Milbank: Who are you gonna believe, me or your lying eyes?

posted at 11:32 am on June 18, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

Dana Milbank got slapped around yesterday for his dishonest take on a panel hosted by the Heritage Foundation, especially by media critic Dylan Byers at Politico. Today, Milbank decides that the best defense is a good offense, and argues that media criticism is entirely illegitimate — “armchair journalism,” in Milbank’s words. And that’s true even when videotape of an event exists to check the veracity and honesty of the “journalist” in question:

I read Byers’s post, and there was indeed a disaster: the sort of disaster that occurs when a journalist, from the comfort of his office, levels accusations based on a nine-minute clip of a 65-minute panel he hadn’t attended. (Heritage didn’t post the full video until well after the Byers report, and Byers didn’t take me up on my offer to provide him earlier with my audio recording.)

Byers wrote that the Heritage Foundation “feels that the event was ‘mischaracterized’ by Milbank. It also notes that while the event took place at Heritage, it was hosted by the Benghazi Accountability Coalition.”

But had Byers been at the event himself, he wouldn’t have swallowed the Heritage spin — hook, line and sinker. He would have been handed the agenda, printed on paper with the Heritage logo, announcing: “The Benghazi Accountability Coalition and The Heritage Foundation Cordially Invite You to a Symposium” on Benghazi.  He would have seen the accompanying paper noting that Heritage is a member of the Benghazi Accountability Coalition, and he would have heard John Hilboldt, the head of Heritage’s lecture program, give remarks opening the panel. This wasn’t in the video excerpt Byers viewed.

True — and neither is it germane to either Byers’ criticism or Milbank’s original “reporting” from the event. A number of other journalists have taken to Twitter today to shift the focus of the story off of Milbank and onto Heritage, the panelists, and everyone in the audience except Milbank and Saba Ahmed. Milbank could have written a legitimate criticism of the decision by Heritage to host the debate, or of the panelists invited to the discussion. Had Milbank taken that approach, it’s very likely few would have taken note of it, but it still would be legitimate turf for an opinion column.

However, that’s not what Milbank did, and it’s not the story today. Milbank made specific accusations about the conduct of the panelists and the audience at one particular point in the panel presentation, using sliced-up quotes and loaded language to paint a very different picture, and presented it as a news report. Today he doubles down on his “journalism” defense, even though yesterday he argued that it was all “subjective”:

Milbank suddenly reverts back to his “objective” approach:

Byers wrote, based on his perusal of the video, that Saba Ahmed, the woman in an Islamic head covering whom I reported had been taunted by panelists and audience members, “didn’t appear at all troubled or upset at the end of the exchange.” The footage on Byers’s computer screen also indicated to him that she “does not seem to have been ‘taunted.’ ”

But had he been there, Byers needn’t have relied on appearances: He could have asked Ahmed himself, as I did. She told me she felt “targeted” by those in the room.

The journalist in Milbank apparently still hasn’t done a Nexis search on his interview subject and her long experience in public challenges in forums like this. It’s a little difficult to believe that a woman who ran for Congress and repeatedly showed up at conservative events to challenge people — let alone offered “frequent” public defenses for the Portland Christmas Tree bomber — would have felt “targeted” by the respectful response from Gaffney or even the more energetic but hardly personal response from Gabriel.

The video covers the exchanges on which Milbank based his column, and furthermore was not “Heritage spin,” but just the raw video — originally from Media Matters. Byers watched the video and reached the painfully obvious conclusion that Milbank distorted the truth badly in order to serve Milbank’s own preferred narrative.

If that’s “armchair journalism,” then all media criticism falls under that claim. It’s especially laughable when considering Milbank’s choice of stories on which to report, too. The Heritage-hosted event didn’t qualify as news to anyone but Milbank, and still didn’t until he misrepresented what happened in the exchange with Ahmed. Most media criticism doesn’t have the luxury of a comprehensive video of a reported incident as this one does, either.

Basically, Milbank’s arguments come to this: Who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?  Or even more to the point: No one has the legitimacy to criticize my work. That certainly explains a lot about Milbank’s product, but not much about why the Washington Post continues to feature it.

 


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Milbank is truly a legend in his own mind. He needs to get a room with himself.

ultracon on June 18, 2014 at 11:36 AM

The video (and the information on this woman’s background) really couldn’t make it more clear that Milbank is just a lying hack. It simply didn’t happen the way he said it did.

V7_Sport on June 18, 2014 at 11:37 AM

Milbank is just trying to discredit any Benghazi investigation before it garners any support. Liberal attack dog.

Patriot Vet on June 18, 2014 at 11:39 AM

Yeah… this guy’s full of himself. The video speaks for itself, regardless of what this tool wants to claim.

Aizen on June 18, 2014 at 11:39 AM

But had he been there, Byers needn’t have relied on appearances: He could have asked Ahmed himself, as I did. She told me she felt “targeted” by those in the room.

 
If they’re not smart enough to figure out how to buy their own birth control, why would you think they’re smart enough to know when they’re being targeted?
 
They need smart people to tell them that, silly.

rogerb on June 18, 2014 at 11:40 AM

I am not shocked Dana Milbank is unable to admit that he made a mistake. He is an Obama and Democrat shill.

SC.Charlie on June 18, 2014 at 11:41 AM

Milbank is truly a legend in his own mind. He needs to get a room with himself.

ultracon on June 18, 2014 at 11:36 AM

The offspring of such meeting would be too much to bear.

portlandon on June 18, 2014 at 11:41 AM

He lied and WaPo likes it….

d1carter on June 18, 2014 at 11:42 AM

I’ve got a cousin named Dana. She’s a very good ballet dancer.

CurtZHP on June 18, 2014 at 11:44 AM

Why do democrat journalists think dressing like an idiot helps them make a point?

Flange on June 18, 2014 at 11:46 AM

Ace of Spades had a good takedown of this story yesterday too.

Milbank not only seriously distorted the remarks of the panelists to Ms. Ahmed, he implied the speakers were also lying about facts that have actually been reported many times - especially, the fact that the Benghazi ringleader was openly meeting with jounralists while sipping on a strawberry frappe. That was in the first paragraph of a front page New York Times story. But in Dana Milbank’s world, it’s a crazypants myth made up and flogged by crazy conservatives who are crazy.

The entire piece is rife with such sloppiness, aside from the huge mistake of Milbank not even bothering to Google Ms. Ahmed to find out that she is a professional provocateur. It’s a disgraceful piece of junk that never should have gotten past a junior editor, much less in the pages of the Washington Post.

rockmom on June 18, 2014 at 11:46 AM

The Post is only hurting its own image as it continues to employ this A-hole of a cretin. Just one more reason that the only time I read articles from the Post is when they are on blogs.

HiJack on June 18, 2014 at 11:48 AM

dana needs to but a very red expensive sports car. with those tiny little hands how does he hold the pencil?

t8stlikchkn on June 18, 2014 at 11:49 AM

Dana might feel better about herself if she had a makeover. I think she’s lashing out because of self-image issues.

LASue on June 18, 2014 at 11:51 AM

Jeff Bezos, this is why your new toy is more like toilet paper!

22044 on June 18, 2014 at 11:53 AM

Dammit! I heard the dog whistles! And if you can’t, it just proves you’re a bigot!

– Dana Milbank (shorter translated version)

jon1979 on June 18, 2014 at 11:56 AM

He would have seen the accompanying paper noting that Heritage is a member of the Benghazi Accountability Coalition, and he would have heard John Hilboldt, the head of Heritage’s lecture program, give remarks opening the panel.

geez. He says that like it’s a bad thing.

Harbingeing on June 18, 2014 at 11:58 AM

Milbank is only upset and defensive because a fellow liberal, a member of the tribe, not only called him on his mendaciousness, but was not polite about it. That’s just not done.

The left is starting to fracture. When you have a drunken shill like Chris Matthews berating a favored celebrity pretty boy like Ronan Farrow for disparaging Tea Partiers, you know the crack up is pretty far advanced.

Even Hillary woke up this week and realized she needed to get off the reservation if she is going to survive.

The next couple of years are going to be a lot of fun.

Joseph K on June 18, 2014 at 11:59 AM

Milbank thinks he’s E. J. Dionne. Dionne thinks he’s David Broder. Both are wrong.

Esaus Message on June 18, 2014 at 11:59 AM

Why do democrat journalists think dressing like an idiot helps them make a point?

Flange on June 18, 2014 at 11:46 AM

What makes you think they’d do that. I’m sure this is just a one time thing.

Oldnuke on June 18, 2014 at 11:59 AM

Why do democrat journalists think dressing like an idiot helps them make a point?

Flange on June 18, 2014 at 11:46 AM

He should have gone with the tampon earings look………..

VegasRick on June 18, 2014 at 12:01 PM

I’ll go with Noah on this one.

Milbank’s account utterly dishonest

Bmore on June 18, 2014 at 12:02 PM

The comparison is striking between Will on the right and Millbank on the left at WaPo

Tater Salad on June 18, 2014 at 12:03 PM

Millbank says his reporting is accurate because of the woman’s feelings about the response she elicited, and because he agrees with her political stance. Millbank doesn’t question anything about her position, or her thin skinned “feelings”; he simply seeks to delegitimizes the entire Heritage Foundation on the this gruel he’s working with.

This is what propagandists try to do to a perceived opponent. Millbank wants to quash free speech and condemn the speakers, and when he is questioned, he claims absolute moral authority. Once upon a time people like this were widely condemned in this country as crazy totalitarians. Today, Millbank is entirely comfortable in calling for support among the media.

The Post shows itself to be a morally and ethically bankrupt institution, for even employing people like this.

MTF on June 18, 2014 at 12:05 PM

Poor dana, like all liberal journolists…confuses her emotions for facts.

HumpBot Salvation on June 18, 2014 at 12:06 PM

Armchair journalism?

Toilet journalism?

Axeman on June 18, 2014 at 12:06 PM

Nothing like a hack who doubles down on his hackery.

otlset on June 18, 2014 at 12:07 PM

That certainly explains a lot about Milbank’s product, but not much about why the Washington Post continues to feature it.

Milbank is going all-out for a prime-time spot on MSNBC. With this shoddy piece of work, he’s proving himself just dishonest enough, just unprofessional enough and just biased enough to get one.

ROCnPhilly on June 18, 2014 at 12:08 PM

Dana Milbank is a lying leftist shit-bag, whose unashamed partisan loyalty would make Riefenstahl blush.

a5minmajor on June 18, 2014 at 12:08 PM

Does anybody in the free world give a rat’s backside what the dingleberry jerk thinks or says?

rplat on June 18, 2014 at 12:12 PM

God, she’s one ugly broad.
lostmotherland on February 26, 2014 at 4:09 PM

HumpBot Salvation on June 18, 2014 at 12:12 PM

Here is Dana the Putz, trying to make a pathetically obvious joke at the expense of an injured bird hunter. The first time I saw this photo, it occurred to me that he is wearing the kind of vest used by workers on roads which reflect headlights from oncoming traffic. Am I mistaken, or is this another example of the incredible triviality of his being?

horatio on June 18, 2014 at 12:19 PM

Dana Milbank has as much credibility as Jason Blair

rbj on June 18, 2014 at 12:21 PM

This isn’t the only time Dana’s been caught making stuff up about a Heritage related meeting.

gwelf on June 18, 2014 at 12:22 PM

Ah, a modified Dan Rather defense- that is, “I said it, so it must be true.”

Expect to hear from lil’ Dana very soon something like “What story does anybody ever know the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?”

Milquetoast wanker.

GrassMudHorsey on June 18, 2014 at 12:26 PM

At least it will bring more attention to the messages of Frank Gaffney and Bridget Gabriel. So this all backfired on Milbank in a number of ways.

WhatSlushfund on June 18, 2014 at 12:26 PM

In Gabriel’s rant where she chastises the questioner, she never once answers or addresses the actual question.
So yea..I’d say ‘she pounced’ is accurate.
And Gabriel was indeed hostile to the questioner – who wasn’t at all hostile, incendiary, or rude. So let this be a notice to how welcome others like her will be made to feel if they attempt to participate in a ‘discussion’ like this.
The questioners point that ideological issues must be addressed to defeat terrorism – they ignore that.
But it was just another Obama conspiracy panel anyway.
As Gabriel repeats..irrelevant.

verbaluce on June 18, 2014 at 12:27 PM

Dana Milbank – reporting on his subjective fictional event instead of the real one that actually happened. And yet I can write better fiction than that… just about anyone can… it is the actual truth that is stranger than fiction and why it is so interesting to report on. Too bad he isn’t a reporter, just a hack caught in his own mind and own world.

ajacksonian on June 18, 2014 at 12:27 PM

Dana Milbank has as much credibility as Jason Blair

rbj on June 18, 2014 at 12:21 PM

But not as much as Jason Voorhees.

itsspideyman on June 18, 2014 at 12:27 PM

I much prefer @joanwalsh’s take…

That alone tells the story given that Joan Walsh’s take on everything is that it is racist.

F X Muldoon on June 18, 2014 at 12:28 PM

That certainly explains a lot about Milbank’s product, but not much about why the Washington Post continues to feature it.

Because they’re nothing but a gang of Marxist hacks?

What do I win for the correct answer?

oldleprechaun on June 18, 2014 at 12:36 PM

The journalist in Milbank apparently still hasn’t done a Nexis search on his interview subject and her long experience in public challenges in forums like this.

I’m not so sure, Ed. I have a gut feeling he knows who she is and they got together to produce this “reporting”. Why else would he have been there?

Buck Farky on June 18, 2014 at 12:49 PM

verbaluce on June 18, 2014 at 12:27 PM

The questioner’s point wasn’t germane to the panel. Gabriel does answer and address the question despite that.

You’d rather it get hijacked by a known meeting troll? Wait…of course you do, you do it here yourself all the time.

Buck Farky on June 18, 2014 at 12:52 PM

Milbank is a liar and he got caught. This happens almost every week. The only difference is that someone in the main stream media caught him in his lie this time.

Captain Kirock on June 18, 2014 at 1:15 PM

The first time I saw this photo, it occurred to me that he is wearing the kind of vest used by workers on roads which reflect headlights from oncoming traffic. Am I mistaken, or is this another example of the incredible triviality of his being?

horatio on June 18, 2014 at 12:19 PM

It is… but I fixed on the headgear instead of the vest and now I think “evil garden gnome” whenever I see that picture.

jffree1 on June 18, 2014 at 1:16 PM

I’m not sure who’s worse. Dana Milbank or Lewis Lapham. Lewis Lapham wrote his “Tentacle of Rage” article before the 2004 Republican convention even convened. But Dana Milbank actually observed what he wrote about.

kozmocostello on June 18, 2014 at 1:24 PM

The video covers the exchanges on which Milbank based his column, and furthermore was not “Heritage spin,” but just the raw video

For guys like Milbank, the truth is ‘spin’ when it does not comply with his preconceived notions and prejudices.

s1im on June 18, 2014 at 1:28 PM

Awwwww, somebody rubbed his nose in it! I don’t agree with this sort of treatment for puppies because puppies learn when you take them out for “duty.” Journalists, however, never seem to learn so keep rubbing their noses in it until they show some sign of recognition. Then, maybe they can be treated with the same respect for intelligence and learning skills as that which exists in puppies.
.
Walkies!!!!

ExpressoBold on June 18, 2014 at 1:31 PM

horatio on June 18, 2014 at 12:19 PM

You mean hunters don’t dress like flag men on a road crew?

/Dana Millbank

Ted Torgerson on June 18, 2014 at 1:42 PM

The video (and the information on this woman’s background) really couldn’t make it more clear that Milbank is just a lying hack. It simply didn’t happen the way he said it did.

V7_Sport on June 18, 2014 at 11:37 AM

You mean the video that doesn’t actually show most of the time Milbank commented on? Yeah weird how when you edit a video to be short it doesn’t have the stuff that happens afterward.

I’m guessing you fall for O’Keefe videos too.

Tlaloc on June 18, 2014 at 1:45 PM

Save your breath, Liberals feel no shame.

They believe that their cause, whatever that is today, is worth every lie.

I would say the ends justify the means, but I don’t think the ends ever remains the same anymore. The correct ends, mostly means whatever strikes their fancy.

Regardless, it works, no shame.

petunia on June 18, 2014 at 1:52 PM

You mean the video that doesn’t actually show most of the time Milbank commented on? Yeah weird how when you edit a video to be short it doesn’t have the stuff that happens afterward.

I’m guessing you fall for O’Keefe videos too.

Tlaloc on June 18, 2014 at 1:45 PM

Damn, you’re willfully ignorant. The ENTIRE video has been released and reviewed.

Oh and this…

The video covers the exchanges on which Milbank based his column, and furthermore was not “Heritage spin,” but just the raw video

O’keefe videos. Yeah, I know. The fact that he really didn’t wear a Velvet Jones pimp outfit during the entire video…just totally debunks the whole thing. And all those folks that lost their jobs really didn’t say the things that cost them their jobs.

HumpBot Salvation on June 18, 2014 at 2:01 PM

HumpBot Salvation on June 18, 2014 at 2:01 PM

I guess he thinks we’d fall for the “edited” O’Keefe videos because he fell for the “it’s been edited!” spin.

Buck Farky on June 18, 2014 at 3:33 PM

I need to ask a stupid question. Why is Milbank wearing a road guard uniform over his suit. Was it for real or photo shopped? ok, laugh at me all you want.

arnold ziffel on June 18, 2014 at 3:44 PM

Creep…

crosshugger on June 18, 2014 at 4:34 PM

I need to ask a stupid question. Why is Milbank wearing a road guard uniform over his suit. Was it for real or photo shopped? ok, laugh at me all you want.

arnold ziffel on June 18, 2014 at 3:44 PM

Because Melissa Harris-Perry wouldn’t lend him her tampon earrings.

Flange on June 18, 2014 at 4:36 PM

I need to ask a stupid question. Why is Milbank wearing a road guard uniform over his suit. Was it for real or photo shopped? ok, laugh at me all you want.

arnold ziffel on June 18, 2014 at 3:44 PM

It’s a screen shot from a gag he did with Keith Olbermann on the old Countdown show.

Ed Morrissey on June 18, 2014 at 10:53 PM

Tlaloc on June 18, 2014 at 1:45 PM

Is that you Debbie? Man, I can’t believe they let Whatsername-Schlitz post on here.

S. D. on June 18, 2014 at 11:04 PM