Useful Idiocy in Action

After Conor Friedersdorf was thoroughly “fisked” — to use a word he can understand — for pimping an error-filled National Review article that supported Andrew Breitbart’s attempt to start a race war out of a settled case of discrimination, he responded with a little humility:

All I can say is that it was an honest mistake, and while I wish I would’ve raised it in my initial post, I am at least glad that I blogged about this issue because a lot of folks who were wrong in the same way I was now have the benefit of understanding this controversy better. I’ll certainly deploy your arguments as this case gets covered elsewhere.

That lasted about as long as it took the author of the original National Review, Dan Foster, to put up a lengthy defense of his original piece:

The main thing you need to know about that defense is that, at many key points, Foster cites either Andrew Breitbart or Breitbart’s helper, Lee Stranahan, for factual evidence. He many have done independent reporting on his own, but when it comes down to the important facts, he’s citing a person Conor has acknowledged that he can’t trust. But Conor’s more than willing to pimp Breitbart’s story through an intermediary. How is that anything but useful idiocy?

(Thanks to reader AB for sending this in.)






41 replies
  1. 1
    DougJ® says:

    It’s worse than that, Foster goes on and on about “in my piece I show” without giving details or freeing it from behind the pay wall.

  2. 2
    dmsilev says:

    Breitbart and documentary filmmaker Lee Stranahan, who is working on a Pigford project, tell me they have recently recorded evidence of a black activist giving what Breitbart called a “demented Princeton Review” seminar on how to game the settlement to a packed black church in the South.

    Now taking bets on what costume Breitbart’s minion was wearing during the filming of this purported atrocity. My bet is on ‘Original 1970s version of Shaft’.

    dms

  3. 3
    Farah says:

    When the hell and why the hell is Stranahan a Breitbart lapdog now? Am I just really fucking hung over? How appropriate that this is my first post at BJ.

  4. 4
    mistermix a.k.a. mastermix says:

    @DougJ®: You’re right.

    Edit: (about the “in my piece” refs that stand for argument)

  5. 5
    morzer says:

    @DougJ®:

    It’s almost tempting to recreate the piece for Foster.. you know, the immortal moment when he discusses his lonely confusion, his Pet Goat George, his pustular misery at school and work….

  6. 6
    WereBear says:

    How useful is this idiocy?

    We must ask ourselves, Is our idiots lerning?

  7. 7
    dmsilev says:

    @DougJ®: ??? Foster says at the beginning of the response piece that the original is now out from behind the paywall, and looking at this confirms that. Many things wrong with the response, but that isn’t one of them.

    dms

  8. 8
    DougJ® says:

    @dmsilev:

    I stand corrected. I misread what he said. Thanks.

  9. 9
    cathyx says:

    Wow, you guys are blogging fools this morning. So many topics all at once. Where do I begin?

  10. 10
    matoko_chan says:

    its all they got left….they cant make the black folk vote for them because they cant turn off the racism in the base.
    salam-douthat stratification is depopulating the right of scientists and intellectuals, and pretty soon the electorate is going to notice. ( IPOF that is why all the republican presidential candidates for this cycle are retards and or grifters….or both.)
    this will become superobvious right about 2020 when the demographic timer starts to go off.
    i dig breitbart here so much.
    the internetz is forever.
    Brietbart tells NAACP chief to go to hell.
    link that for Conor so he gets the motivation why don’t you.
    :)

  11. 11
    BigHank53 says:

    Conor, it doesn’t matter if you use your left hand instead of your right: you’re still tugging on Breitbart’s dick.

  12. 12
    Joseph Nobles says:

    The original piece by Foster advances the cherry-picking claim that Obama was the sole sponsor of the Pigford II legislation. You will not find the name Charles Grassley mentioned and his role in pushing the Pigford legislation forward at all.

    Furthermore, you will not find out that while Senator Barack Obama was the sole sponsor in the Senate of the Pigford II legislation for the 110th Congress, his bill was a duplicate of a House bill filed one month before Obama’s with five co-sponsors, Democratic and Republican. You will also not find out that Obama’s bill died in committee, as did the House bill, and it was not until the 111th Congress that Pigford II finally passed. The sole Senate co-sponsor of the actual Pigford II legislation that was combined with other bills and passed into law for Obama’s signature?

    John Barrasso, Republican of Wyoming. Something else not deemed worthy of mention in Foster’s article.

  13. 13
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    Breitbart’s ambition, it seems, is to be the Julius Streicher of the 21st century.

  14. 14
    Rob says:

    Hey this is just the National Review returning to its glorious racist past.

  15. 15
    matoko_chan says:

    @BigHank53:

    Conor, it doesn’t matter if you use your left hand instead of your right: you’re still tugging on Breitbart’s dick.

    nice.
    a fellow disciple of the Immortal Taibbi?

  16. 16
    morzer says:

    I’d like to know just how Foster reaches the figures he cites. Given that he doesn’t actually give any sort of direct citation for the majority of them, and that said figures don’t seem to be supported by other accounts of the case, I’d also like to know just how much of this stuff is hearsay, or, more accurately, the fevered mind of the wingnut hive in action. I also note that Foster likes to slide in suggestions of wrongdoing by all sorts of government figures and politicians, but never actually gives evidence for that either, beyond the mere assertion. Looks to me like something not to be touched with a barge-pole by any responsible scholar of the events in question.

  17. 17
    matoko_chan says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: lissen to the clip i linked. he’s fucking pissed.

  18. 18
    morzer says:

    One thing that becomes clear is that Foster deliberately inflated the numbers of suits by lumping in 70,000 suits, which were not allowed to proceed,with the rest that did, thus reaching a dramatic, but essentially false number of 100,000 “fraudulent” suits, thus giving the impression of massive defrauding of a weak and foolish government, when the reality is that this simply did not occur, and the system actually weeded out fraud and negligence quite effectively. There’s no way that this is a mistake. It’s a deliberate and hateful smear, by a despicable fraud of a reporter.

  19. 19
    THE says:

    @matoko_chan:
    One of Taibbi’s best ever I thought.
    Edit: As pure polemics of course.

  20. 20
    dr. bloor says:

    @Farah:

    If you want to post in these parts, you shouldn’t stop drinking long enough to let a hangover set in.

  21. 21
    alwhite says:

    I have to assume you guys STILL think these guys are serious and, even after being publicly called out & corrected, admitting they were mistaken and taking a lump or two, will self correct and do better next time.

    No, they will just repeat the lie and generate new lies. It is pointless to try and engage them as adults. Simply point and laugh then move on to the next egregious cow flop. Don’t act surprised when it is the same as the last cow flop.

  22. 22
    Trizzlor says:

    From Foster’s piece:

    Parsimony demands a simpler explanation: that the majority, even the vast majority, of Pigford claims are frivolous at best and fraudulent at worst. That is the case being made by perhaps the loudest critic of Pigford: journalistic gadfly Andrew Breitbart.

    What is it with these people and ceding to the demands of invisible entities?

  23. 23
    morzer says:

    @Trizzlor:

    Parsimony and honesty demand a simpler explanation: the vast majority of the claims filed were dismissed (70,000 of them, in fact). Not that this crucial point makes it into Foster’s piece.

  24. 24
    Anonymous At Work says:

    New term for the Lexicon: “Adding to the Debate”
    A lesser form of Broderism, this is often how a pundit qualifies an apology or retraction made for endorsing, promoting, or otherwise advertising a deceitful or out-right false argument.

  25. 25
    Stillwater says:

    @morzer: It’s that honesty thing that gets in the way. Everytime. Conserva-sense requires conserva-facts to ground it, and that means viewing everything through a conserva-filter. Honesty – as you rightly point out – means nothing to these guys, who are so emotionally committed to proving their case that embracing lies is not viewed as counterproductive, or deceptive, but as a high honor in the noble cause of liberating conservative thought from the oppression imposed by facts and reality.

  26. 26
    xian says:

    @matoko_chan: re “[made up jargon thing] stratification is depopulating the right of scientists and intellectuals…” that’s true. The Republicans now have to use doctors (MDs) as their token educated spokespeople.

  27. 27
    Another Commenter at Balloon Juice (fka Bella Q) says:

    If so many people didn’t fall for their convenient lies, I’d be quite content to leave them to their coded circle jerk. But there’s too much at stake.

  28. 28
    Jay C says:

    @morzer:

    Parsimony and honesty demand a simpler explanation: the vast majority of the claims filed were dismissed (70,000 of them, in fact). Not that this crucial point makes it into Foster’s piece.

    Except that for biased fraudsters like Breitbart and his enablers, the dismissed “vast majority” of claims will probably be cited as proof that the Pigford Settlements were, at bottom, some sort of grand scam based on reverse-racist greed and bigotry; their “case” “bolstered” by stuff like:

    Breitbart and documentary filmmaker Lee Stranahan, who is working on a Pigford project, tell me they have recently recorded evidence of a black activist giving what Breitbart called a “demented Princeton Review” seminar on how to game the settlement to a packed black church in the South.

    Film edited by James O’Keeffe, no doubt….

  29. 29
    JGabriel says:

    mistermix:

    How is that anything but useful idiocy?

    It isn’t, except to the extent that Friedersdorf is proceeding from merely useful to actively wilful idiocy.

    Do you suppose he’s trying to get a gig at NR?

    .

  30. 30
    Midnight Marauder says:

    How is that anything but useful idiocy?

    Because he is actually just a willing propagandist.

  31. 31
    MattR says:

    I am absolutely shocked to discover that class actions lawsuits are not perfect at distributing funds from the defendant to the various aggrieved parties. I am sure this has never happened when the claimants were mostly white.

  32. 32
    Lurker says:

    @Farah:

    When the hell and why the hell is Stranahan a Breitbart lapdog now? Am I just really fucking hung over? How appropriate that this is my first post at BJ.

    I’d like to know this, too. I thought Lee Stranahan was pushing for single-payer health insurance, not whatever Breitbart wants.

  33. 33
    El Cid says:

    This is a disgusting response to Friedorsdorf.

    Since when is it considered necessary to actually know the facts and background behind a complaint or lawsuit or ruling before condemning and mocking it?

    Particularly when it has to do with black people?

    To complain when this standard isn’t met is exactly like imprisoning all conservatives to take away their freedom of speech.

  34. 34
    Lee Stranahan says:

    Howdy,

    Yep, I’m still in favor of single payer, pro gay right, pro choice and so on. I don’t agree with Brietbart on a lot of issues, but on Pigford we agree and we’re doing important work.

    The heroes of this story are black people, specifically the real farmers who were discriminated against by the main bad guy — the USDA. Everyone acknowledges that.

    Foster talked to me at some length, but he’s been researching the story for a couple of weeks before doing so. He knows the consent decree backwards and forwards.

    There is a ton of fraud in Pigford. When the case was settled, both sides thought the total number of claims would be 2000-3000. It ballooned to around 20k and now with the potential for close to 100k. The fraud isn’t people claiming that they farmed — it’s people falsely claiming that they ‘attemped to farm’.

    Almost all the paid claims — 80 – 92% are the numbers I’ve been told — are ‘attempted to farms’ and meanwhile, the real farmers have it worse than ever. Nobody was fired or disciplined for discrimination. Ponder that.

  35. 35

    I guess the takeaway is that “Exchange of ideas” is the new balance. Two sides sit down, one says things that’re fact-based and the other doodles on a napkin and makes fart sounds. It’s good that we can come together like this.

  36. 36
    Lee Stranahan says:

    Matt,

    Some fraud is class action suit is common. The extent of it in Pigford, isn’t.

    And most class action suits don’t have people traveling around the country doing seminars to large groups of people that teach them specifically how to commit fraud — right?

  37. 37
    Farah says:

    @johnny walker:
    agreed sir, I’d like to drink you now :)

  38. 38

    @Lee Stranahan: Could you explain how 100,000 – 70,000 rejected claims = potentially “close to 100k?”

    Also why you’re pimping for LiveAction on your homepage. Other than “I’m still pro-choice” the post with the Lila Rose interview might as well have been written by them: omits that they contacted the FBI themselves, omits PP’s claims that LiveAction misrepresented/altered the video and uses that omission to cast calling LiveAction into question as somehow suspicious on PP’s part, etc.

    @Farah: You don’t wanna drink me. I’m a bad knockoff that isn’t even spelled properly.

  39. 39

    Oops, ‘they contacted the FBI’ meaning Planned Parenthood. Timer ran out.

  40. 40
    Suck It Up! says:

    Wow! its okay when True Progressives team up with the most despicable elements of the right but Obama negotiating with Republican members of congress?

    Fucking Hypocrite Lee Stranahan

  41. 41
    Conor Friedersdorf says:

    This post misrepresents my original post and the scope and nature of my apology.

Comments are closed.