Oh, that liberal media

by Ted on January 15, 2004

If you had a problem with this ABC News smear story, “Dean’s Trooper”, you’re not alone. (Jesse has a summary, if you don’t want to read the whole thing.) If you like, you can let ABC News know how you feel here.

My email to ABC is below.

I read your story about Howard Dean and Dennis Madore, and for the life of me, I can’t see why you chose to air it. There is absolutely no evidence that Dean knew about Madore’s abuse. Dean fired Madore when he found out about it. The tone of the report strongly implies wrongdoing by Dean- in fact, it seems to start with the assumption that Dean is a hypocrite who condones domestic abuse. But in the absence of mental telepathy, I can’t see what he could have done differently.

The abusive tone of this report is very troublesome and wholly inappropriate. It comes off as a hit piece, timed to make an impact before the Iowa primaries.

Even the conservative pundit Andrew Sullivan, a passionate supporter of President Bush, called this piece “a vile little smear story” and says “this kind of irrelevant piece of guilt by association is truly beneath contempt.”

I’m old enough to realize that the media does not apologize for its poor judgement. But you should know how people feel about this. For years to come, commentators will be pointing to this ABC News story as evidence that the media is biased and unfair in its coverage of prominent Democrats.

Are you comfortable with that?



Grammar Troll 01.15.04 at 7:47 pm

Those liberal media.


Ted Barlow 01.15.04 at 7:58 pm

That’s “grammartroll@trollsarewe.com”


Robert Lyman 01.15.04 at 8:19 pm

LOL, Ted.

This doesn’t prove the media aren’t liberal, but it doesn’t exactly bolster the case that they’re “fair and balanced,” either, does it?

What jerks.


Stephen Karlson 01.15.04 at 8:22 pm

Was the story planted, a la Willie Horton, by another Democrat? Naah …


Ted Barlow 01.15.04 at 9:25 pm


You’re right, of course. This story provides evidence for the thesis that “the media is not liberally biased”, but it doesn’t prove it. It doesn’t prove or disprove anything, except for strong statements about media bias- “The media is trying to elect Dean,” “The media is wall-to-wall liberal”, “The media wouldn’t run a hit piece against a prominent Democrat”, etc.

(And it’s a delight to see you in comments again!)


I have no idea if the story was planted, or if it was, who planted it. How could I?

But I should point out that the Willie Horton story wasn’t planted by any Democrat. It’s true that Al Gore mentioned a Massachusetts furlough program in one of the debates in the 1988 primaries, but he didn’t bring up Willie Horton.


vivian 01.15.04 at 9:27 pm

Planted or not, the editors (not to mention a real reporter as opposed to journo-school-grad) ought to know better. You’d think they’d prefer a story about an attempted smear campaign that failed the immediate smell test to the stinker they played. How intellectually lazy can people get – we haven’t hit bottom yet…


grammar troll 01.15.04 at 10:10 pm

Internet addresses aren’t subject to grammatical rules, as they are relatively fixed. “Correcting” an email address due to grammar results in an undeliverable message. I realize that this is a hypothetical situation, as this email address is fake anyway, but the point stands.


Tinky 01.15.04 at 10:10 pm

Because the liberal media has decided not to jump off a cliff with Dean, doesn’t mean its not liberal, just smart.


Ted Barlow 01.15.04 at 10:12 pm

Grammar Troll,

I’m just joking with you.


I should have said something like that.


Sigivald 01.15.04 at 11:23 pm

Mr. Barlow: “The Media” in general (and ABC in particular) can be “liberal” and still not like Dean. I imagine that the supporters of the other Democratic candidates are generally liberal, and don’t like Dean.

All a smear-job on Dean shows is that, if they’re “liberal”, they’re not Dean-ites. There are, no matter what the old saying says, plenty of enemies on the left.


harry 01.15.04 at 11:23 pm

Come on Vivian, we haven’t even hit *half way down* to the bottom yet.


RB 01.15.04 at 11:35 pm

Dean just isn’t liberal enough for them. Too bad. All’s fair when the media gets its head of steam.


--kip 01.15.04 at 11:51 pm

All a smear-job on Dean shows is that, if they’re “liberal,” they’re not Dean-ites. There are, no matter what the old saying says, plenty of enemies on the left.

Sure! And when we factor in all the smear-jobs and hit-pieces against Bush that ran during the 2000 election–

Oh. Waitaminute.


Sebastian Holsclaw 01.16.04 at 12:27 am

It doesn’t disprove that the media is liberal. It merely shows that the liberal media will print crap from insiders at the DNC. Where do you think this story came from? Bush? No, it came from DNC Chairman Terry Mcauliffe or someone who works for him.


ben wolfson 01.16.04 at 12:36 am

You should send a paper letter in addition to the email.


Ted Barlow 01.16.04 at 12:56 am


How could you possibly know that?


Carlos 01.16.04 at 1:49 am

Because it conforms to his prejudices? It’s imminent that’s what really happened. I mean obvious.



vivian 01.16.04 at 1:53 am

Harry – yep, good point. Wince.
Ted – thanks. What a lovely welcome for a lurker!


Anon 01.16.04 at 3:17 am

What this shows, my dear friends, is how scared the man is by Howard Dean. Democrats and republicans come together to bash Dean because Dean is not under their control and can cut through the quagmire both parties have put us in.


Jim Miller 01.19.04 at 1:12 am

Since Mr. Barlow in interested in Willie Horton, I am happy to tell him who first raised the issue publicly–a small Massachusetts newspaper. They received a prize for their coverage, which stimulated debate, to put it mildly, in Massachusetts. The issue was important in Massachusetts long before George Bush or even Al Gore ever heard of Willie Horton.

(Those interested in the subject should also learn something about Horton’s murder victim, even if interest in the victim is not politically correct.

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