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Monday, July 08, 2002


Interesting Omissions

When I read Slander, I was surprised not only by what was written but by what was conveniently left out. Here are just a couple examples of revealing omissions:

...[W]hen right-wingers rant, there’s at least a point: There are substantive arguments contained in conservative name-calling. One of Newt Gingrich’s more pithy turns of phrase, for example, was to call Bob Dole “tax collector for the welfare state.” In addition to the welcome bipartisanship of attacking a member of his own party—and not from the left—Gingrich’s attack conveys a meaningful concept. It succinctly degraded Dole’s legislative function as consisting of nothing more than taking the taxpayer’s money. Dole had failed to oppose behemoth government; he was a cog in the system that Democrats had created. All that in six words.

REALITY: What Coulter doesn’t bother telling the reader is that Gingrich’s supposed subtlety and flair when it came to name-calling didn’t extend to members of the loyal opposition (which Gingrich didn’t view as loyal). For instance, in a memo by Gingrich’s political action committee GOPAC, the following pithy terms were suggested to describe Democratic opponents: sick, traitors, destructive, corrupt, bizarre, cheat, and steal. Of course, Coulter didn’t bother mentioning the GOPAC list because it alone demolishes the premise of Slander that the decline in political discourse is “all liberals’ fault.”

During the 1992 campaign, Gingrich had a clever thing to say about Democrats: "Woody Allen having non-incest with a non-daughter to whom he was a non-father because they were a non-family fits the Democratic platform perfectly." Soon after Gingrich said this, he introduced his one-eyed meat whistle to a young aide whom he would later receive in a trade-in for Wife Number Two (who herself was a younger model Gingrich got after giving the heave-ho to Wife Number One). Four years later, Gingrich said, “[o]ur job is to convince the voters that Democrats are the enemies of normal Americans" (Wife Number One had been Gingrich’s high school teacher--Yuck). I could go on but I think you get the point. This leads me to Omission-riddled Quote Two:

So far, Drudge seems to be meeting the new special high standard of accuracy reserved for the Drudge Report. His only alleged misstatement that was ever tested in a court of law concerned a statement about Clinton aide Sidney Blumenthal, for which Drudge was sued for libel. The case ended with Blumenthal paying Drudge money.

REALITY: The “alleged misstatement” was a despicable libel against Blumenthal. In 1997, Drudge wrote: "'There are court records of Blumenthal's violence against his wife,' one influential republican, who demanded anonymity, tells the DRUDGE REPORT.” Drudge retracted the story, but did not apologize to the Blumenthal family. Blumenthal filed suit against Drudge. While Blumenthal had to pay for attorneys out of his own pocket, Drudge relied on funding from right-wing groups (one of the main sources of funding was David Horowitz who recently libeled David Brock when he ironically accused Brock of libeling him). Blumenthal had to drop the lawsuit and pay court costs, not because of the merits of his case, but rather because of the right’s deep pockets.

While that particular libel was an attempt to discredit the Clinton White House, a more recent Drudge smear was done in order to take the heat off the Bush White House for the Enron scandal—an odd behavior by someone who portrays himself as a muckraker. Drudge spread the falsehood that then-CEO of Enron Ken Lay had slept over at the Clinton White House (it was actually the White House of George H. W. Bush). This falsehood spread to much of the mainstream media. Gene Lyons broke the story that Drudge was full of it. Nevertheless, Drudge refused to retract the story or apologize. So I decided to call Drudge’s radio show and find out why he didn’t retract the story and apologize. Here is the transcript of our conversation:

DRUDGE: Let’s go back to the board. Line one; you’re on the air with Drudge.

SCOOBIE: Hey Drudge, this is Scoobie here, man. I just wanted to compliment you on your Enron
coverage.

DRUDGE: Oh, oh, thank you. Yes, it’s very stimulating, isn’t it?

SCOOBIE: Yes, especially—

DRUDGE: Why don’t you—well, you can take over the show and you can do thirty minutes of Enron
coverage and we’ll see if you have one damn listener at the end of that thirty minutes.

SCOOBIE: Yes, yes, it’s true—

DRUDGE: Why don’t you try? The floor is yours.

SCOOBIE: Well, I’ll tell you. I especially—

DRUDGE: Go ahead. The floor is yours. You’ve now got thirteen Western states. Proceed, sir.

SCOOBIE: Okay, I think it’s especially newsworthy—your scoop about Ken Lay staying in the
Clinton White House, especially when you didn’t bother to retract it and you let others to think
that also.

[Silence]

SCOOBIE: Hello

[Silence]


SCOOBIE: (Louder) Helllloooo

[Silence]


SCOOBIE: Where’s Drudge? Hello. [laughing] There’s no Drudge. [These last words were muted from the radio show--leading to about four seconds of dead air]

[Drudge then disconnected Scoobie and did an incoherent rant (acting as if Scoobie were still on the line). Scoobie listens to the rant off the air while drinking a Corona]

So much for Drudge meeting the alleged “new special high standard of accuracy reserved for the Drudge Report.”


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