I’m not sure whether we should continue to be surprised by the outrageous claims made on the front page of the New York Times. I’d like to say that I wasn’t considering their miserable track record, but yet again, I have been utterly flabbergasted by the out-and-out refusal to acknowledge the truth about certain conservative politicians. On August 14, Times writer Eric Lichtblau published a front-page story questioning California Rep Darrell Issa’s business dealings – and whether he’s used his position in Congress to further his own enterprises.
I have twice in the pages of this blog made mistakes that I was called out for. When called out in a civil fashion, I have no trouble admitting when I have been wrong (and I’ve long since stopped trying to blog while also doing other things that split my attention). When I make an honest mistake, I have no trouble being respectfully corrected. Lichtblau, however, isn’t the first bleeding-heart liberal to willfully print multiple “errors” on the front page of the Times only to be defended by his equally-liberal editors, despite being proven wrong by at least three other left-leaning publications.
Besides, I’m a piss-ant little blogger. I have two jobs AND I go to school. Lichtblau likely very easily makes five times what I do in his profession, and writing is his entire job. I’d just about cut off my left foot to get paid to write full-time and be recognized and respected for my work. I’m conservative, though, so that’s about as likely as Nancy Pelosi switching parties.
The very first paragraph in the article heralds what may well end up being Lichtblau’s demise:
VISTA, Calif. — Here on the third floor of a gleaming office building overlooking a golf course in the rugged foothills north of San Diego, Darrell Issa, the entrepreneur, oversees the hub of a growing financial empire worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
Issa himself, the owner of the building in question, and every major news outlet that has covered the article’s incredible inaccuracies has called this out, yet here’s what Lichtblau himself had to say in an email to Rep. Issa:
“As for the office building, the leasing agents for Thibodou have advertised its views of the Shadowridge golf course. It appears that it’s certainly visible to the southwest from offices in the building.”
Here’s what Times editor Dean Baquet said to Politico:
“I don’t think it implied — at least to my mind — that Issa’s office overlooked the golf course…I think it is trying to give a sense that this is a building in a cool area. That’s the way I always read it. Otherwise it really would have said his office overlooked the golf course. That would have been even cooler to say.”
I don’t think Baquet actually read the article. Either that or he must have been the guy to first suggest Bill Clinton’s impeachment defense. If you like, take a look at the online brochure issued by the leasing agents of Issa’s office building – I don’t see one single reference to views of a golf course. Shadowridge golf course is over a mile away. Lichtblau claims that he visited the third floor and couldn’t see Shadowridge, but that he went to the golf course and could see the building. Exactly which advertisement was he looking at for his info?
That’s just the icing on the cake. There were multiple errors that I’d question whether Lichtblau really did any digging on.
-He claimed that Issa bought a property for $10.3M only to see it appreciate 60% to $16.6M after Issa secured earmarks for road and sanitation improvements surrounding the property. This is untrue. According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, Issa bought it for $16.6M and even took on a partial loan for the property, likely after the earmarks were secured at the behest of constituents. In a correction, the error was blamed on the San Diego County Assessor’s office.
-He claimed that a $19,000 investment in the AIM International Small Company Fund produced a 1900% windfall, reaping a $357,000 benefit. Untrue; Issa actually dropped half a million on the investment and lost $125,000 when he unloaded it. THAT particular faux pas was blamed on other faulty documents (there seems to be a pattern here).
-He called Issa’s original DEI Holdings – well-known for its production of the Viper alarm system – “a major supplier of alarms to Toyota” and used the claim to question his role in the Congressional hearings as “going too easy” on the automaker. This is also false. Toyota told the Union-Tribune that DEI is NOT, in fact, a Toyota supplier. Issa, in fact, had more questions than most, wanting to include ALL automakers and even question how $18M a year can be blown on a federal agency that is supposed to be watching out for these things.
-The Union-Tribune, while sending reporters to personally follow up on the dispute between Issa and Lichtblau, said they tried to gain access to the Shadowridge golf course to see if Lichtblau’s claim of being able to see Issa’s office building from there could be corroborated. Reporters say they were denied access – they said it was a private course.
He doesn’t mention that Issa’s family still resides in the home they purchased in 1990. According to the North County Times, he’s humble enough to do his own grocery shopping (something Sheila Jackson-Lee has staffers doing, even when she needs garlic pills). He and his wife live relatively frugally, driving cars 7 and 10 years old and flying coach on commercial airlines. He also donates his entire Congressional salary every year to his family’s foundation, which is run by his wife and son.
I’m sure Issa isn’t perfect. What about the more overt crooks in Congress’ midst? Let’s see something about the Times’ coverage of corruptocrat Charlie Rangel. He’s been caught procuring rent-controlled apartments for his home and campaign office in Harlem. He also used Congressional letterhead to solicit donations to a NYC College center to be opened in his name; when Nabors Industries faced the prospect of losing their tax shelters, they donated over $1M to that very college center and Rangel made an about-face, defending the tax shelters he’d previously questioned. He was caught reporting income levels at half of what he was actually earning, failing to declare worth in high-valued stocks and not paying taxes on multiple properties in New Jersey, and accepting “gifts” in the form of vacations to the Caribbean from the Carib News Foundation – a group that had multiple issues before the House Ways and Means Committee, which Rangel chaired. The Times has reported on the trials with a tinge of hope that he’d see a favorable outcome, with Kareem Fahim even writing that Rep. Peter King might even consider lowering the consequences and pointing out what Rangel wasn’t accused of. Where’s the witch-hunt for his head?
The Times rightly screamed bloody murder about the Abramoff Lobbying Scandal, but what about Maxine Waters? She arranged for board members of OneUnited Bank, which her husband owns stock in and once directed, to meet with officials from the Treasury Department to make a plea for TARP funds (which the bank didn’t qualify for) and an exemption from FDIC rules that is very rare. The bank neared insolvency when its investments in Fannie and Freddie went sour. The CEO was arrested in 2007 for possession of cocaine, and the bank was issued a cease and desist order over their highly risky practices. Waters circumvented all of that to secure illegal funds, then went on to have a provision added to the Dodd-Frank act (the same bill that whittled debit card swipe fees to almost nothing in a huge price-fixing scheme) that exempted minority-owned banks from new federal financial overhaul. That legislation would essentially back her actions as perfectly legal and would explain her office’s tap dancing act. She’s since had the unmitigated gall to accuse the House Ethics Committee of unethical behavior while fellow Democrats gum up the works by firing lawyers, ignoring subpoenas and refusing to hire new staffers necessary to hold the hearings. A deceptively titled Times article purported to question the minority provision to the Dodd-Frank Act but didn’t really question anything.
Where’s the down-and-dirty on her? Where are the bold statements that she’s corrupt and needs to be publicly called to account for her actions? You won’t find them on the pages of the Times.
Don’t even get me started on the Times’ coverage of Robert Byrd. That he was not corrupt is immaterial to me; once he passed on, there was not a single question raised by the Times about his past or the things he’d said. When Bill Clinton spoke at his memorial, he said, “he once had a fleeting association with the Ku Klux Klan, what does that mean? I’ll tell you what it means: he was a country boy from the hills and hollows of West Virginia. He was trying to get elected.” The Times never questioned that statement, not once. In reality, Byrd had organized the KKK chapter in his area, ardently seeking new members and organizing the group himself. It was a member of that group that suggested that he get into politics. If such a falsehood had been uttered in memoriam for conservative icons such as Bush, Coulter, Breitbart or Reagan, liberals would instantly be frothing at the mouth to correct the record.
Hell, when Sarah Palin made mention of partying “like it’s 1773”, it was as if liberals had ESP. I heard their screeching before I ever saw footage of her comment. When some educated soul pointed out that the original tea party protest took place on December 16, 1773 (the dumping of tea into Boston Harbor to protest taxation without representation), liberals still refused to let it go. I STILL hear liberals bitching about that comment, and it’s almost heart-warming to see the dejection on their faces when I point out what happened in 1773.
It seems to me that it would behoove a major newspaper to hire writers who care about getting their facts straight and editors willing to take them to task when they don’t. Instead, we get lies and barely halfhearted attempts to issue corrections and accompanying statements that support the original body of work. It’s a crying shame.