Topic: Accuracy in Media
In a Feb. 13 Accuracy in Media attack on Helen Thomas, Wes Vernon not only engages in false rehashes of Clinton scandals, he does a little revisionist history on Jeff Gannon.
In a bullet-point list of supposed Clinton scandals Thomas allegedly didn't investigate, Vernon references "The unresolved questions surrounding the death of Vince Foster," ignoring that numerous investigations into the matter have determined that his death was a suicide. Vernon also cites:
The administration’s persecution of Billy Dale, White House Travel Office Director for three decades, in order to make way for Clinton cronies. Dale was falsely accused of embezzlement (for which he was found not guilty in a court of law). The ruined and disrupted lives of Dale and six other employees were of little concern to the Clintons.
In fact, the final report on "Travelgate" issued by independent counsel Robert Ray concluded not only that Clinton was within his rights to fire the Travel Office employees because the "served at the pleasure of President Bill Clinton, and they were subject to discharge without cause," there was evidence of financial irregularities under Dale's leadership:
Even were cause a prerequisite for the employees’ discharge, there was, at the time the firings occurred, evidence of financial mismanagement in the Travel Office. The audit of Travel Office operations by Peat Marwick KPMG had uncovered evidence relating to the handling of the petty cash account. The auditors had reported their findings to David Watkins. And, based principally upon the Peat Marwick report, the Federal Bureau of Investigation had determined that sufficient evidence existed to provide the requisite predicate for the opening of a criminal investigation.
Vernon further references "Bill Clinton’s rejection of an offer from Sudan to hand the U.S. Osama bin Laden on a platter." That's not true either: the 9/11 Commission found no reliable evidence to support the claim that Sudan made such an offers.
Vernon goes on to call President Clinton a " law-license losing perjurer" -- but Clinton was never charged, let alone convicted, of perjury. He also asserts that Clinton was "credibly accused of raping Juanita Broaddrick in Arkansas in 1978," but ignores that Broaddrick's credibility is, in fact, lacking.
That Vernon would cling to bogus Clinton scandals is no surprise -- remember, he used to work for Newsmax. But Vernon veers off into goofy territory when he unfavorably compares Thomas to ... Jeff Gannon. Yes, that Jeff Gannon.
Vernon regurgitates fellow AIM conspiracy theorist Cliff Kincaid's assertion that "left-wing bloggers" had "taken the scalp of an online conservative journalist" because he was deemed "too pro-Republican, attended White House briefings, and asked questions unfair to Democrats." Vernon added: "But Kincaid noted that Helen Thomas had been giving anti-Bush speeches disguised as questions at these briefings for years without any critical comment from the liberals."
Actually, the problem with Gannon is that his "news" reports were little more then rewritten Republican press releases, he served as the go-to guy for then-press secretary Scott McClellan when he needed an easy question to answer, as well as that the only relevant journalistic experience Gannon had was a two-day seminar hosted by the right-wing Leadership Institute.
Vernon also whitewashes Gannon's background, stating only that "was associated with some homosexual-sounding website addresses." It was a tad more than that: they were gay escort websites. Vernon added: "This line of attack was ironic given that Media Matters, which led the attack on Gannon, was founded by David Brock, a one-time closeted homosexual." No, it wasn't ironic, since, as we noted when Kincaid first made that claim, Media Matters was investigating Gannon well before his gay-escort history was uncovered.
Instead, Vernon faults the "left-wing blogosphere" for doing "a massive investigation of Gannon’s personal and family life," which allegedly resulted in "harassing phone calls to his mother who was in her seventies."
Demonstrating his support for a discredited right-wing hack, Vernon uncritically quotes Gannon's smear of Thomas, who likened respect given to a 88-year-old veteran reporter to people "aying respect to a Mafia don."
Of course, this may be a show of semi-professional courtesy as well -- this column unequivocally shows Vernon to be a discredited right-wing hack, too.