That which is true is always true. Regardless of what anyone believes, some things will always be true and others will always be false. Just 400 years ago, people believed that the Earth was flat and it would have been practically impossible to convince anyone otherwise. Just because the belief was widely held doesn’t make it true, however, and the fact remains that the Earth was as round in 1609 as it is today.
At any given point in time, popular belief may vary about what is and isn’t true, but there can never be any doubt about facts. This is a concept that far too many people in the conservative blogoshpere — as well as the right-wing pundits and opinion-makers who feed it — don’t seem to grasp. Case in point: the postal poseur who has had the good fortune to share the page with me, an actual journalist, in our beloved local daily paper.
For a long time, many of my readers and friends have been asking me to write something about “the Mailman,” but I refused. First of all, to refer to him by that nickname is an insult to former Lakers-Jazz forward, Karl Malone, in the same way it’s a diss to Hall of Fame linebacker Lawrence Taylor to refer to Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson as “L.T.”
Secondly, it was clear to me from his first few columns that this man is a bombastic one-trick pony and an intellectual snake oil salesman who is addicted to the “synonyms” feature on MS Word. He was obviously just trying to get a rise out of people and if there is one thing I learned growing up in a big family, it’s that the best response to a person like that is to ignore him. Nonetheless, I’m a firm believer in the idea that the exception makes the rule, so instead of responding to reader e-mails in this last column of the year, here is my open letter to — and the last time I acknowledge the existence of — Mr. Steve Breen:
Dear Mr. Breen,
You are an embarrassment to the profession of journalism and to the Santa Monica Daily Press as a news source. In your “Welcome to the Tea Party” column published on Oct. 7 of this year, you cited a source named Dan Bana and referred to him as the official spokesman of the National Park Service. You quoted Mr. Bana as saying that Glenn Beck’s teabaggers and their Sept. 12 tea party protest in Washington, D.C. was the “the biggest event ever” on the National Mall. You then posited that it was “bigger than even (President) Obama’s inaugural” and concluded that Mr. Bana’s statement and the pictures from that day mean that the number of people in the crowd was “therefore in excess of 2.2 million.”
Because I spend time bouncing around right-wing blogs and message boards, I know where you got your information. There are literally hundreds of Web sites where this claim has been made and I hate to break it to you, but the fact that you read something on the Internet doesn’t make it true — even if it is repeated over and over again. This is precisely why a real journalist doesn’t mindlessly write something without checking the factual accuracy of the statement via a real news source.
Had you done that, Mr. Breen, instead of re-printing something you heard in a partisan echo chamber like “American Thinker,” you might still have — or at least be able to salvage — some kind of credibility. Unfortunately for you, the National Park Service didn’t conduct their own count of the teabaggers or of President Obama’s inaugural — and it doesn’t employ anyone named Dan Bana. Sorry.
However, there is a National Park Service spokesman named David Barna who did make a statement about a crowd on the National Mall. What he actually said was that the Park Service would rely on a Washington Post account (which put the number of people at 1.8 million) and the quote was, “It is a record. We believe it is the largest event held in Washington, D.C., ever.” It’s dated Jan. 22, 2009 and, of course, refers to the 56th quadrennial Presidential Inauguration — which swore President Barack Hussein Obama into office.
There can only be two explanations for why you treated truth and factually accurate reporting like the proverbial red-headed stepchild in that column: you either didn’t know you were lying to the Daily Press’ readers or you didn’t care. If you were ignorant of the facts, then you’re a joke. If you were willfully negligent in your reporting, then you are a fraud. Take your pick.
Conservative blogger, Charles Johnson, summed up the right’s handling of this teabagger protest issue — and your attempt at being a columnist — perfectly. He called it “an epic, monumental fail.” As a real journalist, the best advice I can give you is this: don’t quit your day job.
America’s Smartest Columnist
Kenny Mack is a multi-platform content provider with four-quadrant crossover appeal who appreciates and respects his readers and wishes you all a happy, safe, and prosperous new year. His past columns are archived at www.ifyoumissedit.com and he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.