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Leftist Salon.Com Writer Joe Conason Is Joe Dirt
The Hawaii Reporter ^ | Wednesday, September 24, 2003 | Stuart K. Hayashi

Posted on 09/24/2003 1:33:49 PM PDT by ultimate_robber_baron

Meet Joe Dirt

Stuart K. Hayashi

In 2001, comedian David Spade came out with a movie titled "The Adventures of Joe Dirt." It now appears that the film was about Joe Conason, the author of "Big Lies: The Right-Wing Propaganda Machine and How It Distorts the Truth" and an editorialist for the liberal-biased

In the person of Brad Pitt, you've already Met Joe Black. Now Meet the Real Joe Dirt.

His book purports to expose how right-wingers harness the corporate media to brainwash society. Instead of demonstrating such, however, Joe is too busy flinging his Dirt around.

In two pages, he derides novelist-essayist Ayn Rand's books as "infantile" and accuses her of "unfettered avarice," citing her book's title, "The Virtue of Selfishness," and her enthusiasm for free-market economics as his only evidence.

Conason neglects to mention that Rand's definition of "selfishness" was different from the normal everyday one: she didn't believe in exploiting people for one's own gain.

Her "selfishness," she explained, meant enjoying one's own life without hurting anyone.

Rand picked the word "selfishness" because she wanted to show how leftists like Conason use that very term to psychologically manipulate people: leftists employ the popular definition's emotional connotation (murderous, robbing "selfishness") and then equate it with the second definition (harmlessly seeking one's self-interest at nobody's expense).

Leftists then have free reign to accuse any independent, self-made man who may oppose the welfare state of "being selfish." Hence, "capitalism is selfish" equals "capitalism is decrepit."

Example: When Bill Gates earned $50 billion, leftists cried that he did it through "selfishness." Gates looks out for himself without violating anybody's rights, so he is benevolently "selfish" in the technical sense.

But the deployment of the term conjures up the uneasy emotions of that other, more famous "selfishness" (robbery, inconsiderateness).

Here, leftists typically pull an Orwellian word trick, and Rand sought to expose it.

She believed that every individual had the right to live for his own happiness, without being squashed by socialist governments demanding that he immolate himself. And if leftists insist on mindlessly screaming that that is "selfish," then yes, "selfishness" is a virtue.

If Conason wants to criticize Rand's "selfishness," the least he could do is clarify what she meant. Yet he instead accuses others of obfuscation, targeting ABC-TV reporter John Stossel.

"Stossel," Joe says in his book, "has been caught more than once airing serious distortions." Earlier, on, he growled, "Stossel was caught in a blatant falsification. He claimed on-air that his network's research showed excessive levels of bacteria on organic produce -- but in fact no such tests had even been performed."

Conason's statement is outright falsehood.

That test was performed. Stossel's mistake pertained to another test. He asked ABC to commission scientists to conduct two tests on both organic and conventional produce: #1 for bacteria and #2 for pesticide residue. The first was conducted and dangerous levels of E. coli were found on organic sprouts and -salad mix. Fact.

Also, Stossel asked for a test on pesticide residue for both organic and conventional produce. Scientists performing such examinations routinely find that there aren't risky amounts of pesticides on either, because the microscopic particles on conventional produce don't come in high enough dosages to affect health.

Due to miscommunication, ABC failed to tell the scientists to conduct this test as well, but Stossel assumed that they did and mistakenly reported about finding low pesticide residue because that's how the tests almost unanimously turn out.

"Ongoing FDA surveillance," notes public health specialist Dr. Elizabeth Whelan, "confirms that the vast majority (over 70 percent) of conventionally-produced fruits and vegetables have no measurable levels of pesticides, and where residue are detected they are almost always within the EPA's very conservative tolerance range. . . . [G]iven that Stossel's conclusions were factual, no damage...was done."

The inaccuracy was spread in a mere two sentences, while the rest of the 10 minute report was faultless. If the real Joe Dirt, Conason, were so interested clearing up public confusion, he would have had disclosed that information. He didn't.

The fact is that Stossel did have scientists test vegetables for bacteria, and Conason falsely reports that there were no tests.

Plus, Stossel publicly apologized for his error, while Conason remorselessly continues to libel other people. Now that is "infantile."

Joe's allegations of journalistic phoniness amount to projecting his own faults onto others. Thus, it seems that the title of Conason's tome, "Big Lies," refers not to what the book claims to analyze, but the book's very own contents.

Stuart K. Hayashi graduated from Hawaii Pacific University as an Entrepreneurial Studies major in May 2003, and he is the former president of the Reason Club of Honolulu, though his opinions do not necessarily reflect that of either organization. He is the founder of a news Web log, "The Fiftieth Star," at: to be unofficially centered around activities at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. His older editorials can be seen at: and he can be reached at:

My other editorials about the leftists' smears on John Stossel:

"Who Is the Unfair FAIR Trying to Fool?"

"The Environmental Working Group: Laboring to Mislead"

"FAIR's Battle With John Stossel and Reality" (in three installments)

"FAIR's Global Hot Air" (in three installments)

"Noam Chomsky's Unfairness and Inaccuracy in Reporting" (in four installments)

Other people's sites about the leftists' smears on John Stossel:

"The Greens' Yellow Science" by Steven J. Milloy, bio-statistician

"Blaspheming Organic Food" by Wendy McElroy

Support John Stossel

Critiques of Joe Conason's yellow journalism:

"The Master of Ad Hominem" by Rich Lowry

"Smokey Joe Conason" by Jonah Goldberg
(Note: I don't agree with Goldberg's explicit philosophy. Plus, his attempts to sound "hip" are so unsuccessful that they detract from "National Review.")

"Big Liar" by David Horowitz

"Salon's Epitome of the Journalistic Sewer" by David Horowitz

"Joe Conason -- Resident Liar at" by David Horowitz

Clarifying what Ayn Rand meant by "The Virtue of Selfishness":

"Frequently-Asked Questions on 'The Virtue of Selfishness'" by J. Raibley

My editorials about "selfishness":

"Respecting the Selfishness of Others"

"The Altruist Dystopia"

"The Invisible Gun"

"John Nash Biographers Defame Adam Smith's Beautiful Mind"

"Corporate 'Social Responsibility': Inherently Irresponsible"

"Corporate 'Social Responsibility' and Economies of Scale"

TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; Editorial; Government; Miscellaneous; News/Current Events; US: California; US: Hawaii; US: New York
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Leftist writer Joe Conason, author of Big Lies: The Right-Wing Propaganda Machine and How It Distorts the Truth, is accused of spreading misinformation about ABC News reporter John Stossel in the second half of this piece. The first half of the piece is a rebuttal to Conason's "diss" of Atlas Shrugged author Ayn Rand.
1 posted on 09/24/2003 1:33:50 PM PDT by ultimate_robber_baron
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To: ultimate_robber_baron
Bump from a Rand fan.
2 posted on 09/24/2003 1:39:30 PM PDT by wizardoz (Bomb France.)
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To: ultimate_robber_baron
Is this OUR Joe Dirt? Seems WAY out of character if it is...?
3 posted on 09/24/2003 1:43:18 PM PDT by pgyanke (We wouldn't have to fight our War on Terror if Islam would take out its own trash!)
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To: wizardoz
I always had the feeling that Conason was jealous of Monica.
4 posted on 09/24/2003 1:49:40 PM PDT by Honestfreedom
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To: Honestfreedom
I always had the feeling that Conason was jealous of Monica.

Well said!   (Despite the disturbing image.)

5 posted on 09/24/2003 2:20:40 PM PDT by jigsaw (Liberals: nature’s proof that maturity is not guaranteed.)
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To: Honestfreedom
Euwwwww!! Now I've got to go wash out my mind's eye with soap!
6 posted on 09/24/2003 2:22:13 PM PDT by mewzilla
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Comment #7 Removed by Moderator

To: ultimate_robber_baron
Whether you agree with his politics or not, Conason is an excellent writer and formidable debater. Honestly, the quality of your own output pales in comparison. It's so easy to bash and call names, and in the end nothing is accomplished. Try to have a little more respect for your worthy opponents; maybe you could actually learn something.
8 posted on 02/27/2004 6:47:49 PM PST by Punctuated evolution
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