The Liberal Media And The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Week

Matt Vespa
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Posted: Dec 08, 2014 6:00 PM
The Liberal Media And The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Week

As the Rolling Stone UVA story continues to disintegrate, they weren't the only publication that had a really bad week; it was the liberal media in general. First, let's discuss the Rolling Stone fiasco. They added to their "note to our readers" after other media outlets, namely the Washington Post, eviscerated them when it was discovered that Sabrina Rubin Erdely, who wrote the UVA piece, didn't contact the alleged attackers of Jackie; the central figure of the article. But, there are a few discrepancies in her account, like the frat never hosting a party on the night of her alleged attack.

The Post's Erik Wemple has documented this meltdown extensively. On the Stone's recent addition to their partial retraction, he noted how the magazine took the blame, but noted that their continued investigation into the events of Jackie's alleged attack probably should've been done "before publishing." While laying out reasons for why the UVA disaster is a case of media bias, Wemple discovered this interesting 2006 quote from Stone Managing Editor Will Dana, “we’ll write what we believe [italicized text is from Baker]:"

In a 2006 appearance at Middlebury College, Dana gave a speech titled, “The Myth of Fair and Balanced: A Defense of Biased Reporting.” According to a writeup in the Middlebury Campus, Dana put forth a common and compelling critique of contemporary standards under which journalists “worship the grail of objectivity” and “play twister to hide their bias,” said Dana, a 1985 graduate of Middlebury.

“I want to do stuff that’s biased.” He merely meant journalism driven by a worldview, as with Eric Schlosser’s 1998 Rolling Stone expose, “Fast-Food Nation” — a series that upended thinking on the world’s McDonald’s and the like. “We can become the seed pod for great things,” said Dana of such work.

Though the editor said his publication would endeavor to give both sides of a story, he said, “we’ll write what we believe,” according to the Middlebury Campus.

Here’s the thing about all these projects, as explained by the reporter, Aylie Baker, who covered Dana’s 2006 talk at Middlebury:

“[B]ias,” maintains Dana, “does not mean unbalanced.” If anything. it sets the bar higher for Rolling Stones’ writers. They have to exercise extreme depth of analysis and reporting in writing their stories. In fact, confided Dana, his all-time favorite stories are those which deliberately framed extremely controversial issues in a manner which was both emotive and unabashedly honest.

Bold text denotes a standard recklessly abandoned in “A Rape on Campus.”

While the Rolling Stone comes to grips with its awful reporting–and others noting how Erdely's past stories seem like "bad Lifetime movies"–let's take a stroll down to the New Republic, which saw some of the leading figures at the left-of-center publication resign in protest over the direction of the company, which was bought by Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, husband of Sean Eldridge who ran a rather disastrous 2014 congressional campaign in New York; he lost by 30 points.

First, Hughes threw a 100th anniversary party for the New Republic prior to the gutting, which is awkward to say the least. Then, the Republic fired editor Franklin Foer–and didn't tell him. He found out by reading a piece on Gawker that he was being replaced, called Hughes to confirm, and Hughes admitted that this development was indeed true. Then again, Hughes and Guy Vidra, a former Yahoo! News executive, didn't really have the best relationship with the TNR staff:

When Facebook billionaire Chris Hughes, the owner of The New Republic, and TNR’s newly installed CEO, former Yahoo News executive Guy Vidra, visited the storied magazine’s Washington headquarters on Friday morning to meet with the staff, they were greeted by a skeleton crew of a few editorial interns and junior employees.

Hughes’s and Vidra’s decision to abruptly change the 100-year-old journal of politics, policy, art and culture into what Hughes calls a “digital media company” and relocate to Manhattan—and in the process get rid of top editor Franklin Foer, who has run the magazine on and off since 2006, and literary editor Leon Wieseltier, a major figure at TNR since the early 1980s—has prompted a mass exodus by more than two dozen senior editors and writers.

For Foer, Wieseltier and others at the magazine, the brutal shakeup by Vidra, 40, who was hired in September, and his 30-year-old patron, Hughes—who purchased TNR two-and-a-half years ago for an undisclosed sum from a consortium that included longtime owner Martin Peretz—didn’t come as a surprise. Tensions have been building since the summer. According to multiple sources, Hughes came to think of his writers and editors as “spoiled brats,” and especially disliked the flamboyant, feud-prone, white-maned Wieseltier, who was more than twice his age. Much of Hughes’s distaste was telegraphed in his body language; he strikes many TNR staffers as passive-aggressive and averse to confrontation.

Vidra spoke in what one witness described as “Silicon Valley jargon,” and, using a tech cliché, declared: “We’re going to break s**t”—a vow hardly calculated to ingratiate himself with TNR’s veteran belle-lettrists, who feared that he was threatening the magazine’s destruction. Only a few interns dared to ask questions, which Vidra repeatedly dodged. “The senior people were too shocked to speak,” said a witness. “Jaws were dropping to the floor.” Through it all, Chris Hughes nodded approvingly, an unnerving grin on his face.

To be sure, that meeting was a warning sign. But the manner in which the two technology mavens administered their coup de grâce only two months later has left a bitter taste.

According to informed sources, Hughes and Vidra didn’t bother to inform Foer that he was out of a job. Instead, the editor was placed in the humiliating position of having to phone Hughes to get confirmation after Gawker.com posted an item at 2:35 p.m. reporting the rumor that Bloomberg Media editor Gabriel Snyder, himself a onetime Gawker editor, had been hired as Foer’s replacement. Yes, it’s true, Hughes sheepishly admitted, notwithstanding that he and Vidra had given Foer repeated assurances that his job was safe.

“It was like the Red Wedding in Game of Thrones,” said former senior editor Julia Ioffe when Foer and Wieseltier announced that they had decided to part ways with TNR.

Now, as Larry O'Connor, Editor-At-Large for IJReview, noted that these events usually come in threes. Well, let's just combine the Daily Show's erroneous reporting on police shootings and the Huffington Post misquoting National Review columnist A.J. Delgaldo on her piece about sexual assault on campus to make the third offense.

First, the Daily Show (via AP):

Jon Stewart is apologizing for mentioning a Southern California death in a list of police shootings of black men.

"The Daily Show" host responded Friday to criticism from the San Bernardino County district attorney.

On his show Monday, Stewart mentioned Dante Parker in the shooting list.

Parker died in August after he was jolted with a stun gun during a scuffle with sheriff's deputies. The coroner concluded he died from a drug overdose and cardiovascular disease.

Stewart apologized to District Attorney Mike Ramos in a Twitter message that said it was "sloppy" to put Parker in the shooting list and promised a TV apology would come next Monday.

With Huffington Post, A.J Delgaldo found something a bit strange in a segment she did for HuffPostLive back in May on the subject of rape on college campuses; they attributed a quote from her column at NRO that she didn't write. In the world of HuffPo, Delgaldo wrote, "we are teaching young women themselves that anything can count as rape, and encouraging them to 'cry rape' when they regret a sexual encounter." And by Delgaldo, I mean Slate writer Katy Waldman. The HuffPo wrote this correction in kind:

This article originally misattributed a line from Slate writer Katy Waldman's review of A.J. Delgado's piece as a direct quote by Delgado. We regret the error and have corrected the story.

So, to review, a left-wing rag is imploding since they can't properly report on anything, a flagship of American liberalism went down in flames, and the Daily Show and the Huffington Post were caught misrepresenting the facts or saying that certain people wrote things that they indeed did not write.

*Editor's note: While I certainly did not agree with the New Republic, I did find their articles well-written and enjoyable, despite their past controversies. They were also one of the publications to note that Erdely didn't contact the alleged attackers for her Rolling Stone piece.