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August 05, 2014

Daily Beast: Move America Forward Charity "Shady," Over-Connected to Chief Officer's Political Operations

Revealed by the left-leaning ProPublica and the Daily Beast, and excerpted by Ed Morrissey.

I have no idea if any of this is true. I would like very much to know if it is true.

The right-leaning media has a weakness, which is that it is tiny, and furthermore, that the actual reportorial arm of that media is disproportionately small, even within the small universe of the right-wing media. We're very heavy with commentators, and very light with reporters.

So reportorial resources are very limited, and any right-leaning paper has to choose, for example, whether to put one of its few reporters on this story for a couple of weeks, or keep that reporter on a story more likely to produce well-received stories on Obama's scandals.

The net result is often that exposés like this are never proven, nor disproven, to the satisfaction of anyone on the right.

We wind up walking away with this sense that we've been tricked, either by a sharp operator on the right who cons us out of money, or a sharp operator on the left, who delivers a hit piece which we don't quite believe and also don't quite disbelieve.

But we don't usually get any kind of definitive resolution on the underlying facts. We don't trust the Daily Beast or ProPublica (for good reason), and we'd really, really like to see someone we do trust look into this to give us a report we wouldn't be as skeptical about.

I'm pretty sure that if the facts were resolved one way or the other, about 90% of the conservative movement would agree as to what the response should be.

But due to our lack of journalistic resources, we usually don't see the facts resolved one way or another.

I hope in this case that one of the papers with some reporters -- the Washington Examiner (Byron York, Philip A. Klein), NRO, Breitbart (John Sexton would be good for this), the Washington Times, etc. -- does in fact see the value in assigning one solid reporter to cover this, if only to confirm the Daily Beast's findings. (Or, of course, to dispute it.)

Not knowing is usually the worst state of mind a person can be in. It creates a lot of anxiety. Once someone knows, they know the right way forward. But when they don't know, they're stuck in a gray bog. Can't move forward, daren't move back.

It also, in my experience, creates a lot of intraparty fighting, because when people don't know the facts, they tend to rely on their hunches and gut instincts to provide answers, and strangely (I keep observing this; it's my pet theory) people tend to invest their hunches and gut instincts with a great deal more emotional backstop than their facts.

That is, when people suspect but do not know, they become more emotional about a claim than they would if they knew it with 100% certainty.

And that leads to conservatives fighting quite angrily about things that neither side has anything more than a hunch about. Logic would suggest that when someone is basing his conclusion on guesswork, he'd tend to be less emotionally invested in that conclusion; it's my belief that the human brain works, in fact, in the exact opposite manner, and that the less sure someone is, the more emotionally invested he becomes in being right in his guess.

Facts are impersonal but guesses are personal. Guesses say something about us, about the quality of our minds' ability to ferret out the truth from lie even in a landscape of imperfect information.

Whereas a plain ol' fact is owned by nobody, and knowing a fact says less about one's mind than making an informed guess which proves out right.

After all, any idiot can know a fact.*

I think the hunch-forming/instinct part of the brain must be closely wired to the emotional formation one. In fact I'm pretty sure that's not even a speculation; I'm pretty sure that neurologists believe that "instinct" and emotion both flow out of the amygdala.

My point is to appeal to our small cadre of over-taxed journalists that this story should be followed up on, and that there is a very important political benefit to doing so, even though that political benefit might not be as readily apparent as the benefit of, say, an article on the IRS scandal.

I also think that maybe our side is hurt a bit by the idea that we should cover up, or at least ignore, potential problems within the movement itself. People rarely commit explicitly believing such a dunderheaded notion, and will deny it if asked, but I do think that perhaps we're not quite admitting to ourselves the extent to which our first reaction is to just ignore bad news and hope it's not true.

It's a bad reaction. Again, if people know one way or the other, they can make choices with confidence.

I fear that stories like this one, left in doubt in the minds of conservatives, will remain in a state of being half-believed and half-disbelieved -- and that will tend to weaken the movement overall.

Not to mention the very strong possibility that many will just react to this state of unknowing by saying, "Ah, well, they're all corrupt; I won't donate to any of these charities or political operations," which is certainly the worst possible outcome (as far as the political aspirations of the movement).

* This statement does not apply to Vox, for reasons that I assume are obvious, even to Vox.

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posted by Ace at 12:30 PM

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