Skip to comments.Slime and Bigotry on the Campaign Trail
Posted on 10/08/2003 3:07:57 PM PDT by Congressman Billybob
Before we get rolling on this week's column, a point of personal privilege: I held off this column for one day to include the results of the California recall election. Almost two months ago I predicted the results of this election in "Nuts and Bolts in California." It turned out exactly as I expected Davis got a lower proportion of the vote running against himself than Schwarzenegger got in the 135-person race to replace Davis. Even with the third candidate, McClintock, still in the race. And both elections were decided by a landslide.
The voter drop-off between the recall and the replacement race was 6% (I'd predicted 10%). Every candidate except Schwarzenegger lost support between the last polls and the actual vote. I missed just one point. I predicted that Bill Simon would be in the third-place irrelevant position. Instead, Tom McClintock filled that role.
The basis of this column is two situations, one which all the literate and politically-aware readers of these columns already know about. The other is something none of you would know about, without my describing it for you.
The first is the last-minute attack articles on Arnold Schwarzenegger, led by the L.A. Times, with other media outlets piling on. The attacks came in two forms: the poorly sourced and researched "groping" charges concerning women on movie sets and entertainment venues, and the "Arnold loves Hitler" smear.
Both of these involved "sliming" the candidate, in much the way the Ghostbusters were slimed by malevolent spirits in the movie of the same name. But before we discuss that, we need to correct the common misconception about the word "bigotry."
In modern political writing, "bigotry" is applied only to white prejudice against blacks, deliberately excluding black prejudice against whites. It is an example of the tendency of Democrats/liberals especially to try to "win" public policy debates by capturing the language used to discuss such issues. It's a simple trick force the other side to debate the issue using the words as you have defined them. The result is equally simple the debate is over the instant it begins.
The primary definition in the Oxford English Dictionary of the word "bigotry" is "obstinate and unenlightened attachments to a particular creed, opinion, system or party." As any reader can quickly tell, this is in no way restricted to race. It covers every situation in which any person is so fixed on a particular viewpoint that neither facts, logic or any form of ethics will deflect that person from his/her bigoted viewpoint.
Now let's apply that definition, if it fits, to the behavior of the L.A. Times. First the facts: The Times did not bother to mention the backgrounds of the women making the charges (mostly anonymously). Other sources on the Internet have provided those backgrounds for those interested in all the facts. They also provided the information that one of the charges had been published about a year before, and debunked at that time. And that Democrat functionaries fed some of the sources into the newspaper. Did any of these facts appear in the Times article?
No, they did not.
What is the logic of any major article raising serious charges? Of necessity, it means examination of the legitimacy of the charges. Are there reasons to question or doubt the charges? Again, the Times fails the test. And why did the Times fail? In its own front-page stories from the beginning of the recall effort concerning Governor Davis, the Times has used not just its editorial pages (which are fair game) but its news articles to favor Governor Davis personally and Democrat liberals generally, every step of the way. (Of course that assumes that Davis is a liberal, rather than someone whose sole goal is to advance himself. But that's a subject for another day.)
The last proof of the bigotry of the Times was the timing of the publication of its stories. Other sources indicate that this newspaper had its story ready to go, weeks before the editors ran it. They didn't run it when ready, but instead when it would be a "Thursday dump," calculated to do maximum damage to the target candidate with minimum time to respond before the election.
Then we turn to journalistic ethics. Yes, Virginia, there are such things as journalistic ethics. They may be honored more in the breach than the observance, but they do exist and experienced editors and publishers, and an occasional advanced reporter, do know what they are. The criteria are quite simple: Report the who, what, when, where, why and how of the story -- all parts of it, not just selected pieces. Where there are questions or doubts about any aspect of the story, state those in plain English right there in the text.
Again, the Times fails the standard. Because of its bigotry, the Times engaged in slime, plain and simple. Attack journalism. Factual dishonesty in the most subtle way: by concealing relevant facts.
The "Arnold loves Hitler" article can be discussed very quickly. There was no transcript, no tape, no film, no videotape. The words claimed appeared only in a book proposal based on sketchy notes. Since no verbatim source existed, did the Times bother to contact the author of that proposal to ask questions about the accuracy of the charge?
No, it did not. The New York Times also ran with the same claim. But then that newspaper did its homework, and found out that the charge was unsupported. The New York Times then printed a retraction and apology. If course, the retraction and apology did not appear as prominently as the original article. But the L.A. Times never retracted, never apologized.
Bigots never apologize for their bigotry. To coin a phrase, bigotry means never having to say you're sorry.
Fortunately, the voters of California, by and large, were not deceived by the sliming of Schwarzenegger by the Times. Unlike some last-minute attack "journalism," this one had no net effect on the race. Some voters were scared away, but an equal or greater number rallied around the candidate because of the attack.
Now we turn to attack "journalism" which applies to me, as a potential candidate for Congress in the 11th District of North Carolina.
The first attack on me came before I took any steps toward public office. But it is typical of the kind of attacks that might be made at the last moment before either my primary or general election contests. The source is a "gentleman" who has hidden his real name and location. He uses three names that I know of, most commonly "Nathan Levinson," and he pretends to be a lawyer.
There are three American lawyers I have found, with that name. All of them work for reputable firms, and would certainly be dismissed from their firms if they engaged in conduct like this "Levinson" person. So I believe those three lawyers are being libeled by this person using their name, as I am libeled by what "Levinson" says of me.
This "gentleman" has claimed that I have lied about practicing in the US Supreme Court, lied about practicing before the Federal Election Commission, and even lied about being a Member of the Bar of the Supreme Court, among other items. Does that pack of lies about me sound unbelievable? See for yourself. Here is the link to the website on which this "gentleman" makes his various charges, supported by a small but enthusiastic group of mouth-breathers who are foolish enough to take him seriously.
http://www.antikookieg.frandt.com/forums/ (The attacks appear on various threads, all of which refer to the name, Congressman Billybob, I often use when writing on the Internet.)
Can someone who is in public life nonetheless sue and win for libel or slander against such attacks? Absolutely. But should a public person file such a suit? Absolutely not. Above a certain level Congress and Governorships certainly qualify a person who holds such offices or is seeking such offices must expect that a certain number of people will publish or speak lies for the purpose of sliming him. Anyone who is seriously interested in a career in politics must have a tough skin, because otherwise he/she would spend every waking moment pursuing legal remedies against attackers.
Besides, the attacks by this "Levinson" person are so off the wall that few people would be deceived by them. When the words on the page or on the computer screen are obviously way "over the top" they offer their own refutation. When the source of the charges sounds like a slavering mastiff that has slipped his choke chain, he cannot do much serious harm
To be effective in sliming a candidate, charges have to sound reasonable. They have to contain some elements of truth. They have to seem logical, especially to those members of the public who share just a touch of the bigotry of those who make such charges.
It is possible that more subtle, and therefore more marketable, attacks will be made on me, either before the primary now scheduled in May, or the general in November. If so, I label in advance the reporters who write such attacks as incompetent, and I accuse the editors who allow them to be published of bigotry. And I condemn both for violating journalistic ethics.
When I declare for office, I will be running against an incumbent. For several sound reasons, I do not expect any slime attacks from him. If such a thing happens, it is more likely to have a Democrat source, and to come at the end of October, 2004. If that happens, it will be the same sort of attack, though in quite different stories, as the attacks just made on Governor-elect Schwarzenegger.
Few people will know about such attacks on so modest a target as a mere candidate for Congress, compared to a candidate for Governor of the nation's largest state. But those who will know will be some of the voters in my District, in this small corner of the nation. I hope they will have the same common-sense reaction to such attacks, if they come. I hope that they, like the voters of California, will have an instinctive reaction against such gutter politics and be as likely to vote for me, rather than against me, because of such attacks.
If so, the benefit will not be just to my candidacy next year, as it was to Schwarzenegger's candidacy yesterday. The benefit will be to politics in general, that elections will be more likely in the future to be determined on the policies and abilities of the candidates, and less likely determined by who can manufacture a plausible smear in the last days before an election. If so, voters as well as candidates will be the beneficiaries.
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About the Author: John Armor is an author and columnist on politics and history. He currently has an Exploratory Committee to run for Congress.
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The end of my column refers to a personal attack on me. It comes from a source who lurks on FreeRepublic under a variety of names, and is part of a tiny group which regularly attacks Jim Robinson, FreeRepublic, and many of its posters. Some of you may know more about this group than I do. Additional information will be deeply appreciated about these people.
FreeRepublic , LLC
PO BOX 9771
FRESNO, CA 93794
It is in the breaking news sidebar!
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OrgTechHandle: IPADD1-ARIN OrgTechName: IPAddressing OrgTechPhone: +1-314-288-3889 OrgTechEmail: email@example.com
# ARIN WHOIS database, last updated 2003-10-07 19:15 # Enter ? for additional hints on searching ARIN's WHOIS database.
6 188.8.131.52 7.017 ms p6-0.lsanca2-br1.bbnplanet.net [AS1/AS3356] GTE Internetworking / Level 3 Communications North America
7 184.108.40.206 8.859 ms so-5-2-0.bbr1.LosAngeles1.level3.net [AS3356] Level 3 Communications North America
8 220.127.116.11 9.927 ms unknown.Level3.net (Fake rDNS) [AS3356] Level 3 Communications North America
9 18.104.22.168 7.542 ms att-level3-oc48.LosAngeles1.Level3.net [AS3356] Level 3 Communications North America
I do know that they are in cahoots with a number of apostate and banned ex-FReepers. If it's easy to get info, then fine. If it takes much time, they aren't worth it.
John / Billybob
Trying whois -h whois.arin.net 22.214.171.124
OrgName: Verio, Inc. OrgID: VRIO Address: 8005 South Chester Street Address: Suite 200 City: Englewood StateProv: CO PostalCode: 80112 Country: US
John / Billybob
John / Billybob