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Saturday, December 8, 2007
NewsBusters Misleads on Prof's Hillary Link
Topic: NewsBusters

A Dec. 7 NewsBusters post by Seton Motley attacks a politicial science professor who was not appropriately effusive about Mitt Romney's religion speech as a "Hillary plant" -- because, apparently, anyone who didn't call the speech the greatest thing since sliced bread must automatically be assumed to be on Hillary's payroll -- but he doesn't tell the full story.

Motley wrote that Costas Panagopoulos was "rightly (if only partially) identified as 'a political science professor at Fordham University,'" adding:

There is only one little problem with going to this guy for his thoughts on all things either Romney, Republican or Rodham: he is an ex-Hillary Clinton staffer.

How do we know this?  How did we ferret out this subterranean knowledge?  We checked his website's biography.  Second paragraph, first sentence.

We are positively exhausted after the extensive, laborious effort to track down this tidbit.

We checked the bio too, and it seems that Motley was too tuckered out from his effort to properly cite and put into context Panagopoulos' link to Hillary. From the bio:

Dr. Panagopoulos was selected by the American Political Science Association as a Congressional Fellow during 2004-2005, and he served in the office of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY).

What is the APSA congressional fellows program? It describes itself as "the nation's oldest and most prestigious congressional fellowship. ... For nine months, select political scientists, journalists, doctors, federal executives and international scholars gain 'hands on' understanding of the legislative process by serving on congressional staffs." The program as it applies to political scientists like Panagopoulos "give[s] early- to mid-career political scientists an opportunity to learn more about Congress and the legislative process through direct participation."

In other words, Hillary didn't hire Panagopoulos; he was on a research fellowship that placed him in her office, and it likely didn't matter to him which member of Congress he worked for. In fact, one could argue that it was in recognition of Panagopoulos' skills as a political scientist that he was placed with such a high-profile congressperson as Clinton. For Motley to dismiss Panagopoulos as a "Hillary plant" is disingenous and even false, since he offers no evidence that Clinton is sending Panagopoulos out to speak for her.

While Motley bashes Panagopoulos' "analytical stylings" on Romney's speech, he doesn't contradict any of them, and the one quote Motley cites -- in which he points out that Romney was trying "to placate voters who are apprehensive about him as a Mormon or as a flip-flopper" and added, "But I am not convinced he was successful in doing either" -- is not exactly a partisan observation.

We've previously noted Motley's cheap shots against journalists. If he keeps this up, he will earn himself a place with Mark Finkelstein, Noel Sheppard and Warner Todd Huston as the subject of a highly coveted NewsBusted profile.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:03 PM EST

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