Journolist

First, a little bit of background.

Journolist was a private debate forum set up by Washington Post blogger Ezra Klein in 2007 to give left-wing journalists a place to discuss their opinions. When journalists discuss their opinions, the topic inevitably turns to journalistic strategies on how to represent their opinions to the public, and this is what happened on Journolist. Now, the Journolist archives have been acquired and sold to the Daily Caller, which is portraying the forum as a conspiracy against the public. They, and numerous other conservative sources are alleging evidence of attempts to coordinate media efforts to accomplish the goals of the Democrats.

Now, certainly we can call many of these journalists at the Washington Post, New York Times, National Public Radio, New Republic, Time, Newsweek, etc. biased, fraudulent, and rabidly anti-conservative. At the very least, this confirms the perception of “liberal media bias.” But can we actually call this a conspiracy?

In order to meet the qualifications of being called a “conspiracy,” there needs to be “an agreement between persons to deceive, mislead, or defraud others of their legal rights, or to gain an unfair advantage.” While it’s certainly true that many on that forum expressed that they were making a conscious effort to deceive, mislead, and defraud others in order to gain an unfair advantage, I don’t think we can really allege that there was any sort of “agreement” or “pact” to do so. Journolist was a debate forum, just like the DeviantArt Political Forum that I frequent, and I’m sure that topics were hotly debated. I’d hate to think that someone might pull up the DeviantArt archives and suggest that all of us were conspiring with some of the crazier forum members to overthrow “the Bush crime family” (in the words of one user, “roninbearz”).

Hence, in the spirit of “innocent until proven guilty,” I think there’s really not enough evidence to suggest that conspiracy happened as a result of that forum. Additionally, I’d suggest that the existence of that forum has done some good, as it has revealed the conscious efforts by many uncoordinated, yet like-minded individuals employed by major news corporations to spin the news in order to support their favored candidate. It reveals the “Tea Party Racism” myth as a consciously contrived political strategy, meant to consolidate support for Barack Obama. And finally, it teaches us not to take for granted the word of our sources, as “prestigious” journalistic entities aren’t necessarily objective, unbiased, or honest journalistic entities.

As I’ve often argued, the value of a source does not come from its name-brand. It comes from the strength of argument of the writers and the data they cite. The word of a paid journalist is worth far less than a link citation in a blog.

This is why I like the Cato Institute blog. Certainly, they’re biased. Certainly, they have an agenda. But so does everyone else. On the other hand, the Cato Institute is a research institution comprised of scholars who actually know how to do their research, cite sources, and analyze data in a way that actually generates knowledge, unlike all print media sources.

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Obama May Reform the CRA

I’ve always considered it the height of doublethink to insist that the CRA, a government program meant to increase homeownership by forcing looser lending standards, had nothing to do with a recession caused by an overheated housing market and risky loans associated with loose lending. And in the past, I always considered Obama guilty of feeding into this delusion. However, Obama’s administration appears to have expressed interest in deviating from his party’s base on this matter. He may actually abandon the Democrats’ long-standing goal of using certification incentives to influence the willingness of mortgage firms to lend to low-income individuals.

This is important because it suggests that Obama may recognize that firms under free-market incentives are better at looking out for their own stability than those being influenced by the government. On the other hand, it may just a be a transition from one damaging economic policy to another less notorious one, as Obama has, in the past, expressed support for rent control.

So is this the first step in rethinking the Democrats’ approach to economics? Or is it just another case of political dancing and rhetoric in anticipation of the midterm elections? Only time will tell.

Think Progress Fabricates Tea Party Racism

As a Libertarian, I have taken slight interest in the way the Tea Party movement is shaping the nation’s politics and kicking out big-government incumbents. This is a force which could do a lot of good for our country, but could also be easily corrupted as a result of its rather vague message. Nevertheless, it’s a message that I agree with, so long as it stays on target.

Well, last week, the prominent left-wing blog, Think Progress, released a video providing examples of “Tea Party racism.” In the original version of this video, there were four “tea party racists” depicted uttering seemingly racist statements:

TEA PARTY ACTIVIST1: He’s too black to be President.

TEA PARTY ACTIVIST2: I’m a proud racist, I’m white.

TEA PARTY ACTIVIST3: Afro-Leninism! Coming to you on a silver platter, Barack Hussein Obama!

TEA PARTY ACTIVIST4: Go home wetbacks!.

Now, clearly, all of that sounds pretty bad. To defend themselves from blanket accusations of racism, Tea Party supporters can always fall back on the catch-all explanation that these individuals were Tea Party infiltrators. However, in this case, they don’t have to use a catch-all.

As it turns out, context matters. “Racist” 1, after stating that Obama “Is too black to be president,” continues by saying, “And if you look at my wife [pointing to the African American woman next to him], it’s not the color of his skin that troubles me. […] It’s the blackness of his heart. He’s a bad guy.” Apparently, this Tea Partier was just playing off the “too black to be president” strawman that Obama-supporters have constructed.

The footage of “Racist” 2 is from a video in which, he, as a self-avowed racist KKK supporter, is being asked to leave by a large group of Tea Partiers. At one point in the video, the person holding the camera yells, “You’re not with us!” and #2 replies, “Good!” So, is this man a racist? Clearly. Is he a Tea Partier? Clearly not. Why is he at that rally? Who knows. Maybe some money changed hands with the previously-mentioned infiltrator groups.

I couldn’t find any evidence of exonerating context available for the case of “Racist” 3, but considering the misrepresentation of context we’ve examined thus far, it seems likely that the context exists. For instance, the use of the term “Afro-Leninism” could very well be referring to the perception that Obama is using socialist policy in his own racist way to support the radical black supremacy movement. Misguided? Perhaps. Racist? No, not really. If it makes you a racist to call someone a racist, then Obama and his wife are racists, and we all become racists for considering others racists…right?

Finally, “Racist” 4 is indeed, a racist, but seems to come from footage of a larger video containing signs with the date on them. That date? Hard to see, but the year is 2006. The Tea Party movement began in 2007 as a result of Ron Paul’s presidential campaign fund raising efforts. Not a Tea Party protest.

Notably, Think Progress has since removed the part of the video that came from 2006. However, they haven’t removed any of the other footage, which is edited to blatantly commit fraud and slander against the people depicted. I think that settles it: the blog voted “best liberal blog” in the 2006 Weblog awards is blatantly and deliberately fraudulent in its claims of Tea Party racism.

Remember that when you choose your sources.