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An Exhibition of Conservative Paranoia

Exhibit 13: Scraping the Mold Off A Story

By Terry Krepel
Posted 7/18/2001

Sometimes ConWeb stories appear in such weird ways that one is compelled to wonder what the story is behind the story. Such is the case with a June 25 CNS story on accusations of racial discrimination against the Christian Coalition by 13 current and former employees.

The first weird aspect of this story, written by Christine Hall, is when it appeared. This story first broke way back in February, but CNS is treating it like a first-day story despite the fact that they're four months late to the game. The only new thing CNS adds, which is apparently its justification for the story, is that the judge in the case was expected to set a procedural schedule by July 2 -- not exactly stop-the-presses stuff.

The second weird aspect is the anonymous quote. The story's last paragraph indicated that the Christian Coalition could not be reached for comment "by press time" (it's a four-month-old story -- waiting another day or two to get her response would have been a problem?), so CNS turns to "a prominent conservative activist, who asked to remain anonymous" to trash the plaintiffs by accusing them of filing an "abusive lawsuit" and caring only about money despite admitting knowing nothing about the facts of the lawsuit.

Hmmmm. Just who (Bozell) could that "prominent conservative activist" (Bozell) have been?

Yes, CNS boss Brent Bozell is the logical choice. He's mean enough to say the things quoted in the story and vain enough to claim some false modesty with the request for anonymity. He's also easy for CNS reporters to find, as opposed to other "prominent conservative activists" who certainly would have been more willing to go "on the record" with their opinion about the case.

So we have a moldy four-month-old story treated as "news," then marred even further by a frivolous claim of anonymity by, in all likelihood, the head of the news service that published the story. Perhaps "news service" should be in quotation marks when referring to CNS.

My diagnosis: Back to journalism school for the whole CNS crew so they can learn basic concepts like the definition of news (hint: four-month-old stories don't fit that definition) and the appropriate use of anonymous sources.

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