The bloggers and the fake “fake memo” story

Remember this the next time the right wing tells you not to believe anything in those awful liberal newspapers.

It’s not surprising that Mickey Kaus’s insensate hatred of the mainstream liberal media should lead him to pretend that it’s Mike Allen of the Washington Post — rather than John Hinderaker, Michelle Malkin, Accuracy in Media, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, the American Spectator, William Bennett, and, of course, Mickey Kaus — who ought to be apologetically wiping the egg off their faces about the fake-memo-that-wasn’t.

But it is suprising that Eugene Volokh should be willing to be taken in by Kaus’s “I’m just a truth-speaking Democrat” shtick. I have no reason to doubt Kaus’s claim that he votes for Democratic Presidential candidates, but he spends the other 1460 days of each electoral cycle doing as much damage as he can to Democrats and the non-right-wing mass media.

It’s hard to tell whether Kaus picked up such a visceral dislike of the liberal side of the Democratic Party during the Clinton Administration’s intramural welfare wars that he now actually prefers the ruling plutotheocrats to any Democrat who isn’t Joe Lieberman, or whether he just figured out that being the Democrat to go to for an anti-Democratic quote was a good niche in the media ecosystem, guaranteeing Mickey well-paid leisure courtesy of whichever Fortune 500 company owns Slate at any given moment. But the bottom line is that he virtually never favorably links to, or is linked to by, anyone to his left, and never, never, never criticizes a media story that has a pro-Bush spin.

So Eugene’s phrase “Kaus, no Republican loyalist, writes … ” sounds a good deal like “Benedict Arnold, no Tory, says …” or, perhaps, “Leon Trotsky, no friend of capitalism, asserts … ” It’s one thing to find someone genuinely on the other side as a general matter who agrees with you about some specific point; it’s another to quote a professional turncoat and act as if that were the same thing.

Glenn Reynolds sums up:

This tells us two things we already knew: The press will publish stuff without much in the way of authentication, if it thinks it makes Republicans look bad. And Republicans really were interested in politicizing the Terry Schiavo matter.

But of course it tells us a third thing, which Glenn would rather not mention: that the “liberal media bias”-mongers will publish reckless charges with no authentication at all, if it makes any media outlet not in thrall to the conservative wing of the Republican Party look bad.

Right now, John Hinderaker looks considerably less credible than Dan Rather. The only difference I can see is that Rather eventually confessed error and got forced out, while Hinderaker is unapologetic and still going strong, catching links from Instapundit.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: