About the Author
Benjamin Shapiro entered UCLA at the age of sixteen and graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa in June 2004 with a BA in political science. He graduated Harvard Law School cum laude in June 2007. The author of the national bestsellers, Brainwashed: How Universities Indoctrinate America’s Youth, Porn Generation: How Social Liberalism Is Corrupting Our Future, and Project President: Bad Hair and Botox on the Road to the White House, Shapiro has appeared on hundreds of radio and TV shows around the nation. He is married and currently runs Benjamin Shapiro Legal Consulting, based in Los Angeles. He is editor-at-large of Breitbart.com.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
For decades, the biggest problem for conservatives—and the biggest advantage for liberals—has been the fact that conservatives think individually, while liberals think institutionally. Think about politics in terms of religious outreach. Conservatives are like Jehovah’s Witnesses, going door to door, trying to convince people of the truth of their teachings. Liberals are like radical Muslims, toppling governments and installing shariah law, then forcibly converting enormous masses of the population.
That’s why all the major instruments of political persuasion are in the hands of liberals. And it’s also why liberalism, though almost invariably based on pernicious and dangerous misinterpretation at best, and outright falsehood at worst, has been ascendant in America for the last hundred years.
Look at every major bully move by the left over the past few decades and you’ll be able to spot the coordination between the left’s instruments. The politicians and regulators work with the unions; the unions work with the journalists; the journalists work with the Hollywood clique; the Hollywood clique works with the leftist charitable foundations; the leftist charitable foundations work with the university professors; the university professors work with the judges. And all of them work with each other.
There is only one way to make an institution conservativerein. It has to be purged.
Now, in America, we generally don’t look fondly on Soviet-style purges, complete with gulags and hastily dug graves. And so the American left has stayed away from that sort of thing. The left has taken advantage, however, of the American freedom to employ and work with whom you choose. The left doesn’t do anything illegal in preventing their ideological opponents from working. They just do something tremendously immoral—and unbelievably hypocritical, considering that they want private religious schools to have to employ transvestites who show up one day wearing a feather boa and a tutu.
To understand just how the system of bullying works, we need to explore how the left took over the institutions that enable that bullying—and we have to take a look at how the current system works.
On April 18, 2006, police arrested Duke University lacrosse players Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty for the alleged rape and kidnapping of stripper Crystal Mangum. Mangum had falsely accused three white lacrosse players of raping her at a March party; the entire 2006 Duke lacrosse season was ultimately canceled.
The media couldn’t get enough of the case. They quickly turned it into an example of white-on-black racism, brutal exploitation in the mold of pre–Civil War slavery. Amanda Marcotte, a feminist bully blogger, attacked CNN for not immediately condemning the accused: “Can’t a few white boys sexually assault a black woman anymore without people getting all wound up about it? So unfair.” A few months later, Marcotte was hired by the John Edwards presidential campaign as an official blogger.1 (As it turned out, there was actually a better shot that John Edwards had had sex with Crystal Mangum than that the Duke lacrosse players had.)
Marcotte may have been the loudest of the bunch, but she certainly wasn’t the only journalist preternaturally eager to beat Duke lacrosse with a stripper pole. USA Today tracked down a Duke graduate student to complain, “I’m still afraid that the people involved will just get a slap on the wrist. Because of Duke’s culture of privilege and superiority, they’ll get away with it.” That same reporter also lauded Duke students for distributing a flyer that “looked like a wanted poster: 40 faces of young men, smiling smugly for the camera. . . . These men are wanted on the Duke campus.” Janet Reitman of Rolling Stone “reported” on Duke’s “retro view of rape.”2 Reitman did not report on the strippers’ retro view of perjury.
Nancy Grace of CNN led the disgraceful posse looking to string up the Duke defendants sans evidence. On June 9, 2006, Grace interviewed a local North Carolina reporter, who expressed the widespread sentiment that the case was falling apart already. Grace quickly whipped a Hitler mustache out of her back pocket and stapled it to the guy’s upper lip: “Well I’m glad you have already decided the outcome of the case, based on all of the defense filings. Why don’t we just all move to Nazi Germany, where we don’t have a justice system and a jury of one’s peers? What about it, Joe Lawless?”3
The New York Times, too, worked to keep the case alive, even as it began to crumble. Duff Wilson and Jonathan Glater penned a piece in August 2006 stating, “By disclosing pieces of evidence favorable to the defendants, the defense has created an image of a case heading for the rocks. But an examination of the entire 1,850 pages of evidence gathered by the prosecution in the four months after the accusation yields a more ambiguous picture. It shows that while there are big weaknesses in Mr. Nifong’s case, there is also a body of evidence to support his decision to take the matter to a jury.”4
Except that there wasn’t a body of evidence to support it. As it turned out, the stripper accuser had told a second dancer at the lacrosse party to “put marks on me” to fake injury after the party; Nifong admitted he hadn’t talked to the alleged victim as late as October. DNA tests showed no DNA from the supposed rapists. Seligmann, it turned out, had a solid alibi. Nifong, who was running for reelection as he was pursuing the case, ended up dropping it and resigning his job. But not before the Times ran more than one hundred pieces on the case.5
Even after the Duke lacrosse rape case fell apart, the liberal media wouldn’t let it go. “As students of Duke University or other elite institutions, these young men will get on with their privileged lives,” wrote Terry Moran of ABCNews.com. “They are very differently situated in life from, say, the young women of the Rutgers University women’s basketball team.”6 The Rutgers basketball team had indeed been foolishly and nastily slandered as “nappy-headed hos” by radio host Don Imus, generating national headlines. But the Duke lacrosse team had been accused of a brutal lynch raping, which could have resulted in long prison sentences—and at the very least, would follow them the rest of their lives. But Terry Moran was comparing the two. Somehow, this didn’t pass the smell test.
In the aftermath of the Duke lacrosse fiasco, those in the media held their noses and admitted culpability. “It was too delicious a story,” said former New York Times public editor Daniel Okrent. “It conformed too well to too many preconceived notions of too many in the press: white over black, rich over poor, athletes over non-athletes, men over women, educated over non-educated. Wow. That’s a package of sins that really fit the preconceptions of a lot of us.”7
This was the crux of the matter. It wasn’t that the media was fooled. They have the same reasoning skills as the rest of us—and it was clear within days of the Duke lacrosse allegations that the case was somewhere between the Loch Ness Monster and Bigfoot on the truth scale. So why didn’t they catch on to the fact that all of this was less credible than Paris Hilton swearing chastity? Because they wanted it to be true. They needed it to be true. They had an agenda. And they were going to ensure that the story played out the way they wanted it to. The facts were irrelevant.
In the case of the Duke lacrosse faux rape, there was no real coordination between the media and other leftist power institutions. But often, that isn’t the case. In situations of national importance, there is clear and convincing evidence of collusion between the leftist media and leftist politicians, interest groups, and other power brokers. And the media is the tip of that spear. They’re the new IRS, sicced by the organized Democratic infrastructure to destroy anyone who dares defy them. While the much-derided blogosphere breaks virtually every big story these days—Weinergate, Rathergate, Trayvon Martin—the mainstream media lag behind. And snipes. Tina Brown of Newsweek, a formerly great publication recently sold for the bargain-basement price of one dollar, suggests that those in the blogosphere aren’t “real journalists.”
And she’s right. She’s right because all the real journalists are Democratic Party hacks.
In March 2009, Politico—a publication that used to play at objectivity, but has become an obviously key cog in the left-wing media—revealed the existence of “an off-the-record online meeting space called JournoList.” The list was formed by Ezra Klein, a blogger for the far-left American Prospect—and who later became a columnist for the Washington Post. “Basically,” he told Politico, “it’s just a list where journalists and policy wonks can discuss issues freely.” Which journalists? Eric Alterman of the Nation; Jeffrey Toobin of CNN and the New Yorker; Paul Krugman of the New York Times; writers from the Huffington Post, Politico, Newsweek. The list went on and on.
And they sure did coordinate. In April 2008, journalists suddenly began ripping ABC’s Democratic presidential debate coverage—particularly the focus on Barack Obama’s longtime mentor and pastor Jeremiah Wright. It seemed like a grassroots phenomenon. Not quite. Politico reported, “POLITICO contacted nearly three dozen current JList members for this story. The majority either declined to comment or didn’t respond to interview requests—and then returned to JList to post items on why they wouldn’t be talking to POLITICO about what goes on there.” But, said Toobin, “No one’s pushing an agenda.”8
In June 2009, Andrew Breitbart offered one hundred thousand dollars for a full emporium of all the JournoList emails. Nobody at JournoList took him up on the offer, though Ben Smith, then of Politico, played defense for JournoList: “This is a classic case in which secrecy produces wild imaginings. There aren’t many good conspiracies involving 400 people, some of them ideologues, some columnists, some mainstream media types like me who enjoyed access to that conversation, as I sometimes enjoy access to private conservative conversations at venues like New York’s off-record conservative Monday Meeting.”9 (Ben Smith, it’s worth noting, minimizes left-wing scandal so often that John Nolte, one of my Breitbart News colleagues, has coined a term for the tactic: Ben-Smithing.) The point, of course, wasn’t that every email in the JournoList chain was solid gold. The point was that these reporters were coordinating messages. Left-wing messages.
Klein, who organized the list, admitted it. “The membership would range from nonpartisan to liberal, center to left. I didn’t like that rule, but I thought it necessary. . . . What I didn’t expect was that a member of the list, or someone given access by a member of the list, would trawl through the archives to assemble a dossier of quotes from one particular member and then release them to an interested media outlet to embarrass him. But that’s what happened to David Weigel.”10
Weigel was, at the time, a Washington Post reporter. His job there was to report on conservatives.
You can guess what happened next.
On JournoList, it turned out, Weigel had been putting out one rabidly anti-conservative email after another. When Rush Limbaugh had chest pains, Weigel wrote, “I hope he fails. . . . Too soon?” Weigel wrote that conservatives used the media to “violently, angrily divide America,” mainly because they were racists protecting “white privilege.” And, of course, he went after the daddy of all right-wing influence wielders, Matt Drudge: “It’s really a disgrace that an amoral shut-in like Drudge maintains the influence he does on the news cycle while gay-baiting, lying, and flubbing facts to this degree.” As for Sarah Palin: “Let’s move the f—on already.” And on James O’Keefe, the man who broke ACORN, after O’Keefe’s runin with Louisiana authorities: “He’s either going to get a radio talk show or start a prison ministry. That’s was [sic] successful conservative ratf—ers do for their second acts.”11 Weigel had to step down from his job at the Post—and promptly began reporting for Slate. Had Weigel been a conservative masquerading at objectivity and unmasked politically, he would have found himself demonized by the mainstream media. But Weigel undoubtedly will at some point find himself serving in a Democratic administration. Then, after that, he can moderate presidential debates. After all, if it worked for George “the Keebler Elf” Stephanopoulos . . .
Now, none of this is to argue that conservative journalists don’t talk among themselves and with people on their side of the political aisle. Of course they do. But they also don’t hide behind the façade of objectivity. Michelle Malkin is conservative. So is Sean Hannity. Bill O’Reilly is a populist. Rush Limbaugh’s a conservative. Conservative journalists are opinion journalists—and that doesn’t stop them from breaking stories. In fact, it’s that nonobjectivity that makes them more honest than the supposedly above-it-all crowd at the New York Times, which secretly shills for the Obama administration.
But the left-wing journalistic establishment, which actively fights to keep right-wingers out, as Bernard Goldberg of CBS News pointed out in his book Bias, still pretends that they’re not biased. And that means that as their profit margins shrink, they call for aid from government. For the same reason that the government supports National Public Radio, they suggest, the government ought to support them.
Not surprisingly, President Obama thinks this is a great idea. “I haven’t seen detailed proposals yet, but I’ll be happy to look at them,” he said of prospective bills that would grant tax breaks to failing newspapers to turn nonprofit. “I am concerned that if the direction of the news is all blogosphere, all opinions, with no serious fact-checking,” said Obama, “no serious attempts to put stories into context, that what you will end up getting is people shouting at each other across the void but not a lot of mutual understanding.”12
Or you might get a variety of voices that report the news from different angles. You could even call it something creative . . . like the “blogosphere,” or something. You might end the hegemony of a Democratic journalistic establishment dedicated to upholding liberalism at all costs. And God knows, the media couldn’t allow that—the left couldn’t deal with the loss of control of viewpoint. The kind of control they had on the JournoList. And most of all, Obama couldn’t allow that. If he did, what would happen to him, and the movement that stands behind him?
In 2004, perverse former conservative David Brock, a highly paranoid alleged drug devotee, founded Media Matters for America. It was an offshoot of the John Podesta–run Center for American Progress (CAP). Podesta, of course, was the former chief of staff to President Clinton, and CAP was a liberal nonprofit designed to act as an outlet for leftist politicians and viewpoints. CAP originally granted office space to Media Matters; Hillary Clinton advised it, and one of her closest confidants received some $200,000 to help out.13 Clinton even explained, “I only wish that we had this active and fighting blogosphere about 15 years ago because we have certainly suffered over the...
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