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«  Those Wacky Folks At Parade Magazine  |   Main   |  The Wernher von Braun School of Journalism Ethics  »


»  October 10, 2005

Politics  

The Moral Equivalence of David Kline

David Kline was lambasted for being unprepared and over-eager to promote his new book on blogs (at best) or a shill for conservative talking points during an appearance on Bill O'Reilly's show last week during which O'Reilly attacked Media Matters. Kline's first words during the broadcast set up O'Reilly for his stock claim that Phil Donohue, Jeremy Glick, and Michael Moore believe George Bush caused 9/11:

O'REILLY: Now how do you see it, Mr. Kline? Are we overstating this? KLINE: No, I think there are a lot of nutcases out there. You have websites and political bloggers that believe that President Bush orchestrated the 9-11 attacks.

O'REILLY: Oh, you mean he didn't? That's what I've been hearing from Phil Donahue and Jeremy Glick and Michael Moore, that he orchestrated it. You mean he didn't? That's not true?

He also played along with O'Reilly's claim that bloggers were putting his guests in physical danger:
O'REILLY: They -- I couldn't -- I had people turn down this segment -- a bunch of them -- what are you, crazy? I'm going to criticize these assassins? They'll come after me. And that's a chilling effect.

KLINE: Well, I'm not naming names here, right? I mean, I don't want to get stalked.

After Media Matters posted the video segment and transcript, Kline backpeddled furiously, claiming in a lengthy post and comments that he'd been duped by the producer, that he'd never heard of Media Matters before O'Reilly brought it up (although he didn't question or protest any of this on the air), and that he'd been too busy "writing two books, raising two kids, and trying to make a living" to apparently do any research on the guy running the worldwide broadcast he was about to plug his book on. His ploy worked. Media Matters, Daily Kos, Atrios, and Crooks and Liars all prominently linked to his mea culpa.

Then, down at the bottom of the comments on his post this weekend, after the buzz had tapered off:

The whining on this Blog is quite expected.

Everyone knows that Ed Schultz, Stephanie Miller, Al Franken, are much kindler, gentler people who have no interest other that the interst of others. #%&*cough/barf8736!

These folks would never have changed topic midstream, or allowed a guest such as yourself to be used for their purpose. Why?? Because their purpose is the purpose of GOOD people, not the evil right wing!

Posted by: M.E. W ylam | October 8, 2005 06:41 AM

Right. I hope we're all beyond thinking that only "our" guys are the good guys and our opponents are bad guys.

That's just dumb. O'Reilly lies, but so did NARAL when it accused Judge Roberts of "condoning abortion clinic violence."

Posted by: David Kline | October 9, 2005 08:36 AM

Unlike The Shadow, I don't know what evil lurks in the hearts of men, or why Kline believes that a 30-second NARAL ad that was almost immediately withdrawn is somehow the moral equivalent of Bill O'Reilly's daily lies, but I can always speculate. I challenge him to find any major figure on the left (well, that's the first challenge) who makes blatantly false statements, who bullies his guests with finger-wagging bravado, and threatens those he disagrees with on the basis that Bill O'Reilly does. Then, he can find the best-selling leftist author with the equivalent eliminationist record of Michael Savage. After that, I've got a few more.

[UPDATE 11 October 2005]: Mike from Crooks and Liars linked here, so I guess I'd better hurry up and make my donation to their fundraiser.

A couple of items. I don't have comments here because usually, only about 90 people a day come here, and a lot of them are Google searches for the multimedia programming posts I sometimes get around to doing. I never added comment code into the blog engine I wrote. Most of my political posts (including this one) are also cross-posted on Daily Kos and available through the blogroll link to the left: My Daily Kos.

While Kline and a commenter at C&L have interpreted this as a political argument, I beg to differ. I really don't care if Kline has "40 years on the left". It's irrelevant to the discussion. The comment above from "M.E. W ylam" doesn't discuss the left in general. It mentions three specific talk-show hosts. It says (sarcastically) "These folks would never have changed topic midstream, or allowed a guest such as yourself to be used for their purpose." That is what Kline agreed to with his "Right." It doesn't make any difference whether he believed the statement, didn't understand the statement, or whatever, that's what he agreed with. It's a pretty simple matter of English comprehension to understand the commenter was saying Franken, Miller, and Schultz would have treated him the same way. That's what Kline agreed with, whether he understood the point at the time or not.

I'm not familiar with Miller, but I'm a some-time listener to both Franken and Schultz. I'm not crazy about either one. But neither insults his guests or threatens them in the same way that O'Reilly does.

I don't know if Kline knows this or not. He may be as unfamiliar with them as he was with Media Matters for America when he went on O'Reilly. But as he did when O'Reilly attacked Media Matters, Kline didn't claim that he couldn't agree to what the comment said because he was unfamiliar with the people the commenter was referring to. Nor did he claim that the commenter was incorrect, and that one or more of the trio didn't fit the characterization. He simply agreed. Nor did he make a clarification when I pointed out that the comment was not addressing the left in general and mentioned some differences in tone between Franken and Schultz and O'Reilly.

[UPDATE 11 October 2005]: As I say above, I don't claim to know Mr. Kline's motivations. He's been very responsive on his blog's comments (see the follow-up to the above quotes), but seems either incredibly misinformed, intellectually lazy, ready to pretend that two entirely dissimilar things are in fact equivalent, or simply dishonest. His remark to me when I suggested that he was agreeing with someone who was calling three specific talk-show hosts as dishonest as Bill O'Reilly was:

I was saying "right" to his overall point -- which was a rhetorical jab at the notion that only the left plays fair, speaks truth, and cares about the public.

But you are certainly free to continue believing whatever you want about what I really meant.

Mon Oct 10, 2005 10:13 -0700