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February 18, 2005
Jack Kelly: Bloggers Aren't The McCarthyites In Eason's Fables

Jack Kelly wrote an impressive column three days ago for the Jewish World Review that I missed. He addressed the mass-media spin on Eason's Fables as a McCarthyite witch hunt perpetrated by a bunch of overzealous wannabes. Kelly points out that the real McCarthyite lost his job as a result of the journalism he once represented:

Web loggers who criticized Jordan are "sons of Sen. McCarthy," said Bertrand Pecquerie, director of the World Editors Forum. "It is very worrying to see this marriage between self-proclaimed citizens' media and mainstream journalists' scalp hunters," he said. ...

Pecquerie and Lovelady have their allegations of "McCarthyism" backward. Sen. Joseph McCarthy (R-Wis) became famous in the 1950s for making hysterical and (mostly) unfounded accusations that individuals in the State department and the Army were secret communists. It was Jordan who made hysterical and unfounded accusations against the U.S. military, and it is "mainstream" journalists who are now making hysterical and unfounded accusations against web loggers. ...

But the key fact is not that Eason Jordan is now looking for work, but that bloggers were trying to uncover the truth about what he said, while "professional journalists" were trying to suppress it. For us, the "people's right to know" which we invoke in self-righteous tones when we're prying into the private lives of people who are not journalists takes a back seat to protecting the reputations of members of our club.

I've read some good columns on our efforts to just get the truth out about Eason Jordan, but Jack Kelly may have the best retort against the McCarthyism charges I've yet read. In fact, we have been somewhat remiss in not specifically pointing out what Kelly reminds us -- that Eason Jordan, with his vague but grandiose allegations about military atrocities and utter lack of substantiation, represents real McCarthyism.

That particular charge, coming with mind-numbing frequency from the Left, has lost most of its meaning, and so hardly registers any more when heard. But in thinking about it seriously, what enraged the blogging community most about Jordan was that McCarthyite quality of his repeated charges. Both had no evidence, although both were in uniquely powerful positions to make that evidence known had it truly existed. Both used their allegations for political gain; in Jordan's case, promoting anti-American views allowed him the political capital to extend CNN's commercial interests. Both men used the US military as their target. Both men tried to vaguely dissemble when challenged on the merits of their case, and in the end both men crumbled when the spotlight of public exposure trained fully on the facts. In fact, video undid both men, although in McCarthy's case it was the video that was seen by Americans, while in Jordan's case it was the video that remains hidden from their view, at least in part with the silent consent of a news organization supposedly dedicated to ensuring access to information.

One key difference: for Joe McCarthy, the mainstream media finally had the nerve to say, "Enough!" In Eason's Fables, the mainstream media remained an enabler and provided cover for Jordan, literally to the very end. The bloggers, myself included but hardly alone or even first, stepped up and exposed Jordan for what both he and McCarthy were: fools who tried to aggrandize themselves by using slanderous accusations against the US military. That the Left cannot tell the difference between that and the people who ultimately exposed the lies shows exactly how far they have slid into irrelevance and unreality.

UPDATE: Based on the comments I'm getting, let me clarify my point. First of all, I'm talking about McCarthyism more than McCarthy himself. If you define McCarthyism as an attempt to smear people with unsubstantiated allegations of felonious and even treasonous conduct, then Eason Jordan and Joe McCarthy fits that bill.

One of the commenters who argued that McCarthy was proved correct did hit the point: McCarthy refused to substantiate his claims publicly. He also provided inconsistent numbers of people he supposedly could prove, and he bullied people in hearings by asking blustering, "have you stopped beating your wife" kinds of questions. The parallel isn't that Jordan and McCarthy were equally wrong; the parallel is that both refused to provide substantiated allegations, and in both cases their motives were not to clean house but to advance themselves politically by smearing others.

Joe McCarthy may have been right, but when you look at the entire episode dispassionately, that turned out to be coincidental, or at least inconsequential. He was a dangerous fool who set back anti-communist efforts for 30 years thanks to his antics.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at February 18, 2005 6:14 AM

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» The MSM is Beside Itself Over Easongate from HCS's Pad
Here is the MSM's attempt at a response. Instead of trying to get their readers caught up they decide to attack bloggers. Bad move. [Read More]

Tracked on February 18, 2005 7:45 AM



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