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by spocko

Nixon Wouldn’t Have Authorized Torture, Suggests John Dean

12:10 pm in Uncategorized by spocko

I asked John Dean a few questions about his new book, The Nixon Defense: What He Knew and When He Knew It, during the FDL Book Salon.

1) After listening to hundreds of hours of all conversations did President “Sock it to me” Nixon tell any good jokes? Were they dirty? Racist or sexist? His answer was, “Bottom line: Richard Nixon had almost no sense of humor whatsoever.” My suspicion, confirmed!

2) What did he think Cheney and Rumsfeld learned from the Watergate Scandal? His reply:

Rumsfeld and Cheney volunteered to help Nixon when he was sinking, but Nixon did not trust Rumsfeld (he didn’t know Cheney). Needless to say, it is pure speculation as to what Rummy and Dick ‘learned’ from Watergate. I gave my views on the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld presidency in ‘Worse Than Watergate,’ explaining how they imposed secrecy way beyond Nixon. This was how they got away with blatant violations of law that make Watergate look like little league. I am not sure that Richard Nixon in one of his darkest moods would have authorized torture! 

That last sentence surprised me. So I asked for more insight.

What would Nixon’s reasons have been for not torturing people? Was he close enough to WWII and the Nuremberg trials to remember war crimes? Was it about American ideals? Religious ideals? Did he not have a John Yoo writing legal memos for him?

John Dean August 30th, 2014 at 4:58 pm
In response to spocko @ 114 (show text)

Nixon served in the South Pacific during WWII, and was familiar with the horrors of Japanese torture, so I cannot believe he would have lowered the USA to tolerate such horrific behavior. With foreign policy, Nixon seemed to understand what today we call “blow-back” and that by our engaging in torture he would expose Americans soldiers (if not all Americans) to torture, just as we are seeing with Americans being captured by ISIL. Bush/Cheney have subjected any and every American kidnapped or captured to torture by the likes of ISIL. It is a decision that is going to haunt us and the world for untold decades.

Had the Book Salon not ended, my next question to Dean would have been, “How did we go from Nixon’s views torture and why he understood it was wrong, to Cheney being proud of ‘enhanced interrogation‘ techniques? Also, why won’t Obama’s admission, ‘We tortured some folks’ lead to prosecution?” Maybe another interviewer will ask Dean this or Digby’s friend Rick Perlstein can take a crack at answering the question.

The answer to this question could probably fill several books, luckily I just happened to read a great one that helps explain part of it. Rebecca Gordon has a new book out called Mainstreaming Torture: Ethical Approaches in the Post – 9/11 United States. Gordon walks the reader through the problem, how we think and talk about torture and how institutionalized state torture is carried out by the United States.

I tend to get very worked up when talking about torture, so much so that it gets in the way of my conversation at parties. “Look out, Spocko wants to talk about torture accountability and the Taguba report again, hide!” Fortunately for me, Mrs. Spocko knows I have this interest, and she bought me Gordon’s book for my birthday. She also knows that understanding isn’t enough for me, I want to do something about the problem.

Fortunately, unlike a number of books that are great at describing the problem, this book has some suggestions on what to do about it in the short, medium and long term. She also emphasizes the personal importance of individuals doing something about torture. In my case I started pushing back at the torture supporters on right wing radio.

If we look at why Nixon, one of our nastier Presidents, didn’t authorize overt torture, but other Presidents did, we might see how it was made acceptable and then develop and reestablish the ethical, intellectual, legal and practical reasons to stop it.

I have often thought that the entire content of this book could be expressed in five words: Torture is wrong. Stop it. –Rebecca Gordon, Mainstreaming Torture

But can we really stop it? Isn’t the water out of the water-boarding bucket forever?

See no Torture, Say no Torture

This weekend was the 10th anniversary of the release of the Abu Ghraib photos. The New York Times thinks we should release the other photos. Remember when they first came out? The RW media went on the air to defend the torture. Rush Limbaugh, “… I’m talking about people having a good time, these people, you ever heard of emotional release? You ever heard of need to blow some steam off?”

Read the rest of this entry →

by spocko

Let’s Stop Letting Bundy Supporters Off the Hook

2:34 pm in Uncategorized by spocko

Today Joan Walsh and David Atkins have talked about how politicians and others are distancing themselves from Bundy.

Roger Ailes owns Cliven Bundy now: How dumb opportunism became a right-wing nightmare. – Salon, Walsh

Republicans lie down with racist welfare rancher Bundy, wake up with racist fleas – Hullabaloo, Atkins

Chompers by drainhookHere is something I’d like everyone to notice, and I want you to think about different ways to handle this in the future.

When someone that the Right or the Left has embraced is caught doing or saying something bad the MSM go to the supporters and ask, “So, is he still your guy?” Depending on the offense, and the skill of the people being asked the question, the MSM often let them off the hook. For example, “Here is the statement from their office, saying they deplore racism.” Story over.

Now, if the person who made or said the offensive thing is on the Left, the MSM will give their supporters an opportunity to distance themselves. However, the RW media keep using that offense as a club… forever.  They don’t care if the supporters distanced themselves, the offense wasn’t even that offensive, or was a lie like how they framed Shirley Sherrod.

The few left wing media outlets that actually exists, also often accept the statements and let them off the hook. We use reason and logic and treat them fairly, although we might question the seriousness of the statement. Eventually we say, “They denounced the statement, no need to keep bringing it up.”

Fine. Good for us! But the activist in me wonders:

  • Is a simple denouncement statement good enough?
  • How else can we use their earlier uncritical embracing of the person to drag them down?
  • Do they secretly still get credit from their base if they “dog whistle” the denouncement?
  • Can we go to the people who still are embracing Bundy in his racism and ask them about the denouncements? Example:

Nevada Sen. Heller’s office has immediately condemned the ‘appalling and racist statements’ and have distanced themselves from Bundy, how do you feel about Heller now? Was it a cowardly thing to do, to throw Bundy under the bus?

It appears the racist views in Bundy are integrated into his world view. It’s not something easily carved out. But the statements condemning him make it appear the comments and the person live in separate worlds. (This is actually a feature of the RW authoritarian mindset, the ability to never “merge the files” as Bob Altemeyers says in The Authoritarians.

If we don’t want to hold their feet to the fire, because we are rational and compassionate, who can we get to do it for us?  I suggest we set up the right to do it for us.

Read the rest of this entry →

by spocko

The Magic and Beauty of Hiding Behind Front Groups

2:45 pm in Uncategorized by spocko

From a great diary at Daily Kos, ”Industry Expert Says StopRush Has Destroyed Limbaugh’s Business For Good“ by Proglegs:

Speaking yesterday on the Ed Schultz radio show, industry insider Holland Cooke credited a persistent online activist movement with completely destroying right wing talk show host Rush Limbaugh’s business model by using the very free speech that El Rushbo claims gives him carte blanche to do what he does.

The piece quotes Cooke on the Ed Show and discusses the lower ratings, Rush’s move to smaller stations and the impact of less income for Rush’s distributors and radio stations.
Cover up False Front
Being the self-important Vulcan I am, I commented on the piece and my role in the process that lead to this.

Discussing the article with my friend Jeff Tiedrich of the Smirking Chimp there was some confusion.

Wait, how does losing advertisers result in fewer listeners? Seems to me they’re two different problems.

I explained they they were indeed separate issues. I created the Spocko Method specifically to reduce revenue in an environment where the ratings wouldn’t necessarily be impacted by an action and could even increase the ratings because of controversy.

I know that when KSFO, Savage, Beck or Limbaugh lost advertisers that didn’t necessarily mean they would lose ratings. In fact. they would keep bragging about the ratings because people were tuning in to hear the controversy. See the Streisand Effect

Higher ratings usually translate to higher ad rates. But if no one wants to advertise or sponsor the show, then high ratings are moot, especially to the people wanting to make money off of ratings. However, the ratings are still useful to people who want to push a message.

People who like a message, and want it to continue, needed to find new sponsors who love the message but are not vulnerable to pressure the way customer facing advertisers are. These new sponsors could stand behind someone who would normally be sanctioned or be fired for violating the normal HR policies found in most corporations. The groups could even support views that a huge percent of the population find offensive.

Front Groups are Magical

Front groups like the Heritage Foundation, Freedom Works and Americans For Prosperity can deflect connection and responsibility from individuals, corporations or brands who love a “no regulations ever” message, but can’t be seen supporting a sick and twisted host or his comments.

When you don’t want your brand tainted by association, you find or create a group of anonymous donors and ask them to pass money through to the messenger they don’t want to be associated with anymore.

Front groups funding right wing radio isn’t new, Politico did a piece on them funding right wing radio back in 2011. Here is another from this week. There are still reasons people and companies hide. There are marketing and brand considerations that remain. If you, as the person driving a message, find that activists have developed and harnessed a customer facing advertiser alert programs that challenges their brand, you work to remove those sponsors identities from the equation. Then you give them the option of funding you via the ‘cut out’ front group, like the Chamber of Commerce does. The other option is to reform the messenger, and that isn’t going to happen.

Customer facing advertisers, like the ones listed here at, had a hard time justifying sponsoring a sexist bigot who would be fired for violating all their own HR policies. But a front group doesn’t have to answer to HR policies, brand managers, customers or shareholders.

The people who want the money to keep rolling in do suggest the host change or tone down his views to appease the sponsors, and some of that does happen behind the scenes, although they will never admit it. The current procedure is to embrace the offensive comments and look for other sponsors.

The consumer facing advertisers were, (and some still are) a weak link in the game. They could be convinced to move away from Limbaugh. However dark money doesn’t care about what anyone thinks. They can “lose” money for decades on an influential narrative shaper, because they ARE getting an ROI. The advertisers could measure their short term ROI with new sales. But the front groups don’t have those short horizon metrics.

They are earning the money that they beg for every year from donors by pointing to their cultural impact.  They have:

Read the rest of this entry →

by spocko

Dear MSM: Spare Me Your Lame, “Dow Soars!” pieces. I want Comeuppance Stories!

4:51 pm in Uncategorized by spocko

Brute ForceI used to think that if only America’s political leaders could see the unemployed in the media, and hear their stories they would act. I don’t believe that anymore.

Right now in news rooms across the nation well-meaning editors are assigning someone to write a “balanced” story about the Dow breaking 15,000 that also includes some stories about people struggling to find work.  They know not to totally cheer the Dow, “See, we know that not everything is okay, so here’s a sad story of a person sort of like you, which you will dismiss in 10 seconds because it’s depressing as  hell.” ( Pam Spauling’s story “Over 55, out of work more than six months? Headhunters say you’re screwed.” made me loath my birthday and myself instead of loathing the people driving our economy. Their incorrect, destructive austerity metaphor is destroying lives as surely as bullets in our brains.)

I used to believe that personal stories, combined with cold hard statistics could break through to politicians and policy makers who would say, ‘Enough! The lack of good jobs with good wages is a national tragedy, we must fix it or I’ll never get re-elected!” I had the same delusion when it came to weapons. Silly rational Spocko. I thought 20 dead kids with their arms and legs shot off combined with 90 percent of the country behind a sensible change in gun laws would do the trick.  I was an optimist, but I am not stupid. I do know how the world works. It takes more than stories and statistics. It takes leverage.

Individual stories about the unemployed won’t force politician into working for change.  Polling data showing a desire for jobs aren’t going to move politicians to act.  You might get some pity, and a pledge for future action, but not the massive shift in actions we need RIGHT NOW.  Especially when the unemployed people whose stories finally get told aren’t donating to your re-election campaign or you don’t need to be re-elected.

The people who benefit when the Dow soars use their leverage to keep the country on course with current economic policies.  Policies which don’t include a massive jobs program in the United States, because those people don’t feel the pain the way the rest of us feel the pain.  You will note that when they do feel something they call pain, say in the form of delayed flights, they will let the politicians know and they are quickly healed, even if it is a band-aid just for them.  Who is using leverage to ease our pain?

People who read me know that I’m a big science fiction fan (my name is a clue!) but I’m also a fan of what I call “comeuppance stories” ones where a person or group of people work together to ensure the bad guys get their comeuppance. I don’t like violent revenge stories, but stories of justice. I like seeing a show of karma in this lifetime.  In the olden days journalists used to work on stories that lead to someone getting their comeuppance. You know, “afflict the comfortable.” But now these kind of stories are almost entirely seen in fiction.

These days people who SHOULD be getting their comeuppance have insulated themselves from the traditional sources of comeupatude–the press, the prosecutor, the politicians, the people.

Instead of the press creating stories that might lead to someone’s comeuppance they wait for someone else to do the heavy lifting and jump in to report on  “both sides.”

Prosecutors don’t want to go after big complex cases.  Politicians see that if you have a well-funded small group of supporters you can ignore the people. And the people, well the people can rant and rave and march and tweet, but if they don’t have leverage (via the law, politicians they own, money streams they control, votes they can cast or dirt they know) nothing will happen.

So that is why I think about ways to gain leverage. Since I’m a communicator I often think about how to use the media, but I know that you need multiple methods. I always like to point out the successes we have had interrupting the money stream of right wing media. The naysayers love to come back with, “Yes, but… Rush is still rich, Beck is back.” I remind them that this one form of leverage worked when people thought nothing ever would. (I wish that the media that cover this story would ask about the goals of the people coordinating the advertiser alert campaigns instead of listening to the straw men that are offered up by the subjects.)

We wanted advertisers to walk away from the hosts because the host was tainting their brand. They did. We wanted to create a situation in a corporation that is financially unsupportable if they wanted normal ad sources. We did.  We showed shareholders that what was an asset has become either a liability or an under-performing asset. CEOs responded as they often do with other under-performing assets in a pure capitalist environment.  They look at ways to get out of their contract.

We need to be constantly looking for leverage points to help the economy of the 99% sometimes it involves pushing for accountability, other times it involves pushing for people to enforce the laws that still exist. I have showed how with one model we used successfully against the RW media, but there are others.  I know there are more “comeuppance” stories out there. People love those stories. There is a reason that Shawshank Redemption is a lot of people’s favorite movie.

So tonight or tomorrow, as you listen to “Dow Soars!” stories and skim over the depressing bits about the unemployed, “Joe Btfsplk is 55 years old and has sent out 3,500 resumes blah, blah blah, spent retirement saving, yada yada yada played by the rules. zzzzz” think about what kind of leverage you can wield to help change things. What leverage can you develop that helps the 99%? I look forward to reading your comeuppance stories. Read the rest of this entry →

by spocko

Turning the Financial Bullies Loose on the Media Bullies: The Spocko Way

4:03 pm in Uncategorized by spocko

First I want to bust a couple of cliche’s.

1) When you stand up to a bully they back down.
No they don’t. Often they kick your ass for presuming to defy them.

And if you DO get them to back down because you planned ahead and used your skills and your friend’s skills to defeat them they go into victim mode and whine “I’m getting picked on!” Then they slip away and wait for a time to destroy your family, your friends or your finances. (Trust me, I know what I’m talking about.)

It would be pathetically hilarious if it wasn’t so damaging.

They are bullies. That is who they are and what they do. I don’t really care WHY they are bullies unless it would help me stop them.

They often don’t stop, should we stop confronting them? No. But what we can do is set one group of bullies against another. I think it’s time to set the financial bullies up against the media bullies.

You know who is sick? People who employee bullies. Sadly it appears there are never enough disincentives for companies to stop employing bullies.

  • What if the bully costs the company millions of dollars in revenue? How do you justify that?
  • “He serves a “higher purpose!”
    Do the shareholders know and approve of this money losing “higher purpose?”

    “He gets big ratings!”
    Have these great ratings lead to more revenue? The “we got great ratings but no revenue” gambit only works for so long before investors say,

    “Hey, we aren’t the Washington Times here! We want to make money. If you want to lose money let it come out of YOUR pocket–Rupert.”

    –Institutional investors of News Corp

    That is what the shareholders and institutional investors of News Corporation should be asking of Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Rupert Murdoch on November 4th when News Corporation will be holding their conference call on 1st Quarter Fiscal 2010 results.

    You know it’s not like institutional investors haven’t been pissed at New Corp before, they’ve even sued them (Link)

    Whenever I bring up suggestions to start questioning things like this I’m told by Very Serious People (the ones who told me not to worry my pretty little Vulcan head about over leveraging of Credit Default Swaps) that I don’t understand how the world works and the financial systems are too complex for my tiny Vulcan mind. They explain how Murdoch can lose billions if he wants and nobody cares. Wrong. People care. And the people who are losing the money need to justify the loss or explain why this loss is “good for business” or how they will “convert the ratings to money next quarter so trust us and please give us more time.”

    When I suggest challenging a media corporation they bring out another cliché.

    2) “Never piss off people who buy ink by the barrelful”. Why the hell not?

    First off it’s not ink anymore, it’s pixels on a screen, let’s try and keep our metaphors fresh people. Which means, WE buy our pixels by the barrelful too. You know we can create a story that gets just as much attention and just as many viewers as Fox News. The newspapers bitch and moan about Google destroying their business because if I create a story that is good enough, more people can read my story than the entire circulation of a major metro paper. No barrelfuls of ink needed. This isn’t the age of stone knives and bearskin rugs people. The internet has been around for awhile now but the metaphors haven’t caught up.

    Financial bullies can be counted on to care about one thing. Demanding that they make more money. And these people can be influenced, suggest to them that they follow their instincts and demand that Fox News changes the behavior that is costing them money. They can also demand News Corporation explain how this money losing strategy is going to make them money. If Rupert doesn’t have an answer ask him to eat the costs himself so it doesn’t drag down the revenue of the entire company.

    What have you done for me THIS quarter — Rupert?
    —-Institutional investors of News Corp to Mr. Murdock.

    I’ve got a few other questions shareholders and institutional investors can ask.

  • “Have you prepared for the lawsuits that will be filed when someone is killed at the Tea Parties you are promoting?
  • Have your insurance rates gone up because you are gathering mobs of gun toting people to political events?

  • Are your insurance carriers even aware they are underwriting the potential riots you are starting?
  • Are you in danger of losing your broadcast license when a host’s call to action results in people being killed?”
  • –Shareholder questions for the COO of News Corp

    (By the way these are all questions I posed to the people at Citadel Broadcasting regarding the hosts at KSFO sponsoring of Tea parties)

    What if a bully gets people killed? He’s costing the company money, he’s getting people killed and the company still encourages him? We know what is wrong with the bully, but what is wrong with the people employing him?

    Right now I’m watching right-wing media bullies target and pick off progressives one after another. Since Halloween is coming up we can call it a witch hunt and since one of my favorite people IS a witch I’m especially pissed off by witch hunts.

    The abuse of power of these people is really stunning and what is just as stunning is the other people who simply report on the abuse of power as just another story. I understand “how the world works”. I’m not a kid. There was a reason I devised the methods, messages and strategy to go after the bullies at KSFO. I knew what the corporations cared about. Their brands and money. When I pointed out to advertisers that KSFO host’s comments were tainting their brands they say, “Yes. These people are sick and we don’t want to associate with them anymore.”

    What Can We Do? or “Finally I can write someone other than my Stupid Senator!”

    People will use the skills they have to fight bullies. Robert Greenwald is using his film making skills to point out that Fox is picking off progressives. I’m a brain in a box, I write letters. You can too.

    Now is the time to write a couple of News Corp Institutional Investors and ask them if they are fine with Rupert’s strategy of losing money on Glenn Beck and setting up the network for possible loss of broadcast licenses because of their incitement of violence.

    Tap into the financial interests of the investors and set them up against Fox. Fox can no longer claim that employing crazy people is a money making strategy. They will point to ratings, we can point to loses. They can point to future money making, we can point to future massive lawsuits.

    There are lots of ways to fight bullies. For now I’m suggesting we fight bullies with bullies.


    P.S. Here is your Super easy Action item!

    My Google foo is weak today. I couldn’t find a good list of News Corp institutional investors to write. Help me. All we need is a few hedge fund managers and a couple of names of big investors we can write and suggest the questions above. Big investors listen to the coded language of finance and read the entrails of the conference call script. They are very intelligent and hate to be fooled. They hate when information is hidden from them. Sometimes they are just looking for a good question to unravel a number that is puzzling them. Give them some suggestions. They might dismiss ALL your questions, but it might trigger a REAL question they want to ask that will do more damage than any I can think of with my half human half Vulcan mind.

    I don’t have investors info, but I DO have a list of analysts to write courtesy of News Corp! Analysts ask questions too, but they don’t have the same incentives to push News Corp and demand answers. But whispering a few questions in their ear couldn’t hurt.Spocko Money

    by spocko

    Where are the defamation lawsuits for Hannity and Limbaugh?

    8:51 pm in Uncategorized by spocko

    Possible Future Headline: Kevin Jennings Sues Hannity and Limbaugh for Defamation

    Say you read tomorrow that Department of Education official Kevin Jennings has filed a defamation lawsuit against Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh. What are your first thoughts? Second thoughts? Thoughts about success? Thoughts about how this might change things?

    For those of you who aren’t following this story are some of the some clips from Media Matters that list some of the smears and how factually incorrect they are about Jennings (link)

    One thing about politics that both fascinated and horrified me is the way the smear machine works and how the media not only play along, but are a major market for the dirt. And after the damage is done there is no method for the person smeared to bring the people who started the smears to account, let alone the media who repeated the smears.

    I’m sure the lawyers here can give me dozens of reasons why defamation lawsuits are a bad idea, a waste of time and not worth the trouble. In fact, I’ve already been told many of those reasons myself and I agree with most of them. ExpertLaw gives lots of the reasons not to start one, and the one I can all relate to is this:

    Another big issue is that defamation cases tend to be difficult to win, and damage awards tend to be small. As a result, it is unusual for attorneys to be willing to take defamation cases on a contingent fee basis, and the fees expended in litigating even a successful defamation action can exceed the total recovery.
    – Law talking guy Aaron Larson at ExpertLaw

    And when you are going up against big time media lawyers who have multiple millions to spend it is even more daunting. But I want to start getting the concept out there that we should start looking for the opportunity to support someone in a defamation lawsuit against the right-wing media.

    As you know, I believe that there are multiple ways to weaken the right-wing media and in today’s world I think making their lies, violent rhetoric and character assassination financially less profitable is one of the best.

    I think the time has come for the right wing media to pay the financial price for their slander. It would send a message, and financial messages are the only ones the right-wing media hear. We can say it’s not about the money, it’s the principle, but it’s really about the money.

    They have been profiting on their lies and slander for decades and if we can’t stop it, we can at least ensure it’s not a huge money making activity for them. Do you think Fox is happy about the 100 advertisers that have left Glenn Beck? They have to subsidize him now.

    What is Our Role in This?

    Here is my prediction: When there is a defamation lawsuit there will be concerned posts on our side about, “the chilling effect to free speech” and “ooh, we better be careful, what if they do it to us?”

    Before the lawsuit pixels are even dried on the screen we will see discussions about how the name calling and accusations are “just politics” and to be expected. There will be false comparisons between Sean Hannity’s deliberate repeating of incorrect information after it has been debunked and comments from some blogger who said something bad about George W. Bush. They love their false equivalencies. The right will scream, “Bush was called worse things, he didn’t sue anyone!” (He just had his critics rounded up and put in free speech zones, but I digress.)

    How can we help if Jennings or someone else targeted by Beck, Hannity or Limbaugh does file a suit?

    “We got your back, defamation suit filer!” (in a rhetorically sense that is)

    How do we support someone in a defamation lawsuit? First we need to know the facts. Then we educate ourselves on the concept and carry our understanding to arguments with wingnuts AND discussions with our own friends. We spread out and challenge the accepted way of thinking by the media and our side if necessary.

    I Am Not A Lawyer (IANAL) Nor do I Play One the Internets

    It looks pretty clear to me that when someone repeats incorrect information after they have been corrected it falls into the “actual malice” territory. These people aren’t journalists, however they will be treated as journalists if a defamation case comes up. They have all the protection of journalists and none of the responsibilities. Since IANAL I’ve started reading up on libel and slander and defamation, maybe some of you should too.

    The lawyers among us can focus on how the case may or may not succeed but the rest of us have to keep our eyes focused on the big picture. Character assassination in the right wing needs to cost them financially, nothing changes unless there are rewards or consequences. Right now it’s all rewards and no consequences..

    Spocko’s Fun Fact! Did you know that during the run up to elections right wing radio stations are designiated “press entites”? They get a “press exemption” for giving infomercials to their canidiates and causes so that their parent corporation don’t have to list all that free air time as a donation. Isn’t that HILARIOUS!?

    When KSFO/ABC/Disney had my blog shut down using a cease and desist letter to my ISP claiming a copyright violation I knew that they didn’t have a leg to stand on. This is because I educated myself on fair use and spoke to folks at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The fair use of audio clips was a story the media could talk about so they had more than just a he said she lied story. They could talk to experts! But the experts weren’t the ones going around in the blogosphere supporting me, it was bloggers and commenters just like you.

    I made it clear to everyone that this wasn’t a boycott, we weren’t threatening the advertisers. We wanted the advertisers to hear for themselves just how extreme this speech was and then suggested they follow their own internal guidelines.

    But I had to educate people on what I was doing and what this was about because often when I spoke to people about what I was doing some got up tight. They would launch into, “I don’t like what they have to say but I’ll defend to the death their right to say it!” before I had a chance to explain I was simply alerting the advertisers and letting them decide.
    This is something that we can do after a lawsuit is filed, educate people about defamation and remind the people out there that destroying someone’s reputation by repeating statements they know to be false is wrong.

    Creating a Liberal FAQ

    For me it helps to discuss this issue using what I like to call the “Liberal FAQ”. This is a document that I create for myself so that I can answer the Devil’s Advocate questions. I’ve found that these questions are often based on ingrained right wing views. I also use it as an opportunity to hone my own arguments.

    How Will the Media Respond?

    Let’s think about how the media might respond and our response.

    1. I think they will circle the wagons around Hannity and Limbaugh. In my experience no matter how loathsome the mainstream media sees the comments from Hannity or Limbaugh they are holding in their head this thought, “Ohhh, this could be me getting sued, I better tread lightly.”

    2. They will bring in all sorts of serious experts. They will opine on slander, libel, free speech, private vs. public figures blah, blah, blah. The experts will guess that the suit will fail will out weight the experts who believe he will win because a win would have huge implications and they know Fox will fight this as hard as they fought the Bono swearing case, which they took all the way to the Supreme Court — where they lost.
    3. They will talk about the smear merchants who never got punished but got rewarded becase they admire their savvieness. We have seen three glowing stories on Limbaugh, Savage and Beck in the media lately. Their actual offensive words are scrubbed out. They admire people like Karl Rove and Lee Attwater. (Rove and David Gregory are dance partners!)

      They will bring up John McCain and how someone did a push poll that cost him the nomination in 2000 but it will be McCain’s problem for not pushing back.For balance they will bring up name calling from Randi Rhodes, and a blogger who created a website attacking Glenn Beck. “You see? Both sides do it. It’s just politics, it goes all the way back to Jefferson!” They won’t talk about the media’s role in the libel and slander of Al Gore and John Kerry. They won’t see how they are the main audience for Swift Boaters and how they failed in that story but they will blame people like Kerry for not responding correctly.

    We need to start saying to the people profiting from character assassins that intentional character assassination can also be a liability and we aren’t going to sit around and let you smear our people.

    The mainstream media will report the story because it is news. When they cover the story that will be our chance to write about it. It will be the soccer ball kicked into the air for us to focus on for one news cycle.

    Why Bother with Someone Else’s Reputation? Or to quote Captain Jack Harkness from Torchwood, “An injury to one is an injury to all.”

    Somewhere I read a story about a guy who spread a lie that destroyed a kid’s reputation. The kid’s tells the dad who says, “In my time your name and reputation were important, they meant something. You need to stand up for yourself, get back your good name”.

    The son then proceeds to force the bad guy to admit he set the kid up and a plucky journalist who was duped with the wrong story runs a big front page retraction. I’m pretty sure that I’ve even a version of this fictional story as an episode of Smallville, or maybe it was a movie staring Gidget, but the point is it’s a great story set up. It’s got conflict, ethics, emotion, a successful resolution, maybe even some romantic entanglements between the plucky journalist and our hero. In 43 minutes the journalists have corrected their mistake and his reputation is reclaimed.

    I LOVE those kinds of stories. Sadly, in real life most plucky journalists have been laid off. People who have been through lawsuits tell me that even if you win you lose. I spoke to Sidney Blumenthal about his case against Drudge and AOL. The media need Drudge and they defended him so vigorously that Blumenthal was forced to drop the suit because he could afford to keep it going. You can imagine what someone would be up against if they to take on Fox.

    I’m so Glad We Had This Post Together

    My Vulcan side can point out the strategy and tactics to effect change. But it is my human side that gets angry and says, “Stop destroying these people’s lives! Stop lying!”

    When Carol Burnette successfully sued the National Enquirer in 1981it sent a shock wave through the tabloids. They needed to be more careful with their allegations or other cases would be filed. A serious successful case of this kind could do the same for talk radio and cable tv.

    Live Long and Prosper