One of the more despicable tactics in public discourse today is what I like to call “innuendo by inquiry.” You can get away with all sorts of wild accusations and plant all sorts of vile seeds by simply couching the allegation in the form of a question.
It’s despicable, but I can see its appeal. It’s great for lazy people, and it’s almost always guaranteed to be fun.
So I’m going to give it a whirl.
Apparently, last night Bill O’Reilly did a bit on George Soros and his funding of radical leftist groups, including Media Matters For America. (I say “apparently” because I didn’t see it myself, but the evidence it happened is pretty definitive.)
Naturally, Media Matters doesn’t care for this kind of attention. It’s in the finger-pointing business; we’re supposed to be looking at what it wants us to look at, not the finger-pointers themselves. Their most visible advocate in the blogosphere, Oliver Willis, who is “a member of the Technology and Online Community Department at Media Matters for America,” immediately threw a hissy.
Now here’s where I depart from what I know and engage in rampant speculation, carefully couched not as accusations, but questions.
1) Media Matters for America is, in their own words, a “Web-based, not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) progressive research and information center dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media.” As a registered not-for-profit organization, I believe their books are required to be open. O’Reilly says that they get their money from Soros, laundered through his puppet groups. They say that’s laughable. Why doesn’t someone just dig up their financial statements and put numbers and percentages on this whole thing?
2) Willis gets very bent out of shape when someone accuses him of using his blog to shill for Media Matters. He says that it’s simply complimentary, that his blogging is entirely his own and has nothing to do with his employer. Yet why do so many of his postings go up during regular business hours? I know I do the same, but I write my stuff in the morning and schedule it to publish at set times during the day. Does Oliver do the same, or is he blogging from the office, on company time? What is his employer’s policy on using company resources and company time for personal matters? Or do they turn a blind eye because they see his blogging as part and parcel of his job?
3) To be perfectly blunt, I’m at least three times the writer Willis is. How do I get on the gravy train? I’m tired of living paycheck to paycheck.
Again, none of these questions contain a single verifiable fact (unless otherwise unavoidable) and are simple inquiries and opinions and vague notions. Anyone who says otherwise is itching for a fight.