Goldwater Rule? What Goldwater Rule? Fox News "Analyzes" Media Matters' David Brock

Up front, let me just congratulate Media Matters on their DropFox campaign. It must be working really well, because Ailes & Co has ramped up the scale and scope of their attacks on Media Matters. Beginning with the call to ask the IRS to revoke

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Up front, let me just congratulate Media Matters on their DropFox campaign. It must be working really well, because Ailes & Co has ramped up the scale and scope of their attacks on Media Matters. Beginning with the call to ask the IRS to revoke their tax-exempt status, moving on to attack David Brock, and today, "informing" their viewers by putting hack psychiatrist Keith Ablow on to "analyze" Brock.

Ablow is a psychiatrist (and I use the term loosely) who co-wrote a book with Glenn Beck about how one can overcome their addictions/bad habits and become just like...Glenn Beck. That's probably all you need to know about the good "Dr." Ablow, but here's more if you're interested.

Dr. Ablow obediently went on Fox and Friends this morning and brought his "psychological profile" of David Brock.

ABLOW: I looked at him from a distance but you don't have to look very hard to see into the man's mind apparently. This is somebody who seemingly has such low self esteem that he's lurching from one group to another.

Whoever will embrace him and reassure him that he's a decent guy and be his cheerleader in a dramatic way, that's who he's gonna be with.

Remember during the 90's he described himself as a "right wing hit man" and his message machine said this is the guy dedicated to bringing Clinton down. It's always very violent rhetoric about bringing the other father figure to his knees. This I think comes out of his personal life and he'll switch sides depending on whether he thinks he's going to get more acclaim on the other side.

KILMEADE: Right, and you're exactly right, he was a self-described right-wing hit man back in the 90s, now he's a left wing hit man. He was a journalist, now he's an admitted liar, now um, on a book he did regarding Anita Hill he said "I'm coming forward to tell the truth now and the truth is I lied, and it was a terrible lie...so it's perfectly understandable that many people may not know whether to believe me now." What does that say to you?

ABLOW: You can't believe this guy because he's full of self-hatred, which he then projects on the world around him in order to get love. So he's got to have somebody to hate because he thinks that's the way -- the best way -- to galvanize the love in his direction. So yeah, it's always about being a hit man, you know, exposing someone.

There's sexual connotations here, too. Taking the father figure down. This is a guy who was adopted. I don't know whether he has deep-seated feelings about whether he wasn't loved, he was given up for adoption. Now look, a lot of adopted people are well-adjusted but when you've got somebody in the public eye who's switching sides in such vigorous fashion...it goes all the way back to college for this person apparently. When he lied, he told a very, very vigorous lie about his opposition candidate to get the editorship of the college paper in order to bring that guy down.

He's looking any way that he can get narcissistic reinforcement to tell him he's a decent person and one good way to do it is you identify a group, you pick on them, you therefore get accolades from the other side.

He switched sides when his book on Clinton didn't do that well, so the right wing didn't embrace him quite as much so he said you know what? Screw those people, I'm going for the left.

There's so much wrong with what Ablow says I don't know exactly where to start, so I'm going to go for the propaganda techniques Ablow employs. Note the number of times he calls Brock a liar. And the tone of voice he uses when he talks about him "switching sides". The psychobabble about seeking love, yada yada is a load of nonsense, but it plays well to emotion-driven viewers who don't really look at facts or objective analysis. Ablow's goal isn't to really explain Brock to anyone. It's to use jargon and Freudian nonsense to craft a propaganda spin on Brock: He's unreliable, he's a traitor, he's a liar.

But Ablow has a problem, too. There's this pesky little Goldwater rule which constrains mental health professionals to speak in general terms. Here it is:

On occasion psychiatrists are asked for an opinion about an individual who is in the light of public attention or who has disclosed information about himself/herself through public media. In such circumstances, a psychiatrist may share with the public his or her expertise about psychiatric issues in general. However, it is unethical for a psychiatrist to offer a professional opinion unless he or she has conducted an examination and has been granted proper authorization for such a statement." (cited In Friedman, 2008, p. 1348).

I would say that his commentary above is pretty specifically targeted at Brock and not "psychiatric issues in general". I find it interesting that Ablow didn't address the fact that much of Brock's disaffection with the right wing was the result of their homophobic ways and the realization that journalism, as defined by the right, is not journalism at all. From an exchange with Tucker Carlson in Slate in 1997:

I'm disappointed that you've given me so little to work with. You write that I "seem disillusioned with journalism itself." Well, yes. Because journalism is so often seen as a way of advancing a particular agenda or spin, and the pressures to do predictable punditry are so great, there seems no way of accommodating original thinking and unexpected conclusions. A conservative who says nice things about Hillary? It doesn't compute in the Crossfire culture. Am I wrong?

They should ask David Frum to do an analysis of "journalism", Fox style after he, too, was shoved out of the conservative mainstream. Here's Brock's defense of his "switch":

One of these is the profound disillusionment with the Republican leadership. Just as I found out that the conservatives were willing to stick with Aldrich's lies for political gain, so too have many conservatives concluded that the Republican leadership is about holding onto power with no sense of higher purpose. Those members of Congress who might challenge the leadership are afraid to do so in public, perhaps for fear of telephone calls implying retribution from so-called True Believers like the one you got from Michael Ledeen.

Another is my desire to be "off the team" as a partisan conservative. Considering their appalling performance in the Aldrich affair, when I now read the Wall Street Journal editors' admonitions that the Clinton administration "come clean," I gag. People are sick of the hypocrisy of apologists on both sides and don't want to be told what to think. A third point to consider is my sense--this, from a self-confessed "right-wing hit man"--that scandal politics, the criminalizing of policy differences, and attack commentary has run its course. It's time to try to advance a legitimate conservative case on the grounds of policy.

Throughout the Fox News hit by Ablow & Co, there's an assumption that a) Media Matters is liberal; and b) David Brock has abandoned conservative values to become a liberal. In fact, nothing in any of his books or articles suggests that at all. Brock simply got tired of an unanswered conservative propaganda machine that allows for sloppy policy and propaganda spinning and decided to call it out. But don't tell Fox News that. They might feel...unloved.

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