On the Media’s Bob Garfield, FTW

On the Media posted this remarkable interview with Scott Greer of the Daily Caller regarding the Caller‘s coverage of the Khan family. (Yeah, h/t Media Matters….) I’ll just leave things there.
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Author: Harold Pollack

Harold Pollack is Helen Ross Professor of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago. He has served on three expert committees of the National Academies of Science. His recent research appears in such journals as Addiction, Journal of the American Medical Association, and American Journal of Public Health. He writes regularly on HIV prevention, crime and drug policy, health reform, and disability policy for American Prospect, tnr.com, and other news outlets. His essay, "Lessons from an Emergency Room Nightmare" was selected for the collection The Best American Medical Writing, 2009. He recently participated, with zero critical acclaim, in the University of Chicago's annual Latke-Hamentaschen debate.

25 thoughts on “On the Media’s Bob Garfield, FTW”

  1. I'm not sure what the problem here is. Was the account inaccurate in some way?

    Is it that the public should be shielded from any information, even truthful, that might suggest Khan had financial motives for his speech? Or maybe if your kid got killed in the military you're off limits for opposition research? This would come as news to Pat Smith.

    If you ask me, this is getting disturbingly close to suggesting that the media have an obligation to not report on things that might have the "wrong" political effect.

    1. In all its implications. Selling visas? By the way, African-Americans 13% of the population, constitute about 17% of the active-duty military. Whites, 77% of the population, make up 69% of active-duty military.

      I wonder if Greer thinks that proves African-Americans are more patriotic than whites.

      Oh, and comparing Smith, who specifically blamed Clinton for her son's death, with Khan, who blamed no one, is ridiculous. In fact, it's demented.

  2. I generally like Garfield, but in this interview, he doesn't follow up questions to point up the lies or implied lies in the Daily Caller, e.g., that Khan "sold US citizenship." He doesn't ask Greer for any evidence in the Sharia article that shows that Khan supports Sharia law. Garfield would have done much better if he's stuck to arguing about facts rather than motives.

    1. Perhaps he would have stuck to arguing the facts, if he'd thought they were on his side, but for some reason thought attacking motives the safer approach, since facts couldn't get in the way.

      Khan on Sharia

      Honestly, I would have to say that interpreting this as asserting supremacy of Sharia law over the Constitution is, if not a total fabrication, at least reasonably contestable.

      Seriously, does somebody have a script running to down vote me across this site a couple times a day?

      1. Arguing the facts? What facts? All Greer did was throw out accusations, including of criminal conduct.

        And if the public has a right to know about Khan's writing (not writings) on Sharia, maybe Greer could have told the truth – that, as even you seem prepared to admit, he wrote a historically descriptive article that in no way suggested Sharia should supersede American law. It's no different than an article outlining the history of the Talmud, or Roman Catholic canon law. Instead he kept implying that there was something else going on. If this is the kind of person you rely on for information it's no wonder you post so much nonsense.

        1. What facts? Well, that Kahn actually does have a pretty strong financial stake in the outcome of the election. That's a fact. And his business's website got taken down when this got started, suggesting he wanted to conceal that fact.

          But, yes, I agree that the essay was not directly on point about Sharia law superseding the Constitution. It had to do with internal divisions over how Sharia law should be constructed, basically.

          1. I don't know why the web site was taken down, though one alternative explanation might be that it was getting a lot of unwelcome response as a result of the speech and the attacks on him.

            As for financial interests, that's bizarre. He is apparently an immigration lawyer. Why you expect there to be significantly more work for him under Clinton than under Trump is not clear. And so what if that's the case? Lots of people who support candidates have interests – political or financial – in seeing them get elected. Why single out whatever small benefits Khan might get? And why attack him with lies about Sharia, and about ties to the Muslim Brotherhood (see Trump's pal Roger Stone)?

            Does that really make his point about Muslims, including his son, being patriotic Americans, not worthy of the contempt Trump has heaped on them, any less valid.

            Again, is there anything the Trump camp says or does that you won't excuse?

          2. I would suggest that, if you don't think it's clear why an immigration lawyer specializing in Muslims might see less business if Trump wins than if Clinton does, you're being a bit disingenuous.

            Anyway, you may argue the implications of the facts. I dislike the idea that, somehow, they shouldn't be reported.

          3. I think it's obvious that if Trump starts deporting Muslims, Khan's business will make money hand over fist defending them.

  3. OK Brett. Go ahead. Report the facts. Khan is an immigration lawyer. And if you don't understand why an American Muslim whose son was killed in combat might be outraged at Trump, regardless of profession, you're not disingenuous, you're blind or stupid or both.

    And speaking of facts, is he an "agent of the Muslim Brotherhood" as Stone claims? Yes or no, Brett? Fact or not? Or just slime intended to appeal to bigots?

    Again, is there anything the Trump camp says or does that you won't excuse?

    1. I perfectly understand.

      But, look, there's this long recitation of things the RW press have written and said about Khan, with the implication we should all be outraged. These are mostly assertions about matters of fact. We should be outraged if these assertions are false. If they are true, we should not be outraged.

      So, shouldn't an account that tries to make us outraged about a journalistic exercise direct itself to whether the content is true or false?

      But this is not, conspicuously not, what goes on in the interview above. In fact, there was some degree of outrage on the part of the interviewer that Greer actually dared to muster facts to defend the work! I guess he was just supposed to apologize for not being a left-wing journalist, and never mind the facts.

      1. They are assertions of incomplete fact without context. In other situations, you complain loudly about the problems with that. Here, you're pretending to be an idiot.

        1. Again, where was the alternate context, that made the 'partial' (Are there any other sort?) facts offensive? List of statements, (missing), outrage. That's how it went. It went worse, he was attacked for actually citing statistics.

          The reason it could be left at that, is because of the assumed commonality of values between the interviewer and the audience: The outrage is over Greer daring to practice journalism and not from a liberal perspective. Greer dared to be on the other side.

          The exact same practices would have been laudable if done from the opposing political viewpoint.

          1. If you really think that saying that Khan wrote about sharia law without mentioning that it happened just once, 33 years ago, and didn't have anything to do with sharia law as public policy, isn't so devoid of critical context as to be wildly misleading, then you're stupider than I thought you were.

      2. So are you ouraged about Stone's allegations, for which, by the way, there is zero evidence?

        And is the one fact stated by Greer – that Khan is an immigration lawyer – enough to say, "well he's just doing this becaues it's in his financial interest?"

        Put another way, suppose you had a son killed in combat. In discussing that, would your economic interests outweigh your other feelings about that?

        1. Look, if I had a son killed in combat, and twelve years later appeared on a stage at a political convention, using his death to promote the candidacy of somebody, and attack their opponent, I'd fully expect to be the target of opposition research, and if my position arguably had a financial motive, I'd expect the opposition to talk about it. That's normal politics. It's normal journalism, too. You don't put yourself on a stage and remain off limits.

          Having a son die in combat doesn't immunize you against politics even as you engage in politics. It doesn't make you off limits to investigate. As I remarked above, Pat Smith (Whose son died much more recently, and in a context much more directly relevant to the politician she criticized!) certainly learned that. Pat Smith had much more relevant reasons for hating on Hillary, than Khan did for hating on Trump. Trump had NOTHING to do with the death of Humayun Khan. (In fact, Greer pointed this out during the interview.) Hillary was directly involved in the decisions that led to the death of Sean Smith. And Smith's criticism of Hillary was directly on point, and quite valid. Hillary did, premeditated, and for quite some time, lie about that internet video being the cause of the attack, even though documents have since come out that demonstrate she knew it wasn't from the start. The woman lies. A lot. You're mad at Smith for pointing this out, pointing out that Hillary deliberately lied to a grieving mother about the cause of her son's death?

          What I see in the above interview, is somebody criticized for engaging in fairly normal journalism, because they dared to do so to advance the interests of the wrong party. I might have been more impressed if there'd been something more like criticism of the quality of the journalism, rather than it's political valiance.

          Really, the only solid hit was that Khan's essay really wasn't directly on point to the issue being raised about it. Not directly off point, either, just somewhat tangential. And I acknowledged that. You'd have to do a lot more work to establish the relevance of that essay, and they didn't do that work. Fair complaint.

          But about the only one.

          1. A financial motive! Really, Brett? That's ridiculous.

            Normal politics? For the Stones of the world, maybe.

            No reason to hate Trump, who wants to bar Muslim immigrants? (And do what next? Patrol "Muslim neighborhoods," a la Cruz?)What Greer did was slimebag journalism.

          2. Yeah, it was slimebag journalism. Which made it a perfectly normal example of journalism. Journalism isn't exactly the most ethical profession in the world.

            Look, I concede that Khan has as much reason to hate Trump as any Muslim does. No more reason by virtue of his son having been killed in a war Trump had nothing to do with, but as much as any other Muslim. It can't be nice to have it pointed out that your co-religionists are a threat to the nation.

            By contrast, Pat Smith has a much more personal reason to hate Hillary, as she was directly in the chain of command responsible for Sean Smith's death, and lied to Smith's face about the cause.

            So, do you treat Pat Smith as untouchable? Or perfectly subject to criticism?

            A lot of journalism is slimebag journalism, but Greer wasn't being attacked for being a slimebag. He was being attacked for being a slimebag for the wrong team.

          3. So the Muslim Brotherhood business was just fine, then?

            Clinton was "directly in the chain of command?" Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi!
            Do I treat Smith as untouchable? Well, I'm not aware of any outright falsehoods being spread about her, in contrast to Khan. Does she have good reason to be upset at Clinton? Well, whatever the accuracy of what she believes I can understand her feelings. But the accuracy can certainly be called into question, not because she's a liar but because she's been fed a lot of right-wing BS.

            How many investigations now? More or fewer than the number of Obamacare repeals? I can't keep up. No doubt you can.

          4. Yeah, Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi! Things that actually happened don't magically go away just because Democrats find them politically inconvenient.

            Excuse me, was the Muslim brotherhood thing challenged in the interview? I must have missed that.

            Oh, wait, it wasn't. And, isn't that my point? Greer wasn't being attacked for being factually wrong. He was being attacked on a "How dare you bring that up!" basis.

            Sorry, journalists are SUPPOSED to "bring that up". "How dare you, an opposition journalist, bring up something that isn't favorable to my party!" isn't a particularly impressive attack.

            He fared a bit better with the attack on bringing up that old essay, because that actually was a valid point. The rest of it was all "how dare you", and why would anybody not already on your side care about that?

          5. The question is not whether Benghazi! happened, but Clinton's responsibiity. You'll excuse me if I don't think the various GOP "investigations" arre particularly honest efforts to get at the truth.

            So what do you think about the Muslim Brotherhood business?

          6. As a general rule, partisans have little interest in exposing negative information about their own candidates. So, if you're ever going to find out the bad news about your candidate, you're not going to find it out from your friends. Only from your enemies. Better listen to them, at least they're not feeding you comforting lies.

            The Muslim Brotherhood business was almost immediately retracted, to be replaced with another charge I am somewhat dubious about, because it has not since been corroborated. But, at least we're discussing whether the charges are true, which is more than the interview did. Which was my point: You want to criticize a journalist, you ask if what they're reporting is true, not whether it's outrageous.

          7. ^^^ This statement only operative until the next time Bellmore links to Breitbart or WorldNutDaily.

          8. No, that's kind of the point: If you're only willing to look at sources of information which confirm your beliefs, you're never going to have to worry about your beliefs being challenged.

            Even if they're wrong.

            Break out of your echo chamber, and hang out with the enemy occasionally. It might do you some good.

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