Saturday, September 19, 2009

Exclusive: Drudge Confronted About Journalistic Misconduct by Scoobie Davis

I got home from a shoot on 5/18/03 and heard Drudge gloat on his radio show (quick update: Drudge no longer has a Sunday night radio show; it was taken over by wingnut Bill Cunningham) about the trouble that Howell Raines and the New York Times are experiencing over former reporter Jayson Blair's journalistic misconduct. It was bad enough last Sunday when the gang at Fox News Sunday was unctuously discussing the matter (the participants included Paul Gigot and Ceci Connolly). I thought about Drudge: “Look who’s talking?” (Click here for my previous discussion with Drudge regarding his fast and loose approach to the truth). So I called up and confronted Drudge about his own journalistic misconduct (this time I posed as “Joseph”).

DRUDGE: Line two, Joseph in Los Angeles, you’re on the air with Drudge.

SCOOBIE: Yo, Matt. I gotta tell you, I’m really amused by your talk regarding the journalistic misconduct at the New York Times. It seems like there are some stones being thrown from some glass houses there.

DRUDGE: You know, why not? Why not? I can throw just as many stones as they can. I mean, they’re sitting there mocking me. Why can’t I mock them?

SCOOBIE: Because you deserve to be mocked, considering--

DRUDGE: Okay, they’re the holy ones, I mean, I’m not sitting here [unintelligible] Have you found my fabricated stories yet, sir?

SCOOBIE: How about the fact that you didn’t divulge who gave you the misinformation regarding Sidney Blumenthal’s nonexistent domestic abuse? How about your not retracting the false report you put out that Enron’s Ken Lay slept over at the Clinton White House. That’s the nature of journalism and you didn’t abide by journalistic—

DRUDGE: The nature of journalism is to reveal your sources on stories, sir?

SCOOBIE: If they gave you--

DRUDGE: Joseph, that’s a direct question--

SCOOBIE: --misinformation it is your obligation to divulge who that is and to report people who give misinformation. That--

DRUDGE: Sir, Joseph, when have you ever in a bad story heard a news outlet reveal their source?

SCOOBIE: If it’s a libelous one, they’re obligated to. Sir, are you familiar with the journalistic--

DRUDGE: Joseph, You’re jumping all over the place. I’m asking you a direct question. When have you ever heard of a news outlet revealing a source—a confidential source—even for a bad story?

SCOOBIE: I have never heard of a story that was so egregiously libelous as yours. Give me a--

DRUDGE: I’m the biggest sinner of the bunch. I’m the one who is going to be put up on that journalistic cross and you’re going to put a crown on my head and you’re just going to let me stand up there and suffer. Is that right, sir?

SCOOBIE: I don’t want you to suffer. I just want you to tell the truth and retract stories that are false and to expose people who lie to you—and who, in effect, lie to the American people because you publish their allegations on your web site.

DRUDGE: And would you also apply that to other media? Do you want to know if a story has gone bad, you want CNN to reveal their source? You want the LA Times to reveal their source? You want all these outlets to reveal their sources on stories that you deem that have gone bad?

SCOOBIE: Absolutely. And they’re morally obligated to. The code of journalistic ethics indicates that you should do that.


DRUDGE: Code of journalistic ethics. Oh my. Who is writing that code, sir, you?

[NOTE: Though I was muted, I was still on the line and I answered that the code was developed by the Society of Professional Journalists but since I was muted, there was, of course, only a second of dead air.]

DRUDGE: This is one of the biggest patronizers yet and I am his obsession. He’s knowing every story I’m writing—let alone stories I’m not writing. If you could see the stories I haven’t published, sir. If you could see the innuendo, the rumor, and the gossip that I’m not conveying—which I have ever right to as a citizen if I have sources. The First Amendment protects even falsehoods—as we see in the main press almost hourly—no, minutely. No, I’m the biggest sinner. If you noticed he is following the details of my reporting very closely for someone who is not taking me seriously. Here I’ve written thousands of stories and yeah I’ve made some mistakes and I’ve owned up to it. But as far as that one story with Sidney Blumenthal, sir, he ended up paying my side because he didn’t want to go into further discovery. And I knew he was in the wrong and I let him settle. Otherwise, I would have hung him out to dry and collected all of his advance for his Clinton Wars.


REALITY: Blumenthal dropped the case because a group of wingnuts such as David Horowitz paid for Drudge’s legal fees while Blumenthal had to pay lawyers out of his own pocket. Considering that Drudge was the defendant in this libel suit he should be the one who knows that the First Amendment doesn’t protect libel. To clarify a point I was making, a journalist is not obligated to keep a source confidential if that source lies; in fact, it is the ethical obligation of a journalist to not only retract a false story based on a source’s perfidy but to name the source. I’m not the first person to make this observation. Drudge’s protection of a dishonest source puts him at odds with established journalistic practice and common decency.

NOTE: Check out my main website where I have phone conversations with Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly and others.

Bonus: Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity Links

Links to informative sites about Sean Hannity:
1) Media Matters for America monitors Hannity: Click here for the latest on Hannity; here are additional Media Matters resources on Hannity.
2) Here is an article by Ben Fritz on Hannity's intellectual dishonesty in his book Let Freedom Ring.
3) The Center for American Progress has two informative articles about Hannity's dishonesty: click here and here.
4) Wikipedia has information about Hannity's mendacity--e.g., Hannity tried to portray an anti-troop protest by fundamentalist hatemonger Fred Phelps as being the work of the left (quick note: Fox News' Oliver North took the same tack).
5) I have several blog posts documenting Hannity's mendacity: (1) Hannity plays dumb when it suits his purposes; (2) Echoing the Moonie-owned Washington Times, Hannity intentionally truncated a John Kerry quote; (3) Hannity uses deceit to try to link Kerry with Jane Fonda--also here; (4) If you watch or listen to Hannity regularly, undoubtedly you've heard Hannity speak about how important it was for Americans to come together after 9/11. Don't believe him for a minute. Even as as the twin towers were still smoldering, Hannity was part of a Moonie Times smear campaign to distort a speech by former president Clinton to give people the false impression that Clinton was blaming America for the attacks. Read about it here and here; (5) Hannity is one of the usual suspects who used Sudanese propaganda to smear Bill Clinton; (6) Here's a blog post on the problems with the Hannity & Colmes show; (7) My article on Hannity's hypocrisy regarding Ann Coulter's denigrating comments about the 9/11 widows.
6) An article from The Nation about Hannity's relationship with white supremacist Hal Turner (Hannity was one of Trent Lott's biggest apologists after Lott defended Strom Thurmond's Dixiecrat presidential run).
7) ThinkProgress article in response to General Motors' (GM) decision to hire Sean Hannity to be spokesperson for GMÂ?s "You're A Great American" Car Give-Away.
8) Article on Hannity's friend Hal Turner by Dave Neiwert. Here's another article about the Hannity/Turner connection by Max Blumenthal.
9) Every since I whipped Hannity's ass on this program and on another occasion, Hannity has made sure that competent opponents don't show him up. Here's some revealing empirical evidence that Hannity is a total wuss [NOTE: if this link does not work at first, refresh it or click here for a truncated version--also I reprint it in the addendum of this post--scroll down to the end]. Hannity has also chickened out of debates with Ed Schultz and Salt Lake City mayor Rocky Anderson.
10) Hannity's vicious attacks on crime victim Abner Louima (also here).
11) Notice how Hannity criticizes people opposed to Bush's ineptitude in Iraq with the canard that they are undermining "the troops in harm's way and undermine their commander in chief while they're at war"? Here are some quotes by Hannity at a time in which we had a president who knew how to use the military.
12) Hannity, of course, defended Ann Coulter's Moussaoui-like attacks on women who lost their husbands on 9/11.
13) Al Franken has an entire chapter on Hannity and Alan Colmes in his book Lies and the Lying Liars who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right.
14) Campus Progress has an informative article about Hannity.
15) Watch this video of Howard Dean slamming Hannity and Fox News on live TV. Dean mentions Robert Greenwald's excellent documentary Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism:
15) Media Matters on Hannity's conspiracy-mongering regarding the death of Vince Foster on his Sunday television show on Fox "Hannity's America":(here, here, and here). this isn't surprising considering that Hannity's boss Roger Ailes has engaged in Foster conspiracy-mongering. Also, more Media Matters on Hannity's intellectual dishonesty--here, here, and here.

Addendum: Talk Show Radio Accessibility--Follow-Up Survey Results
Research 2000 thought it would be an interesting endeavor to find out how six nationally syndicated talk radio programs handle incoming calls among individuals who wish to engage in the live talk show over the air. The our original April ‘06 ‘Talk Show Radio Accessibility Survey Results‘ were interesting enough to report in the hopes that “ALL” talk radio hosts and formats in the future will make it less restrictive and more accessible for potential call in guests regardless of whether or not they have a differing point of view.

* Ed Shultz “as the easiest to get on the air with regardless of the caller’s “view point for the simple reason that the show is the only format of the six that does not ask the caller what they want to discuss.”
* Sean Hannity comes in last place with “none” of the callers “with a different view point” getting on the air.
* The “one caller of five dissenting view points” allowed on Limbaugh’s show “went through three screeners before getting on the air.“
* Ingraham, Miller and Rhodes showed “no significant differences” in terms of getting on the air “if one had a dissenting view point.
* In all cases, callers with dissenting views were able to get on the air with the host.


While the following survey results do not possess the standard 95 percent confidence level or 5% margin for error which is standard within the scientific polling community, Research 2000’s follow yielded almost identical results.

In August and September, we examined the same six nationally syndicated talk shows we did back in April which are heard in the Washington DC ADI five days weekly between August 21 through September 19, 2006. Three liberal: Stephanie Miller, Randi Rhodes and Ed Shultz. Three conservative: Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham and Rush Limbaugh. Back in April, each program was called ten times (5 with a point of view compatible with the host and most of the callers and 5 that were not). In the August-September follow up survey, we called each show 15 times with a point of view which was not compatible with the host and most of the callers. We decided not to do any calls with compatible view points because the April survey showed that those callers with compatible views with the host and most of the callers were able to get through and on the air between 15-30 minutes with each of the hosts.

The rank order below is based on how accessible it was for one to get through to the host with both a liberal and conservative point of view.

Once again, there was no significant differences between the Laura Ingraham, Stephanie Miller and Randi Rhodes shows in terms of getting on the air if one had a dissenting view point. In all cases, callers with dissenting views were able to get on the air with the host. The wait on hold was longest for the Laura Ingraham show and that averaged 40 minutes to one hour and fifteen minutes. For Miller it was 35 minutes to one hour and for Rhodes it was 30 minutes to 40 minutes.The difference between number 2 and 4 are slight and the rank order is based purely on the amount of time one was on hold. Both Ingraham’s and Miller’s wait on hold increased slightly from April, while Rhodes had a slight decrease.

Only two callers of fifteen dissenting view points was successful in getting on the Rush Limbaugh show. Both callers went through three screeners on the show before getting on the air with the host. However, the other thirteen callers with dissenting view points were told politely that the host would not be taking calls on either the subject matter or a dissenting point of view.

Bonus: Rush Limbaugh Links
1) Media Matters for America monitors Limbaugh and has an updated page on Limbaugh.
2. I have several informative posts on my main web site that give a lot of information about Limbaugh: 1) A compendium of hateful statements by Limbaugh; 2)I have posts on Limbaugh's virulent racism, here and here; 3) My article on Limbaugh's drug problem.
3. Limbaugh denigration of veteran's military service: 1) Around the same time that the 2000 Bush campaign was orchestrating the whisper campaign that John McCain's POW experience made him mentally unbalanced, Limbaugh has a parody of The Caine Mutiny casting John McCain was the paranoid Captain Queeg; 2) Limbaugh's denigration of Iraq veteran Paul Hackett, who was running for Congress as a Democrat: Limbaugh called Hackett a "staff puke" who "to pad [his] resume." Here's Hackett's apt response to Limbaugh; 3) Limbaugh denigrated John Kerry's military service even before the Swiftboaters were formed; 4) Limbaugh's "phony soldiers" smear against members of the US military.
4. Limbaugh's paranoid Clinton-bashing almost leads to a fatality.
5. Journalist David Neiwert's series on Limbaugh, "Rush, Newspeak and Fascism" Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, and Part VI.
5. I have the transcript of the infamous on-air conversation Limbaugh had with "Greg from Orlando" in which Greg confronts Limbaugh about his reasons for not fighting in Vietnam (here is Snopes.com on the matter; also, Joe Conason has an article on the flap).
6. In addition to the previously listed posts on Limbaugh's racism, there are other sites that have chronicled Limbaugh's hatred against minorities: 1) Media Matters on Limbaugh's racism against Barack Obama; 2) Jeff Cohen and Steve Rendall on Limbaugh's racism. Here's an informative article on limbaugh's "Barack the Magic Negro" flap. Ironically, despite Limbaugh's racist rantings, he has accused Democrats of being racist for criticizing Al Sharpton and then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Here's another Limbaugh false charge of racism. bill clinton bull connor1/2008 UPDATE: Limbaugh compared Bill Clinton to segregationist "Bull" Connor.
7. Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) did an analysis of Limbaugh's claims on his radio show in the 1990's that infuriated him.
8. During the Clinton presidency, Limbaugh, along with Roger Ailes, was one of the top Vince Foster conspiracy theorists. Even though numerous investigations has shown that Foster committed suicide and not murdered, Limbaugh has not apologized and continues to suggest that anyone who crosses the Clintons will face a similar fate (click here and here).

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