Tuesday, January 20, 2004
I am the Nameless Blogger, who runs the Fair and Balanced Nameless Blog. I have been blogging since November and this is my first big project.
When I first heard of Ann Coulter's Treason, I got a good laugh at first. I mean, come on, Joe McCarthy's a hero? Truman's a traitor? FDR's an appeaser? I decided to look some of these ideas on-line and was shocked that ideas such as that McCarhty is a hero actually have a large marketplace in crackpot niches such as the Free Republic and other places. So, I planned to buy the book and ananlyze the claims myself. Unfortunately, work bogged me down and I never bought it, though I did manage to read much of it at my local library. I also had the opportunity to read 'The Politics of Fear: Joseph R. McCarthy and the Senate' by Robert Griffith, which was a great read and I would advise my readers to also read it. However, recently, I cleared enough time to compile this blog, which relies on other reviews of Treason by Richard Cohen, Joe Conason, New York University, Aggressive Voice, the invaluable Brendan Nyhan of Spinsanity, and some of my own research. I hope that you find this blog useful.
First, I would advise you to read these reviews:
Blogger Scoobie Davis has a good blog on 'Treason', though it wasn't quite like the work he did on Ann Coulter's 'Slander'.
Richard Cohen in the Washington Post laughs 'Treason' off.
Joe Conason in Salon refutes it.
Dorothy Rabinowitz of the Wall Street Journal mauls the book.
So does David Horowitz.
And Andrew Sullivan (along with Ronald Radosh).
Agressive-Voice goes through Coulter's first seven chapters, detailing several innaccurate and laughable statements.
Brendan Nyhan gives his devestating review of Treason.
Finally, New York University says that they have found 101 errors in Treason about the Alger Hiss story. While I believe that Alger Hiss is guilty, some of the things that Coulter says about the case are indisputably false, a few of which I post in this blog. My take on the Hiss case is that while Hiss was guilty, there was always good reason to doubt his guilt and not to trust Whittaker Chambers. NYU's review of 'Treason' is the most thorough examination of this book I have seen, though some of the facts they present hinge on the assumption of whether Hiss is, in fact guilty. I would suggest reading both their website on Alger Hiss along with Allen Weinstein's 'Perjury', which I plan on reading soon.
Sunday, January 18, 2004
Treason, Chapter 7: Basically the entire chapter. It argues that not only is "Vietnam...liberal's favorite war because we lost" but it proves that "Democrats lose wars".
Reality: Coulter's premise, as well as many details, are grounded in error. I can't post the entire article, but Aggressive Voice tackled it here.
Treason, p. 4: Senator Patty Murray “prais[ed] bin Laden for his good work in building ‘day care centers’”.
Reality: For the last time, no she didn’t. She was explaining to a group of high school students why bin Laden and al Queda were popular among many Arabs. This is not praising him, though there is the argument that it was dumb for her to say it.
Treason, p. 18: When Richard Berle FDR was told that Alger Hiss was a spy, he laughed the suggestion off and told him to “Go f--- yourself”.
Reality: NYU points out-
“This is completely false, according to Berle, who only heard about this claim in 1952 when he read in Chambers' "Witness" (which Coulter cites in a footnote) that Roosevelt had said, "in words which it is necessary to paraphrase, 'go jump in a lake.'" In 1948, Berle had recorded in his diary his enduring memory of what Chambers told him in 1939: "There was no evidence sufficient to base a conclusion as to Hiss's underground associations." Berle's 1952 diary entry shows that, because Chambers had failed to put forward convincing evidence, Berle had not gone directly to the President, but had instead "reported the substance of this [his interview with Chambers] ... to [Presidential secretary Marvin H.] McIntyre." Berle said he had a vague recollection of having later mentioned the matter to Roosevelt, and called the allegation about Roosevelt's alleged comment "an unfair attack" since no specific charges had ever been made that the President could respond to — either to act on or to laugh off. Berle's diary entries at no point indicate that Roosevelt ever made any negative comments whatever about Chambers' allegations.”
Treason, p. 18: When Whittaker Chambers reported that Alger Hiss was a Soviet agent, no action was taken to investigate Hiss.
Reality: In fact, Hiss was interrogated by the FBI and his phone was tapped. These were extreme measures considering that at the time, Chambers had only reported very vague suspicions that Hiss was, in fact a spy.
Treason, p. 18: FDR, after “laughing off” reports that Hiss was a spy, “promoted” him to be a chief aide/advisor to him at the Yalta conferences.
Reality: First, it was not FDR who promoted Hiss, but by State Department officials. The man who decided to take Hiss to Yalta was Secretary of State Edward Stettinus, and only as a last-minute replacement mid-level official, pretty much by chance. Secondly, he was nothing like a chief aide or advisor to Roosevelt and never dealt directly with Roosevelt. His role was mainly in brain-storming sessions. Third, if Hiss damaged the results of the conference at all, it has yet to be seen. Notes from the conference show that hiss took a strong anti-Soviet stance, and at least outwardly opposed allowing the USSR increased UN power.
Treason, p. 19: William C. Bullitt was also laughed off by FDR after reporting that Hiss was a spy.
Reality: Though she correctly cites Bullitt’s recollection, that recollection is unsubstantiated and almost certainly false. According to Bullitt’s own testimony before the Internal Security Subcommittee in 1952, he hadn’t spoken to Roosevelt, but Hiss's State Department boss, Stanley K. Hornbeck. Hornbeck saw nothing in these charges and dismissed them. It was perfectly reasonable for Hornbeck not to take Bullitt’s word seriously, since he had serious credibility issues. According to NYU, “During a hearing before the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1947, Bullitt, a former ambassador to the Soviet Union, testified that he had seen evidence that Soviet parents ate their young.”
Treason, p. 19 and others: Democrats barely acted on accusations of Communist infiltration.
Reality: As NYU put it, “following allegations by Chambers and Elizabeth Bentley, more than 100 government employees were investigated by the FBI, had their mail opened and their phones tapped, and were brought before grand juries.”
(Sidebar: So not only, did FDR and Truman act on these charges, but they acted with a vengeance, actually violating the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution.
Treason, p. 19: Chambers testified before the HUAC in 1948 that he and Hiss were Communist spies.
Reality: In this testimony, Chambers accused Hiss of Communist party membership but made no accusation that he or Hiss were spies, instead denying that charge.
Treason, p. 53: In an obituary for Joel Barr, The New York Times only reported the suspicion that he was a Soviet agent. She implies that they did not give the readers the evidence that he was.
Reality: The Times reported more than just the suspicion. The obituary said that "John Haynes, the co-author with Harvey Klehr of a forthcoming Soviet history to be published by Yale, said that the intelligence reports show that Mr. Barr and Mr. Sarant 'were among the K.G.B.'s most valuable technical spies'". This is ironic considering that John Haynes and Harvey Klehr are actually Ann’s sources for her claim.
Treason, p. 148: In 1946, Truman instructed his Secretary of State Dean Acheson to decline an invitation from Churchill after his famous “Iron Curtain” speech.
Reality: First of all, Dean Acheson wasn’t Secretary of State yet and wouldn’t be until 1949. Second, he was told by then-Secretary James Byron, not Truman. Third, Churchill obviously didn’t see this as any sort of rebuff since he proceed to invite him to another event. Fourth, it was Truman who had invited Churchill to give the speech, had reviewed it before Churchill delivered it, and said, “It can do nothing but good.” Coulter had full access to this information, as all of this info is in the very book that she cites as the source! Conason
Also, Acheson later wrote, "Mr. Churchill has been one of the few—the very few—who have significantly and beneficently affected the course of events.... How seldom can this be said of anyone!"
Smithsonian Magazine (From Nameless)
Treason, p. 179: The New York Times "reminded readers that Reagan was a 'cowboy, ready to shoot at the drop of a hat'" after the invasion of Grenada.
Reality: The Times quoted a Reagan administration official quoted in a Week in Review story who said, ''I suppose our biggest minus from the operation is that there now is a resurgence of the caricature of Ronald Reagan, the cowboy, ready to shoot at the drop of a hat.'' How this is telling readers that Reagan’s a cowboy, I don’t know.
Treason, multiple pages: Truman only decided to fight communism once the Republicans won Congress.
Reality: As Joe Conason points out, “Her duped readers... probably won't know that Truman confronted the Soviets in the Mediterranean with a naval task force several months before Election Day; or that the new Republican majority cut Truman's requested military budget by $500 million as soon as they took over Congress in January 1947, nearly crippling the American occupation of Germany and Japan; or that Truman, Marshall and Dean Acheson had to plead with the isolationist Republican leadership to oppose Russian designs on Greece and Turkey.”
Treason, p. 32, 60-1: Whittaker Chambers exposed William Remington as a spy. She continues saying “The question wasn’t simply whether people like William Remington were agents of Stalin (He was)."
Reality: First of all, it was not McCarthy who named Remington, but Elizabeth Huntley. Also, Remington’s case is highly questionable. After Huntley accused him of espionage, he successfully sued her for libel. He was then cleared by the HUAC. Later, he was indicted and convicted by a grand jury whose foreman had co-authored Huntley’s book (Rather biased, I’d say). This conviction was overturned on appeal. However, he was again convicted and this time, the conviction stood. In prison, he was slain by a criminally insane inmate whom Coulter calls “a patriotic inmate”. Aggressive Voice.
Remington has never been identified as an agent on the Venona Cables or KGB files.
NYU Chasing Spies by Athen Theoharis. (Courtesy of Nameless)
Treason, Multiple pages: McCarthy never falsely accused anyone of Communist ties or cost any innocent people their jobs.
Reality: This is probably the most serious error in her book. One person falsely accused by McCarthy and who lost his job was none other than Millard Tydings, who was the first to investigate McCarthy’s charges. After dismissing them, McCarthy began a dirty campaign against Tydings when he next came up for reelection. McCarthy soon produced a doctored photo showing Tydings having a friendly conversation with Communist leader Earl Browder. This proved extremely damaging and Tydings went down in the election.
Found at Slate and another Report.
Also, there is the case of Theodore Kaghan. He was a Public Affairs Officer in the United States High Commission for Germany and a valiant opponent of the Communists in Berlin as employee for the Voice of America. While innocent of the charges brought before him, McCarthy accusations got him fired from his post.
Another case is Carl Greenblum. It is actually understandable that Coulter doesn’t mention him because the details of his story were only released a few months before Treason was released. He was an army engineer who was called in before McCarthy’s committee and questioned about his mother in 1954. McCarthy hassled him over why he didn’t know that his mother was a Communist and eventually Greenblum broke down crying because his mother had just died two days earlier. Surprisingly, McCarthy granted him a recess to settle down, but then went and told the press during the recess that Greenblum had cracked "after some rather vigorous cross-examination by Roy Cohn." He continued, "I have just received word that the witness admits that he was lying the first time around and now wants to tell the truth." This was false and the inquisitions into Greenblum cost him his job as an engineer. Having done nothing wrong, Greenblum managed to get a court to reinstate him in 1958, a year after McCarthy‘s death.
Found at ABC by Nameless
Greenblum was one of 42 Army Engineers who lost their jobs as a result of McCarthy’s accusations. Of these, 40 managed to become reinstated, having been involved in no subversive activity.
Found at AJC
Treason, Chapter 6: At the height of the left's assault of McCarthy, just months before his censure, McCarthy had a 50% approval rating.
Reality: The 50% approval rating came almost a YEAR before McCarthy was censured, and months before the Army-McCarthy hearings, which anyone would consider the "height of the left's assault" on him. During the A-M hearings, his approval rating dropped to 36% and his disapproval ratings rose to 50%.
Treason, 96-99: I.F. Stone was a Soviet spy.
Reality: This is a highly dubious claim. She claims that he "supported Stalin" when in reality he denounced the Soviet Union after personally visiting the country, saying, “The worker is more exploited than in Western welfare states. This is not a good society, and it is not led by honest men.” She points to three Venona cables, but only one definitely identifies Stone, the other two refer to PANCAKE. One cable suggests that PANCAKE may be willing to accept money, but none elaborate on this taking place. There's no evidence of him ever exchanging information or accepting money from the Soviets.
Treason, 81-83: Nobody ever committed suicide because of McCarthy, and no, Ray Kaplin is not him.
Reality: She gave us the name herself. Ray Kaplin was "naturally" (according to Coulter) called in to McCarthy's committee. The day before he was to appear, he committed suicide, leaving a note that said, “When the dogs are set upon you, everything you have done from the beginning of your life is suspect.” This has always been interpreted as a reference to McCarthy, but she contends that it isn't because "he agreed to come and testify". This logic is absurd, as many people who don't want to or are guilty of something cooperate with authorities.
Another probable case is that of Robert La Follette Jr. He was the Republican incumbent when McCarthy ran in 1946. McCarthy claimed that he had avoided service during WWII and engaged in war profiteering. These charges were false, as Follette was 46, too old to serve in the military and his investment in WWII was in a radio station, but they still hurt him and he went down in the primary. He retired from politics, led a sad life afterwards, and eventually committed suicide in 1953.
La Follette Biography (found by Nameless)
Treason, p. 233: Jimmy Carter was supposedly awarded for his work in negotiating a deal with North Korea, but it was really about bashing Bush.
Reality: This could not be farther from the truth. In the press release, the presentation speech, and Carter’s subsequent Nobel Lecture, neither North Korea or Bush were ever cited, though Carter spoke vaguely against pre-emptive war. In fact, in Carter’s Nobel Lecture, he said this, “Perhaps of more immediate concern is the necessity for Iraq to comply fully with the unanimous decision of the Security Council that it eliminate all weapons of mass destruction and permit unimpeded access by inspectors to confirm that this commitment has been honored. The world insists that this be done.”
Treason, p. 261: Senator Rich Durbin called people who favor profiling Arabs on flights, "troglodytes 'crawling on [their] bell[ies] in the mud at a right-wing militia training camp in Idaho." (brackets hers)
Reality: She has to bracket this to the point of absurdity because he didn’t call pro-profiling advocates that. The piece in question is actually a piece he wrote for a Springfield paper that starts off like this: “I often wonder whether Ann Coulter's political views are just a pose. Having seen her on television, she is bright, witty and appears to be the product of a good education and good grooming. There is nothing about her which suggests she has spent any time crawling on her belly in the mud at a right-wing militia training camp in Idaho. But when she opens her mouth or logs on her computer, Dr. Coulter is transformed into a political creature that could take Pat Buchanan's breath away.” While he goes on to denounce her views on racial profiling, to suggest that the militia camp line was about them is absurd.
Treason, p. 279: The New York Times suppressed information on the religion of the people who launched the first WTC attack in 1993.
Reality: The Times, did in fact discuss at length that they Jersey man suspected was an Islamic fundamentalist, including a 1100 word report detailing Islamic ties.
Treason, p. 279-80: Speaking about El al shooter Hesham Hadayet, "Hadayet had complained about his neighbors flying a U.S. flag, he had a 'Read the Koran' sticker on his front door, and he had expressed virulent hatred for Jews. The Times reported straight that his motive for the shooting may have been 'some dispute over a fare.'"
Reality: All of the facts that Coulter presented are in fact, from the New York Times (the source in her endnote is even a NYT piece)! As for the “dispute over a fare” quote, the Times did not suggest this, but in a later piece in which they interviewed Hadayet’s uncle, they quoted him as saying it may have been some dispute over a fare. Did they support these sentiments? Not at all.
Treason, p. 281: The NYT tried to hide D.C. sniper John Allen Mohammed's Islamic beliefs.
Reality: Actually, the NYT ran two pieces soon after his capture that prominently asserted that he was a Muslim. Another column discussed whether Muhammad's patriarchal Islamic beliefs contributed to his shooting spree.
(Sidebar: Besides, if the Times wanted to hide his religion, wouldn’t they
edit out Muhammad from his name?)
Treason, p. 229: "Bill Clinton, the man who deployed the best fighting force on the globe to build urinals in Bosnia, actually said of Muslim terrorists, 'They have good reason to hate us ... after all, we sent the Crusaders to try and conquer them.'"
Reality: There is no record of Clinton ever saying this. Coulter presents no source or endnote to back up that claim. Many, including Brendan Nyhan of Spinsanity, searched both Nexus and Google looking for Clinton saying this, to no avail. The only hint is a speech Clinton gave at Georgetown University, where once again, he didn‘t say it. This speech has been widely distorted by right-wing pundits claiming that Clinton blamed America for 9/11.
Treason, p. 265: Tom Friedman blamed Muslim terrorism on “religious fundamentalists of any stripe”.
Reality: False. In an article about flying nude called “Naked Air“, Friedman said “religious extremists of all stripes would not fly nude.”
Ann’s Rebuttal: “Who was it that got onto planes with box-cutters? Islamic extremists. Who does he blame it on? Religious extremists of all stripes... I don‘t think Jerry Falwell has flown planes into buildings.”
More reality: It’s a lie because he didn’t blame terrorism on “religious extremists of all stripes”!
Franken’s interview with Ann Coulter (which you can listen to here)