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.
(Continued from Part I, here.)
Limbaugh, of course, never gives interviews to MSM liberals, and Drudge, as we have seen, also did not cooperate with Sherman. So if both Limbaugh and Drudge refused to cooperate, we might ask: On what basis did Sherman make his claim? What “pipe” could Sherman have been smoking?
One explanation is Sherman simply inferred the Limbaugh-Drudge connection. After all, from Sherman’s point of view, the article would appear more authoritative, and more persuasive to his liberal readers, if he could allege that Limbaugh and Drudge were part of the same “Axis of Secrecy.”
Meanwhile, Sherman moved on to new targets. In October 2010, he published an article in New York magazine, “Chasing Fox,” in which he attempted to chronicle the ins and outs of the three cable news channels. Yet even though Fox was the #1 channel at the time (it still is), Sherman’s focus was almost entirely on CNN and MSNBC. And why was that? For one simple reason–he had little or no cooperation from anyone at Fox, even as he scored interviews with top officials at the other cablers. Yet even so, Sherman managed to shift the focus to Fox; he blamed Fox for, as he put it, pushing American politics in an allegedly “cartoonish, desperate, loopy, egomaniacal” direction. (As if American politicians needed help from cable news to look “cartoonish, desperate, loopy, egomaniacal”!)
The article generated considerable noise in Manhattan, and so in February 2011, Sherman scored his Ailes/Fox book deal with Random House. The proposed title, The Loudest Voice in the Room, tells you everything you need to know about the book and its gist. It’s going to be a tome–or screed–to please Tina Brown, Arianna Huffington, the New Yorker, the New York Times, and all other pillars of trendy-lefty orthodoxy.
And if pleasing the Brown/Huffington Complex means printing silly stuff, it seems that Sherman is ready to go down and dirty–whatever it takes, so long as it hurts Fox.
A good case in point for such media dumpster-diving is Sherman’s coverage of a media blip, the short-lived saga of the “Fox mole.” On April 10, 2012, Gawker, the scurrilous lefty New York City gossip site, published a piece by a self-declared “mole” leaking secretly from Fox News HQ. Operating from the shadows–or so he hoped–the mole dumped all over his employer, even comparing a Fox News sister website, Foxnation.com, to the Ku Klux Klan.
Whatever one might think about the mole–the left, of course, loved the story–it was perfectly obvious, all along, that the mole was a disgruntled employee.
Yet Sherman ventured forth with own eccentric interpretation. The next day, April 11, he tweeted out this conspiracy-theory speculation: “Could Fox PR be the Mole? Could it be elaborate disinformation campaign 2 make it look like angry left-wingers out to get Ailes?” That’s right: Sherman thought out loud–or, as he might say, to give himself some wiggle-room, just asking!–that Fox had brought this obnoxious “mole” story on itself as part of an “elaborate disinformation campaign” ultimately to discredit Fox critics.
Yet that same day, the mole was discovered and, of course, fired. It was then incredibly obvious–as, indeed, it had been all along–that the mole, one Joe Muto, was just what he said he was: a disgruntled employee with a grudge against his bosses.
So where did the discovery, and firing, of the mole leave Sherman and his spy-novel conspiracy theorizing? Proving as always, that the best defense is a good offense–or at least some kind of offense–Sherman simply charged ahead, slipping his weird allegation down the memory hole while continuing his skirmishing against Fox.
In an April 13 piece for New York magazine, entitled “Fox News’ Week of Weirdness: Roger Ailes Loses Control of His Own Story,” Sherman argued that somehow the mole story was a big defeat for Fox, and a sign that Ailes’ power was slipping, as opposed to the one-day story that it was. We might note that six months later, in October 2012, Ailes signed a new four-year contract with Fox.
In other words, Sherman was so far off in his thinking that one might assume that such an embarrassment would cause him trouble. But of course, that’s not how MSM journalism works. Indeed, just a couple of weeks later, Sherman gained a whole new gig, which reveals how the liberal MSM is now receiving much-needed reinforcement from the liberal foundation world.
On April 30, 2012, a liberal Washington DC-based think-tank, the New America Foundation (NAF) announced that Sherman would become a “fellow” at NAF.
Here we can pause to consider this new trend in MSM journalism. We all know that many MSM publications have fallen on hard times, thanks to the Internet and, of course, to the greater choice now afforded to news consumers. And so, increasingly, laid-off and under-funded journalists find themselves migrating over to tax-exempt foundations and think-tanks, where they can continue plying their trade. That is, reporters have shifted from once-profitable outfits, which can no longer afford their salaries, over to the think-tanks, which are formally dubbed as charities. In other words, they have moved from inadvertent non-profits to legally certified non-profits.
This mass migration–which includes our friend Sherman–is kind of a scam, of course, insofar as the reporters, now renamed “fellows,” are doing pretty much the same thing as they always did; the difference is that donations to the foundation are now tax-deductible. Indeed, the president of NAF is Steve Coll, a former managing editor of The Washington Post. Coll continues his writing career, including work for the New Yorker, but his main salary is now paid by tax-deductible funds. Kinda slick, huh?
So if such “laundering” of charitable money is the new lefty media business model, it should be no surprise that Sherman simply took his book-writing hit-man project over with him to NAF. He gets whatever salary he gets from New York magazine, plus the proceeds from his book advance, and now he can add on, as well, his stipend from NAF.
Thus the new liberal-left model: The category of “journalist” blends with “think-tanker” to create a new kind of hybrid media activist. A media activist, we might note, still pushing the liberal line, but subsidized, now, in whole or in part, by tax-deductible funds. Yes, such a new hybrid phenomenon comes at the expense of the integrity of the tax system, and it also comes at the expense of the integrity of think-tanks and foundations. Of course, in the minds of lefties, that’s a small-to-non-existent price to pay.
So in hiring Sherman, NAF has forfeited whatever remained of its think-tanky ivory-tower status. It’s even more obvious now that NAF is just a haven for unemployed, or underemployed, journalists and bloggers.
Such a status–as a corral for glib thinkers, as opposed to deep thinkers–might not help NAF’s reputation as a powerhouse of intellectualism, but from a financial point of view, it’s not a bad model.
Moreover, if it’s a liberal-left foundation, engaged in current events, it’s a safe bet that ultra-lefty George Soros is in the picture; after all, he funds seemingly everything on the left. Indeed, according to the NAF website, Soros was good for a six-figure donation in 2011.
In addition, another big Obama supporter, Google’s Eric Schmidt, serves as chairman of the NAF board; Schmidt donated at least $1 million to NAF last year. And the other funders, too, are a Who’s Who of lefty fat-cats and foundations, including the Ford Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation. And that’s Sherman’s world now, too.
Meanwhile, to earn his daily liberal bread, Sherman keeps pounding away at Fox. And yet in his desire to keep striking at Fox, he keeps making sloppy mistakes.
On August 28, during the Republican convention in Tampa, he tweeted out that the Fox greenroom was festooned with Romney-Ryan signs. It would have been a good item, but for one thing: It was wrong. Fortunately, within two hours, the ever-alert Brit Hume had corrected Sherman, pointing out that the Romney-Ryan posters were, in fact, outside of the Fox News greenroom. The posters were in the hallway, you know, as part of the general Republican-ness of the Republican convention.
Yet needless to say, Sherman has paid, and will pay, no price for such foolishness, at least among his employers and financial angels. Why? Because, as everyone on the left knows, he has his important mission to fulfill–zapping Ailes and Fox, or at least trying to.
So that’s some more on Sherman and the lefty ecosystem that supports him.
By himself, Sherman might not be a very big deal. From everything we can glean, his book on Ailes and Fox is going to be merely a cut-and-paste hatchet job, in the tradition of, say, Kitty Kelley, who built a career writing mean-spirited biographies of such famous figures as Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Elizabeth Taylor, Frank Sinatra, and Nancy Reagan. Kelley’s best bad efforts notwithstanding, none of those figures suffered any lasting damage; the author and her bile-filled bios are now just footnotes.
Yet what’s more interesting, and worthy of more study, is the new financial base of the left. That is, one half of it is the familiar but fading system of the MSM, and the other half is new and robust system of ideological and activist philanthropy.
It’s that “charitable” half that is new, and menacing, since it threatens to undermine the trust that the American people naturally place in the independent non-profit sector. If foundations and charities and think-tanks become nothing more than tax-deductible preserves for the lefty likes of Gabriel Sherman, then we on the right do, indeed, have a big problem to confront. And we must start by naming this new combine as what it is: The Liberal MSM/Foundation Complex.
So once again, we might recollect the guiding vision of Andrew Breitbart. Andrew never shrank from an important fight that was right. And neither should we.