By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Lied about on Kos

Friends of Media Nation who are wondering about my sanity: not to worry. It’s kind of funny at this point. In that spirit, I want to share with you some casual slime that has been brought to my attention at the Daily Kos.

The Kos is one of several national blogs that are obsessed with the continuing fallout over the “Greater Boston” blogging episode of Dec. 8. I learned of this Kos post through Bob of Blue Mass Group, who thinks it absolutely kicks ass. After quoting from a few commenters, Bob ends with this: “And believe me there is plenty, plenty more, including a fair amount of back and forth about our very own frequent contributor Professor Kennedy.”

So I got myself over to the Kos and started reading. Soon I came across this, from one Jennifer Poole:

Dan Kennedy, media “critic” of the Boston Phoenix? one of the “liberal hawks” who totally believed Colin Powell’s speech about WMDs at the U.N.?

I remember emailing Kennedy at the time, telling him he hadn’t read the news he needed to understand that Powell’s “testimony” to the U.N. was not, in fact, all that convincing at all — with links.

I got a snarky email back re: “Oh you think there’s a cover-up?”

has Dan Kennedy admitted yet he was wrong to support the Iraq invasion, and to say that nobody serious could remain unconvinced by Powell’s testimony?

Not sure what the deal is with all those question marks, but I think a few of them are Firefox anomalies.

Anyway … did I write a snarky e-mail to Poole? Probably. Did I believe Colin Powell’s testimony at the United Nations? Yes, at least for a few days. Did I support the war in Iraq? No. Never. More in a moment. But first, a few words from Poole’s fellow commenters:

Chumley writes: “What a hack this Kennedy is. He should be cleaning toilets at Burger King, NOT a media critic. Better yet — get his ass over to serve in Iraq, and let him media criticize his way out of that.” (Make it Wendy’s, Chumley, and you’ve got a deal.)

Left in Lowell: “This Iraq lapse, I’d have to look back at what he said but he definitely has shown pigheadedness at times.” (Lynne! Come on! We survived the UMass Amherst cafeteria together last summer. Why not ask me where I stand on the war before making fun of my pigheadedness?)

Mogolori: “Kennedy’s self-correction seems to come in his April 16-24, 2004 Boston Phoenix book review of John Dean’s ‘Worse than Watergate,’ Ron Suskind’s ‘The Price of Loyalty,’ Hans Blix’s ‘Disarming Iraq’ and Richard Clarke’s ‘Against All Enemies.’ … [H]e sidesteps his own duping, which is so succinctly recounted in his email to you.” (Follow the logic: Because I was against the war in 2004, I must have been for it in 2002 and ’03.)

The truth, as I’ve already said, is that I’ve always been against the war. And I can prove it. Jennifer and friends, please pay attention:

Boston Phoenix, Nov. 28, 2002: “Yes, Iraq will fall if we invade. The gravest danger American troops may face is getting trampled by surrendering Iraqi soldiers. But after that, Iraq is ours, for a generation, if not longer. As a recent Atlantic Monthly cover story put it, Iraq will become, in effect, ‘the 51st state.’ Is that what we want? Can we really transform Iraq into another Japan or Germany? Or are we going to make the entire country — as opposed to just Saddam and his henchmen — despise us, and seek revenge for our arrogance and hubris?” (Gee, that stands up pretty well, doesn’t it?)

Boston Phoenix, Jan. 30, 2003: “More than anything, what Bush has failed to explain is why Iraq represents a real threat to us at a time when it is beleaguered by no-fly zones in the north and south, economic sanctions, and a couple of hundred weapons inspectors scurrying about the countryside. Containment has worked, but it’s not good enough for Bush, who is about to sacrifice the lives of Americans and Iraqis in order to accomplish his goal of regime change. With few exceptions, the media have let him get away with it.”

Boston Phoenix, March 20, 2003: “[A]fter the victory (raucous welcome from flower-tossing Iraqis optional) comes the hard part: the long occupation of a country whose people — no matter how happy they are to be rid of a dictator who models himself after Stalin but who seems equally inspired by Vlad the Impaler — will soon begin to resent us, then to hate us, then to demand that we get our hands off their land and their government and their oil and get out…. Just as the 1991 Gulf War led to the permanent US presence in Saudi Arabia that convinced the then-unknown Osama bin Laden to declare jihad against the United States, so will this war create monsters that don’t yet have a name.”

Boston Phoenix, July 25, 2003: “The Bush administration justified the rush to war by arguing that waiting was too dangerous — that Saddam’s terrorist ties and weapons of mass destruction represented an imminent threat. The result of Bush’s fear-mongering: chaos in Iraq; an open-ended commitment that is claiming American lives nearly every day, and that is costing some $1 billion a week; and no evidence of weapons.”

Jennifer, have you had enough? Can you bring yourself to take it back? To apologize? We’ll see.

Monday morning update: Sco08 put up a link to this item on the Kos last night, and Jennifer acknowledges her error, sort of, although she says her “main point stands.” Which is?

Former Phoenix political reporter Seth Gitell, who did support the war, weighs in with a reality check, and says it’s time for the media to start scrutinizing blogworld as closely as they do politics, business and sports. “I hope the bloggers enjoy this next stage of development,” Seth writes. I don’t think he means “enjoys” like, you know, “having a good time.”

The Outraged Liberal comes to my defense with a good old-fashioned “Quod erat demonstrandum.” Too bad I’m too stupid to know what it means. Oh, wait — it’s Q.E.D. spelled out, and I kind of know what that means.

Over on Blue Mass Group, Sabutai explains why I should be a blogger:

Bloggers don’t have to fact-check. While you’re expected to go over the New York Times and fact-check them, we can make stuff up about you in whole cloth. By the way, if you want to write again about the War in Iraq, we’d encourage you to fly over there to see for yourself that a war is actually happening, or indeed that such a place exists. Because if it turns out that you’re wrong about anything held to be common knowledge, it will nonetheless be your fault.

Funny stuff, but I am a blogger. I just think blogging ought to be about more than making stuff up about people.

Discover more from Media Nation

Subscribe to get the latest posts to your email.


Copy, right


Media Nation on the air


  1. RichC

    Well, I can’t say I get all teary-eyed when I see a liberal go down in a hail of friendly fire.But being as the Kossacks are scum, I also can’t say I get all teary-eyed seeing you point out their scumitude so definitively.

  2. Anonymous

    I’ve followed the “Greater Boston” story for the last week and find these perpetual ad hominem attacks infuriating because no one seems to be addressing the main point of Carroll’s story: that some bloggers did not disclose that they were on campaign payrolls. Everyone is shredding Carroll with wicked glee, but where is the outrage over this conflict of interest? That’s the part of the story so many in the blogsphere are eager to let drop.

  3. Anonymous

    no did write about believing Powell’s speech to the U.N., I remember it, and I did send you some perfectly respectable links debunking Powell’s arguments, suggesting that you (like other American news consumers) weren’t getting the news you needed to understand that Powell’s remarks were not, in fact, all that convincing.And you did send me back a snarky reply about “oh, so you think there’s a cover-up.”and then I wrote back a reply, too — all I can remember of that 2nd email is that I wrote something like “cover-up is your word, not mine.” If you say you never supported the Iraq invasion, and that you only believed in Powell’s speech for a few days, and that I got the wrong impression at the time from your column (or whatever it was you wrote) extolling the persuasiveness of Powell’s remarks, fine, I’ll believe you. Hopefully, my email helped to change your mind about Powell’s speech.If you take a look again at the casual comment I posted at dKos, I used question marks — I wasn’t even sure you were the same guy whose name I remembered.And my comment was casual — it wasn’t a column about pre-war testimony that sought to justify an illegal invasion, it wasn’t an investigative report, a letter of complaint, or a pronouncement from some kind of ethics panel.And what I’m mostly sorry about is that the mistaken impression I apparently took away from your column about Powell’s speech overshadows what’s important about my point — that at the time, even an alt media critic was taken in by the overwhelming, if not reality-based, consensus that anybody not believing Powell was nuts.

  4. Dan Kennedy

    Jennifer: Well, accepted, but good grief … my believing Powell initially is an ant hill compared to the mountains of words I wrote against the war both before and during.

  5. Dan Kennedy

    PS: And thank you for saying more or less the same thing on Kos as well.

  6. neil

    I wasn’t even sure it was you! I used question marks! My remark was casual! “anonymous” could use a lesson in how to apologize from John Carroll.The price of overreaching and piling on. It comes full circle. Ironic, isn’t it.

  7. Peter Porcupine

    Gee whiz, and all I cared about was you getting MSM to understand that bloggers brush their teeth and can use silverware.It is fascinating to me how litmus-test oriented the Dems are becoming. What if you DID support the war? Or were pro-life? Or pro-death penalty? Does that mean you’re kicked out of the party?WHAT in the name of all that is wonderful does your opinion on the war, past or present, have to do with your abilites as a media critic?

  8. D. R. Tucker

    “He should be cleaning toilets at Burger King, NOT a media critic…”Boy, that’s a whopper of an insult.

  9. Dan Kennedy

    P.P.: Assuming “you” is “me” and not just some metaphorical “you” — I’m not a Democrat. I’m an independent, and though I’m a liberal, I’ve voted for a number of Republicans over the years, mainly at the state level.

  10. Anonymous

    One repeated theme in this whole debate is that someone at either the New York Times or Greater Boston should have “fact-checked” their information. Now, I presume that means having a second (or third) person independently verify the information presented.From my experience, newspapers don’t have fact-checkers. There’s no time. Editors presume the facts presented are accurate and only check them when something seems out of place. Checking, of course, means calling the reporter and asking “are you sure about that?”I’d be curious to know if the same applies to television.

  11. mike_b1

    I agree with you about the Wendy’s Dan, but good luck finding one in Boston. In West Roxbury they complain about how hard it is to attract new businesses, but when the company wanted to open a site on a business-zoned lot on the VFW Parkway, local officials and citizens locked them out.

  12. Anonymous

    I’m in exactly the same boat as you, Dan. I swallowed up Colin’s little performance hook, line, and sinker. Not so oddly enough, my wife was the voice of reason, saying she didn’t buy it. I just kept coming back, saying “but it’s Colin Powell–he’s not crazy like the rest of them!” I felt really betrayed by Colin–I really trusted him to live up to his “voice of reason” rep within Bushco. But he can backpedal and give all the hindsight assessments he wants these days, he means nothing to me anymore. So I’m with ya on that one, Dan. It gets silly, really. I post occasionally on Kos, and the mob mentality there truly dominates sometimes. I’m a relatively senior user over there, and it didn’t used to always be so crazy. I think sometimes posters there become what they’ve always hated in Republicans–lockstep agreeance with whatever gets spouted from the mountaintops. And by the way, Wendy’s has great chili. I think they use crumbled up hamburgers in there–it just hits the spot. Combine it with a baked potato, and you’re good to go.

  13. Peter Porcupine

    DK (NOT BK, however, I agree with you there) – yes I did mean you specifically, but the question per se has a broader implication. Whether you are a formal Dem or not, or a self-identified Progressive or independent – WHAT would your Iraq war stance have to do with your media critic abilities?That’s like me saying I disagree with Al Sharpton because he has bad hair; while his hair may be frightful, I am capable of disagreeing with him on the grounds of issues he speaks about – and agreeing with him to from time to time!

  14. gyrfalcon

    Oh, Dan, boo-hoo, wah-wah! You — and some of the commenters here — are making the same stupid mistake so many people who hold themselves aloof from those dirty hippies on the blogs do, confusing the commenters with the bloggers. How silly. Kos has *thousands* of commenters, and some of them are morons– just like here! Boo-hoo.One point that *nobody* seems to have noticed, from John Carroll to you to some of your commenters here is that the Times article in question *wasn’t* a Times article, it was an op-ed, for heaven’s sakes, and by a guy from the right-wing National Review– in other words, a guy with an agenda. The Times is absolutely notorious for allowing both its regular columnists and its occasional op-ed contributors to say any damn thing they want without a smidgen of fact-checking or adult editorial oversight, even on really obvious stuff.If the article about bloggers had been by a Times *reporter* and therefore had gone through the regular editing process, there might be some justification for assuming its “facts” were correct. But it wasn’t, and they weren’t. Even so, Carroll distorted what the piece said even further.And then you’ve got a commenter here saying, “some bloggers did not disclose that they were on campaign payrolls.” Yes, the Carroll piece did say that. But the Times piece he supposedly was only reporting on and not investigating further *didn’t* say that. It slyly implied it, but if you look carefully, you’ll see it only cites a single instance. Further, the guy from National Review conveniently left out the most notorious known example of non-disclosure, the right-wing bloggers working for the Thune campaign. Gee, I wonder why?Vox further says here, “where is the outrage over this conflict of interest? That’s the part of the story so many in the blogsphere are eager to let drop.” There’s no outrage, Vox, because nobody knows of a single instance in the left blogsphere where this has happened. Not one single instance. (I can’t speak to the outrage or lack thereof in the right blogosphere because that’s a totally separate world.)What people are outraged about, and rightly so, is precisely that they’re being tarred with this “conflict of interest” brush despite having kept their noses absolutely clean on exactly this point. Check it out. You know, try to know what you’re talking about before you start talking, especially when you’re maligning people’s honesty and ethics.And that was the other outrage about Carroll’s piece, was that he happily slimed someone without bothering to do any checking whatsoever, never mind contacting the slimee to give him a chance to respond and/or rebut– which is what *real* reporters are supposed to do.And Dan? Shame on you. I really expect better of you.Yech.

  15. Anonymous

    drgonzo here. I agree with Gitell. let the media spotlight shine on the blog community for a little bit, to truly welcome it to the Big Leagues. I would add that David at BMG really seems to get this; and Bob, not so much. A general observation, from my routing around in the Commonwealth blogosphere: the discourse tends to be much more civil than what I see at Daily Kos and MyDD. At the national level, I’ve seen more sniping using specific instances without much context (e.g. Ms. Poole’s comments about your “support” for the Iraq War.)Thus was I disheartened when I read Bob’s round of follow-ups late last week on BMG. I, and many others, have a lot of respect for the BMGers precisely because of their erring on the side of moderation and open debate. Clearly not every blog is like that *cough* Hub Politics *cough*, but BMG has generally served as a good role model. I imagine some serious media scrutiny of what is written on blogs would have the dual effect of moderating much of the criticism while also chilling open input. The two are part and parcel, and something that any reporter with a fair number of bylines to his credit understands.I think this latest dust-up was a flash in the pan (my apologies on the mixed metaphor) and look forward to more substantive discussions and debate at BMG and Media Nation.Shalom.Dr. Gonzo

  16. Anonymous

    I find Daily Kos is such a drag to read because it’s nothing but a bunch of comments–of extremely varied quality–and you can’t take any of them seriously if you want actual information. Crazy opinions with a few decent ones scattered throughout–that you can get. Facts–for that you need to go somewhere else entirely. Who has time to sift through all the crap to get a few little nuggets?Whit

  17. Lynne

    Dan,You are pigheaded at times! Overall, I think your tone last week was much more defensive than I’d hope to see from you, seeing as how you actually do blog and (I assume) regularly read blogs. You more than anyone should be questioning some of the tenents of mainstream media and not take them on face value. If bloggers understood right away that the NYTimes piece was flawed, why can’t we expect media critics and fellow journalists to do the same?I do get feisty I know, and I don’t write diplomatically most of the time (I hate pulling punches, everyone does that and nothing ever changes…it’s when I actually say something controversial – not untrue, but hard-hitting – that it seems people pay attention and do something about it). Maybe I was a little harsh, but your tone last week was very defensive and you didn’t, in my opinion, seem to want to examine the fact that there’s a large group of people to whom the NYTimes article was obviously missing lots of perspective and even facts, and given the right approach, it wouldn’t take too long to look into that.I guess what I mean to say is, how come it (the flaw in the reporting) was obvious to us but not John Carroll or others doing the piece? After all, that’s why they posted a snarky post on MyDD as their response to the article. (Satire, by the way, doesn’t have to be guffaw-funny, it can be bitingly sarcastic too.)RE: the commenter who incorrectly listed your opinions on the war, how come you’re upset at that? After all, he’d actually have to go looking for the facts out there on the internets, maybe even Google or something, and since journalists don’t seem to have the need to be sure the reporting they are using to determine the scope of a story, why should some random commenter??(I do think it was inappropriate of that person making the comment, I suspect he is either mixing you up with someone else or else taking one statement you might have made and assuming the rest of your feelings on the matter were similar.)

  18. Lynne

    Hey vox: which bloggers? No really, which bloggers were on the take without disclosing? The ones mentioned in the piece? Other major bloggers of either side (liberal or conservative)?Nope, the only ones we know about so far are the tiny conservative local bloggers doing this, and they got found out right quick too. In other words, YES this is a very bad thing, NO it is not a rampant problem that is sweeping the whole conversation. Every major blogger working for a campaign has at least disclosed it, if not outright leaving the blog or not writing during the time period in question. And most of those hired by candidates were hired NOT to blog, but to consult about the process of blogging and how to leverage the internets for the candidate.

  19. Lynne

    Dr. Gonzo: “I imagine some serious media scrutiny of what is written on blogs would have the dual effect of moderating much of the criticism while also chilling open input.”Well, and it’s not a bad thing really…it’s not that I don’t want to see media critique of blogs out there (does that mean the blogging community has “arrived”?) and I think it’s a good thing, because frankly, we all rely on the media ourselves for much of our content, and seasoned reporters (in print media, I’ve given up on mainstream TV news) have a lot to teach in the use of a neutral voice. That said, I’m not sure I ever could be neutral…or that it would be useful for me to be.

  20. Dan Kennedy

    Lynne: Show me where the Times piece has been shot down, as opposed to simply having questions raised about it.

  21. Peter Porcupine

    (Mr. Kennedy – pardon me while I speak to Lynne)Yo! Lynne! Which tiny little conservaitve bloggers, please? And provide Names, Citations (not from your archives) and Dollar Amounts, please. Or I will be compelled to think that you are being partisan in all this, and are asserting that all liberal bloggers are purer than the driven snow.

  22. Lynne

    The Thune bloggers (sorry, I only have spare moments for one trip around Google for names and Dan beat you to it) and the incident in NH. But honestly, I have heard of no major conservative bloggers getting caught doing this, so it’s minor even though it’s been conservatives who’ve been caught up til now. Nobodies, mostly, paid to shill in comments of other blogs.Anyway, to answer Dan’s question partially, in the very same snarky post that started it all, Jerome himself updated it to talk about one inaccuracy. Also, just reading the damn NYT article I can point out the inadequate stuff from my OWN knowledge of blogging and blogs: “But this year, candidates across the country found plenty of outsiders ready and willing to move inside their campaigns. Candidates hired some bloggers to blog and paid others consulting fees for Internet strategy advice or more traditional campaign tasks like opposition research.After the Virginia Democratic primary, for instance, James Webb hired two of the bloggers who had pushed to get him into the race. The Democratic Senate candidate Ned Lamont in Connecticut had at least four bloggers on his campaign team. Few of these bloggers shut down their “independent” sites after signing on with campaigns, and while most disclosed their campaign ties on their blogs, some — like Patrick Hynes of Ankle Biting Pundits — did so only after being criticized by fellow bloggers.”Well, he makes the insinuation here, first, that “most didn’t shut down their sites” or stop writing – despite the fact that 1. some very major players did, including Jerome, and 2. that these bloggers who didn’t shut down their sites…were not necessarily paid to blog so much as to consult (still a conflict of interest but disclosure might be enough). The fact is, we blog readers have been seeing a steady stream of disclosures for a while now, from some of the major bloggers we read. So, is this article making a mountain of a molehill, or just trying to obfuscate the truth? I think it’s the former, but still not exactly stellar, clear reporting if you think about it.

  23. Dan Kennedy

    That’s not much of a refutation, Lynne.

  24. Mr Lynne

    That was off the top of her head given 5 minutes of time before she had to run off to a sub-committee meeting and then pick me up from the train.I appreciate John’s apology and think well of him in the way he comported himself on Friday. Having said that, the thing I find most disturbing is that if John didn’t fact check the Times piece, and he didn’t fact check the MyDD post, then what we are saying her is that he read the Times piece and the post and ran with it without checking anything. If it were a fluff piece I wouldn’t mind as much, but people were damaging people’s reputations with this story. I understand Dan’s point about not being able to fact check to everyone’s likeing all the things media critics would like to point out, but that leaves me with two issues:1) I would hope there would be at least some congruity between the effort in performing due dilligence with the amount of damage a reporter or pundit could inflict if they mistakenly misreport.2) If media critics hope to be that… critical thinkers with regard to the media… I would assume there would be at least some checking else all we are left with is opinion. While opinion by itself can constitute critical thought, without the checking of facts it can and often does devolve to mere rhetoric.

  25. neil

    Before my tour as a tone inspector comes to an end, I make note of one more: the rhetorical cleverness of accusing someone of having a “defensive tone”. You either ignore it and take the hit, or respond and prove the point: X: I was disappointed by your defensive tone.Y: I wasn’t being defensive.X: See!Related to the “when did you stop beating your wife” group of devices. Found in current Sector. Threat level: marginal but persistent.All out blog invasion is not necessary, if tone inspectors are allowed to do their job.

  26. Hack Myers

    I’m sorry, want to make sure I read this right: Was Seth Gitell being serious about hiring full-time reporters to cover blogs as a beat, or was he being facetious? Readers are sick enough of media covering themselves as is, without having a newspaper beat featuring someone watching over the people who watch over the media. Then maybe we can have a new round of blogs devoted to monitoring the newspaper “blog beat” writers who follow the blogs who follow the newspapers.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén