The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

A Smear Too Far

Posted on | September 8, 2010 | 12 Comments

In “How to Write an Anti-Palin Hit Piece,” I quoted a source who described the cheap-and-easy method by which reporters get those “anonymous sources” to provide them with fodder for their stories.

Vanity Fair‘s Michael Gross today lashed out at his critics and claimed, among other things, that Gina Loudon is lying about him.

That’s so unfair, isn’t it, Michael? You have a conversation with someone, then they tell their side of the story in a way that makes you look bad, and . . . well, it just feels kind of wrong, doesn’t it?

Anyway, Susanna Fleetwood has a long piece at Minority Report (cross-posted at NewsReal) examining why liberals have denounced Gross’s story:

Michael Gross not only not only made a flaming ass out of himself, but he also totally humiliated the liberal mainstream media. He managed to bring every caricature of an elitist, egotistical, out of touch, liberal journalist to life. And the worst part was that he was incredibly sloppy with many of the facts – which in turn, discredits his entire piece. Credible leftist/progressive journalists and columnists can’t flee from his disaster of a column fast enough — and I don’t blame them.

One point: It wasn’t a “column,” it was a 10,000-word feature article. And as someone who knows a thing or two about the publishing industry, let me point out that 10,000 words is a very good head-start on a book. If Gross isn’t already under contract for an anti-Palin book, this article certainly looks like it was intended as a pitch for such a book.

As I said before, every liberal journalist with any influence or ambition is either now writing an anti-Palin book or is trying to hustle a deal for an anti-Palin book. The fact that Sarah Palin isn’t cooperating with writers like Gross (i.e., she’s not helping him get paid to trash her) indicates that she’s not quite as stupid as he thinks she is.

Here’s some hard-to-watch video of Michael Gross on Hardball with Chris Matthews:

It’s hard to watch, I say, because even Chris Matthews seems embarrassed to have this idiot on his show.

UPDATE: Katrina Trinko at NRO responds to Gross’s defense:

The catch with anonymous sources has always been the lack of accountability. They face no repercussion for outright lies.

Well, not exactly. A source who burns a reporter by giving him “outright lies” has forfeited any claim to protection. But I’d like to make an important distinction here: To rely on anonymous sources in doing straight political reporting — e.g., the campaign manager giving you factual information he doesn’t want attributed to him by name — is different than relying on anonymous sources in doing the kind of “gotcha” stuff Gross did with the Palins.

A good source never burns a reporter, and a good reporter never burns a source — which is apparently what Gross did, as Trinko writes:

Gross hasn’t admitted that he was wrong to say Ivy Frye, Kristan Cole, and Meghan Stapleton were on “bad terms” or had “deteriorated” relationships with Palin. He hasn’t responded directly to Shannyn Moore, who says she was misrepresented in the article.

One of my sources particularly emphasized that Gross was wrong about Frye and Stapleton being on the outs with Palin (Cole’s name didn’t come up in our conversation, but I assume she’s still OK with Palin). All candidates and politicians shuffle their staffs from time to time, and contradictory rumors about behind-the-scenes maneuverings among staffers are commonplace.

Someone like Gross looking to do a takedown on Palin would obviously want to talk to any disgruntled ex-staffer, and he seems to have accepted second-hand gossip about Palin associates who were merely rumored to be disgruntled.

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Comments

  • http://snowedin2006.blogspot.com snowed in

    So, let me see if I have things straight:

    On one side, Michael Gross (who, I must add, was great on Family Ties) and a bunch of anonymous and/or phantom people say Sarah Palin is Evil Incarnate.

    On the other side, Gina Loudon and pretty much everyone else who is a real person with an opinion on this matter say Gross is a dozen short, including a lot of progressives who still hold to some journalistic standards.

    I can’t imagine why Gross might be losing this argument.

  • ccoffer

    Gee. Between the Gatekeepers, the North Stars and the Narrative, I can’t see the forest for the cliches.

    At what point does a circle jerk become a cyclone jerk?

  • ccoffer

    Gimme a vector, Victor.

  • http://pointofagun.blogspot.com/ Dave C

    I’m betting dollars to donuts that Gross’s source was Joe McGuiness and the other way arround.

  • http://nicholas-whatthe.blogspot.com james nicholas

    Here cometh Chris Matthews, upset that motherhood does not a presidential candidate make, wondering when will she be asked the tough questions of “How are you going to foster a Middle East peace process?” or “What are you going to do about nuclear technology around the world?”

    Well, you’re right Chris, those are really good questions. Strange, you never where concerned about those tough questions when you had the tingle going. Start practicing asking those questions now, start by asking them of our current president, and maybe by the time election 2012 rolls around you will be ready to ask ‘em of the candidates.

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