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Richard Poe vs. ConWebWatch

Richard Poe, writer of the WND-published "Hillary's Secret War," noted a ConWebWatch article about his book on his blog on March 4. ConWebWatch's Terry Krepel responded on his comments page, and Poe responded back. This is how the exchange went:

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Two more hard-Left bloggers have now zeroed in on my coordinates.

On 2.27.04, Terry Krepel of ConWebWatch accused WorldNetDaily of commissioning what he called "a book-length monument to itself" and hiring "right-winger and Farah mustache copycat Richard Poe" to "do the dirty deed." Krepel refers, of course, to my forthcoming book Hillary's Secret War.

His description of the book's genesis is inaccurate, however. Hillary's Secret War was not originally a WND project. As Farah explains in his Preface, I brought him the manuscript for Hillary's Secret War only after Random House spiked it. ...

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Mr. Poe:

I'm not a "hard-left blogger." ConWebWatch advocates no political views. I criticize conservative news sites not for being conservative but for being crappy journalists.

And to prove I'm a lot more fair than, say, WorldNetDaily is, I will add a link in my article to your blog about the genesis of the book.

My comments were based on my experiences reading WND, which has a history of slanted and incomplete reporting, and given that WND is involved in your book, the logical assumption would be that your book follows in that tradition.

You understand, right?

Terry Krepel

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Dear Mr. Krepel:

Yes, I understand. You made an honest mistake. In the absence of obvious contrary evidence, it was reasonable for you to assume that Farah had commissioned Hillary's Secret War. My adventures with Random House were not widely publicized, beyond a couple of mentions on this Web site, and I did not post Joseph Farah's Preface until yesterday.

Of course, if I wanted to play the same game that you play every day on ConWebWatch, I could easily accuse you of "crappy" journalism, asking, for instance, why you didn't bother to pick up the phone or fire off an e-mail seeking Joseph Farah's side of the story before lashing into him, or why you didn't double-click one or two of the richly informative links on my Hillary's Secret War home page.

But to accuse you of "crappy" journalism, in this case, would be to demand a higher standard of reporting than would be reasonable under the circumstances. It would be petty, manipulative and unfair -- almost as deceptive and disingenous as your allegation that NewsMax and WorldNetDaily have "a history" of "slanted and incomplete reporting."

That, Mr. Krepel, is the difference between you and me.

If you showed the same fairness toward Chris Ruddy and Joseph Farah that I am showing toward you, ConWebWatch would be a far superior Web site, and you would be a better man.

But, then, if you were a better man, you would not be attacking the few thin voices of dissent which still manage to make themselves heard in our country -- those brave and lonely souls who (if I may paraphrase the Declaration of Independence) have pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor to the cause of liberty. Instead, you would be attacking more dangerous foes -- the corporate media and the multibillion-dollar transnational conglomerates that own them.

But, of course, attacking Big Media would not be a good career move, would it?

Yes, I understand, Mr. Krepel. I understand far more than you know.

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This is where the dialogue ends for Richard Poe. The following responses were submitted to Poe's blog, but Poe has not posted them there (unlike most bloggers, Poe apparently screens comments before permitting them to be posted):

Mr. Poe:

Have you even read anything on ConWebWatch? I assume not, since you dismissed me as a "hard-left blogger." Far from being "deceptive and disingenous," I document all my allegations of slanted reporting at WND and NewsMax. Since you don't seem to want to look for yourself, allow me to pull a few recent examples of what I'm talking about:

-- Jon Dougherty, formerly of WND and now of NewsMax, has a tradition of rewriting press releases and other people's work as well as turning out original work using only one source that tells only one side of the story.

-- In the same article in which I discuss your book, I note that WND posted an apology for plagiarizing someone else's work:

-- WND jumped on infidelity rumors about John Kerry despite the fact that, well, there weren't any facts to report.

-- NewsMax has never done its own investigation of President Bush's National Guard record, content to report only exculpatory evidence others reported first. WND did do one, but only after months of not doing anything at all and was tilted toward shooting down the most outrageous rumors.

This is the kind of stuff you and others would be howling about if the "liberal media" did it. This is the kind of stuff that should be unacceptable no matter what political slant a news organization has.

All in all, I think I'm a much more fair journalist than Christopher Ruddy or Joseph Farah.

Terry Krepel

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One more thing...

You asked why I don't go after those big media conglomerates, insinuating that "it would not be a good career move." Brent Bozell, David Horowitz, et al., go after them quite often and it seems to pay off quite handsomely -- those multimillion-dollar 501(c)3 operations they run seem to be doing quite nicely. Meanwhile, I'm just a guy with a Web site, affiliated with no one, paying for it out of my own meager pockets (I am a working journalist, after all). If the mainstream is as liberal as you think it is, shouldn't I be all over CNN, lionized by Peter Jennings, sipping cappuccinos with Dan Rather? Alas, I'm just a lowly quasi-blogger hoping to sell enough ads to pay for my bandwidth.

I seem to recall a few years back that Ruddy and Farah proclaimed their respective sites as the future of journalism, and they still regularly beat up on the "mainstream media" for its alleged bias. Complaining about the bias of others without taking responsibility for your own, as Farah and Ruddy do, is just a tad hypocritical, wouldn't you agree? All ConWebWatch does is hold the conservative web news media to the same standards it holds the "liberal media."

In other words: I don't criticize 'em for being conservative, I criticize 'em for being crappy journalists. I previously supplied you with four examples of such. Tell me why I'm wrong for criticizing them.

You may fire when ready, Gridley.

Terry Krepel

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On March 10, Poe added a post to his blog in which he called critics of his book "a swarm of third-string Bolshevist gadflies" and linked to his earlier post. My response:

"Third-string bolshevist gadflies"? Oh, my. Again, you offer no evidence that I'm a "bolshevist," as you failed to do previously that I'm "hard left." Oh, well -- I guess you need enemies, contrived as they may be, for your book to sell.

Anyway, let me add this to the pile of specific evidence of what ConWebWatch exposes that I don't expect you to address. On March 6, Joseph Farah wrote a story alleging that a nonprofit group that has received money from Teresa Heinz Kerry gave money to a group of families of 9/11 victims that was critical of Bush's recent political ads. Nowhere in the article does he give us any evidence of this -- just his word that this is so. He also shows no evidence of contacting any member of those organizations for their views on the issue (the same thing you accused me of not doing; perhaps you should send a similar lecture his way).

Is this really the kind of journalism you endorse?

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Dear Mr. Krepel:

Please follow the link I have provided and re-read the "lecture" I supposedly administered to you. Read attentively, and you will see that the point of my lecture was very nearly the exact opposite of what you apparently understood it to be.

You're a bit of a puzzle, Mr. Krepel. I can't tell yet whether you are a liar and dissembler or merely a dullard. Either way, trying to communicate with you is a most disconcerting experience. When your statements are true, they are weirdly irrelevant. When relevant, they are -- more often than not -- untrue.

I wonder if something as innocent as immaturity might be at work here. May I ask how old you are, Mr. Krepel?

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Mr. Poe:

Okay, let me explain.

All I did is toss out one little snarky comment about your book, and you took offense. Hey, I understand that -- live by the snarky comment, die by the snarky comment. Asking "... for instance, why you didn't bother to pick up the phone or fire off an e-mail seeking Joseph Farah's side of the story before lashing into him" is a fair comment. That's why I sent you the link to Farah's WND story, who also did not bother to contact certain organizations before he "lashed into them." I think that demonstrates that my work is at least at the level of your hero, Mr. Farah, so that argument is off the table.

Then, you went further and insulted my integrity as a writer ("But, of course, attacking Big Media would not be a good career move, would it?"). So I noted that attacking Big Media seems to be quite a lucrative career move for folks like Brent Bozell and David Horowitz (and you, it would seem) and pointed out that ConWebWatch is not what would anyone would call lucrative. I also sent you links to four recent stories of mine, asking you what was wrong with them (other than that they criticize people you admire). You decided not to post that comment on your blog, so if you post this one, nobody else knows what we're arguing about.

Snarkiness aside, I think I've been a pretty nice guy through all of this. You, however, have decided to respond not with facts but with glib insults. "Liar"? "Dissembler"? "Dullard"? That is not the mark of a person who wants to seriously engage in a debate, and it makes me wonder if your book is the same way -- nothing but unbalanced wall-to-wall Clinton-bashing and lavish praise for Ruddy and Farah. Somehow I suspect it is.

You say, in effect, that I'm wrong about what I do. I have asked you to elaborate, provide some concrete examples, and all you have done is insult me.

As for the "immaturity" insult, I have been a working journalist for 17 years -- long enough to know that hurling insults at people like you're doing is not a mature response to a situation. If you're trying to prove what a bombthrower you are to your conservative buddies by trying to get a rise out of me in hope that I'll respond in kind so you can dismiss me as a stereotypical "angry liberal" -- get over it. Talk to me like a human being.

All ConWebWatch does is tell what WND, NewsMax, et al., are not telling their readers, holding them to the same journalistic standards that they hold the "liberal media" to. Or do you think that they should be held to different or lower standards? WND and NewsMax are multimillion-dollar, for-profit businesses, after all, not all that unlike the "big boys." I think ConWebWatch quite adequately depicts with many specific examples the "crappy journalism" employed by WND and NewsMax. Accuracy and fairness are journalistic standards that apply to "voices of dissent," too.

So, again, I ask you, this time in as direct a way as possible so you will understand -- what have I said, either in our communication or on ConWebWatch, that is untrue?

Terry Krepel

* * *

Again, the dialogue ends. In its place is this post:

If you are wondering why I have failed to post some of your messages, please direct your attention to the Community Rules.

Study them with sufficient attentiveness and objectivity, and I am confident you will grasp why I had no choice but to cast certain of your missives unceremoniously down the Memory Hole.

Poe announced elsewhere on his site that he was taking a two-week hiatus from his blog to finish a project and would not post any new comments during that time.

* * *

Mr. Poe:

Hmmmm...let's see. I've been respectful, non-traitorous and most everything else on your list. I am guilty of being verbose, but that's only because I'm trying to defend myself against your baseless insults. How interesting that you refuse to allow that little courtesy. (Not that I expect this post to see the light of day on your blog either, of course.)

So basically, what you're trying to say is that everyone has to behave (unless, of course, they're bashing a Clinton) and you get to be as abusive and boorish as you want. Hey, it's your blog; far be it from me to stop you.

Sorry that I refuse to remain slapped down. Our entire dialogue will be posted at ConWebWatch so my readers will get the true picture.

Do let me know if/when you are interested in having an insult-free conversation.

Terry Krepel

P.S. Does this mean I won't be getting a review copy of your book?

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Posted 3/9/2004
Updated 3/13/2004

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