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Lee Fang: Deception or Incompetence?

John on July 16, 2010 at 4:34 pm

Lee Fang has made a career out of twisting statements outside of their actual context and using them against conservatives. This time he has really outdone himself. He offers a minute long video demonstrating the racism of the Tea Parties. But as is often the case with Fang’s work, there are a few problems:

Activist 1 is being smeared as a racist by Think Progress, even though he was attending a tea party event with his black wife and bi-racial son. It takes a lot of nerve to edit a video so dishonestly that what remains is the opposite of what the speaker intended. Here is what Activist 1 actually said in the full video recording:

Barack Obama’s just a bad guy. That’s all I can say. He’s… he’s too black to be president. And you look at the color of my wife, it’s not the color of his skin that troubles me, it’s not the blackness of his skin that troubles me.

It’s the blackness inside his heart. He’s a bad guy.

Think Progress takes an obviously not racist man and edits him into a villain.


That’s bad but what he does next is worse:

Activist 2 is a favorite of Think Progress, and no wonder: he says exactly what they hoped to hear a tea partier say, exclaiming: “I’m a proud racist, I’m white.” Think Progress liked this clip so much they played it not once, but twice.

The problem is, Activist 2 isn’t a tea party protester. He is a tea party crasher.

Think Progress is well aware of this, as they pulled the few seconds of video from a nearly six-minute video of actual tea party protesters singling him out for scorn and chasing him away!

There’s more. Click over to PJM to read the rest of Bob Owens excellent post.

This is not the first time Fang has been intentionally dishonest (or blindingly incompetent, take your pick) in his postings at Think Progress. In May he announced he had proof of a secret plan by Telecom companies to stifle Net Neutrality. Only it turned out his proof–a Power Point presentation–was part of a student project. Asked by CNET to prove that anyone in the telecom industry was even aware of this Power Point, Fang had nothing to offer.

Before that, Fang discovered a secret memo which supposedly proved that the Tea Party had a confrontational plan to shout down opponents at Town Hall events. It sounded good, but Mary Katherine Ham spoiled the fun when she revealed that the super-secret strategy memo had been sent out by a small time Connecticut libertarian who had relayed his plan to a total of 10 people. His connection to the Tea Party consisted of 2 posts on a forum page.

Then there was Fang’s Tea Party astroturfing claim which got repeated by Paul Krugman. That one was also bogus.

In short, this latest smear job isn’t an accident, it’s just how Lee Fang operates: Start with a lie or half-truth and spin it into something plausible enough to generate progressive fervor and/or pushback for one or two news cycles. Then when the truth comes out, pretend not to notice and move on to the next thing.

I wonder…how does an ostensibly serious analyst like Matt Yglesias continue to share a masthead with Lee Fang? It’s not like we’re talking about one blown story. That can happen to anyone. This is a clear pattern of either a) deception or b) incompetence. Either way, Fang should be looking for a new job.

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