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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Tucker Carlson v. Journalism

Tucker Carlson
Tucker Carlson has an "exposé" out about Media Matters for America. Or at least that's what the wingnuts are calling it. I'd always thought that "exposé" wasn't a synonym for "stuff everyone already knows." What we learn is that Media Matters is on a crusade to discredit Fox News. This stunning revelation comes after MM's founder David Brock told Politico that his group was waging a "war on Fox" back in March of last year. So big news; Tucker's investigation discovered that Media Matters is waging a war on Fox.

I feel strangely unrocked by this revelation.

This seems to be an ongoing thing for Carlson's Daily Caller and today we learn that Media Matters had considered hiring investigators to look into the personal lives of Fox personalities and executives. The right may see this as shocking, but the rest of us will recognize it as investigative journalism. And, of course, yesterday Tucker reported that David Brock is kind of a weird guy -- which (assuming it's even true) means he investigated Brock's personal life. As always, it's only OK when conservatives do it.

We also learn that Media Matters is often in contact with the Obama administration. This is apparently terrible. Imagine if the Bush administration had hired talent from Fox News. I'm sure Tucker would be shocked -- if he had any memory at all.


But my favorite shocking revelation is that Media Matters makes a habit of working with lefty journalists like the Washington Post's Greg Sargent or Huffington Post's Sam Stein. They just call them up and tell them things and then these journalists often go and report it. I'll let Jonathan Chait handle this one:

This is... really dumb. Obtaining information from biased sources is an activity known in the journalism profession as “reporting.” The job of a journalist is to process the information and to decide if it checks out, if it’s worth publishing, if it means what the source says it means, and so on. (I have no memory of ever communicating with anybody from Media Matters, but it’s possible I have.)

Now, it’s a good story if the Daily Caller can show that Media Matters got reporters to publish stories that weren’t true, or were slanted to its perspective. But the Daily Caller doesn’t show that.

In fact, Carlson's big "exposé" doesn't actually expose anything. We learn that Media Matters doesn't like Fox News very much, that they practice journalism, and that they engage in advocacy by giving journalists leads and contacting government officials. What I didn't already know I'd assumed. This is a big pile of nothing.

Here's the problem that Carlson and the rest of the right has with Media Matters for America and David Brock -- they accurately report on rightwing media. They post the things they say, verbatim and in context. And, since rightwing media has a bad habit of lying, fear-mongering, and hate-mongering, this doesn't work out very well for them. Media Matters must be discredited. So a scandal must be found or, lacking the existence of any scandalous activity, cooked up.

Tucker Carlson decided to cook. Too bad he's such a lousy chef.


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