Yesterday, I wrote about Neal Goswami’s journalistic self-sacrifice — reading 2,400 pages of government emails so we don’t have to. The emails in question were between the newly-notorious Jonathan Gruber and various Shumlin administration functionaries. And Goswami found a conspicuous absence of scandal. Indeed, the emails painted a picture of some very dedicated people working very hard to devise the best possible single-payer system.
Naturally, though, the lack of scandal hasn’t stopped the right wing from desperately fanning the Gruber flames. This is not at all surprising; in fact, it’s the right wing’s modus operandi. Talking Points Memo:
Gruber-mania has gripped the conservative mediasphere in a way that few stories have, becoming another brand-name controversy like Benghazi and the IRS. An academic who had been little known outside of Washington or Boston has been mentioned nearly 2,800 times in English-language news since news of the most recent video broke last month. Prior to that, across a career that spanned decades and after playing an important role in Massachusetts and national health care reform, he’d been named less than 1,000 times, according to a TPM LexisNexis search.
The lesser members of the mediasphere who operate in this lonely outpost are taking their cues from their big brothers, and trying to make mountains out of molehills.
Take Rob Roper, the Eddie Haskell of Vermont conservatism. He pulled out one brief excerpt from Goswami’s report, which I’d cited as a positive. Key quote from Gruber:
I am really excited to work with you all — I think we have the chance to really make history here.
In Roper’s imagination, this statement immediately disqualifies Gruber. He’s too enthusiastic, see?
So would Gruber mislead Vermont voters because he’d rather make history than not? With over $2 billion at stake, we have to assume the answer is yes.
One little evidence-free assumption, and we can dismiss the entirety of Gruber’s work. Plus any proposal Gov. Shumlin makes because, even if he fired Gruber today, all the work on single-payer has already been thoroughly Grubered.
This is exactly the same rationale used by the far right for ignoring climate science: the scientists have a stake in climate change, so their work can be dismissed.
Look, it’s only natural that an expert would have a lively engagement in her/his field of study. Aren’t you interested in what you do? I hope so. But the academic world — unlike the world of conservative faux-outrage — has ethical standards and principles. Academics have an interest in doing honest work, to ensure that their work has an impact. And, of course, academics who commit fraud see their careers end in shame.
But the Rob Ropers of the world know nothing of this, because their purpose is rousing the rabble. Adhering to the truth is a professional impediment. And fraud is a tried and true method of career advancement.
And that, by the way, is it: The only thing Roper could find in Goswami’s story to yammer about is Gruber’s enthusiasm for his work.
Meanwhile, serial failure Darcie “Hack” Johnston has been busily retweeting stuff from Breitbart.com, one of the sleazier outposts of the conservative mediasphere. For some reason, Breitbart has posted a series of stories about Gruber’s work in Vermont. Seems like small potatoes for a national website, but whatevs.
Johnston is so far out there, she seems to believe that Breitbart is a convincing source of news. In fact, the guy who’s writing its Vermont stories is a proud Tea Partier with no journalistic credentials outside the conservative mediasphere.
But again, I’m not surprised. This is SOP for Johnston: Accept (and broadcast) every conservative source, no matter how shameless, as the Gospel truth.
When, in fact, “truth” has nothing to do with it.