Anderson Cooper closed one of five segments of his weeknight CNN show that he recently devoted to attacking principally Rep. Michele Bachmann with a genuflection toward an iconic newsman, Edward R. Murrow. He deployed against her the gauntlet Murrow threw down to Sen. Joseph McCarthy in March 1954: “The line between investigating and persecuting is a [very] fine one.” If anyone has stepped over that line, however, it is Mr. Cooper himself, rather than the Minnesota congresswoman.
Night after night during the week of July 16, the host of “Anderson Cooper 360” failed to meet even the most basic standards of investigative journalism. The irony is that, in his ill-concealed persecution of Mrs. Bachmann, Mr. Cooper has serially engaged in precisely the practices he pillories her and others for using, by his account, to destroy the reputation of a Muslim-American woman named Huma Abedin, the deputy chief of staff to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. Let us count the ways:
*Mr. Cooper insists that Mrs. Bachmann failed to do her homework. He singles her out for most of his criticism, despite the fact that she was but one of five members of Congress to raise concerns not only about Ms. Abedin’s ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, but those of a number of others the Obama administration has enlisted as officials, advisers and liaisons to “the Muslim community.” Yet, Mr. Cooper repeatedly showed his ignorance of the extensive evidence cited by the legislators, even as he mentioned the website where some of it resides: the Center for Security Policy’s online video course at MuslimBrotherhoodInAmerica.com.
*As he accused Mrs. Bachmann of playing fast and loose with the facts, Mr. Cooper repeatedly mischaracterized the nature of the legislators’ request for five federal inspectors general to conduct investigations. He or his echo chamber of exclusively like-minded guests complained that Ms. Abedin is accused of being a “spy” and engaging in “treason” and that she has been subjected to a groundless, bigoted and McCarthyite witch hunt. Several of the reporters and interested parties who added color commentary (sometimes repeatedly) further demeaned Mrs. Bachmann by asserting that she is simply engaging in partisan politics and fundraising for her re-election campaign.
*As with the lawmaker and to a lesser extent her colleagues, Mr. Cooper also made a point of going after this columnist. If anyone is guilty of “McCarthyism,” though, it is the journalistic poseur who specializes in shooting the messenger and buying into and tendentiously proclaiming that there are “no facts” supporting the unwanted message — rather than rigorously examining and accurately reporting on the vast amount of evidence that inconveniently does exist.
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