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With Every Reply Krepel Just Keeps Digging a Deeper Hole To Defend Smear of Beck

October 14, 2009

beck crying

Terry Krepel, Media Matters employee and proprietor of ConWebWatch, is the gift that keeps on giving. His most recent engagement with me on whether it’s legitimate to accuse Glenn Beck of lying about his mother’s death took a turn for the worst

In his initial reply he tried to draw me away from this vulnerable subject where deep down he knows he’s in the wrong, to topics he’s more comfortable debating. I wouldn’t have any of it and forced him to stay on topic:

2009 October 13


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:

“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.

2009 October 13

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?

[Emphasis added.]

Now Krepel was in even worse shape than before. His new confession: he saw no difference between NewsReal’s posts which disagreed with commentators’ and politicians’ ideas and Media Matters’ ad hominem attack against Beck’s character. They were one and the same in his eyes.

2009 October 14

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.

Krepel then responded again in incoherent, filibuster-fashion with more than half a dozen questions. He completely ignored my point — that he was unable to see a distinction between a legitimate policy disagreement and an attempt to research a person’s personal life to discredit them. This obfuscation is another of his debater’s techniques — attempting to muddy the waters with confusion — and I won’t fall for it.

It’s further evidence for the basic point: Krepel and Media Matters are not interested in honest intellectual discussion.  In fact they see no difference between destroying ideas and destroying people. They want nothing more than to wipe their conservative opponents off the map — something they have neither the courage nor honesty to admit.

  1. LanceThruster permalink
    October 14, 2009 4:31 pm

    Sorry David, but you resort to decrying “debaters techniques” while ignoring what can actually be established. You do the same with the rules of argument when you focus some specific and get that wrong to boot (your protest of “tu quoque” – “You too!” even when valid) .

    I see terry’s line of argument compelling whereas you seem to be struggling to maintain your footing.

    But declaring “Victory!” is always a nice touch.

    Must be a GOP thing.

    • October 14, 2009 4:49 pm

      You see Terry’s “point” (not that he really has one in his incoherent half dozen questions) compelling because you are sympathetic to his ideology and in support of his smear. You are a bird of the same feather who adopts his exact same methodology.

      • Jack Hampton permalink
        October 15, 2009 7:05 am

        I do not see where they established that Beck emblished anything in regard to his mothers death. But to persue the subject can only be an attempt to harm or smear or distract. I think you got um again.

  2. Walt permalink
    October 14, 2009 8:38 pm

    I can see your point. Terry Krepel seems to have problems with word definitions. A smear is when one spreads false rumors about someone with the sole intent of damaging them. Simply relaying unpleasant information which is demonstrably true or subject to legitimate interpretation is not a smear. The word smear has been misused, and deliberately so. It allows the person who uses it to avoid stating whether the rumor or accusation is true or not. One could argue about the civility or tone or remarks made, but that is not the same as claiming that there was a smear involved in some remark made.

    Van Jones, who seems to be really at issue here, had a past. His past, which he had tried to disguise, finally caught up with him in the form of interviews, speeches, and other statements that he had made. The final result of all of this was that the White House would not even publicly defend Mr. Jones, which was the worst cut of all for him, rather than anything Mr. Beck did.

    • October 15, 2009 6:11 am

      Pleased reread the DICTIONARY DEFINITION of smear:

      I’ll define smear:

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

      Whether an accusation is true or not does not a smear make.

      Further Van Jones was not “smeared.” His political views and positions were critiqued and revealed. That’s entirely legitimate.

  3. Joseph White permalink
    October 15, 2009 5:14 am

    It’s actually quiet sad that calm debate is almost dead. If you’ve ever watched a Bush speech, he almost gets shouted down by people who think it’s okay to shut down someone they hate. It’s also happened during senate sessions, when liberals shut out republicans and don’t allow them a voice.
    It’s also happened at town hall meetings, where democrats shouted down their own constituents rather than talk about the debate.
    It’s also happening with the White House, when Obama tells the insurance companies to shut up or else.
    It all started with the McCain-Fiengold bill, that shut down one avenue of free speech, and might continue if the Fairness doctrine ever gets passed.
    It continues everytime someone worries about what happens for political correctness, (Which is form of speech stifling.)

  4. MaryAnn permalink
    October 15, 2009 5:26 am

    He has to ignore your point, as do others whose only response to people they disagree with is to attack the person rather than the argument. To do otherwise would require an examination into their own motives and beliefs, their “vision” as Dr. Sowell would call it. They have too much invested in that, and will protect it, along with the moral superiority it affords them, at any cost.

  5. ElanaSe permalink
    October 15, 2009 7:18 am

    ” 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?”

    Oh, I have an idea. Let’s dig into Terry Krepel’s personal life, all his ex- and presents, kids – by his standards everything goes. How about finding some fishy sad story and start investigating it “to get to the bottom” to prove some point. We’ll call his relatives to verify information, disturb his family with questions . How does it sound, Terry? Will you sing the same tune?
    Terry. If you’re reading don’t bother to reply, in case you missed it was a sarcastic rhetorical question. Nobody here wants to be as low as you and your organization are.

  6. October 15, 2009 11:03 am

    Sigh. Let me try this one more time in language even Mr. Swindle can understand.

    I am quite knowledgable about what a smear is. I do not believe Beck is being “smeared” by reporting of this story.

    Why? 1) it’s based on public statements by Beck himself and other public records, and 2) Beck has made his personal story part of his public appeal.

    Swindle has not explained what is so beyond the pale about highlighting public statements by Beck that are at variance with the public record. If a person has made his personal story part of his public persona, as Beck has, does that not open it up to public scrutiny?

    Swindle wants you to believe conservatives have never engaged in personal attacks against their ideological foes and that only liberals do, which of course is utterly false. His faux outrage on this subject (how long have we been arguing about this?) is getting more and more silly.

    Oops — is that a personal attack? Sorry. Considering that Swindle is turning this into one painfully long personal attack of me, forgive me if I feel a bit justified in doing so.

    All this time, and Swindle has yet to explain why nobody is allowed to fact-check claims Beck has publicly made, even if they are about his personal life.

    • In the know permalink
      October 15, 2009 11:22 am

      “I am quite knowledgable about what a smear is. I do not believe Beck is being “smeared” by reporting of this story.”

      That’s precisely the point. You are not an objective observer. You have a vested interest in this filth mining. You are employed by the mine.

      As for this whopper- “All this time, and Swindle has yet to explain why nobody is allowed to fact-check claims Beck has publicly made, even if they are about his personal life.”

      What don’t you understand? No one said that or implied it. The question is motive. This move is an immature, classless attempt at character assasination. If your mother was depressed, went out on a boat and was found dead? Ockhams razor would suggest she killed herself. Is it pertinent to Beck’s success? No way. Here’s the secret to Beck’s success. Write it on your blog. Barrak Hussein Obama, MMM, MMM, MMM.

    • October 15, 2009 11:24 am

      Considering that’s all you can come up with for a reply I’m more than happy to give you the last word and consider this debate finished.

    • Jack Hampton permalink
      October 15, 2009 1:10 pm

      Terry K
      You are kind of like the sleazy dirt digger trying to cause harm to someone you feel is an adversary. Your story is one that make people feel like they need a shower.

    • Harmon permalink
      October 15, 2009 6:25 pm

      Terry K.

      I completely agree with you. Glenn Beck made public the circumstances of his mother death, so all Media Matters did was to point where other sources differ. NOT EVEN CLOSE TO A SMEAR! Everything said in the public is open to scrutiny and examination.

      • In the know permalink
        October 16, 2009 6:56 am

        No one is debating that but you guys. It’s the motive behind it. It serves no other purpose beyond character assasination. It’s low class.

  7. ElanaSe permalink
    October 15, 2009 12:08 pm

    “Swindle wants you to believe conservatives have never engaged in personal attacks against their ideological foes and that only liberals do”
    Heh. So it was a personal attack after all?

    “Why? 1) it’s based on public statements by Beck himself and other public records, and 2) Beck has made his personal story part of his public appeal”

    Shouldn’t it apply to all public servants then? What if…if it’s not Beck’s, but Obama’s mother cause of death we’re talking about? Let’s change the names, shall we?
    “1) it’s based on public statements by Obama himself and other public records, and 2) Obama has made his personal story part of his public appeal”.
    So where’s media matters’ brilliant investigative reporting regarding the circumstances of his mother’s death for sake of clarity?

    • Jack Hampton permalink
      October 15, 2009 1:29 pm

      Are you sure you are not a former prosecutor i knew in West Palm Beach? Very good.

      • ElanaSe permalink
        October 16, 2009 7:47 am

        Thank you but no Jack, I’m definitely not a former prosecutor 🙂 I wish I was in the W. Palm Beach – instead I’m stuck in the &^%$hole called Michigan.

  8. Black Eagle permalink
    October 15, 2009 12:52 pm

    If Beck ran a non-profit dedicated to family issues, something psychological, emphasizing the need for truth and honest in family matters, and was shown to be a big liar about his own, covering it up to advance within that organization, or to advance its agenda, then it would be fair game to bring up this issue. But since that is not the case, dredging up claims or accusations about family matters has no function other than to smear and personally assault the person.

    Everyone reading this can point to upsetting things from their personal family life. If every time we express an opinion, those might be drug out — true or not, distortions or facts — to evaluate our ideas, then we would get nowhere.

    On the other side, I recently had a discussion about Marx and Engels and how their personal attitudes and ideas — of black racism, Jew-hatred, incitement to violence and happy anticipation of genocide of his political enemies (ie, bougeoir capitalists, small farmers, etc.) — were very much necessary to understand what came later in the implementation of Communist Party structure and policies. (see, for example “Marx and Friends in their own words” http://marxwords.blogspot, com) Those men wrote such nasty ideas in letters and articles, and so in that case it was legitimate and even necessary to bring them up for discussion, especially considering the blood-bath which has followed the Communist utopia wherever it has been implemented. On that matter, however, virtually every left-wing person I have had such a conversation with, pointing out those direct-quote materials from their own pens, immediately jumps up to defend Marx and Engels. They will spit on Bush and Cheney, and one finds articles in the SF newspapers making happy smears against their sexual lives and such, things against the Bush daughters, etc., all is OK and fine with the hard-left, no matter how slimy or completely out of place. But rational criticism of the published personal hatreds of their icons — as with Rev. Wrights spittle-laden screech-sermons of hate, in a discussion on how that might have conditioned Obama’s views — Oh, you cannot do that!

  9. October 15, 2009 2:57 pm

    I’ve explained why I do not consider this to be a smear. Swindle has decided not to respond to it. Make of that what you will.

    I see that today, Beck is personally attacking Anita Dunn for something she said in a private speech that has nothing to do with her current White House job, in order to make an ad hominem attack against her character. Will Swindle criticize Beck for that? Or are Beck’s words sacrosanct?

    • October 15, 2009 3:45 pm

      The more you talk the more you prove my point and embarrass yourself. Attacking someone for expressing an intolerable political opinion (Beck on Dunn) is COMPLETELY DIFFERENT AND ENTIRELY FAIR. Attacking someone on the basis that they allegedly lied about their mother’s death in order to ruin their reputation (Media Matters on Beck) is an ad hominem smear.

      Trying to explain this to you is like trying to describe a sunset to a blind man. You just can’t see it.

    • Black Eagle permalink
      October 15, 2009 5:22 pm

      I just saw the clip of Beck revealing Dunn’s outrageous very public speech wherein she says Mao Tse’Dung is one of her FAVORITE PHILOSOPHERS. It was no “joke”. It is posted at Michelle Malkin’s website Beck is totally correct, and this has everything to do with her White House job. Dunn’s actions are no different from invoking Adolf Hitler as one’s favorite philosophers. Mao was a disgusting mass-murderer who killed tens of millions of his own people in death-camps, and only wacko fanatics who approve of genocide quote him in such a favorable manner, or have nice things to say about him… And to think such people are today IN the White House. David Swindle is 100% correct, and Terry K., you really ought to reconsider, that you are today supporting the anti-freedom fanatics, and to stop defending the indefensible. Obama and wrecking-crew are selling out America and Americans in the most egregious manner.

    • Jack Hampton permalink
      October 16, 2009 3:21 am

      I guess he is following the old adage whyinterupt your enemy when they are destroying them self. Your comparison is truly idiotic it is amazing to say the least that you have no more understanding than that. You probably have a lot of failed relationships.

    • In the know permalink
      October 16, 2009 5:45 am

      Beck is not a public official getting paid with our TAX MONEY! He has no authority. You are either daft or deliberately ignoring that fact.

      -“I see that today, Beck is personally attacking Anita Dunn for something she said in a private speech that has nothing to do with her current White House job, in order to make an ad hominem attack against her character.”

      Your attempt to equivocate the two is profoundly absurd. On one hand, a private citizen believes his mother commited suicide (which you claim is a lie because, in your opinion, indiscrepancies exist). On the other; a high level, executive branch official based in the Whitehouse, openly professes to idolize Mao Tse Tung. Apples and oranges? No, apples and pizza would be a more valid comparison. You do know that Mao was a maniacle, ruthless, mass murderer. Don’t you?

  10. Esteban Cafe, World permalink
    October 15, 2009 7:27 pm

    Terry, the first “Rule of Holes” is to stop digging when you find yourself in one. You are over reaching in your argument. It would have been best to end this, what, three days ago? Holding on to a losing position calls into question more than one’s judgement, but goes to one’s pride. Let is go, buddy.

  11. jhimmi permalink
    October 16, 2009 10:13 am

    Krepel implies Beck made the suicide story up out of whole cloth. The actual record reveals something different.

    According to the Salon story, Beck has said in at least one interview that his mother left a brief suicide note the morning of her death.
    The official Coast Guard report theorizes that “Mrs. Beck, who had a history of heart problems and also was thought to be having a nervous breakdown, might have fallen overboard or jumped overboard,”

    So I guess the question Media Matters is trying to answer is – is Beck lying about the suicide note? My answer is, why does it matter? What difference does it make whether a 15 year old boy’s mother intentionally commits suicide, or, while experiencing a bout of depression, gets drunk, goes out on a boat, and falls overboard?

    The only other question I can see coming out of this Media Matter ‘investigation’ is why Beck didn’t share the suicide note with the Coast Guard? Again, what’s the difference? So that the official cause of death would be ‘suicide’, rather than ‘accidental’? Surely that would have been important to 15 year old Beck, right, Terry?

    Beck knows better than anyone his mother’s state of mind at the time, and the contents of the note; to accuse him of lying about now is beyond bad taste.


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