Friday, December 01, 2006

Wingnut Trolls Can Stow Indignation on AP Story

I've been getting a ton of e-mail from conservative trolls on my post about right-wing bloggers who jumped all over the Associated Press (AP) for allegedly inventing a news story about Sunni worshippers being burned alive by Shiite militiamen in Iraq. Lo and behold, a preponderance of all evidence suggested the story is true, and I wrote about the irony in their questioning the AP's journalistic standards.

Now that their blogging heroes have managed to dig up a shred of maybe, kinda, sorta proof that one of the principle witnesses in the case is unknown to Iraqi authorities, these people are writing with shrieks of indignation demanding that I print a retraction.

They are making two major mistakes: One, is that they're stupid enough to write these long tirades and think I would waste any time engaging them one-on-one. I'd rather watch an O'Reilly Factor marathon -- it would be less wasteful. And, as I've often said, where's the joy in out-debating a Republican and how would I follow it up? Do I arm-wrestle an elderly person? Steal from a blind man's cup? Log into Instant Messenger as LittleBobbyHotPants and tease Republican Congressmen?


Their second mistake is assuming that Progressive bloggers are as bad as people like Malkin, Drudge and others in the Republican cesspool. Unlike the bloggers they usually read, I do as much due-diligence as possible for my posts and try to show some discretion before putting fingers to keyboard.

For example, when I heard the rumors coming from the right-wing earlier in the week that the immolation story may be false, I contacted my editor at the Huffington Post and told him I was following the situation and would post an immediate retraction if the story, which I referenced in an earlier column, turned out to be untrue.

I waited for more information -- after all, who would accept the sourcing of a conservative blogger? -- and the AP soon published more evidence corroborating their original story.

So now that Flopping Aces, Powerline and the rest have been digging and digging to try to save face, they're claiming they have new evidence showing that the AP ran a fictitious story. Fine. Let’s wait and see. No matter how much contempt I have for these people, if they prove over the next few days (rather than minutes or hours) that I was unfair in blasting them for jumping the AP, I will run an immediate retraction.

But what's more interesting than anything is how much time and energy these guys are spending trying make a story about an atrocity untrue -- and it's an act that was not even alleged to have involved U.S. troops. This is what they go after like little toy pitbulls. This is what they get angry and passionate about.

It's not our nation being lied into a pointless war that gets their collective goat. It's not almost 3,000 dead American troops and tens of thousands more wounded physically and/or emotionally for life. Untold thousands of dead Iraqi civilians isn't enough to make them lose sleep at night. And placing hundreds of billions in debt on our children to make us less safe doesn’t raise their ire and drive them to dig for the truth.

A Representative molesting Congressional Pages and his enablers in the Republican majority covering for it doesn’t get them bothered. And having so many of their own party going to jail -- as my colleague Cliff Schecter says, "they’re nothing but a party of pedophiles and criminals" -- doesn’t even move the needle on their indignation scale.

But a news story that puts yet another ugly face on their boss's war does get them motivated. Because it's one episode that may have been the tipping point in getting the Corporate Media to finally begin calling Bush's quagmire what it is -- a civil war.

The facts are what they are, and I'm patient enough to wait for the full story to come out -- but the spin and public-relations flackery being cited by the right-wing mouthpieces are not facts. If I need to do a retraction, I will. But pardon me if I wait for evidence above and beyond some screeching wingnut scrambling to paint the news as they wish it would be, instead of looking at the mess that Iraq truly is and contemplating the meaning of accountability.

Update: My two-fisted blogging colleague, Oliver Willis, jumps back into the fray with his take and it's worth a look.