Anatomy of a Journalistic Smear Job

Glenn Greenwald:

One long-standing — and justifiable — progressive grievance is that whenever ordinary Americans allow their personal plight to enter the public sphere in a way that advances a liberal political goal, they are gratuitously probed and personally smeared by the Right. The most illustrative example is the Frost family, who allowed their 12-year-old son Graeme to deliver a moving radio address explaining the benefits he received from the CHIP program when he was in a serious car accident, only to be promptly stalked and smeared by Michelle Malkin, among others. Today, The Nation — a magazine which generally offers very good journalism — subjects John Tyner to similar treatment, with such a shoddy, fact-free, and reckless hit piece (by Mark Ames and Yasha Levine) that I’m genuinely surprised its editors published it. Beyond the inherent benefit of correcting the record, this particular article is suffused with all sorts of toxic though common premises that make it worth examining in detail.

The article is headlined “TSAstroturf: The Washington Lobbyists and Koch-Funded Libertarians Behind the TSA Scandal,” and is devoted to the claim that those objecting to the new TSA procedures — such as Tyner — are not what they claim to be. Rather, they are Koch-controlled plants deliberately provoking and manufacturing a scandal — because, after all, what real American in their right mind would do anything other than meekly submit with gratitude and appreciation to these procedures? Let’s just look at the paragraphs written to “justify” this accusation.