The Atlantic Magazine’s Lies: Of Breitbarts, Kochs, and RightOnLine

Last weekend Americans For Prosperity once again held its RightOnLine conference, this year in beautiful downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota. Consequently, the Atlantic Magazine decided to do a report on what went on at RightOnLine. Unfortunately, the whole thing was filled with opinions stated as fact, misconstructions of facts, and outright lies. Sadly, along with the rest of the Old Media, it seems as if the veracity of The Atlantic has taken a hit in this bad Obama economy.

The Atlantic assigned third string reporter Tina Dupuy to handle the RightOnLine retrospective, apparently, if her reports are any indication, because she was already in town to cover Netroots Nation. Netroots Nation is the far left conference made famous by the Daily Kos and its YearlyKos conference. YearlyKos started in 2006 and was later re-branded as Netroots Nation in 2008.

As always the RightOnLine event was held at the same time and in the same city as this year’s left-wing extravaganza. AFP does this because, in AFP President Tim Phillips’ words, “to see the true nature of our opponents.”

In order to ingratiate herself with the Nutrooters, at the top of her piece the Atlantic’s Dupuy went right for the left’s favorite boogey men: the dreaded Koch Brothers. Dupuy lamented, “Why is there a giant Koch-funded conservative gathering at the same time and in the same city as Netroots Nation, anyway?”

The question is laced with a typical authoritarian, leftist mindset. Its base assumption seems to be a raise of the eyebrow that the conservative group would dare visit the same city at the same time as the Netrooters. With her very question Dupuy seems to be saying that the conservative groups should somehow not even be allowed to confront the Netrooters head on. It’s a travesty, a shock, an affront to the good Nutrooters, I guess.

Someone has neglected to tell Dupuy that in America conservatives don’t have to ask lefties for permission to hold a conference.

Dupuy’s very second paragraph incongruously hung another lefty trope onto her coverage of RightOnLine. Dupuy belabored the contrasting of RightOnLine and Netroots Nation by trying to say that AFP’s event is somehow like a crisis pregnancy center fooling young women into entering only to find themselves being pressured not to have an abortion.

It was an absurd and malapropos comparison, but good reporting wasn’t Dupuy’s goal. Showing her far left pals that she is one of the kool kids was.

After a few paragraphs about Netroots Nation, Dupuy discusses the costs of the two conferences. Netroots Nation costs its attendees “a staggering $355 per registration,” Dupuy tells us. Meanwhile, RightOnLine is only $120 per person.

Dupuy thinks she knows why this is true: it’s them gosh darn Koch Brothers, dontcha know!

Sponsored by the Americans for Prosperity Foundation, RighOnline benefits from the Foundation’s annual budget of $10 million, overseen by board chairman David Koch, of Koch Industries-fame. Netroots’ filings to the IRS show a budget of less than $1 million.

In short, the foundation putting on RightOnline has more than ten times the cash of the liberal tweeples two blocks away, making it easier to attend.

This is an amusing conceit but it utterly fails the test of good journalism. In fact, this is merely her opinion stated as fact. Dupuy did not offer a scintilla of proof that the Koch Brothers’ money makes RightOnLine cheaper to attend than Netroots Nation. She offered no comparative budgets, no analysis of speaking fees, no discussion of the costs of the various event venues… in short, she gave no proof at all that AFP’s association with the Koch Brothers made RightOnLine cheaper to attend. She just stated it as fact and that was that.

Thus we have a singular lie stated as fact.

Dupuy goes on to snark about some of the speakers at RightOnLine. Andrew Breitbart, as always, came in for some lefty hatred, as did the beautiful Michelle Malkin and videographer James O’Keefe. Dupuy was also unhappy that Michelle Bachmann and Tim Pawlenty had the gall to show up at an event in their home state.

Then came this garbled “fact” by the inimitable Dupuy:

Most tellingly, there’s what looks like a shrine to Sarah Palin, a 5-foot tall painting of the governor in the hallway of the event space.

Untrue. The painting, painted by patriotic artist Steve Penley, was actually a door prize for a lucky participant at RightOnLine. It had nothing to do with any “shrine.” But snarkily saying “Palin shrine” appealed to the extremists better than “door prize,” I guess. So, much for serious “reporting.”

Next we find Dupuy reporting a false “fact” and using that false fact as a cudgel with which to beat up the conservatives.

It’s a conference about being online but the attendees haven’t been tweeting very much. It’s maybe one every ten minutes on their chosen hashtag #ro2011 — compared to the Netroots twitter stream which has been a reliable geyser.

Wow, a conference based on Internet activism had no Internet action. That would be a major indictment if it were true. Naturally, it isn’t true. You see, the hash tag for RightOnLine was not #ro2011 as Dupuy reports. It was instead #ro11. No wonder Dupuy couldn’t find any Tweets about the conference. She wasn’t even looking in the right place.

Dupuy winds up her piece with something finally relevant to a discussion of two conferences — one from the right and one from the left — that have based their programs on Internet activism. She discusses the RightOnLine take on the badly named issue of Net Neutrality.

Of course, she gets the whole thing wrong. Her premise about Net Neutrality is, as she says Senator Al Franken says, “the most important free speech issue of our time.” Dupuy says this as if Al Franken is for freedom of speech on the Internet. This is untrue. Al Franken and the left-wingers at Netroots Nation want the Internet to be a wholly controlled and owned arm of the federal government. This would, we all understand, necessarily mean that the federal government would have the power to say who is allowed to speak on the Internet and will fully regulate what they say.

There is no “freedom” in complete government control of anything. But that is precisely what the left wants. They want to quash the freedom of invention, enterprise, and most especially the freedom of speech that has been the hallmark of the Internet to come to an end, mired in government red tape and iron-fisted control.

Why does the left want to do this to the Internet? Why else but to eliminate the voices that oppose them.

In fact, Dupuy’s hack report on RightOnLine is a perfect example of this. Instead of a report on RightOnLine, we got her left-wing opinion, we got garbled facts, and outright lies about the conservative conference all meant to ridicule and diminish what the folks at RightOnLine intended to do.

Now, what would have made Dupuy’s piece actually informative would have been a discussion of the real differences between the Nutrooters and RightOnLine. And there are quite a few.

Netroots Nation is chock full of some very wonky programs. The lefties drill down to the deepest Internet facts, figures, and capabilities. On the other hand, RightOnLine has since day one sufficed with Twitter 101, blogging 101, and other beginner’s programs meant to help their local activists learn how to use the Internet to further conservative ideas. RightOnLine has not made arcane wonkiness a part of its programs like Netroots Nation has. The fact is the two conferences are very different in character in this respect.

Dupuy’s piece failed nearly every test of good journalism. Sadly, this is what passes for journalism these days. No wonder the profession is dying.

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