Yesterday, ThinkProgress reported news that a Muslim cab driver in New York City had been assaulted by a passenger simply because of his faith. The passenger, 21-year-old Michael Enright, asked the cabbie if he was a Muslim and “when the driver said yes,” Enright “pulled a knife and slashed him in the throat, arm and lip.”
Today on Fox News, right-wing blogger Michelle Malkin discussed the incident and argued that the real story is not about the hate crime, but rather, the progressive blogosphere. “Something really ugly happened,” she said. “Time and again, when something like this happens — any random incident of violence — there are people on the left with a knee-jerk impulse to indict the right.” As evidence, Malkin pointed to comments left on ThinkProgress:
MALKIN: Within an hour of this thing happening, people not really knowing fully who the perpetrator was and as details did come out, you know, this is no right winger, there’s no evidence whatsoever that he’s identified with the Tea Party and yet if you look at the comments and headlines of some of these blogs, let me read some. […]
[T]he bilge spewing commenters at ThinkProgress immediately indicted Newt Gingrich, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and yes, right here it says, “Thanks Fox.”
On her blog, Malkin also indicts TP for statements left by “bilge-spewing commenters.”
In our story, ThinkProgress never mentioned anything about Enright being a right winger or a member of the Tea Party. The original post simply reported the facts that were known at the time and continually updated as new information about the story became available.
It’s odd that Malkin would indict “the left side of the blogosphere,” and ThinkProgress in particular, for comments posted on our website because Malkin herself, on her own blog, absolves herself from any association with what her commenters may say:
I do not own your comments and I expressly disclaim any and all liability that may result from them. By commenting on my site, you agree that you retain all ownership rights in what you post here and that you will relieve me from any and all liability that may result from those postings.
ThinkProgress has a similar policy, allowing commenters regardless of their political persuasion to write and post comments that agree or disagree with our perspective.
But to recap: Malkin is not liable for what her commenters write, but she feels that it is perfectly appropriate to attack the entire progressive blogosphere based on comments from one blog. Salon’s Glenn Greenwald once called this “one of the lowest and most dishonest tactics,” attempting “to smear and demonize…by exploiting statements left on the blog by commenters despite the fact that the comments have no relationship to the arguments made by the blogger.” It’s a “[s]tandard tactic on the Right,” Greenwald tweeted today referencing Malkin’s Fox News appearance, “(1) use commenters to impugn liberal blogs; (2) screech when done to them.”