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Terry Krepel Accidentally Confesses That Media Matters Smeared Glenn Beck

Posted on October 13 2009 1:30 pm
David Swindle is the Managing Editor of NewsReal Blog and the Associate Editor of FrontPage Magazine. Follow him on Twitter here
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When I’m engaging NewsReal’s leftist commenters in the threads to our blog posts, some of our conservative regulars often caution me that I’m wasting my time. I’m not. I know exactly what I’m doing. There is indeed method to my madness.

And this is the secret: give a leftist enough rope through continual engagement and they will eventually hang themselves. Continue to poke and prod them and soon the “liberal” mask will slip and the destructive, radical monster will reveal itself.

That happened with Terry “Con Web Watch” Krepel in his most recent response to my calling out him and his employer Media Matters for deciding that the circumstances surrounding the death of Glenn Beck’s mother need to be rehashed and investigated.

Krepel’s critical stumble comes in his third point:

3) Swindle accuses us of “dig[ging] into [Beck’s] past to try and destroy him personally.” As if that has never been done by conservatives looking to attack liberals. (See Clinton, Bill.) But really, how exactly does this little incident “destroy him personally”? Further, Beck has made the claim publicly on numerous occasions, which opens it up to public scrutiny.

[Emphasis Added.]

Now… If you are going to try to claim that you are not smearing, why on earth would you make a tu quoque argument pointing out that the other side has also done what you’re being accused of?

Why does Krepel compare himself and his employer to ’90s-era conservatives who may have overreached in their attacks on Bill Clinton? (Especially when Media Matters’ ex-conservative founder David Brock was the poster boy example of those who engaged in this stuff?)

In defending oneself, there are two incompatible rhetorical tactics:

  1. Agree that the act is wrong and that you are not engaged in it. You then explain how you are not guilty of what you are accused of.
  2. Dispute that the act is wrong — or minimize how bad it is — perhaps by fallaciously pointing out that others have engaged in it too. (Forgetting that two wrongs don’t make a right.)

By stumbling into the second tactic Krepel has made the equivalent of a Freudian slip — an accidental confession that he and Media Matters are engaging in an ad hominem smear in their war to destroy Beck.

NewsReal does not do this — or at least we try our best not to. Nobody’s perfect. (And the example Krepel later tries to cite of Horowitz doing it isn’t an example of the politics of personal destruction either.) We attack arguments, not people. We challenge individuals for the views they hold and on the views they hold. In some of NewsReal’s past disputes with various intellectuals, I’ve received reader tips bringing to my attention various unsavory, totally apolitical behaviors in which our opponents engaged. And we didn’t publicize this information. It wasn’t relevant to the political discussion. It would have been mean-spirited and destructive to utilize these facts.

Because this is our intellectual disposition, Krepel is dead wrong:

It seems to us that Swindle is opposed to any criticism of Beck. After all, his boss, David Horowitz, has embraced Beck as “the most eloquent, fearless and effective warrior standing between Barack Obama and a collectivist state.

Krepel obviously hasn’t read very many of the writings we’ve done on Beck. Nor has he read the debate between David Frum and Horowitz. Criticism of Beck is necessary and important, particularly from conservative quarters. Beck certainly does go too far sometimes (his “Obama hates white people” quote and his Cass Sunstein attack are examples,) and when he does, he needs to be reeled in and corrected.

What will not be tolerated, though, is the sort of smear which Krepel has confessed to perpetuating. Attack the argument, don’t murder the messenger. It’s basic logic for all those engaged in honest intellectual dialogue. (I’ve written about it before at length here.) But then, when were Media Matters and the Left ever interested in dialogue? They have the Truth, and we’re just the evil, racist, homophobic, Islamophobic, warmongering, corporation-shilling liars who need to be wiped off the face of the earth.

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