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Leaked Media Matters Memo - Attack Personal Lives Of Journalists We Disagree With

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woolfe9999

Diamond Member
Mar 28, 2005
7,164
0
0
I disagree with the observation that a personal attack means you can't refute the opposing argument, particularly in this context. I think with electoral politics in this country, both sides tend to throw everything but the kitchen sink at the other. This includes legitimate arguments against the opposing position, personal attacks, and sometimes, flat out lies. The perception is that everything, fair and unfair, is needed to win an election. If we were to conclude that using personal attacks means you feel you can't refute the other argument, then we must conclude that neither side can refute the argument of the other. That in turn means both sides have irrefutable positions.

The clearer way to look it at is that personal attacks have little bearing on the arguments one way or the other. They simply reflect the character of whoever is making the attack and nothing more.

- wolf
 

Craig234

Lifer
May 1, 2006
38,584
344
126
You didn't get my point then. I said IF they are engaging in honest arguments. Fox News is not a legitimate news source, it is a partisan political operation. While I don't support this goal as I think it's shady regardless of the target, that doesn't alter my contempt for Fox's political advocacy disguised as journalism.
As I said above, consider what type of information they find and use.

I cited an example of Rupert Murdoch lying to the public about his donations.

Another example might be uncovering the Murdoch media 'phone hacking'.

I'm not suggesting 'normal journalists' should be 'investigated' who legitimately report news.

Was it wrong for Larry Flynt to offer $1 million for information on members of Congress found to be having affairs while they were impeaching Clinton?

He wanted to 'expose hypocrisy'.

What I haven't seen any other post distinguish well in this thread is the difference between when a measure becomes justified by 'searching for confirming hypocrisy' or 'the other side does it', and when that's not justification, 'two wrongs don't make a right'. I cited a pretty far out hypothetical where it would not be justified.

Back to the 'type of information', Fox has been exposed for having 'talking point daily memos' issued by the executives on the attacks to make on Democrats.

When is exposing wrong something that doesn't deserve investigating, and when does it?

How about if the people involved are attacking others for things they violate? How do you know they are?

The Scaife situation I mentioned about Clinton was an example where such 'investigating' seemed to go way beyond 'legitimate'. Drunks in Arkansas who would make up wild stories about Clinton being a big cocaine dealer were paid, no problem. That wasn't 'legitimate investigation' of accurate wrong - but it was that very paper Scaife funded that David Brock worked at, The American Spectator, that among all kinds of false stories was the original leak - they say from an editing error not to hide the name - of the Paula Jones affair that led to the sexual harrassment suit against Clinton resulting in the Supreme Court getting involved and Clinton losing his law license and the Lewinsky matter. You can oppose impeachment and still feel it was 'legitimate' for it to come out as news.

But we don't need to be talking about sex here for investigating Fox propagandists.

They arguably shouldn't be investigating 'is Bill O'Reilly's wife a substance abuser or did she have an abortion' - though some might support it if O'Reilly is fighting abortion rights.

But what if they find, say, O'Reilly playing an illegal middleman role helping a presidential candidate coordinate with a super PAC?

Al Franken partly built his name helping him run for Senate on anti-O'Reilly and other right-wing commentator books exposing them for dishonesty and hypocrisy. Was he wrong?

("Lies: And the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right" had O'Reilly on the cover, a chapter on him and was clearly aimed at Fox, who sued and lost.)

How do people get those exposures without private investigators helping as one source?

So I think condeming all use of private investigators in investigating all acts of people like Fox propagandists is too broad. If they're misused, they can be condemned specifically.

People naturally have a distaste for something like private investigators because of the danger of misusing them to intimidate and attack people for their political views, and that can be wrong depending on the information. Examples are a defense attorney finding dirt on a rape victim to discredit them - something they're probably obligated to do if it helps their client win at trial; or, for example, here's an anecdote:

Annie Oakley was very famous nationally for her sharpshooting in Wild Bill's show; later, Randoph Hearst had a paper that printed a story she'd been arrested for shoplifting and was unable to afford bail. The story was copied by papers nationally. The fact was, a prostitute had given the name 'Annie Oakley' when arrested, it wasn't her. She spent six years suing every newspaper nationally who had run the story - who had largely retracted and apologized for it.

Hearst hired Pinkerton investigators to try to find dirt on Oakley to help him attack her at trial. They were unable to find any and she won 54 of 55 lawsuits (but lost money overall).

That's a case where I'd say most people would say 'that was scummy'.

But what if a private investigator uncovered Bush's drunk driving conviction and having his attorney Alberto Gonzales covering it up in the campaign - with Gonzales being made a senior White House official? Was that a legitimate story for a private investigator to find and help expose?

I think there are three main categories here.

The most ok is 'the activity is not a problem whether or not the opposition does it'. For example, if Fox clearly lies in a story, is it ok to criticize that? Yes, I'd say whether or not Fox criticizes others for it. The least ok is the 'the activity is a problem whether or not the opposition does it.' I gave the pretty far out example before of raising political money with drug dealing - not ok even if the opponents do it. Same with, say, phone fraud lying about the day of the election.

The middle category is the controversial 'made more ok if the opponents do it' category.

It's controversial because it's a risk to use that to try justify the third category. An example might be 'questioning the patriotism of opponents if they do it.'

Maybe you feel questioning their patriotism is something to avoid if they don't do it; but if they're scorig points by politicizing attacks on patriotism, you feel turnabout is fair.

I'd say the specifics matter when it comes to the use of private investigators.

A lot of people like to get the information even while they might criticize how it's obtained - and sometimes the public is shameless about demanding and causing excessive intrusion.

If I see some sensational story I think is unethical I'll generally avoid giving them any money - but the public largely does pay a lot for that sort of thing, unfortunately.

There is an issue of 'exposing the most craven political whores who espouse things harmful to people, who are demagogues who don't care who they hurt for their sponsors' benefit'; but the rules for them largely will apply to the 'legitimate journalists' or to, say, Media Matters staff even if they're being completely honest in what they do.

Al Gore lost the presidency, among other reasons, because of lies told about him - the sort that private investigators can dig up. For example, it was uncovered he'd made a statement about his connection with 'The Love Story' that was a very innocent issue - but in the hands of political propagandists it was turned into an effective attack supporting the 'Al Gore is a liar' message they had decided to spread. What should be done about splitting the hairs between abuses and lies like that and better investigating?

Journalists use investigators. Special prosecutors use investigators. Lawyers use investigators. They're just a part of how things are done.

Are we going to have 'selective outrage'? Cases where they went too far include Murdoch's media hacking cell phones of ordinary people and celebrities.

Would that be going too far if it uncovered, say, a Congressman selling out information on an informant to the mafia who used it to kill the defendant? Most people would say 'yes', but would also be very glad the crime was uncovered - somewhat inconsistent. If Media Matters supported hacking into the phones of Fox figures, despite the irony, the poetic justice, the fact I think Fox figures are doing a lot of wrong, I'd put this in the third category of 'wrong even if your opponents do it.' There's no evidence that's happened.

I suspect the condemnation of this comes largely from a reaction assuming sleazy tactics and information - assumptions that are not proven.

Of course, other condemnation comes from Fox supporters who would attack Media Matters if they simply called 911 after witnessing Murdoch shoot people on the street.

I'd like to see more on the type of information they planned to collect and use before saying if it was wrong.
 

UberNeuman

Lifer
Nov 4, 1999
16,939
3,078
126
I find the whole story rather convenient and would like to see it corroborated by more credible sources. I'm not saying it is false, merely that it could be. It's pretty obvious from the nutter parrots here that Mediamatters has moved into the right's cross-hairs in the last few months. Lying about opponents is standard operating procedure for the RNC propaganda factory. Again, the story may well be 100% true ... but I'd like to see that confirmed.
Has anyone other than the one site seen this memo? Seems this story keeps pinging around between Daily Caller, Fox and Brietbart...

Any legitimate news sites reporting on this?
 

fskimospy

Elite Member
Mar 10, 2006
70,099
18,865
136
Then I take it back. I disagree with your first point.

I think personal attacks say nothing about the target and everything about the attacker. If you are facing a hopelessly biased, dishonest argument, then the mature thing to do is ignore it, because it is truly beneath you: you are principled, they are not.
That doesn't work in politics. See: Boat, Swift
 

modestninja

Senior member
Jul 17, 2003
753
0
76
Are they funding private detectives to look into journalists lives so they can either expose or do something else with the information? Or is it just media matters that does it?
Do they need to? They say whatever they want about the people they dislike (private citizens, politicians, etc... and don't let things like "facts", or "journalistic ethics" get in their way... Why would they bother to pay someone to corroborate what they already "know"?

That being said, if the OP is true, it's disappointing to see MediaMatters (or any other organization) sink to this level, but not entirely surprising given the state of politics in this country.
 

Hayabusa Rider

Admin Emeritus & Elite Member
Jan 26, 2000
50,874
4,203
126
I disagree with the observation that a personal attack means you can't refute the opposing argument, particularly in this context. I think with electoral politics in this country, both sides tend to throw everything but the kitchen sink at the other. This includes legitimate arguments against the opposing position, personal attacks, and sometimes, flat out lies. The perception is that everything, fair and unfair, is needed to win an election. If we were to conclude that using personal attacks means you feel you can't refute the other argument, then we must conclude that neither side can refute the argument of the other. That in turn means both sides have irrefutable positions.

The clearer way to look it at is that personal attacks have little bearing on the arguments one way or the other. They simply reflect the character of whoever is making the attack and nothing more.

- wolf
In this specific case we aren't talking about candidates running for office but a deliberate attempt to find anything to attack private citizens personally. It has nothing to do with officials, reporting or anything to refute what is being said. This has no merit, it reveals nothing about those in public service or those who wish to be. This is wrong whoever does it.
 

Craig234

Lifer
May 1, 2006
38,584
344
126
I read the link more completely, and it looks like it's a memo from 2009 suggesting ideas, and it says, how many were done, we don't know except some staff attended some events where Fox people including Murdoch were speaking to monitor what was said. Oh, the horror!

I recall, I think in 2008, a Democratic supporter went to the campaign events of a Republican candidate for Senate in Virginia, filming him.

He was expected to win until he used a racial slur against the man.

I'd say voters were helped by that, getting a glimpse into the character of the Senator past the campaign marketing and they benefited by not electing him.

Since people on the other side love to get 'balance', and sometimes there is some, I'll mention a bad example too - when the opponent of liberal Congressman Alan Grayson gave a speech in which he was 'caught' making an offensive statement - if you listened to the ad from Grayson, that misrepesented what he'd said with dishonest editing, which I strongly criticized.
 
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Paul98

Diamond Member
Jan 31, 2010
3,690
133
106
Foxnews can't complain at all with what they do with their "news" station. They don't even need a memo to tell you what they are doing lol. The "news" we get now days from a lot of these major outlets has such an obvious slant with them trying to put their agenda where facts, context and quality reporting has gone to shit.
 

soundforbjt

Lifer
Feb 15, 2002
15,872
3,449
136
In this specific case we aren't talking about candidates running for office but a deliberate attempt to find anything to attack private citizens personally. It has nothing to do with officials, reporting or anything to refute what is being said. This has no merit, it reveals nothing about those in public service or those who wish to be. This is wrong whoever does it.
Like the right's attack on the poor?
 

Craig234

Lifer
May 1, 2006
38,584
344
126
Foxnews can't complain at all with what they do with their "news" station. They don't even need a memo to tell you what they are doing lol. The "news" we get now days from a lot of these major outlets has such an obvious slant with them trying to put their agenda where facts, context and quality reporting has gone to shit.
At least just as bad are 'moderates' who attack accurate news when 'the facts are biased'.

In other words, if the facts are that the Republicans are doing something bad and Democrats aren't, and that's accurately reported, it's 'biased'.

That's why any 'accurate' news story had to blame both parties for Watergate.

A good example here is MSNBC - clearly a network that is (now, it wasn't earlier) 'liberal friendly' - so what, if the news is accurate?

That gets into attacking the news for being accurate when the 'facts have a liberal bias' - assuming bias when it's not there, demanding a false equivalency.

What this does is demand that stories falsely claim more 'balance' than is accurate, and that's just as inaccurate if not moreso than the 'bias' that's alleged.

Watergate accurately reported was a story about corrupt and illegal behavior by Nixon, basically; that didn't make the media 'partisan' not to attack Democrats equally.

There was no 'Fox News' then to fight to tell the imagined, false 'other side', but if there had been, there would have been all kinds of attacks against the media and Democrats who were against Nixon, and exucses for Nixon - which is just the sort of thing Nixon media chief Roger Ailes did when he created Fox News.
 

cubby1223

Lifer
May 24, 2004
13,525
42
86
At least just as bad are 'moderates' who attack accurate news when 'the facts are biased'.

In other words, if the facts are that the Republicans are doing something bad and Democrats aren't, and that's accurately reported, it's 'biased'.

That's why any 'accurate' news story had to blame both parties for Watergate.

A good example here is MSNBC - clearly a network that is (now, it wasn't earlier) 'liberal friendly' - so what, if the news is accurate?

That gets into attacking the news for being accurate when the 'facts have a liberal bias' - assuming bias when it's not there, demanding a false equivalency.

What this does is demand that stories falsely claim more 'balance' than is accurate, and that's just as inaccurate if not moreso than the 'bias' that's alleged.

Watergate accurately reported was a story about corrupt and illegal behavior by Nixon, basically; that didn't make the media 'partisan' not to attack Democrats equally.

There was no 'Fox News' then to fight to tell the imagined, false 'other side', but if there had been, there would have been all kinds of attacks against the media and Democrats who were against Nixon, and exucses for Nixon - which is just the sort of thing Nixon media chief Roger Ailes did when he created Fox News.
For Christ's sake, you will never learn that "fact-based" does not guarantee accuracy.

MSNBC will do things like "Republicans want to cut spending to harm working class Americans who depend on government spending." It is a true fact that Republicans want to cut spending, and it is also a true fact that you believe Republicans want to harm working class Americans. Therefore, this is accurate fact-based reporting.

Fox News might report "Republicans want to cut spending to protect working class Americans from the consequences of government debt." Again it is a true fact that Republicans want to cut spending, and it is also a true fact that many "righties" believe there are harmful consequences of government debt. Therefore, this is accurate fact-based reporting.

However, these two accurate fact-based reports are in conflict.

And just because you scream and holler and think you are a god, doesn't make you right. And it really is a shame, because I do believe you could do a lot of good if you applied yourself in a different way.
 
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Dulanic

Diamond Member
Oct 27, 2000
9,751
359
136
I got to love all the lefties rationalizing this investigation with private detectives into the personal lives of their journalistic opponents. When or if this happens by Koch funded detectives investigating journalists instead of Soros funded detectives we'll see if you all sing the same tune.
This goes both ways.
 

OrByte

Diamond Member
Jul 21, 2000
9,285
113
106
so has the Fox news noisemakers successfully tied this "consipracy" back to the white house?

I know listening to Hannity last night, they had this "conspiracy" going all the way to President Obama.

Man it must kill these guys every night when they lay their heads on their pillow, that Obama is in charge of this nation.
 

Hayabusa Rider

Admin Emeritus & Elite Member
Jan 26, 2000
50,874
4,203
126
so has the Fox news noisemakers successfully tied this "consipracy" back to the white house?

I know listening to Hannity last night, they had this "conspiracy" going all the way to President Obama.

Man it must kill these guys every night when they lay their heads on their pillow, that Obama is in charge of this nation.
Not at all. I bet Hannity has more money than just about anyone here. He's laughing all the way to bank.
 

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