Reply to Colorado Media Matters

As I have reviewed, today the Colorado Springs Gazette summarized the dispute between radio host Jon Caldara and ProgressNow. At the Gazette’s web page, “bmenezes” states:

OK, we’ll ignore the fact you’ve reproduced a lie from Ari Armstrong; he wasn’t just a “volunteer” for the Independence Institute, he was both a research associate and author who wrote some two dozen articles for them over the past 10 years, in addition to producing articles under his Independence Institute guise for other websites such as that of the think tank’s research director.

Following is my reply:

That’s Right, Attack the Messenger…

Rather than deal with the facts that ProgressNow is hypocritical in its stance against Caldara and that “bitch slap” is not an offensive term as popularly used by leftist commentators such as James Carville, ProgressNow has chosen to attack the messenger. Note that what ProgressNow has NOT done is refute a single one of my claims on the matter. The facts are what they are, regardless of who discovered them.

It would be pleasant if “bmenezes” would refrain from libeling me. The fact that the title “research associate” was added to some of the articles that I wrote FOR FREE for the Independence Institute does not make me an employee; I have never lied about any part of this. Nor have I written anything under any “guise.”

And it turns out that “bmenezes” is Bill Menezes from Colorado Media Matters, the group that first criticized Caldara. (I know this because I called him.) If he’s so interested in me listing my associations, then why didn’t he list his affiliation with Colorado Media Matters in his comment to the Gazette?

As I write on my web page:

I was paid by the Independence Institute for work on one paper in 2005 on a contract basis; never was I an “employee” of the Institute. Beyond that, I’ve written various articles for the Institute on a strictly voluntary basis. But the claim is typical of the left, which, as the heir of Marx, holds that ideas are the products of one’s material conditions. Of course, the left never thinks to apply such standards to itself. If ProgressNow wishes to get uptight about my casual relationship with the Independence Institute — which, by the way, has nothing to do with Caldara’s radio show — then, by the same standard, mightn’t we ask whether ProgressNow is giving Westword a pass for using the term “bitch slip” twelve times because Michael Huttner of ProgressNow once worked as an intern for Westword? But I don’t buy such claims on either side. ProgressNow is merely trying to weasel its way out of its hypocritical stance by attacking the messenger.

Menezes claims that I am a liar based on his incorrect assumption that “Ari Armstrong is a former employee of the ‘free-market’ think tank,” as stated on another post by Colorado Media Matters. What Caldara actually said, as quoted by Colorado Media Matters, is this: “Ari’s been a good friend and has done some work at the Independence Institute over the years.” Yes, I’ve done some work “over the years” — some free work, in every case but one paper. And, by the way, I did mention the contract work to the Gazette, but what the Gazette publishes is up to the Gazette.

It is Bill Menezes who is the paid hatchet man. I wrote about the spat between Caldara and ProgressNow because it’s an interesting story. I have been paid not one cent for that work. (I may, however, cite the work in future fundraising efforts for my personal web pages.) What’s your salary with Colorado Media Matters, Bill Menezes? How much do you get paid for character assassination? In a follow-up call to Menezes, he refused to tell me his salary, on the grounds that I am a “known misinformationist.”

When I asked Menezes what are his grounds for making that statement, he claimed that I failed to reveal my ties to the Independence Institute on Peter Boyles’s radio show. But who cares? It literally never occurred to me, because that loose association has nothing to do with the spat between ProgressNow and Caldara. Moreover, that association is not some big secret, as a quick search of the Independence Institute’s web page reveals. Nor has Menezes been able to point to a single factual error that I’ve made regarding ProgressNow and the use of the term “bitch slap.”

Yesterday Colorado Media Matters posted a lengthy comment by “E.B.” that continues in the same vein.

“E.B.” states, “However, Boyles uncritically allowed Armstrong to omit reference to his work for Caldara at the Independence Institute.” Apparently, Boyles did not know of that association, so he didn’t think to ask. And “libertarian blogger Ari Armstrong failed to disclose that he was a contributing author and research associate at the ‘free-market’ Independence Institute, of which Caldara is president.”

“E.B.” continues: “Additionally, Armstrong falsely claimed that ‘the public’s radio waves’ are ‘owned by’ stations that ‘bought the waves up’; in fact, the Federal Communications Commission licenses use of the broadcast spectrum.”

Again, Colorado Media Matters is not breaking open some deep dark mystery. Everybody knows that the FCC issues radio licenses. As is obvious to anybody but the prejudiced hacks at Colorado Media Matters, by the phrase “bought the waves up,” I was referring to the fees that radio stations pay for those licenses. I make this point perfectly clear in my post of January 28:

Even though the radio waves are today “public” — i.e., nationally controlled by the FCC — properly radio waves should be private property. And the owners of a radio station, the same as the owners of a newspaper, should have the political right to set speech policy for the station.

It is simply impossible, when talking live in a discussion format, to state every single point in an exactly precise manner. Nobody can do that. Not me, and not Bill Menezes or “E.B.” It is simply not humanly possible. Yet “E.B.” did not grant my statements a remotely sympathetic interpretation. I did not precisely state that radio stations pay for licenses, but my obvious point was that radio stations have to spend a lot of resources to run a station, and, by rights, they should own their frequencies. But, as I suggested on the radio, the left is not happy with such a proposal, because the left wishes to impose censorship on radio stations.

The complaints of Colorado Media Matters against me are petty, stupid, and vindictive. Moreover, they are a cover to rationalize the unjust and hypocritical attacks by Colorado Media Matters and ProgressNow against Caldara. (Colorado Media Matters is also silly to attack me, an atheist who supports gay rights, the separation of church and state, open immigration, and legal abortion, as I often carry the water of the funders of Colorado Media Matters. But, no matter — I claim Caldara as a friend, and that is enough to demonize me.)

Menezes sent me the following e-mails just a bit ago, after I told him on the phone that I was calling to formally interview him:

From: bmenezesATmediamattersDOTorg
Subject: Followup from Bill Menezes
Date: January 30, 2008 12:08:36 PM MST
To: ariATfreecoloradoDOTcom

Ari,

Maybe I’d take you more seriously if you weren’t so obviously concerned with covering your tracks. The phone number you called me from is blocked so I have no way of returning the call, which isn’t surprising given how you concealed your ties with Caldara and the Independence Institute from Peter Boyles.

Plus, your question about my salary reinforces the idea that you’re concerned about red herrings and little else.

Bill Menezes
Editorial Director
Colorado Media Matters
720-219-1191 (o)

From: bmenezesATmediamattersDOTorg
Subject: What’s also really puzzling…
Date: January 30, 2008 12:48:17 PM MST
To: ariATfreecoloradoDOTcom

…is how rattled you apparently are about public disclosure of your ties to Caldara and the Independence Institute. One would think that somebody who has done as much work with them as you have in recent years would be touting such a relationship as if you were proud of it. Yet, you hide it in the shadows until it gets pulled out into the light of day. Why is that?

Bill Menezes
Editorial Director
Colorado Media Matters
720-219-1191 (o)

[In reply to my note about my reasons for concealing my number:]

From: bmenezesATmediamattersDOTorg
Subject: RE: Followup from Bill Menezes
Date: January 30, 2008 1:05:58 PM MST
To: ariATfreecoloradoATcom

Sorry, it’s easy to get taciturn when someone clearly is trying to pull a
fast one on you.

What on earth does my salary have to do with Jon Caldara’s use of misogynist
language?

Bill M.
Colorado Media Matters
720-219-1191

I have several responses to Menezes’s insane accusations. First, I concealed my phone number because I received a death threat some years ago (incidentally, for criticizing a right-winger). Second, I have concealed nothing about my associations. Third, it is extremely easy to get ahold of me, as I list my e-mail address on both of my web pages (as Menezes apparently discovered). Fourth, Menezes’s salary is relevant here, because he is claiming that I am biased by my loose association with the Independence Institute. If that’s the case, then, by his own standards, Menezes is obviously much more biased. (In fact, he is demonstrably biased, regardless of his affiliations.) Fifth, the entire complaint about Caldara’s use of the term “bitch slap” is a red herring!

One thought on “Reply to Colorado Media Matters

  1. Patrick Sperry

    Shooting the messenger is clearly what this is all about Ari. You being employed by II is like saying that when my wildlife pictures get published I am employed by those magazines… Go figure. There is a reason it is called “free lancing.”
    You caught those hypocrytes with their pants down. Too bad for them.

Comments are closed.