John on May 13, 2010 at 7:47 am
Lee Fang is a blogger at Think Progress who serves as a kind of poor man’s Eric Boehlert. His job seems to consist of making wild claims which are momentarily plausible enough to be picked up by ostensibly credible news sources like Paul Krugman, MSNBC, Nancy Pelosi and the DNC.
Yesterday, Fang put up a splashy post headlined: Telecoms’ Secret Plan To Attack Net Neutrality: Target Video Gamers And Stoke Fear Of Chinese Censorship The occasion of the post was resistance to Net Neutrality on Capitol Hill. If you’re not familiar with Net Neutrality, it’s basically an attempt to have the government regulate Internet Service Providers. In any case, the big gotcha in Fang’s post was a top secret, never before revealed Power Point presentation:
ThinkProgress has obtained a PowerPoint document which reveals how the telecom industry is orchestrating the latest campaign against Net Neutrality.
Sounds ominous, don’t you agree? Only it turns out the PowerPoint was not created by the telecom industry but by a group of students working on a project:
In a case of truth being stranger than astroturf, it turns out that the PowerPoint document was prepared as a class project for a competition in Florida last month. It cost the six students a grand total of $173.95, including $18 for clip art.
Not only was the PowerPoint document presentation no secret, but it was posted publicly on the competition’s blog, along with an audio recording of the event in Miami where the student contestants presented their ideas to the judges.
In an update to his CNET post, Declan McCullagh notes that he asked Fang for evidence that the telecoms even knew about this student project? Of course Fang being Fang has nothing. In fact, that’s his trademark, his signature if you will.
Last Summer Fang had a breakout hit with a post claiming that Tea Parties were Astroturf. As I explained here, Fang’s case didn’t hold up to even mild scrutiny. Click on his supporting links and you find they don’t even say what he says they do. But that didn’t stop Paul Krugman and Nancy Pelosi (among many others) from trumpeting his bogus claims.
Just to make it clear how bogus the claims were I interviewed Brendan Steinhauser, the man Fang claimed was pulling the puppet strings, here. To put it mildly, Fang’s claims of Astroturfing were unsupported by the facts.
But Fang had an even bigger hit later in the summer with this post. This time, he claimed that a secret memo [he likes secret memos a lot!] revealed a right wing plan to infiltrate and disrupt Democratic town hall events. The secret memo got lots of play on the left until Mary Katherine Ham revealed the truth. The memo had been distributed by a small time libertarian in Connecticut to a grand total of 10 people. No one on the national scene had ever heard of him, much less his memo. And contrary to Fang’s claim, the author had no connection to Freedom Works.
Also, it’s worth remembering that even as Fang was writing this tendentious trash, HCAN (a genuine organizational behemoth of the left) was distributing their own strategy memo nationwide. It included advice such as:
It is important that you take away right-wingers opportunities to talk to reporters by making sure that your staff or leaders are in constant contact with the media who attend.
Not surprisingly, Think Progress had nothing to say about that.
In a better world, all of us could just ignore Lee Fang. But as long as Nancy Pelosi, Paul Krugman and other high profile leftists continue to rely on his output, we have to pay attention. He is the left’s favorite fabulist.