relations specialist who Jawa accused of being the Obama bag man on the YouTube clip, Ethan Winner, did in fact create the video. He did it himself and paid for it himself and the campaign was not involved in making or spreading the YouTube clip. (Even if the Obama team was involved, so what?)

So, the Jawas got it right. They said Ethan Winner was involved in the video. And he stated that he created it himself, paid for it, and spread it around all on his own.

Do we believe his confession? I don't.

He was busted because he used the user name "eswinner" to plug the video -- it was that kind of arrogant stupidity that made the Jawa's job so easy. But two other identities were used to promote the video -- "cnwinner," which matches quite nicely with his father and boss, Charles N. Winner, and "stckyfngz," an identity used by his colleague (and non-relative) Jared Liu-Klein at ESPN.com.

So, Ethan on his own whipped up identities based on his father and one of his colleagues to spread his video? In particular, one of his colleagues with lengthy and strong ties to Democratic politics?

Again, it strains credibility.

As far as the part where Ethan Winner "did it himself and paid for it himself," we have only his word for it. He clearly didn't do it all himself. The voiceover was by a professional voice artist, not him (unless he has an extremely feminine voice).

So, who was the artist? He doesn't say. In fact, he specifically says that she has NOT been paid yet, and will not until she submits an invoice. So we don't know if she is the same woman whom David Axelrod has used extensively in the past, and whose voice is a dead ringer for the woman Ethan Winner used.

Finally, "(e)ven if the Obama campaign was involved, so what?" Well, I happen to think that it would be important if it was discovered that a presidential campaign had been directly involved in producing a video that asserted defamatory out-and-out lies about the vice-presidential candidate of the other party. And so do a lot of other people.

(Before certain idiots start blathering about "the ties between Palin and the AIP that need to be explored," let's shoot that down right now. The video doesn't discuss nebulous "ties," it asserts -- in absolute language -- that Palin was a MEMBER. That has been completely and utterly disproven, with legal documents and everything.)

Winner made this sort of glaringly obvious observation about the rise of user-generated media, which the right-wing bloggers just don't get:

Just like the thousands of Americans who have posted videos on the Internet regarding the current Presidential campaign, I produced this video as an expression of my right to free speech, which is guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

Note that Winner pulled the YouTube clip in question because after JaWa published personal information about him, his family started receiving threatening and abusive phone calls and emails.

Um... no. Winner pulled the video MINUTES after the Jawa Report story was published. And that story was published at 11:32 last Sunday night -- a very odd time for a professional like Ethan Winner to be awake and surfing right-wing websites like the Jawa Report.

Ethan Winner says it was because he was getting harassing phone calls and e-mails, and that is why he took down the videos. Now, fifteen minutes is very damned fast for people to take the Jawa Report's story and track down some way to contact him at midnight on a Sunday -- but it's just enough time for a "klong" moment -- a term I first heard years ago as "a sudden rush of shit to the heart." Patterico had his own term, one picked up from his career as a criminal prosecutor -- "consciousness of guilt."

So really, just another day at the office for the can't-shoot-straight gang on the far side of the blogosphere, which is now reduced to analyzing audio snippets of the voice-over pro who helped with the YouTube clip because she apparently is the key to unlocking this (none) mystery.

Could that be because identifying the voiceover artist COULD unlock the whole story? Because if she is the same woman who seems to be an exclusive "property" of David Axelrod, then we have our linkage to Obama's Chief Media Strategist -- who has made a very successful career out of this kind of "astroturfing."

I can understand Media Matters' incompetence in matters like these. They specialize in dealing with conservative misinformation; they have chosen to deliberately turn a blind eye to liberal misinformation lies. As such, they simply don't have any experience or skill at dealing with such matters.

What I don't understand is why they want to to to such lengths to expose their incompetence.


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Comments (20)

You're assuming that MediaM... (Below threshold)

You're assuming that MediaMatters devotees will even SEE the incompetence there. They won't look at it with a critical eye and will accept it without understanding it. They've gotten two whole comments there and right off the bat, comment #2 says:

Maybe the Jawa Report just hasn't received enough threatening phone calls.

Nice, huh?

And have you seen that the Obama camp was so upset about even the possibility of being linked to Winner that they directly accused McCain of being behind it?

NEVER trust David Brock.</p... (Below threshold)

NEVER trust David Brock.

Media matters and cr... (Below threshold)

Media matters and critical thinking should not be used in the same sentence except as a negative. Those who front Media Matters are paid to protect a left wing ideology, which is a major difference between what left wing does and right wing. A little know factoid from campaigns is that right wing uses a ton of unpaid volunteers, while left wing is mostly paid.

Wouldn't that violate their... (Below threshold)

Wouldn't that violate their 501(c)(3) status?

Excellent post.... (Below threshold)

Excellent post.

Jay Tea says above:<p... (Below threshold)

Jay Tea says above:

" Well, I happen to think that it would be important if it was discovered that a presidential campaign had been directly involved in producing a video that asserted defamatory out-and-out lies about the vice-presidential candidate of the other party. And so do a lot of other people."

Spot on Jay Tea. I couldn't agree more.

Here are just a few examples amongst many of Ob...oh gosh I mean McCain lies:




I eagerly await your condemnation of your candidate of choice - MacCain.

And none of the above relate to the scurrilous and defamatory remarks he has made about Obama putting politics above his country.

Hey, everyone! Look at JFO!... (Below threshold)

Hey, everyone! Look at JFO! He's frantically pointing everywhere but at the topic at hand!

Isn't he cute? Someone toss him a cracker or a fish or a Scooby snack or something.

Here are the differences, JFO, spelled out so even a complete moron can understand it. I'm hoping it won't be too complicated for you.

1) The Palin video being discussed here wsa NOT put out by the Obama campaign -- at least not directly. It was released in such a way as to grant plausible deniability to Obama.

2) The Palin video contains an actual, provable, indisputable LIE -- that Sarah Palin was a member of the AIP.

3) The McCain ads you cited were official campaign advertisements.

4) The statements in the McCain ads are disputable, yes, but NOT absolutely debunked lies.

5) Your sources are weak. As a white male, I am specifically excluded from ever joining New America Media. "New America Media is the country's first and largest national collaboration and advocate of 2000 ethnic news organizations. Over 51 million ethnic adults connect to each other, to home countries and to America through 3000+ ethnic media, the fastest growing sector of American journalism." Since they have no interest in me or my opinion, I have none in theirs.

Newsweek? Their credibility is about on a par with the New York Times.

And the Arizona Republic column doesn't seem to say what you want it to say.

But that's just playing your "look over there!" game. The fact is that this story has already been proven to be accurate -- Ethan Winner has admitted his part in it. His "falling on the grenade" statement, though, still has plenty of huge holes in it, and it is still very possible that Obama's top Media Strategist, David Axelrod, had a hand in this whole stinking mess.

Which is why we need to keep asking questions. Why we need to keep pointing out the incredibly long string of coincidences required to exonerate Axelrod and limit the mess to this one schmuck, Ethan Winner. Why we need to keep hammering away until we get the truth.

No matter what idiots like you try to pull.


JFO: I'm guessing that you... (Below threshold)
Paul Duffau:

JFO: I'm guessing that you missed out on the defamatroy part that you just quoted regarding the Palin AIP video.

Please provide direct evidence that Obama aided the immigration process in question (your complaint #1 above). Something written with his name attached would be a nice start.

Obama's tax plan is a complicated system of give and take (steal) from all income groups and will result in significantly higher taxes for many middle class families according to many respected economists. Of course, these are not ever quoted by the NYT so you'll never have heard of them but feel free to do your own research. http://www.american.com/archive/2008/august-08-08/the-folly-of-obama2019s-tax-plan .

Now, regarding your last link. The article discusses the media's repeating of Obama's lies concerning McCain's advertising. The one concrete example they use is the "comprehensive sex education" meme which has turned out to true.

And now for the fun quote from the AZ Republic article you cited,

Obama and national Democrats clearly are aiming for the McCain brand with an all-out attempt to paint him as an outrageous, pathological liar.

Why would they need to "paint" him as an outrageous liar? Either he is or he isn't. And a quick little clue - if you have to "paint" (smear) him as something, then he isn't.

Hard to believe that Obama, the HopeyChangey President would resort to Chicagoland electioneering.

Jay TeaThen lets b... (Below threshold)

Jay Tea

Then lets boil it all down to what to what its importance is to anything meaningful - absolutely nothing except to a slightly obsessed editor of a blog and the increasingly angry right wing. YAWN.

Tell me Jay, are you ever going to author a piece on something that actually has anything to do with why or why not we should vote for a particular candidate? Or is it just that you can't figure out what your man stands for today other than approving TV messages that are frequently lies?

Jay,If you ever of... (Below threshold)
Paul Duffau:


If you ever offer lessons on how to completely fisk someone and make them look ridiculous, I'll pay.

JFO: Do you ever answer a ... (Below threshold)
Paul Duffau:

JFO: Do you ever answer a question? Or do you just flail wildly all day?

And what the hell does your first paragraph say? A thousand screaming monkeys with typewriters could type more cogent prose.

Score one for the Good Guys... (Below threshold)
Adrian Browne:

Score one for the Good Guys!


Good Guys: 1.5

Democrats/MSM: 5,676,833,206

Paul, I'd be stealing your ... (Below threshold)

Paul, I'd be stealing your money if I took it. The trick is simple: read the whole piece once. Then cut and paste it into some format you can edit, and after each paragraph or so, talk about the things that are stupid, wrong, or out and out lies.

The real "secret" is in choosing your source material. If you're reading something that sets off your "WTF?" reflex at least three times, it's worth Fisking.

But if you really wanna pay me, my Paypal is always open...


PaulSure I do, whe... (Below threshold)


Sure I do, when asked an intelligent and meaningful one

Then lets boil it all down ... (Below threshold)

Then lets boil it all down to what to what its importance is to anything meaningful - absolutely nothing except to a slightly obsessed editor of a blog and the increasingly angry right wing. YAWN.

Well it seems important enough for you to comment on JFO. What's the matter, don't like your Democratic friends being caught with their pants down?

Sorry - Larry Craig is a Re... (Below threshold)

Sorry - Larry Craig is a Republican - one of yours GarandFan.

Is JFO really "lee lee"?</p... (Below threshold)

Is JFO really "lee lee"?

JFO is and has always been ... (Below threshold)

JFO is and has always been challenged with comprehension. His only defense is "look over there" and he runs. Similar to Hyperbolist and sometimes Paul Hooson. They are shooting blanks. They cannot believe their guy isn't winning bigtime. The fact is the independents are waking up to the fact that Obama has nothing going for him. He stupidly had his campaign make a big deal out of Palin's lack of experience but that backfired big time. Now Obama is using his current campaign on his resume as his business experience. Wow! How pathetic, yet wonderful. ww

The vid that Fox played dur... (Below threshold)

The vid that Fox played during Michelle's segment says Sarah "supported" AIP, while the one Ethan posted says "was a member of". The words on the screen are different as well.

What it means or where they got it Im not sure.

You folks are almost as goo... (Below threshold)
Thomas Jackson:

You folks are almost as good as Jawa, and that's mighty strong praise. Nice analysis. I depend on you good folks for news to help me make my way through the reefs of life.

Also to ID the trolls and monsters from the DU.






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