Tucker Carlson Digs Into the Journalistic Muck: The Ticker

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By Francis Wilkinson

Tucker Carlson's Daily Caller has published a series of reports on Media Matters for America and its leader, David Brock. It's an intriguing piece of work.

"An internal Media Matters For America memo obtained by The Daily Caller reveals that the left-wing media watchdog group employs an `opposition research team' to target its political enemies," the report states.

It's not clear why the Daily Caller needed a memo to learn this. Media Matters is a left-wing web site that was founded to  publish research that makes conservatives look bad. Opposition research isn't some byproduct of a secret plan. It's the whole reason the group exists. That's more or less the point that Jonathan Chait made earlier this week.

But in addition to pointing out the obvious, the Daily Caller series cites bizarre behavior by Brock, who is portrayed as a paranoid fearful of being assassinated. The Daily Caller states that its reporting is based on "extensive interviews with a number of Brock’s current and former colleagues at Media Matters, as well as with leaders from across the spectrum of Democratic politics."

It's not every day that you see committed lefties and liberals from "across the spectrum of Democratic politics" handing over dirty partisan laundry to a conservative web site run by a well-known conservative celebrity. It seems Washington is not nearly as polarized as we've been led to believe; here we find a legion of left-wingers eager to let bygones be bygones, reach across the divide and assist the conservative cause.

Remarkably, these inside sources were not only happy to dish dirt on Media Matters. They also jumped at the opportunity to tarnish the reputations of some liberal and not-so-liberal journalists.

"The entire progressive blogosphere picked up our stuff,” says a Media Matters source, “from Daily Kos to Salon. Greg Sargent [of the Washington Post] will write anything you give him. He was the go-to guy to leak stuff.” “If you can’t get it anywhere else, Greg Sargent’s always game,” agreed another source with firsthand knowledge.

Reached by phone, Sargent declined to comment.

Having dispatched Sargent to the ethical trash heap, via a "source" and a "source with firsthand knowledge," the story then quotes an anonymous "former staffer"  impugning the integrity of a long list of well-known journalists.

It's the darnedest thing, but the quotes about a "go-to guy" who is "always game" to be a political tool have a jaunty quality unlike the perennially aggrieved tone of Media Matters, whose staff seems forever in a snit. The language seems so college-spirited, so carefree, so cheesy. A lot like the Daily Caller, actually.

(Francis Wilkinson is a member of the Bloomberg View editorial board. Follow him on Twitter.)

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-0- Feb/15/2012 16:38 GMT