May 22, 2003
More Scheer

Hugh Hewitt has more on Scheer today, including this link to a recent entry -- a 1970 item from the Black Panther Magazine about an American friendship delegation to North Korea that year, which included Eldridge Cleaver and Robert Scheer.

Several readers wrote to tell me about Spinsanity's excellent debunking of Scheer back in October 2001.

Many pundits sling jargon or make blithely irrational arguments. Some, however, seem to specialize in twisting the facts to fit their ideology, continually making assertions that are at best unsupported and at worst blatantly false until they--and presumably their readers--come to accept these false tropes as truth. Robert Scheer, a nationally syndicated columnist for the Los Angeles Times, has established himself as the leader of this breed, with some of his worst spin coming since the September 11 attack. Sadly, this is only the latest iteration of a trend that can be seen in Scheer's columns throughout the year
An excellent example of this tactic can be found in what my co-editor Brendan Nyhan has labeled the "Taliban aid trope." Scheer created this trope in May, when he attacked a "gift of $43 million to the Taliban rulers of Afghanistan," saying it "makes the U.S. the main sponsor of the Taliban and rewards that 'rogue regime' for declaring that opium growing is against the will of God."

Drawing on work by Bryan Carnell of Leftwatch, Brendan pointed out that the $43 million was not aid to the Taliban government. Instead, the money was a gift of wheat, food commodities, and food security programs distributed to the Afghan people by agencies of the United Nations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Secretary of State Colin Powell specifically stated, in fact, that the aid "bypasses the Taliban, who have done little to alleviate the suffering of the Afghan people, and indeed have done much to exacerbate it."

read the whole thing.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at May 22, 2003 11:23 AM

I had been leaning to the conservative side and have been reading a lot of the right-wind weblogs recently, such as this SharkBlog.

And what I see is that that the right is filled with just as much cant and hypocricy and distortion as the liberals.

A pox on both your houses; you folks deserve Scheer.

Posted by: "Dave" on May 22, 2003 11:56 AM

So "SharkBlog" is right wing, but Scheer is just liberal? Frankly, that reminds me of the line on Rush Limbaugh's show where he said Bill Clinton represented the extreme left wing in America, while Newt Gingrich represented the center. Congradulations, you are as ideologically blinded as the "Big Fat Idiot."

Don't just read one Scheer column. Read them ALL. And then explaint to me why he's worth defending.

Posted by: Agent X on May 22, 2003 05:54 PM

I don't need to read ANY more Scheer columns.

I am not defending Scheer; from the little I have read of him I doubt if I will read more. I would not waste my time defending him.

I am, however, attacking a style of political discourse which distorts one's opponents. I would like us to move away from exaggerated high-school debate-style attack politics; the issues before America and the world are far too important to be held hostage to an "I am always correct mentality." I despise it on the left and I destest it on the right. And unfortunately it does surround me.

Oh ok, the right is a bit wittier (no I do not mean a giggler such as Anne Coulter) but no less self-righteous than what passes for the left in the US.

I am raisng doubts about Stefan's work because it seems to me as exaggerated and lacking in rigor and it conflates disagreement with ethical lapse.

Though I would be the first to admit that I could be wrong.

Posted by: "Dave!" on May 22, 2003 06:49 PM

I agree with you on our attack culture. One of my biggest gripes with Bush was they way he debated McCain by appealing solely to Republican orthodoxy (McCain's economic policies were wrong simply because they were "not Reaganesque").

The reason I suggested you read more of Scheer is because he is EXHIBIT "A" of the type of attack culture you are talking about. And it is extremely difficult to expose someone as truely vile as Scheer without getting a little dirty yourself. That's why I think its fair to cut Sharkansky some slack here.

And, yes, there are conservative commentators who are arrogant, hostile and blatantly innacurate. So go after them too! Personally, the only conservative I know of who approaches the level of vileness Scheer does is G. Gordon Liddy (yhy his book is still linked on National Review Online is beyond me), but then again a guy like Scheer would be a disgrace to either camp. The solution is to attack BOTH, not give one guy a pass.

Posted by: Agent X on May 23, 2003 09:27 AM
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