I'm as partisan a lefty as any of us here, but it really does bother me for any kind of misinformation to be widely disseminated in the blogosphere on either side. Since Ann Coulter's column this week clearly contains several fatal lies, I don't want to see it widely read. To that end, I wrote Powerline blog, who, you recall, endorsed her lies yesterday. Here's what I wrote them:
Today you say:
"It's no secret that the left in this country is becoming increasingly desperate. Ann Coulter points to one of the more deplorable manifestation of this desperation -- the "outing" of gay children of conservatives. The New York Times op-ed page serves as a primary vehicle for this practice. As Coulter points out, the left's message is plain --"stop opposing our agenda or your kids will get it."
Unfortunately, Ms. Coulter is wrong. Reading Ms. Coulter's column she doesn't actually quote any of the columns that are outing anyone. Looking in Lexis Nexis, I find a column by Dan Savage from Feb. 17 which talks about several gay relatives of prominent conservatives, but only ones that are already "out." They include Maya Keyes and Jamiel Terry, who both outed themselves; and Candace Gingrich, who was outed by her mother. Mary Cheney is referred to in passing, and we all know about that.
The verb "to out" is defined by Merriam Webster as
"2 : to identify publicly as being such secretly <wanted to out pot smokers>; especially : to identify as being a closet homosexual
intransitive senses : to become publicly known <the truth will out>"
Ms. Coulter is clearly wrong. You repeated her assertion.
Please correct the record and retract your assertion.
Mostly it's just stuff from my post yesterday, but I tried to be nice about it. You know, above board, show them the evidence, see if they'd maybe say something about it.
As of this morning, they hadn't updated their post, and they hadn't mentioned that they received my email. So I wrote them another one:
Yesterday afternoon I wrote to tell you that your statement, and Ann Coulter's statement, that the New York Times editorial page is engaged in "the "outing" of gay children of conservatives" is incorrect. Your post still remains in its original form. My original email is forwarded below.
The most cursory examination of the columns in question reveals that your statement, and Ann's statement, are incorrect.
I understand that you guys are as partisan as I am, but I assume you don't want your readers to get misinformation from your blog. To that end, I'd appreciate it if you'd correct the record. If not, please tell me why you won't.
As of yet they have not changed their post, mentioned anything about this, or responded to my email.
Why, you might ask, did I bother? Well, one problem with the right in this country is not just that their mainstream media figures lie, but that their side of blogosphere picks up on the lies and echos them. Surely no wingnut who read the Powerline post thought to do any research to see if the claim was true, so now they're running around thinking something that is demonstrably false.
And I suppose I would like to know why Powerline does this sort of thing. Coulter I don't really care about, because she's beyond credibility. But since Powerline receives emails and occasionally posts updates about things they write one, I would really like to know: why are they not correcting this lie? If the answer is that they're too lazy, fine. If the answer is that they don't care about the truth (as many of you have suggested), fine. If the answer is that they view blogging as a purely partisan excercise and so facts take second place to their overall goal, also fine.
But I would like to hear it from the horse's mouth.
If you have the same questions, you can ask them: email@example.com. Be polite if you do.
Media Matters has also picked up on Coulter's column. They come to similar conclusions about the lies, but in less detail than I have.
UPDATE: This is really an update that you'll want to read.