November 20, 2015

"It starts with a claim that’s ambiguous at best, fabricated at worst, and then interpreted in the most invidious possible light."

"The claim is reported in one outlet and amplified on Twitter. Other outlets then report on the report, repeating the claim over and over again. Talk radio picks it up. Maybe Fox News follows. Eventually the story achieves a sort of ubiquity in the right-wing media ecosystem, which makes it seem like it’s been confirmed. Soon it becomes received truth among conservatives, and sometimes it even crosses into the mainstream media. If you watched the way the Clintons were covered in the 1990s, you know the basics of this process. If you didn’t, you’re going to spend the next year—and maybe the next nine years—learning all about it."

Michelle Goldberg, on the Laugh Factory controversy. For the record, I was skeptical yesterday, when the story broke.

Goldberg talked to Jamie Masada, the owner of the Laugh Factory:
Masada told me that on Nov. 11, he got a call from a man named John—he doesn’t remember the last name—who sounded “distinguished, like an attorney.” John said he represented the Clinton campaign. He asked Masada “who had put him up” to posting the video. In a menacing voice, he told Masada, “This is not good for your business.” John then asked for the email or phone numbers of the five comedians who were featured in the video. “I told him, ‘Eff you,’ and I hung up,” says Masada.

How does Masada know that John was actually from the Clinton camp? He doesn’t. “I’m glad I’m not in politics or any of that stuff; you might know more than I do,” he says. “Maybe it was a prank, I have no idea. Was it real? Not real? I have no idea. He didn’t call back, that’s all I can say.”
This answers the main question I had. Was there a real threat? The words were not a threat and could be understood as an attempt to persuade. And, on the substance, it is persuasive: Don't brand Laugh Factory with a montage that seems put together to attack one political candidate whom a lot of potential customers like and, especially, don't attack a female with low-aiming jokes about how she's not a proper women within a sexist template that denigrates women who are not young, feminine, chaste, and heterosexual.

Ah, but it was said in "a menacing voice." A sophisticated threatener — "like an attorney" — would refrain from using words that state a threat, as in the classic "Nice family you got there"-type statement. So it's something. It is what it is. Maybe Masada can get the call traced. Who knows who this "John" character is. Let's try to keep our wits about us, eh?

61 comments:

Gahrie said...

Why is anybody still giving Hillary the benefit of a doubt?

David said...

I'll go with Fake but Accurate for 100. Sounds like something her people would do. (See, everyone can play that game.)

Laslo Spatula said...

"Don't brand Laugh Factory with a montage that seems put together to attack one political candidate whom a lot of potential customers like..."

Heaven Forbid.

Let's keep the jokes to the politicians that we Unlike.

That way we can all synchronize our applause at how the jokes poke fun at that Guy All Cool People Dislike.

Uou know, just like in the Bush years.

Or Saturday Night Live for the last decade or two. Or three.

I am Laslo.

sydney said...

So it was all a vast right wing conspiracy. Riiiight.

Expat(ish) said...

To be fair, four years ago who would have believed that the IRS would go after conservative PAC's?

-XC

MikeR said...

Goldberg is definitely right, because all the claims against Mrs. Clinton are probably just like this one.
Odd that she didn't publish this article about Clinton's lucrative speaking activities, or about her serial enabling of her husband's abuse of women, or her carelessness with classified information, or her threatening a man who made a video.
Or maybe Goldberg managed to find one claim that had little merit, and is trying to use it to downgrade all the other claims.

hawkeyedjb said...

Using our revered universities as a template for dealing with this crime, don't we have to turn the world upside down seeking justice and reconciliation? And institute a new bureaucracy to make sure this never never never happens again? Why all the skepticism all of a sudden?

Bruce Hayden said...

Yeh - either real or fake but accurate. This sort of thing is the type of things that Hillary and her crowd would do, which is why are it worked. As someone pointed out yesterday, the infamous Citizens United case involved shutting down an anti-Hillary film before an election. She is famously thin skinned, and well known to do what it takes to take out those working against her.

Fabi said...

Obviously they threatened Goldberg so that she would concoct that cover story! It's invidious!

CWJ said...

Let me get this straight. Juicy gossip abetted by numerous modern channels/media that strikes a chord in a subset of the population goes "viral" as they say with insufficient nuance and effort to substantiate? Do tell!

What a blinding glimpse of the obvious, and a fair description of the behaviour of the professional news media as well. Michelle Goldberg is just happy to have a right wind, fox news, talk radio example to flog.

chickelit said...

I remember Michelle Goldberg for spearheading the campaign that smeared Palin. So she probably does know what she's talking about, even though she projects.

Ann Althouse said...

"Let's keep the jokes to the politicians that we Unlike."

Note the difference between:

1. providing a stage for individual comedians to make their jokes and allowing them free rein to joke about whatever they can make funny enough to cause laughing

2. putting clips of excellent sequences of jokes up on YouTube to brand Laugh Factory

3. making a montage of several comedians where the featured clips are ones that attack a particular politician and the jokes are low-level and not political but just sexist tripe and putting that on YouTube to brand Laugh Factory

It's #3 that actually wasn't a very good idea and that Masada might have been talked out of.

Temujin said...

Of course this would never have happened. We all just assume the worst of the Clinton's, don't we?

By the way, anybody have a copy of 'Path to 9/11'? Anybody know where you can find one? Just one stinkin' copy of the mini-series loosely based on the great book, "The Looming Tower"? A mini-series that cost millions to produce and brought to ABC for national viewing?

The only video in history to be 'disappeared'. The Clintons did not approve of this movie and requested that it never see the light of day again.

They regularly censor the press in interviews going so far as to give them the question list. They regularly pressure media on how and what to report. So- this might be a little preposterous that they'd call a comedy club to censor them, but it's not out of their wheelhouse.

Matthew Sablan said...

Honestly, it sounds less like Judicial Watch made something up and ran with it, as they were given a much less skeptical version from Masada. If he wants to back off his initial claims or clarify them, that's fine.

dreams said...

The IRS is the way to deal with those who treat the Dems with less than respect.

Rick said...

It's interesting that the question of who did this remains completely open but Goldberg and the left now consider it conclusive the story is "false".

Did anyone ever believe she made the threat personally? Even Goldberg's article claims no. That's all this story proves "false".

mikee said...

It is the seriousness of the charge that requires a response from the accused, per the Dem playbook, and proof of the charge can catch up later, if ever.

The Dems are charged with attempted censorship.

It is up to every Democrat, from Obama and Hillary down to the lowliest welfare recipent, individually and as a group, to state unequivocally that they each absolutely support making fun of Hillary.

Otherwise they are as a group and individually to be condemned as censorship enablers.

THAT is how the Dems require public shaming be done, so they better get to apologizing.

David Carlson said...

I called this for the bullshit that it is in the last thread.

waiting for my apology from @derp, @drego et al.

not expecting to actually get one.

holdfast said...

Harry Reid taught me that lying in the service of politics is not lying at all.

holdfast said...

How much is Media Matters For America paying Michelle Goldberg? Or is the funding via the Clinton Foundation/Hedge a Fund?

rhhardin said...

You could wind up like Vince Foster.

Bob Boyd said...

It's hard to believe the caller was just a helpful citizen concerned that the Laugh Factory was making a branding error.
It could have been anybody. We don't know the caller was associated with the campaign or if they were, that Hillary had any knowledge of the call or the video.



Wasn't the whole Citizens United thing, at bottom, an attempt to quash a negative film about Hillary in an election year?

holdfast said...

Path to 9/11 is on Ebay. Can't stop the signal.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/THE-PATH-TO-9-11-VERY-RARE-DVD-UNEDITED-VERSION-UN-CUT-PATH-TO-911-/252171266454?hash=item3ab6942996:g:DhAAAOxy7S5R78xS

Sebastian said...

"could be understood as an attempt to persuade"

Funny stuff.

If it's a fake-but-accurate story, I'm sure Hollywood will be right on it.

Birkel said...

Can anybody suggest a reason to support this Clinton beyond her chromosomes?

And if that is her only alleged qualification, how is it "low-level" or "sexist tripe" to confront her campaign on its only distinguishing issue?

Maybe if she alleged her other successes in life... Never mind.

Terry said...

Oh, God, it's Salon. The money losing toy publication of a billionaire investment banker.
Maybe Goldberg can write a story about how Fox actually makes money in the political media business?

Laslo Spatula said...

"3. making a montage of several comedians where the featured clips are ones that attack a particular politician and the jokes are low-level and not political but just sexist tripe and putting that on YouTube to brand Laugh Factory"

Hillary Clinton: she's Pro-Choice, but still chose not to abort the baby she had with Webb Hubbell, so that says something.

People make fun of how Hillary dresses, but that is only because the 'Queen Elizabeth Collection' doesn't come in her size. I don't mean to imply that she is fat: she is just bigger than Queen Elizabeth. Because: English food sucks.

Hillary COULD wear the RuPaull Collection. With some alterations. For instance, she is not as tall as RuPaul. And Hillary has bigger balls. I mean 'balls' in the Brave Political Way. Like talking about the balls of Caitlyn Jenner. Say.

People criticize Hillary for putting up with her husband's sexual antics. C'mon, people: it is not like she herself physically held them down. Bill had the Arkansas Police for that.

A lot of people insinuate that Hillary is a lesbian, but I think that is just because of those photos on the internet of her with the strap-on cock. I bet most of those were Photoshopped.

Hillary is often described as shrill. I don't think that is fair. Just because something is accurate doesn't mean it's fair. Even the fat kid gets a trophy.

People are worried about Hillary's age, that her health might not be up to the strains of the Presidency. Like Governor Christie would make four years without a heart attack. Me, I'm not worried about Hillary's age: many alcoholics live a long life.

Maybe Hillary ISN'T an alcoholic. Maybe she could quit the hooch at any time. I say let sleeping dogs lie. If Hillary can be so corrupt as a drunk imagine what she could do sober.

A Google search result for 'Hillary cankles' gets about 33,300 results. That means there are at least 30,000 people with too much time on their hands. And another 3,300 that have had a good look at her ankles.

People criticize Hillary that she hasn't really done anything in her political career, then worry she'll do too much as President. Be consistent people: just because you are President doesn't mean you can go ahead and do anything you want. Wait. I'm not sure if this is a Hillary joke or an Obama joke.

I am Laslo.

pst314 said...

"For the record, I was skeptical yesterday, when the story broke."

For the record, Ann, you were skeptical about whether such a phone call from a Clinton operative would constitute intimidation: "How could the campaign put him out of business? By what method, exactly? I'd like to know."

Christy said...

Back when Hillary ran for Senate she walked in the NYC St. Patrick's Day parade. A pal of mine was standing there quietly with her opponent's poster when someone nearby yelled an obscenity at her. Men immediately swarmed my pal, glaring and snapping his picture. Very intimidating. I always assumed they were her henchman because surely the Secret Service would have had their eyes on the crowd and seen what happened. Now that we know the Secret Service isn't so competent I'm willing to reconsider. Okay, I've thought about it. Nasty intimidation, threats, are entirely consistent with the character of the woman we've known for decades. She has created a culture of intimidation in her circle. Someone wanting an "Attaboy!" from her did make that call. Does it matter whether or not it was an Attorney? Or just a well spoken man with a voice of authority? Why would anyone outside her circle care enough to make the call?

Unknown said...

I'm ready to require all news reports to be factually correct. Maybe some kind of law that allows any reader to prosecute for being given facts in error. If it can't be proven, it shouldn't be promoted as "news." If it's an opinion or a conclusion and identified as an editorial, it needs something like a "trigger warning."

Michael Fitzgerald said...

Hands up, don't shoot.

Once written, twice... said...

The Hillbillies eat this anti-Clinton shit up like Cherrios.

Writ Small said...

It seems we increasingly electronically dwell on tiny, self-reinforcing islands.

Stephen Colbert and Mark Levine make their ideological opponents seem beyond ridiculous, so we start to look for apostates closer to home. Liberal minorities find "oppression" in liberal college professors. Conservatives spend way more time exposing "heretics" than looking for converts. It's not a good trend, and I don't see what's going to reverse it.

Gahrie said...

3. making a montage of several comedians where the featured clips are ones that attack a particular politician and the jokes are low-level and not political but just sexist tripe and putting that on YouTube to brand Laugh Factory

It's #3 that actually wasn't a very good idea and that Masada might have been talked out of.


Really? If it had been a Republican it would simply have been business as usual.

Wilbur said...

No, actually the Hillbillies (particularly Jethro) conspicuously ate Kelloggs Corn Flakes, as it sponsored the show for several years.

boxty woot said...

Why can't they identify this "John" character from their phone records? Is that so hard to do these days?

LYNNDH said...

The Dems use Fake but True all the time against Republicans/Conservatives/Tea Party adherents. So why not use that against them.
In the story change Fox to MSNBC and Conservatives to Progressives and it works just as well.

William said...

There are many, many claims against the Clintons that are neither ambiguous nor fabricated. How can someone even write a sentence like that?.......,,Jefferson, Jackson and, now, Wilson have seen a considerable depreciation in their reputations in recent times because of their thoughts and deeds about race. I predict that a hundred years hence the Clintons' reputation will undergo a similar crash. Whatever lofty sentiments they express about the rights of women is contradicted by their deeds. You simply can't rape women and be a feminist.......Well, Tolstoy got away with it, but he never claimed to be a feminist and, in later years, he tried to do penance for his sins instead of opening a franchise of Tolstoy approved brothels.

The Cracker Emcee said...

"I called this for the bullshit that it is in the last thread.

waiting for my apology from @derp, @drego et al.

not expecting to actually get one. "

Where has it been proven to be bullshit? As soon as Goldberg screamed "Fox News" she made it obvious she's the same old flack.

William said...

Many of the charges against the Clintons were neither ambiguous nor fabricated. How is it even possible to write a sentence like that without calling attention to their many proven episodes of shabby behavior......,I predict that in one hundred years time feminists will look upon the Clintons the way black activists look upon Woodrow Wilson. You simply can't speak for the rights of women and be a rapist or rapist enabler.

eric said...

Why are reporters so not curious about this story?

Let's say its not Clinton, or rather, Clinton's campaign. Wouldn't that be reflected in the phone number? This Goldburg lady sure isn't curious, is she? How about you look and see who called via caller ID and then trace down the owner of the phone number? If there is no caller ID, because it was blocked or something similar, why not tell us that avenue is closed?

But, Althouse already suspected this was false, so, her belief is confirmed by Michelle Goldburg. No reason to look any further or be skeptical.

And we already know from what Althouse has written, even if it were from the Clinton campaign, so what? It's just speech trying to counter speech. Nothing to see here. Move along.

FullMoon said...

Poor Hillary!
Here is a well respected comedian's opinion of Sarah Pallin.
Cue the applause sign;



“When she was standing on that stage at the f*cking convention holding a baby that just came out of her f*cking, disgusting c*nt… her f*cking retard-making c*nt. I hate her more than anybody…

Louis C.K. on 09/01/2010:
“I want to rub my father’s c*ck all over Sarah Palin’s fat tits.”
Sources: Twitter | Web Archive

Louis C.K. on 09/01/2010:
“@SarahPalinUSA kudos to your dirty hole, you f*cking jackoff c*nt-face jazzy wondergirl”
Sources: Twitter | Web Archive


Louis C.K. on 09/01/2010:
“people think that sarah Paalin is really mean but she has a family of chinese poor people living in her c*nt hole. sorry.”
Source: Twitter | Web Archive

Louis C.K. on 07/08/2010:
“…I like CAPS because their [sic: they’re] BIG like Sarah Palin’s father’s VAGINA.”
Sources: Twitter | Web Archive


Louis C.K. on 06/08/2010:
“I’m not going to say anything about Sarah Palin this time. Because really it’s not that interesting that both of her tits are disgusting.”
Sources: Twitter | Web Archive

Louis C.K. on 06/08/2010:
“I just want to say that Sarah Palin has NEVER eaten ANY babies. I know that for a fact. But she’s still a c*nt. But I really respect her.”
Sources: Twitter | Web Archive

Louis C.K. on 05/24/2010*:
“did you know that the world’s bee population is disappearing? do you know why? because Sarah Palin is such a c*nt. the bees have had it.”
Sources: Twitter | Web Archive

Louis C.K. on 05/22/2010*:
“also sorry i said that sarah pallin needs a penis cake shoved up her hairy, smelly asshole. oh wait i hadn’t said that yet. anyway sorry.”
Sources: Twitter | Web Archive


Plenty more where these came from

Drago said...

I am pondering what it is precisely David Carlson is demanding an apology for.

Perhaps he might specify the transgressions.

Though I doubt that he will.

chickelit said...

@FullMoon: Thanks for reminding us of all those old Palin jokes that Michelle Goldberg objected to, not.

John Henry said...


Blogger Terry said...

Oh, God, it's Salon. The money losing toy publication of a billionaire investment banker.

Isn't Salon the money losing publication of the wife of a billionaire investment banker?

Something he bought her so she would not get bored being just another trophy wife?

John Henry

Matthew Sablan said...

"I called this for the bullshit that it is in the last thread. "

-- You made a guess that had no bearing on the evidence we had at the time [that Masada identified the person conclusively as the person from the Clinton campaign, but refused to be specific.] The information has changed [he now no longer can positively identify the person, which was a key part of why the Judicial Watch story had legs.]

In short, either he back tracked, was unclear in talking to the original source, or they misquoted him and he has decided not to argue he was misquoted, simply offered to clarify his statement -- which leads me to think the actual chain of events was miscommunication on his part.

So, congrats. By refusing to accept the facts as they stood, you stumbled into being right. As I said there: The only way to NOT believe the story required you to assume Masada was wrong, lying or in some way the original report was wrong. If the facts were as Masada was originally quoted, then there was no denying the story. Turns out, Masada was unclear, and now we're back at point zero. Every now and then blind, partisan hope-guessing turns out right.

cubanbob said...

Just a guess but does anyone have any evidence that Goldberg doesn't think Dan Rather was telling the truth? The IRS did harass TEA Party activists, no reason to believe the proven sleazy Clinton people wouldn't use a little muscle.

John Henry said...

And we already know from what Althouse has written, even if it were from the Clinton campaign, so what? It's just speech trying to counter speech. Nothing to see here. Move along.

It is Althouse, ignore it.

Ann is all in for Hillary. Anyone says anything bad about Hilary, Ann will contest it.

How come we never hear anything here about Hilary's health? Is she physically competent to be president? Or mentally, for that matter. How badly did her stroke affect her grey matter?

Nope, nothing to see here. There will never be a post about Hilary's health in Ann's blog.

Lots of rumors over the years of Hilary's drinking. I don't recall ever seeing it mentioned here in the 7-8 years I've been regularly reading.

Ann will protest her cruel neutrality but she is all in for Hilary. Nothing wrong with that, it's what makes horse races. Just deal with it and take it into account about anything posted about Hilary here.

John Henry

John Henry

David Carlson said...

wow, just wow.

I made a conclusion based on no evidence? WHAT?

THERE WAS NO EVIDENCE AT ALL. You all jumped to an unsupported conclusion because someone rang the Clinton bell.

I pointed that out, listing a number of options all of which were more logical conclusions based on the complete lack of evidence.

There was a business owner who played all of you to generate free publicity

Your were owned.

holdfast said...

Michelle Goldberg has made something of a career out of being very incurious about anything which might be inconvenient for her. More of a Journo-List than a journalist.

Derp said...

Yesterday it was nothing according to the DNC trolls, today the Clinton war room fifty centers are still insisting it was nothing, but it turns out it is something.

Anonymous threats are the sad lot of those who cross the Clintons as has been shown time and again.

Derp said...

Kevin Drum sure twisted the facts around yesterday, didn't he?

mikee said...

Still, Hillary did lie to the faces of the families of the Benghazi victims, in front of the caskets, about the cause of the attack. And sent out Susan Rice days later to spread that lie. All for a momentary political advantage.

Hillary did tell the entire US to believe her about a Vast Right Wing Conspiracy instead of their own lying eyes about her husband being a serial adulterer, rapist, sexual harasser and liar under oath.

So we know she is vile, disgusting, corrupt and willing to do anything, no matter how evil or humiliating, for political gain and money.

I, for one, look forward to the revenge she will unleash as President upon those Republicans who didn't spend the last four years, and 2016, making sure that she did not win the Presidency. Because they damn sure well should have stopped her.

Drago said...

David Carlson: "wow, just wow................"

So, let's try again.

What, precisely, are you demanding an apology for?

Drago said...

David Carlson: "There was a business owner who played all of you to generate free publicity"

Hmmm.

Let's assume for a moment that your premise in this particular assertion is correct, how would "playing" a few posters on a blog site "generate free publicity"?

Feel free to show your work.

DC logic:
1) Comedy club owner makes statement
2) blog posters post comments
3) Profits!

Real American said...

When Tony Soprano tells you that you're doing something that is bad for your business, you're right in interpreting it as a threat. The Clintons have a long track record of destroying people who cross them. This was a threat.

Viking In Winter said...

@Temujin: Path to 9/11 is available out in the bitorrent space. Search torrentz.com

Sigivald said...

The claim is reported in one outlet and amplified on Twitter. Other outlets then report on the report, repeating the claim over and over again. Talk radio picks it up. Maybe Fox News follows. Eventually the story achieves a sort of ubiquity in the right-wing media ecosystem, which makes it seem like it’s been confirmed. Soon it becomes received truth among conservatives, and sometimes it even crosses into the mainstream media.

Yeah, that happens. And it probably happened here; I don't care if it "really was" someone from the Clinton campaign or just a stupid and ineffective stunt to ... what, get people on the Right to go to that comedy club? Somehow?

But it sure would be nice if anyone at Slate [and no, it's not really that particular article's job, so I'm not complaining that she didn't] realized the same thing happens on the Left, too, and that they're part of the problem on the Left.

I mean, this only got checked so thoroughly because it was Other Side information, right?

(This is bigger than Slate, of course.

I keep seeing self-congratulatory Progressives on Facebook mouthing off about "Faux News!!!!", while they're utterly gullible and partisan in their own honestly-just-as-faulty-if-not-worse media sources.

[And people who wallow in WND or HotAir swamps mocking MSNBC, for that matter.]

But those don't count, because they're not the wicked other.

I don't trust any news source enough to not double-check its claims with primary sources; pity more people aren't in the same boat.)

SGT Ted said...

""It starts with a claim that’s ambiguous at best, fabricated at worst, and then interpreted in the most invidious possible light.""

This is about the tape on the black faculty pictures, right?

William Chadwick said...

I'm shocked--shocked!--that anyone would even suggest that the Clintonistas would stoop to such tactics!

But I hope that the if guy who runs the Laugh Factory has a cat, he has placed it in a safe, undisclosed location.

Deja Voodoo said...

If you watched the way the Clintons were covered in the1990s, you know the basics of this process.
I did. I saw all the party hacks with bylines queuing up for their white-house-logo emblazoned kneepads.