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Terry Krepel Accidentally Confesses That Media Matters Smeared Glenn Beck

October 13, 2009

glenn beck

When I’m engaging NewsReal’s leftist commenters in the threads to our blog posts, some of our conservative regulars often caution me that I’m wasting my time. I’m not. I know exactly what I’m doing. There is indeed method to my madness.

And this is the secret: give a leftist enough rope through continual engagement and they will eventually hang themselves. Continue to poke and prod them and soon the “liberal” mask will slip and the destructive, radical monster will reveal itself.

That happened with Terry “Con Web Watch” Krepel in his most recent response to my calling out him and his employer Media Matters for deciding that the circumstances surrounding the death of Glenn Beck’s mother need to be rehashed and investigated.

Krepel’s critical stumble comes in his third point:

3) Swindle accuses us of “dig[ging] into [Beck’s] past to try and destroy him personally.” As if that has never been done by conservatives looking to attack liberals. (See Clinton, Bill.) But really, how exactly does this little incident “destroy him personally”? Further, Beck has made the claim publicly on numerous occasions, which opens it up to public scrutiny.

[Emphasis Added.]

Now… If you are going to try to claim that you are not smearing, why on earth would you make a tu quoque argument pointing out that the other side has also done what you’re being accused of?

Why does Krepel compare himself and his employer to ’90s-era conservatives who may have overreached in their attacks on Bill Clinton? (Especially when Media Matters’ ex-conservative founder David Brock was the poster boy example of those who engaged in this stuff?)

In defending oneself, there are two incompatible rhetorical tactics:

  1. Agree that the act is wrong and that you are not engaged in it. You then explain how you are not guilty of what you are accused of.
  2. Dispute that the act is wrong — or minimize how bad it is — perhaps by fallaciously pointing out that others have engaged in it too. (Forgetting that two wrongs don’t make a right.)

By stumbling into the second tactic Krepel has made the equivalent of a Freudian slip — an accidental confession that he and Media Matters are engaging in an ad hominem smear in their war to destroy Beck.

NewsReal does not do this — or at least we try our best not to. Nobody’s perfect. (And the example Krepel later tries to cite of Horowitz doing it isn’t an example of the politics of personal destruction either.) We attack arguments, not people. We challenge individuals for the views they hold and on the views they hold. In some of NewsReal’s past disputes with various intellectuals, I’ve received reader tips bringing to my attention various unsavory, totally apolitical behaviors in which our opponents engaged. And we didn’t publicize this information. It wasn’t relevant to the political discussion. It would have been mean-spirited and destructive to utilize these facts.

Because this is our intellectual disposition, Krepel is dead wrong:

It seems to us that Swindle is opposed to any criticism of Beck. After all, his boss, David Horowitz, has embraced Beck as “the most eloquent, fearless and effective warrior standing between Barack Obama and a collectivist state.

Krepel obviously hasn’t read very many of the writings we’ve done on Beck. Nor has he read the debate between David Frum and Horowitz. Criticism of Beck is necessary and important, particularly from conservative quarters. Beck certainly does go too far sometimes (his “Obama hates white people” quote and his Cass Sunstein attack are examples,) and when he does, he needs to be reeled in and corrected.

What will not be tolerated, though, is the sort of smear which Krepel has confessed to perpetuating. Attack the argument, don’t murder the messenger. It’s basic logic for all those engaged in honest intellectual dialogue. (I’ve written about it before at length here.) But then, when were Media Matters and the Left ever interested in dialogue? They have the Truth, and we’re just the evil, racist, homophobic, Islamophobic, warmongering, corporation-shilling liars who need to be wiped off the face of the earth.

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24 Comments
  1. politicalmoxie permalink
    October 13, 2009 2:16 pm

    Nice catch, David Swindle.
    Don’t you love it when a plan comes together?

  2. Swemson permalink
    October 13, 2009 4:26 pm

    David,:

    When I’m engaging NewsReal’s leftist commenters in the threads to our blog posts, some of our conservative regulars often caution me that I’m wasting my time. I’m not. I know exactly what I’m doing. There is indeed method to my madness.

    And this is the secret: give a leftist enough rope through continual engagement and they will eventually hang themselves. Continue to poke and prod them and soon the “liberal” mask will slip and the destructive, radical monster will reveal itself.

    While your point is well argued, and certainly cannot be refuted, it appears that the entire exercise is designed to prove to us how full of crap people like Krepel and the putz actually are…

    But regardless of all of your intellectual rigor and integrity, the vast majority of your audience already knows that, and IMHO the rest will never be convinced by any logical argument…

    So the question remains:

    Is it really worth your time to continue playing this game ?

    • October 13, 2009 4:34 pm

      “the vast majority of your audience already knows that, and IMHO the rest will never be convinced by any logical argument…”

      This isn’t true at all, particularly the second half about “the rest.” A segment of the Left will never be convinced by logical argument but you seem to be forgetting about the vast numbers of moderate left-leaning, centrists, apoliticals, Frum-like squishy conservatives, etc.

      Further you come into your continual issue: seemingly sticking all leftist in the same bucket.

      But I mean you might as well be telling me to stop blogging and stop writing.

      • Swemson permalink
        October 13, 2009 5:05 pm

        David:

        Further you come into your continual issue: seemingly sticking all leftist in the same bucket.

        I think you know that I’m referring JUST to the radical nut cases on the far left fringe.. the hate merchants, the party apparatchiks who go around hurling smears and insults at any right of center blogs like Newsreal…. You know precisely who I mean…. !

        • October 13, 2009 5:22 pm

          It can take a little digging to tell the difference between the hate merchants and the reachable.

          • betty boop permalink
            October 14, 2009 5:03 am

            “It can take a little digging to tell the difference between the hate merchants and the reachable.” Indeed. While middle aged, diminutive women don’t often get taken seriously (ask Kathy Shaidle), I am making small inroads with a “squishy” friend whom I recently debated on “nice old Mr. Carter”. After calling me out on my comment that Carter was surely anti-Semitic, he decided to fact-check me (just like MSNBC!) and was shocked to see the ugly side of the old dear. Now he’s fact-checking all my arguments, and discovering my secret. I don’t argue unless I’m pretty darned sure of myself. Thank God, once in awhile, the truth actually does set you free. Thank you for being one of my favorite sources.

  3. October 13, 2009 5:22 pm

    Congrats David!

    When thinking of David Brock, perhaps this quote from “Slate” via way of NRO online is appropriate: Excerpt from the link.

    “When Blinded by the Right appeared, Timothy Noah, the liberal “Chatterbox” columnist for Slate, wrote that “Chatterbox yields to no one in his eagerness to believe the awful things Brock is now saying about himself and the conservative movement in America. But the more Brock insists that he has lied, and lied, and then lied again, the more one begins to suspect Brock of being, well, a liar.”

    Even though it is Leftwing, “Slate” also had articles by David Horowitz.

    • October 13, 2009 5:37 pm

      Thank you Underzog. Good link.

      You’re right about Slate. If only all leftist publications were as good as it. And Christopher Hitchens stuff there is always must-read.

      I remember I used to adore David Brock and “Blinded by the Right” and “The Republican Noise Machine” when I was a leftist. They allowed me to just write off the Right and ignore it. Obviously that opinion had a shelf life for me at least.

  4. October 13, 2009 7:33 pm

    My, my. You are reaching, aren’t you, David?

    1) Mr. Swindle has yet to demonstrate a “smear” has taken place. or even what his definition of a “smear” is. One common definition of “smear” is false or misleading information, but you have not disputed any of the facts reported regarding this claim. Without that, there is no basis upon which to claim that this information about Beck “destroys him personally.”

    2) Media Matters did not uncover this information about Beck — Salon.com and a newspaper in Tacoma, Washington, did. Media Matters simply repeated what they had reported. How is repeating information reported by others (and, again, not disputed on the facts) constitute a “smear”? Or does Mr. Swindle consider *any* reporting about Beck’s private life considered to be a “smear,” even though Beck himself is on record talking about his mother’s death publicly, thus making it a public matter?

    3) Criticism of David Horowitz, as the operator of this venue, is entirely relevant to the current argument. Horowitz declared that attacking President Obama as a “Manchurian candidate” to be beyond the pale — so inflammatory that it may as well be considered a personal attack — yet three months later he engages in that very same attack. At the very least, Horowitz should explain his flip-flop, as well as where exactly his ever-moving line on attacking Obama is (this week, anyway).

    4) The reference to attacks on Clinton is similarly relevant. The David Horowitz Freedom Center has received money from foundations controlled by Richard Mellon Scaife, who is best known for funding numerous attacks on Bill Clinton, the most notorious being the Arkansas Project, which was dedicated solely to rooting into Clinton’s private life. Did Horowitz criticize the Arkansas Project at the time? Nope — a 1998 article by Horowitz described the Arkansas Project as nothing more than “investigative reporting.” Why doesn’t this reporting on Beck get a pass as “investigative”?

    (It’s kinda cute how Swindle avers that conservatives “may have overreached in their attacks on Bill Clinton.” Likening Chelsea Clinton to the White House dog, to cite just one example, “may have” been an overreach?)

    5) If Mr. Swindle had bothered to look in the Media Matters archive on Beck, he would find numerous examples of false and misleading information by Beck being corrected — far from the “ad hominem smear” Swindle accuses Media Matters of engaging in (and remember, Swindle has yet to explain why factual information is a “smear”).

    6) Swindle purports to be interested only in “honest intellectual dialogue” but then he accuses Media Matters of depicting him (or all DHFC employees, or all conservatives or … something) as “evil, racist, homophobic, Islamophobic, warmongering, corporation-shilling liars who need to be wiped off the face of the earth.” Yeah, yeah, this is probably supposed to be some of that newfangled hyperbole for comic effect, but Swindle seems to have forgotten that I have no sense of humor, so this little joke is totally lost on me and I have no choice but to treat it as literal since the rest of his piece is predicated in him being taken seriously.

    As for Swindle’s insistence that he’s got me right where he wants me: Don’t strain anything patting yourself on the back, dude. It may very well be premature.

    • October 13, 2009 9:08 pm

      You’re attempting to draw me into other subjects because you know you can’t adequately defend yourself regarding Beck. These are diversions and I won’t fall for them. I won’t be engaging you on Clinton, Horowitz’s “Manchurian Candidate” article, etc. They aren’t the central subject of discussion. They’re just tricks you’re pulling out of your debater’s utility belt.

      The issue here is this: is it appropriate to bring up the circumstances surrounding the death of Glenn Beck’s mother? What purpose can this serve in today’s political dialogue?

      You have yet to answer this second question. And you haven’t done this because you can’t. Because the only honest answer is the one I’ve provided. You and Media Matters are trying to destroy Glenn Beck personally. Just drop the facade and admit to it.

      I’ll define smear:
      http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/smear

      “To stain or attempt to destroy the reputation of; vilify: political enemies who smeared his name.”

      To “smear” someone has nothing to do with whether the allegation is true or false. (If I had printed the true information I received about one of the people we’ve criticized then it would be a SMEAR because it would be an ad hominem attempt to discredit them instead of their arguments.) Smearing is about destroying the reputation of someone. It’s about vilifying someone’s character in order to destroy their arguments. That’s the whole point of trying to suggest that Beck is lying about his mother’s death.

      • swemson permalink
        October 13, 2009 9:18 pm

        Go David Go !!!

      • October 13, 2009 10:45 pm

        It can be argued that it goes to a question of character regarding a public figure. If Beck is willing to embellish such a personal tale about his life (as appears to be the case), what questions does that raise about what he’s doing now? Is he using similar tactics in his bully pulpit? To what standards should we hold such people?

        Al Gore lost his campaign for the presidency in part because he was perceived as embellishing facts about his own life (even though the purported embellishments were largely tales made up by his political enemies). Did anyone at the DHFC run to Gore’s defense claiming he was the victim of “smears”?

        By your overbroad definition, the vast majority of posts on NewsReal can be considered “smears” because they criticize someone (Obama, Olbermann, etc.) with the presumed goal of destroying their reputations and careers. What you have not yet done is explain how highlighting how the officially reported circumstances of Beck’s mother’s death is at variance with what Beck has said publicly about it is so much more egregious than what is found in your average NewsReal post.

        This is not a question you want to see raised because Beck is serving your side of the political debate. Therefore, you are willing to ignore the larger ethical issue involved and try to bully me and others into backing away from promoting it.

        If you are so convinced that this information could destroy Glenn Beck — and so vehemently trying to shut down discussion of it — isn’t that an indication that this is a legitimate issue and further investigation is necessary in order to get to the bottom of it?

        • In the know permalink
          October 14, 2009 6:14 am

          “Is he using similar tactics in his bully pulpit? ”

          And the truth shall set you free. You fear him, your verbage confirms it. Beck has no bully pulpit. His viewership does not come to him via an office. He has no power or authority. You seem to perceive that he does though? Is this the reason for the smears from your camp? Most definitely. Why do you fear him?

        • October 14, 2009 7:13 am

          This is a waste of my time.

          You honestly see no difference between an ad hominem smear and a legitimate political disagreement?

          At NewsReal we criticize people for the ideas that they hold and promote. That’s entirely legitimate. (Just as it’s legitimate for you to attack Beck’s policy ideas.)

          It’s not an ad hominem smear to criticize someone for promoting wrongheaded policy (which is what we primarily do.) This is worlds apart from digging into someone’s painful personal history to try and demonstrate that they’re a vicious liar who would exploit personal tragedy.

          This is practically the most damning comment yet, Terry. Confessing that you don’t know what a smear even is — that you don’t know what’s appropriate in intellectual discourse and what isn’t — basically proves my point.

          • October 14, 2009 2:25 pm

            So and and all comments about a public figure’s personal life constitute a “smear”? Beck is the one who has made this an issue by discussing the issue in public forums. That gives license for anyone to investigate the claim, since the incident in question is also a matter of public record.

            I have not claimed (nor has Media Matters) that Beck is “a vicious liar who would exploit personal tragedy,” so don’t put words in my mouth. Anything beyond the evidence that has been presented — that there is a discrepancy between the official record and what Beck has said — is speculative until such time that Beck chooses to explain the discrepancy, since he’s the only one who can. How can this be a “smear” when all of the information presented was taken from the public record?

            Beck has made incorporated his personal history — a difficult childhood and later drug abuse and alcholism, then redemption through religion and conservative politics — into his public appeal. He has blurred the personal and the political. Why can’t that be looked into?

            Tell me — what are we not allowed to report or investigate about Beck? Where is the line? Why is this particular story on the wrong side of that line, aside from the fact that it raises questions about Beck you would rather not see raised? What is the “ad hominem smear” in the information provided by Media Matters (which, as I previously noted, originated elsewhere)?

            Are you accusing the Tacoma News-Tribune, or Salon, of engaging in “ad hominem smears” for committing the offense of originally reporting this discrepancy?

            Or are you saying that what one might reasonably conclude from the presentation of this factual information, in the absence of further explanation from Beck, is the “smear”? If so, your problem is with Beck, not me.

            • In the know permalink
              October 14, 2009 3:25 pm

              No, the problem is your “yellow journalism”. What discrepancy? You say one exists so that makes it true? What’s next? An expose’ on David Swindle? Perhaps there are conflicting reports on whether or not he lied to his mother about brushing his teeth before bed on August 17th 1993. Until this discrepancy is resolved, he certainly can’t be trusted? You can make no valid argument to justify this investigation. It belongs on late night TV between Shamwow infomercials and 1-800-“Aks-Gary” ads. “Don’t be skerred and confused”. You people have no class.

  5. Stakkato permalink
    October 13, 2009 11:23 pm

    “Now… If you are going to try to claim that you are not smearing, why on earth would you make a tu quoque argument pointing out that the other side has also done what you’re being accused of?”

    It is not at all incongruous to simultaneously resort to both mechanisms for defending oneself, Mr. Swindle. Jesus Christ Himself resorted to responses of a similar sort many times throughout His earthly ministry in defending His disciples from the Pharisees’ accusations of law-breaking.

    “The issue here is this: is it appropriate to bring up the circumstances surrounding the death of Glenn Beck’s mother? What purpose can this serve in today’s political dialogue?”

    I’ll take a crack at that second question…

    If one has reason to believe that Beck’s own understanding of the situation is misguided, then others who are intently watch-dogging him can make the following claim: ‘Well since he was wrong about this little matter, he could be just as wrong (if not more so) about more pressing concerns.’ And in light of this observation, the answer to the first question may well be ‘yes.’ If it turns out that Beck is lying about the circumstances surrounding his mother’s death, that could cause people to question whether he is being truthful about other worldly matters.

    Of course, determining WHETHER Beck is lying is an entirely different matter, one that neither I nor Mr. Krepel nor Mr. Swindle — or anyone else but Mr. Beck himself — can determine with certainty.

    • LanceThruster permalink
      October 14, 2009 8:51 am

      ” If it turns out that Beck is lying about the circumstances surrounding his mother’s death, that could cause people to question whether he is being truthful about other worldly matters.”

      That was the argument against Hillary’s account of the Tuzla “sniper-fire” (and rightly so).

      It’s amazing that anyone with an IQ into double-digits treats Beck seriously considering his own words: “I’m a rodeo clown,” he said in an interview, adding with a coy smile, “It takes great skill.”

      see: http://gawker.com/5189897/glenn-beck-calls-himself-a-rodeo-clown

      And look at what the supposed actual party leadership thinks of the de facto party leadership: The new chairman of the Republican National Committee, Michael Steele, apologized to Rush Limbaugh on Monday after describing him in a television interview over the weekend as an “entertainer” who made incendiary and sometimes ugly remarks, party officials said.

      see: http://open.salon.com/blog/chris_b/2009/03/13/just_entertainment_from_rush_limbaugh_to_jon_stewart

      The RepubliCons have seen clearly that they can only antagonize the crazy base at their own peril. This does not bode well for anyone.

  6. MaryAnn permalink
    October 14, 2009 4:39 am

    Why should how Beck’s mother died matter to anyone other than Beck and the rest of his family? I haven’t read any of his comments about it, but if he believes she committed suicide and has spoken about the effect this may have had on him, why would anyone attack him because of it? Especially anyone on the left- aren’t they supposed to be the most sympathetic and compassionate people? In what could have been a discussion about the tragedy of suicide, this has been turned into something ugly and political. It’s what the left does.

  7. LCpl Mosley permalink
    November 18, 2009 9:45 pm

    http://www.aim.org/publications/aim_report/1994/01a.html

    Brock was sent to sabotage this story which others had been reporting and knowing about for several years.

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