Who Is Gabriel Sherman? How the New System of Tax-Deductible Lefty Journalism Threatens All of Us -- Part I
Who is Gabriel Sherman? Who is he, and what forces does he represent? Those are questions worth answering, because they speak to the tactics and methods of the left wing in America today.
In his too-brief life, Andrew Breitbart always emphasized the importance of understanding how the left operates--the better to combat it. So we at Breitbart News, who seek to carry on Andrew’s work, feel a continuing obligation to expose the left and its ever-evolving methods.
And so we return to Gabriel Sherman, because his career provides a window into the mechanisms of the contemporary left. In particular, we can see how mainstream media journalism--shoddy, gossipy, and liberal, all at the same time--has now combined with tax-deductible foundations to further shape our politics and culture. Once again, as Andrew always knew, the right can’t expect to win if it can’t analyze, and expose, how the left plays its tricks and works its will.
Breitbart News’ December 21 article, “Soros-Backed Attack Dog Expands War on Fox,” was a part of that figuring-out process. The piece has received more than 1100 Tweets and more than 850 Facebook shares, obviously generating a good chunk of buzz. Yet more than a few readers seemed to have no familiarity with Sherman.
That unfamiliarity will soon change, because Sherman is the author of a forthcoming book on Roger Ailes and Fox News, The Loudest Voice in the Room. The book, scheduled for publication in 2013, is billed as “an inside account of the rise of Fox News.”
And here’s what “inside account” means to the MSM: Sherman is going to go after Ailes, big time.
In light of Sherman’s track record as a journalist--more on that soon--his book will be full of gossip and “blind” quotes. That is, quotes that can’t be verified--and we know what that means.
Yet at the same time, Sherman’s book will advance the liberal-left line: Fox New is “Faux News,” Ailes is nothing more than a hack Republican operative, and Rupert Murdoch is a cancer on the country.
That’s what the liberal-left MSM wants to hear, and wants to distribute. And so any up-and-coming apparatchik had better deliver. And as we shall see, the MSM, chronically losing money in today’s freer media market, has now been reinforced by a new funding spigot: liberal foundations and think-tanks, which have gotten into the “journalism” game with both left feet.
For his part, Sherman has already shown that he can deliver the goods for his lefty paymasters. And so in his book next year, we can expect more such goods, as the left--deploying the combined power of the MSM and a big tax-exempt foundation--seeks to bury Fox News and its founder.
The outlines of Sherman’s thirty-something life can be found on his website. Suffice to say, he has enjoyed a typical career for an aspiring young New York City-based journalist, stringing together gigs at the New York Observer, Conde Nast Portfolio, and, now, New York magazine. New York is a B-list publication, to be sure, but it has long been seen as a farm team for A-list publications, including the New Yorker, Vanity Fair, and the New York Times.
But of course, young journos make that jump only if they can claim a conservative scalp or two. And Sherman has been doing his best.
Indeed, Sherman can take some share of “credit” for helping to spawn “Occupy Wall Street,” the guerrilla-theater “movement” that announced itself to great media fanfare in September, 2011.
Occupy Wall Street, as we know, immediately become a rallying cry for every aging hippie, every unemployed ACORN activist, every trust-fund junior radical--and every jaded reporter looking for a colorful class war to cover. And if OWS soon petered out into little more than a new place for the homeless to squat, it wasn’t, as we know, for lack of MSM cheerleading.
Meanwhile, a full two-and-a-half years before OWS debuted, Sherman had done his part to set the ideological table. In April 2009, he wrote a bile-filled attack on finance, hammering on the loaded “one percent” meme: “The Wail of the 1%. As the privileged class loses its privileges, a collective moan rises from the canyons of Wall Street.” Sherman inveighed against “petulance and snobbery” on the Street, and yet his larger theme was that the country’s anger at Wall Street was nothing compared to Wall Street’s anger at the country. That is, if Americans were mad about bailouts, Wall Streeters were mad about the public scorn--and possibly the higher taxes to come:
As populist rage has erupted around the country, stoked by canny politicians, an opposite rage has built on Wall Street and other arenas where the wealthy hold sway. Its expression is more furtive and it’s often mixed with a kind of sublimated shame, but it can be every bit as vitriolic.
Yet curiously, the very people Sherman was attacking all seemed to come through for him with juicy quotes--always anonymous, always ultimately supporting Sherman’s editorial line. Without fail, yakky Wall Streeters serve up the words that Sherman uses to hang them: “I’m not giving to charity this year!” thundered another usefully unknown figure, complaining about high taxes, metaphorically twirling his mustache.
Yes, so-called “blind quotes” have their place in journalism, but such a technique can work only if the reader can trust the journalist. Otherwise, blind quotes are merely a venue for anonymous venting--or for reportorial inventing. The journalistic term for inventing a quote is “piping,” as in, “He piped that quote.”
Suspicions that Sherman was, in fact, a quote-piper were further raised a month later, in May 2009, when he published a nasty profile on Matt Drudge for the New Republic, entitled "Underground Man." The sub-headline of that piece read, “Where in the world is Matt Drudge?” And that was the question Sherman sought, unsuccessfully, to answer. The unstated premise, of course, was that Drudge somehow owed Sherman his cooperation.
We might note that The Drudge Report has been prominent since the mid-90s; in addition to his must-read site, Drudge also published a book in 2000, The Drudge Manifesto. So the man is hardly an unknown.
Yet among Drudge’s violations, in the view of Sherman--besides the obvious point, of course, that Drudge is conservative--is that he was not accessible to Sherman, or to anyone else in the MSM, for any kind of interview. In other words, Drudge prefers to let his work speak for itself; he sees no need to cooperate with MSM enemies. So, in the absence of any cooperation from his subject, how did Sherman fill out his profile? He used, well, filler--again, the blind quotes.
For example, Sherman used catty blind comments from supposed Drudge associates, including the quote “I don't know what the fuck is going on with him,” attributed to “one exasperated magazine editor.” The same editor also presumably said that he told Drudge, “What is going on with the whole Howard Hughes thing?” No wonder Drudge doesn’t talk to that editor--assuming, of course, that he ever did talk to him. And assuming, of course, that the “magazine editor” even exists. Piping, anyone?
Indeed, readers have a right to wonder whether anything in the New Republic is true. It was that magazine, after all, that was rocked by a series of plagiarism and falsification scandals in the 90s; the scandals were so egregious that Hollywood even made a movie about them.
Sherman joined the magazine years later and so was not linked to any of those scandals, but that doesn’t mean that he didn’t do his part to uphold the mag’s reputation for dubious reporting. For example, a key point in that 2009 article--that Drudge was advised by Rush Limbaugh to keep a low profile to build up his mystique--was debunked by Limbaugh himself, who described Sherman’s account as “not accurate."
Next: Sherman, Soros, and the New America Foundation target Fox News