Shafer on Daily Caller's Media Matters investigation: 'Weak tea'

Reuters | The Washington Post | The Atlantic Wire

Jack Shafer says the Daily Caller's series on Media Matters "accomplishes the impossible: It makes me sympathize with Media Matters and [David] Brock."

The first installment in the series, which appeared on Sunday, relies on conjecture and anonymous sources to portray founder David Brock as a paranoid loon who hired bodyguards to protect him from death threats. Brock may indeed be bonkers, but you’ll find no proof of it here, only whispers.

Shafer says the Caller's portrait of Brock as a powerful person in Washington "[g]iven to grandiosity and terrorizing his staff" strikes him as "not much of a story"; also, the outlet didn't "bother to quantify in any way the alleged lapdogism" of reporters like Greg Sargent, Ben Smith or Brian Stelter.

Erik Wemple at the Washington Post has campaigned, so far unsuccessfully, for the Daily Caller to add him to its list of journalists in bed with Media Matters: "on some occasions, I have gone to the tawdry extreme of writing an e-mail back to Media Matters." Tuesday he talked with Daily Caller editor Tucker Carlson about whether Fox News' coverage of the series was "pretaliation" for Media Matters' book on Fox next week. “We’ve been working on this series for months, long before I knew Brock even had a book coming out," Carlson said. "So that’s a sad and dumb line of attack.”

On Monday, the Atlantic Wire's John Hudson came up with some possible reasons why no journalists named in the stories had responded to its claims:

A) The anonymous allegations of being in bed with a partisan watchdog group are viewed as beneath the reporters in question; B) Giving any oxygen to the story will only increase its impact and exposure; or, C) though unlikely, the reporters are not bothered by the allegations.

Disclosure: I know Shafer, have worked with Wemple and a good friend used to work at Daily Caller.

  • Andrew Beaujon

    Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He's the author of the 2006 book "Body Piercing Saved My Life," about Christian rock and evangelical Christian culture.


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