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With Every Reply Krepel Just Keeps Digging a Deeper Hole To Defend Smear of Beck

Posted on October 14 2009 4:00 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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Terry Krepel, Media Matters employee and proprietor of ConWebWatch, is the gift that keeps on giving. His most recent engagement with me on whether it’s legitimate to accuse Glenn Beck of lying about his mother’s death took a turn for the worst

In his initial reply he tried to draw me away from this vulnerable subject where deep down he knows he’s in the wrong, to topics he’s more comfortable debating. I wouldn’t have any of it and forced him to stay on topic:

2009 October 13


You’re attempting to draw me into other subjects because you know you can’t adequately defend yourself regarding Beck. These are diversions and I won’t fall for them. I won’t be engaging you on Clinton, Horowitz’s “Manchurian Candidate” article, etc. They aren’t the central subject of discussion. They’re just tricks you’re pulling out of your debater’s utility belt.

The issue here is this: is it appropriate to bring up the circumstances surrounding the death of Glenn Beck’s mother? What purpose can this serve in today’s political dialogue?

You have yet to answer this second question. And you haven’t done this because you can’t. Because the only honest answer is the one I’ve provided. You and Media Matters are trying to destroy Glenn Beck personally. Just drop the facade and admit to it.

I’ll define smear:

“To stain or attempt to destroy the reputation of; vilify: political enemies who smeared his name.”

To “smear” someone has nothing to do with whether the allegation is true or false. (If I had printed the true information I received about one of the people we’ve criticized then it would be a SMEAR because it would be an ad hominem attempt to discredit them instead of their arguments.) Smearing is about destroying the reputation of someone. It’s about vilifying someone’s character in order to destroy their arguments. That’s the whole point of trying to suggest that Beck is lying about his mother’s death.

2009 October 13

It can be argued that it goes to a question of character regarding a public figure. If Beck is willing to embellish such a personal tale about his life (as appears to be the case), what questions does that raise about what he’s doing now? Is he using similar tactics in his bully pulpit? To what standards should we hold such people?

Al Gore lost his campaign for the presidency in part because he was perceived as embellishing facts about his own life (even though the purported embellishments were largely tales made up by his political enemies). Did anyone at the DHFC run to Gore’s defense claiming he was the victim of “smears”?

By your overbroad definition, the vast majority of posts on NewsReal can be considered “smears” because they criticize someone (Obama, Olbermann, etc.) with the presumed goal of destroying their reputations and careers. What you have not yet done is explain how highlighting how the officially reported circumstances of Beck’s mother’s death is at variance with what Beck has said publicly about it is so much more egregious than what is found in your average NewsReal post.

This is not a question you want to see raised because Beck is serving your side of the political debate. Therefore, you are willing to ignore the larger ethical issue involved and try to bully me and others into backing away from promoting it.

If you are so convinced that this information could destroy Glenn Beck — and so vehemently trying to shut down discussion of it — isn’t that an indication that this is a legitimate issue and further investigation is necessary in order to get to the bottom of it?

[Emphasis added.]

Now Krepel was in even worse shape than before. His new confession: he saw no difference between NewsReal’s posts which disagreed with commentators’ and politicians’ ideas and Media Matters’ ad hominem attack against Beck’s character. They were one and the same in his eyes.

2009 October 14

This is a waste of my time.

You honestly see no difference between an ad hominem smear and a legitimate political disagreement?

At NewsReal we criticize people for the ideas that they hold and promote. That’s entirely legitimate. (Just as it’s legitimate for you to attack Beck’s policy ideas.)

It’s not an ad hominem smear to criticize someone for promoting wrongheaded policy (which is what we primarily do.) This is worlds apart from digging into someone’s painful personal history to try and demonstrate that they’re a vicious liar who would exploit personal tragedy.

This is practically the most damning comment yet, Terry. Confessing that you don’t know what a smear even is — that you don’t know what’s appropriate in intellectual discourse and what isn’t — basically proves my point.

Krepel then responded again in incoherent, filibuster-fashion with more than half a dozen questions. He completely ignored my point — that he was unable to see a distinction between a legitimate policy disagreement and an attempt to research a person’s personal life to discredit them. This obfuscation is another of his debater’s techniques — attempting to muddy the waters with confusion — and I won’t fall for it.

It’s further evidence for the basic point: Krepel and Media Matters are not interested in honest intellectual discussion.  In fact they see no difference between destroying ideas and destroying people. They want nothing more than to wipe their conservative opponents off the map — something they have neither the courage nor honesty to admit.

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