I previously ran a column about a demonstrably false statement made about my testimony in the Trump published in a Washington Post column by Jennifer Rubin. She never corrected the statement, but I let it go after writing a column addressing the false information in the Post. I now look back at that column with a degree of fondness since at least Rubin was right that I did testify at the hearing. Now Rubin has called me a crackpot for a column that I did not write. The lack of minimal research by Rubin has become something of a signature element. In her latest controversy, Rubin not only responded to those ridiculing me for a piece written by someone else but expressed delight at my forced retirement over the column. Ironically, her Post column the same day is entitled “What If Facts Matter?” — criticizing President Trump and his claims of “fake news.” In fairness to the Post, this latest error was not published by the newspaper though she identifies herself as “Conservative opinion writer at @WashingtonPost, MSNBC contributor” with a banner photo of the Washington Post on Twitter. What is becoming increasing clear is that, as the Post declares, “Democracy Dies in Darkness,” but accuracy dies with Jennifer Rubin.
I wanted also to respond to the criticism of Darren’s argument as “absurd” – a conclusion apparently reached solely on the headline of his column. The characterization is as unfair as it is unexplained in the tweet.
On Saturday, our weekend blogger Darren Smith wrote a column on his opposition to the order of the governor of Washington State to close the schools (Darren lives in Washington). Rubin later tweeted that she found the argument in the article to be “absurd” and said that I had become “crackpotish.”
The most interesting aspect of this attack is that there is no way that Rubin actually knew what the argument was that she declared to be “absurd.” The automatic tweet on posting on the blog simply gave the title of Darren’s column: WA Governor Inslee’s Order Cancelling Remaining School Year Possibly Unconstitutional I can understand if the author of the piece is not clear from that tweet since they go out automatically on http://www.jonathanturley.org. However, Rubin had to read the column to declare it “absurd.” It does not say what the argument of unconstitutionality might be. It could be a state statutory issue. It could be a matter of state constitutional law. It could be a violation of a standing court order or a federal constitutional argument. You could not possibly know without clicking on the link and reading it. If you did, you would first read the byline for “Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor.” At the end of the column, you would also find Darren Smith identified as the author. You would also find this express statement that the article did not reflect my views and was not reviewed by me:
“The views expressed in this posting are the author’s alone and not those of the blog, the host, or other weekend bloggers. As an open forum, weekend bloggers post independently without pre-approval or review. Content and any displays or art are solely their decision and responsibility.”
So, if Rubin actually read the column, it was impossible to conclude that it was written by me. There are only two options here and neither is good. Rubin did not actually bother to read the argument before calling it “absurd” (and personally attacking me) or she read the argument and disregarded the fact that it was written by a third party who said it did not reflect my views.
I am inclined to go with Option One only because I am already familiar with Rubin’s loose understanding of sourcing columns. In my earlier column criticizing Rubin, I discussed a column in the Washington Post where Rubin stated that Democratic counsel Norm Eisen was able to extract concessions from me during the impeachment hearing. That was news to many of us since Eisen only asked me one question about my views that I had just stated as the premise of my testimony and had previously published in the Wall Street Journal. Thus, my “concessions” appear to be repeating one of the main points of my testimony that was stated repeatedly before the single question from Eisen. After making this point repeatedly in both writing and in my testimony, Eisen asked me to repeat it again. Making it even more bizarre, Eisen insisted that I simply answer “yes or no.” That was the only question asked of me at the hearing by Eisen. Indeed, I believe that that was the only question asked of me by the Democrats in the entire hearing.
Rubin declared that the single word answer on the previously stated premise of my testimony was a major “concession” extracted by Eisen. I assumed that the obvious mistake would have been corrected by Rubin but she refused to respond or correct the error. The reason I return to that prior controversy is that the error would have been obvious if Rubin had taken the time to actually read the transcript. Had she taken that minimal step, she would have seen that that statement was the core of not just my prior writings and my oral testimony before the question, but it has been my position since the Clinton impeachment hearings.
However, she was correct that I testified and Eisen asked me a single “yes or no” question. That turned about to be something of a high point for Rubin.
As many know, I have run various writers on the blog including some who expressly disagree with my views. Darren runs columns regularly on the weekends. I actually disagree with points in Darren’s column but I have always found his work to be thoughtful and well-researched. I make a point of not reviewing such columns because this is a blog dedicated to free speech and diverse viewpoints. In this case, Darren was basing his argument on a state court decision and state constitutional provision. The argument turns on the interpretation of the word “ample” in the state constitution. Of course, Rubin does not explain why she calls his argument “absurd” in the interpretation of such a general term. That is likely because she never bothered to read the argument. The fact is that, while I was not convinced by Darren’s argument, he presented in his usual direct and honest way. It is more limited and nuanced than she suggests. Many have agreed with it. It is a view that others likely share and I am glad that we offered a forum for it to be considered by others.
Of course, all of this is beyond the point. Rubin clearly did not know either the specific argument or the author of the piece.
Rubin has previously been criticized about her writings including controversies over calls to “shun” and “shame” Trump officials and to “burn down the Republican party.” However, those are largely based on the merits of her views as opposed to her penchant for not letting facts get in the way of a good attack. As the joke goes among journalists, Rubin has repeatedly shown that “there are just some facts too good to check.”
There is one silver lining in all of this. If I am now going to be blamed for columns that I did not write, I insist on credit for other columns that I did not write. Here are a list of columns I now claim as mine alone:
Dave Barry [Jonathan Turley]: “The First Olympic Scandal Rears Its Ugly Head” —The Miami Herald Pope Francis [Jonathan Turley] Life, measured by love, is meant to serve others Vatican (Clarion Press)
Rubin may find these pieces “absurd” but I stand by each and every one.