How To Tell When A News Article Is Lying To You: Southern Poverty Law Center Edition

How To Tell When A News Article Is Lying To You: Southern Poverty Law Center Edition

Knowing how to tell what’s true and what’s false on the internet is one of those useful skills that nobody is teaching you. Right? You aren’t handed a BS detector when you graduate school.

As a writer, reporter and filmmaker, I have to deal constantly with information overwhelm-going through tons of articles, book, video and other content and then separating out the correct parts from lies, bias and lazy research.

Here’s an example I found when researching my documentary  The Caliphate where a widely respected and quotes source just gets the basic facts wrong. The group is the left-wing Southern Poverty Law Center, who designates ‘hate groups’ and has helped groups like CAIR push the idea of Islamaphobia as a way of downplaying the clear and present danger from Islamists.

One of the methods they use is discredit sources. In this case, the source is FrontPage editor and former 1960s radical turned conservative David Horowitz. (Full disclosure: I’ve never met or spoken with Horowitz, but we’re both featured as narrators in the film Occupy Unmasked.)

Here’s what the SPLC says in a section of their hit pieces on Horowitz describing a video that made the rounds a few years ago. Here’s how the Southern Poverty Law Centers describes an exchange between Horowitz and a student:

During one such week in 2010, Horowitz appeared at the University of California-Santa Barbara. Midway through the program, he began to debate a Muslim student wearing a traditional Palestinian keffiyah — what Horowitz called a “terrorist neckerchief.” When the young woman asked Horowitz to clarify the connections he had been drawing between the Muslim Student Association on campus and radical terrorists, he instead asked the woman to denounce Hamas.

“For it, or against it?” he barked, demanding an answer. It was a trap.

While she would later claim she was thinking unclearly and intimidated, she bashfully replied, “For it.” Horowitz nodded and smiled. It was a rhetorical trick — the kind Horowitz has perfected. If she supported Hamas, Horowitz argued, the Muslim Student Association to which she belonged was actually tied to a terrorist organization, as defined by the State Department.

The video made the rounds on conservative news outlets, seeming to confirm for Horowitz and his followers that his fight with the “radical faith” was on target. Islam was on the move — everywhere.

It’s interesting that the SLPC doesn’t embed the video or even link to it.

This is intentional for reasons you can see when you take three and a half minutes to watch the clip being described.


checkedLet’s break down some of the falsehoods. Minor point, it’s UCSD.

The glaring thing is how the whole tone described doesn’t correspond with what you see in the video. Horotwitz doesn’t bark. The student doesn’t seem intimidated, in fact she’s fairly aggressive and insulting to Horowitz throughout.

The article also gets the order of events wrong. The student makes it clear that she is for Hamas and there’s no intimidation. The ‘For It’ part is where Horowitz asks her if she’d like see all Jews gather in Palastine so they are easier to kill.  She’s For It.

Also note the scare quotes around Horowitz’s “terrorist neckerchief.” This is a common trick that sends the message to the reader that the person saying the thing in the scare quotes is misguided, wrong or crazy.

In this case, it’s meant to trick readers who can’t see the video. When you watch the video, the woman asking the question is obviously and intentionally wearing a black and white chequered keffiyeh.

What does that mean?

The black and white chequered keffiyeh has become a symbol of Palestinian nationalism, dating back to the 1936–1939 Arab revolt in Palestine. Outside of the Middle East and North Africa, the keffiyeh first gained popularity among activists supporting the Palestinians in the conflict with Israel.

While Western protesters wear differing styles and shades of keffiyeh, the most prominent is the black-and-white keffiyeh. This is typically worn around the neck like a neckerchief, simply knotted in the front with the fabric allowed to drape over the back. Other popular styles include rectangular-shaped scarves with the basic black-and-white pattern in the body, with the ends knitted in the form of the Palestinian flag. Since the Al-Aqsa Intifada, these rectangular scarves have increasingly appeared with a combination of the Palestinian flag and Al-Aqsa Mosque printed on the ends of the fabric.

David Horowitz isn’t blind or dumb and neither is the Southern Poverty Law Center. The whole section and indeed the whole article is an attempt by the SLPC to separate out support for the Palestinian cause with terrorism.

But unless the readers of the article do diligence, they will be tricked.

Lara Logan Lied About Dylan Davies In Her 60 Minutes #Benghazi Apology

Lara Logan Lied About Dylan Davies In Her 60 Minutes #Benghazi Apology

Logan said:

After our report aired, questions arose about whether his account was true when an incident report surfaced. It told a different story about what he did the night of the attack. Davies denied having anything to do with that incident report and insisted that the story he told us was not only accurate it was the same story that he told the FBI when they interviewed him.

It’s not true that Davies denied having anything to do with the incident report.

As far as I know, the only interview Davies has done since the allegations of lying broke was with the Daily Beast in their November 2nd story Here’s what that the Daily Beast published eight days ago:

In his interview with The Daily Beast, Davies said the version of the events contained in the incident report matched what he told his supervisor, called “Robert” in his book, who is a top Blue Mountain Group executive. Davies said he lied to Robert about his actions that night because he did not want his supervisor to know he had disobeyed his orders to stay at his villa.

It’s entirely possible Davies lied in his book and on 60 Minutes.

That doesn’t justify Lara Logan and 60 Minutes lying about Dylan Davies.

Hillary, Media Matters & #Benghazi Cover-up Part 1.5 : David Brock Is A Liar

Hillary, Media Matters & #Benghazi Cover-up Part 1.5 : David Brock Is A Liar

The lie and smear cover-up campaign by the Clinton-centric institutional left group Media Matters for America on the Begnhazi scandal is no accident.

In Part One, I laid out the ties between David Brock’s Media Matters for America and Hillary Clinton.

I promised that in Part Two, I’d start to deal with the substantive aspects of MMfA’s attacks and I will do.

But there’s an elephant in the room. Or rather a former elephant, now turned donkey named David Brock.

David Brock himself has been central to the recent attack on 60 Minutes for their segment on Benghzai featuring Dylan Davies, the former head of securty for the Benghazi consulate, who co-authored a book called The Embassy House under the name Sgt. Morgan Jones.

Davies / Jones was the focus of the 60 Minutes segment, where he told the same story he tells in the book; his harrowing trip to the embassy on the night of the September 11th attack by Islamists.

The Washington Post ran a piece saying that the Davies / Jones conlicts with a report that he gave to his superiors at Blue Mountain Security the next day. Media Matters for America took that initial story and launched an attack campaign based on it, including a petition / letter writing campaign to CBS.

Brock’s letter calls for the story to be “immediately retracted and an independent investigative committee needs to probe all aspects of how the story was reported.”

Then the Daily Beast followed up on the Wahsington Post story and talked to Davies:

The four-page indicent report, obtained by The Daily Beast, has not been previously published. A State Department official confirmed it matches the version sent to the U.S. government by Davies’s then-employer Blue Mountain Group, the private security company based in Britain, on Sept. 14, 2012, and subsequently provided to Congressional committees investigating the Benghazi attacks.

In an interview Saturday with The Daily Beast, Davies said he did not write the incident report, nor had he ever seen it.

“I am just a little man against some big people here,” Davies said. “They can do things, make up things, anything they want, I wouldn’t stand a chance.” Davies said he did not know who leaked the report to the Post but said he suspected it was the State Department, an allegation that could not be independently corroborated. “It would not be difficult to do,” Davies said. “I knew I was going to come in for a lot of flack and you know mud slinging, so yeah I’d say it was them, but I can’t be sure.”

The Daily Beast story turned in a new meme for Media Matters for America: “Benghazi Whistleblower is an admitted liar.”

The central argument promoted by David Brock and Media Matters is that since Davies is ‘an admitted liar’, nobody should believe anything he says.

The ‘admitted liar’ meme was immediately picked up on by left blogosphere. Here’s Bob Cesca at The Daily Banter:

Given that Davies admits he lied to his employer, and given that he allegedly asked Fox News for money in exchange for his story, I’m inclined to believe that he is, in fact, a fraud.

Given David Brock’s acknowledged history and reputation, this is an interesting line of attack.

That’s because David Brock is an admitted liar.

I could accuse David Brock of being a liar simply based on example after example from his Media Matters career.

That would be fair but dismissed as partisan. However, Mr. Brock has long reputation as a liar and has, in fact, admiteed to it himself on a number of occasions.

In his book Blinded By The Right, Brock said:

To protect myself and my tribe from the truth and the consequences from our own smears, cover-ups and falsehoods, I consciously and actively chose an un-ethical path.

Brock told NPR’s Nina Totenberg:

Let me just discuss the lying issue for a moment. As you said there I consciously lied once.

Author Who Trashed Anita Hill Now Confesses to Lies said Howard Kurtz in the Los Angeles Times in July, 2001.

New York Times critic Frank Rich said of Brock:

By his own account, Brock has lied so often that a reader can’t take on faith some of the juicier newsbreaks from the impeachment era in his book.

Slate summed it up succicnty in 2002:David Brock, Liar

As The East Bay Express said in 2002:

David Brock is a liar. It’s one of the few things people of all political persuasions can agree he has told the truth about.

Except in the house of horrors that is David Brock’s reputation, he thatmight not be true. He appears to have even liabilitiesed about lying.

He says he lied about Anita Hill but it seems possible that is another lie told by Brock to buy him credibility and a lucrative career with the left. As the East Bay Express article says:

Paoletta said he “did not confirm to David Brock that Justice Thomas ever rented videos from the Graffiti video store. In fact, to this day, I do not personally know whether he in fact rented videos from that store. . . . Why in the world would I say anything to hurt him?”


Aativist Barbara Ledeen yesterday challenged one part of the Brock excerpt in which he maintains that the two of them wrote a radio script attacking “Strange Justice” and faxed it to Rush Limbaugh, who is said to have used it on his radio show. “I completely deny that,” Ledeen said. “I have never done anything with David Brock except attend a few parties.” Limbaugh said he had no recollection of receiving such a script.

Then the East Bay Express goes into long detail about Brock lying in his book about his ‘conversion moment’ at Cal Berkley.

I’ll stop now, though. You get the idea.

David Brock Is A Liar. So what?

Daivd is an admitted liar.

By the logic Media Matters for America is using, that’s it. Write off everything he says.

Except, that’s not correct. It’s a logical fallacy.

Just because an admitted liar says something doesn’t mean it’s not true. If David Brock says 1+1=2, he’s correct. It’s not logically valid to dismiss statement B just because the speaker lied about statement A at some point.

So back to the case of Davies and Benghazi for a moment: it’s not a valid argument to dismiss everything he says because he lied to his boss. I’ll dicuss this more specifically in Part Two.

So , how should one treat the statements of an admitted liar?

Here’s what David Brock himself said in an interview with NPR:

… it’s perfectly understandable that many people may not know whether to believe me now. But there are ways of finding out whether I’m telling the truth or not. Good, credible journalists can look into what I’m saying, examine it and get to the bottom of this and they can find the truth.

Of course, that’s what Brock said about himself. Also a logical fallacy called Special Pleading. 

He’s right univerally, however. Don’t take anyone at their word but don’t dismiss anyone out of hand. Verify facts.

So, David Brock is a liar but it doesn’t matter when it comes to evaluating any individual statement by him.

Brock is, however, a complete hypocrite.

And a dishonest hypocrite, applying one set of standards to his current allies and another to his current enemies.

And that does matter.

#Benghazi Cover-up By Hillary Clinton’s Media Matters For America Part 1

#Benghazi Cover-up By Hillary Clinton’s Media Matters For America Part 1

cover-up (noun) An attempt to prevent people’s discovering the truth about a serious mistake or crime. synonyms : whitewash, concealment, false front, facade, camouflage, disguise

The Benghazi scandal represents the largest looming existential threat to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential ambitions. 

blackberryAdding Secretary of State to her resume was supposed to give Hillary the international gravitas to catapult her into the White House. It’s grim irony that Hillary’s foreign policy reputation would potentially go down in fiery flames on September 11th, 2012 with the destruction of the Benghazi compound and the death of four Americans.

Yes, it could have threatened Pres. Obama’s reelection chances, but Mitt Romney punted on Benghazi in the third Presidential debate and the rest is history.

But Benghazi didn’t go away. 

Many Americans were unwilling to let Benghazi be swept under the rug. Over a year later, millions still want to know the truth.

Hillary can’t have that.

Luckily, Hillary has built a contingency to deal with disasters like this; David Brock’s Media Matters for America.

Since the devastating 60 Minutes report on Benghazi a little over a week ago, Media Matters has been on a rampage to cover-up the truth about Benghazi. Here’s the recent front page of MMFA’s site – 8 links out 10 above the fold stories:



I’m going to deal with the substance of their attacks in Part Two.

Why Media Matters Matters

If you’re conservative, libertarian or independent, you probably don’t read Media Matters for America. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that just because you don’t read something, it’s not influential or important.

Their book on Benghazi called The Benghazi Hoax is selling decently on Amazon but that’s not where the group’s impact comes from.

Their real power is their network. Media Matters for America is the research arm of the institutional left.  Left bogs and the MSM pick up on their stories. This gives them a huge reach.

Here’s some of the blog echo chamber response on the their 60 Minutes attacks:
dkos mojo brad

It’s no accident Media Matters is hitting this issue so hard.

The Media Matters / Clinton Connection

 Is Media Matters a liberal/Democratic media watchdog site or a Clinton watchdog site?

That isn’t a conservative pundit or right wing blogger asking that question.

It’s Chuck Todd from MSNBC.

Here’s what Todd said in a November, 2007 article entitled Calling out Media Matters’ bias  :

Don’t they need to fully disclose their relationship with Hillary Clinton? After all, at the YearlyKos Convention in Chicago on Aug. 4, she touted her involvement with the group…

“I only wish that we had this active and fighting blogosphere about 15 years ago because we have certainly suffered over the last years from a real imbalance in the political world in our country. But we are righting that balance — or lefting that balance — not sure which, and we are certainly better prepared and more focused on taking our arguments and making them effective and disseminating them widely and really putting together a network in the blogosphere in a lot of the new progressive infrastructure — institutions that I helped to start and support like Media Matters and Center for American Progress. We’re beginning to match what I had said for years was the advantage of the other side.”

But don’t take Chuck’s word for it. Here’s the speech by Hillary Clinton; the quote comes about two minutes in.

And as Newsday reported in a 2006 story called Switching allegiances:

David Brock, the reformed right-wing reporter who once took aim at Hillary Rodham Clinton, has cultivated surprisingly deep ties to the senator – paying $200,000 to a Clinton confidant for working at his watchdog group, Media Matters. In the strange-bedfellows world of Washington, few couplings are odder than the Clinton-Brock alliance. The ideological chameleon has emerged as a reliable defender, while she’s quietly nurtured his $8.5-million-a-year nonprofit empire.


Clinton’s extended family of contributors, consultants and friends has played a pivotal role in helping Media Matters grow from a $3.5 million start-up in 2004 to its current $8.5 million budget. Two years ago, she advised Brock on creating the group, encouraging the creation of a liberal equivalent of the Media Research Center, a conservative group that has aggravated Democrats for decades.

Seven years later and the bond is stronger than ever. Hillary and Brock have even launched another ‘watchdog’ group. As Politico reported in a story headlined Research shop stocks up on Hillary Clinton aides

The research super PAC American Bridge has made a string of hires from within Clintonland for an offshoot project called “Correct the Record,” an effort whose goal is protecting potential 2016 Democratic candidates – with Hillary Clinton chief among them.

The group, which was launched in the 2012 cycle by Clinton ally and Media Matters founder David Brock, has hired from within Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign, and is getting financial support from two longtime Clinton donors, officials with the group told POLITICO.

In Part Two, I’ll look at the MMFA cover-up techniques.

Official @PBS Twitter Account Favorites Tweet Attacking @BrandonDarby | UPDATE: APOLOGY!

Official @PBS Twitter Account Favorites Tweet Attacking @BrandonDarby | UPDATE: APOLOGY!

Your tax dollars at work.

The official @PBS twitter page of the Public Broadcasting System favorited a tweet by ‘communist, queer’ Jesse Smith aka @SFTovarishch attacking Brandon Darby.

Darby, a friend of mine & fellow protegé of Andrew Breitbart,  helped the FBI stop bombings at the 2008 Republican Nation Convention.

PBS aired a deceptive documentary called Better This World about the incident.

Here’s the profile of Jesse Smith.


He started the Twitter attack on Darby this way…



According to the sworn testimony of the two convicted anarchists Bradley Crowder and David McKay, Darby did not frame them. Among other destructive acts, the two built Molotov cocktails

None of these facts matter to Smith as his rant continues.



Twitter is fully of people with more opinions than followers, of course.

But one of Smith’s tweets against Darby–after referring to him as a ‘pig snitch’-was actually favorited by the national, official PBS account.

pbsThis shows the clear agenda of an employee of PBS.

And yes, Jesse stands by his ‘hanging’ comment.


UPDATE: PBS removed the favorite and apologized.