November 11, 2013

Lara Logan's non-apology on CBS' 60 minutes was so hollow, the walls echoed. Shifting all of the blame over to Dylan Davies and his book (now pulled from bookshelves), published by the CBS-owned Threshold Publishers, left most viewers with more questions than answers. After all, Davies' account was the heart of their "investigation", one they claimed to have spent a year on. Once Davies' account was shown to be false, CBS should have retracted the entire story.

But what about Threshold and their CBS-owned parent, Simon & Schuster? A cursory review of their current book list reveals that it's largely the go-to imprint for conspiracies and fiction, though it claims to be a non-fiction conservative publisher.

Here are five Threshold-published books and authors CBS should definitely not ever feature on 60 Minutes:

  1. Jack Cashill, "Deconstructing Obama" - Jack Cashill is a blogger at WorldNetDaily and, and is also father of the claim that Barack Obama's father was really Frank Marshall Davis, a poet living in Hawaii at the same time Stanley Ann Dunham was falling in love with Barack Hussein Obama the First.

    Cashill is also terrible with Photoshop, as Media Matters demonstrated back in 2011.

    According to Cashill, not only is Davis Obama's real father, but Bill Ayers was the ghostwriter for Obama's first book, "Dreams From My Father." And not only was Obama's book ghostwritten, so were his love letters to his girlfriend, published in David Maraniss' biography making the rounds in 2012.

    Salon writer Eric McHenry gets right to the heart of Cashill's theory in an article deconstructing Cashill. McHenry writes, "Cashill's theory, specifically, is that 'Obama's entire life is one massive fraud,' and he looks at the president's writings through that lens alone."

    McHenry also spends some time examining Cashill's pretzel-twisting evolution from the man who used Obama's college poetry as proof Obama was too stupid to have written his own biography to the man who argues that his poem was too good to be Obama's, and must have been "slipped" to him by Daddy Davis.

  2. Tom Fitton, "The Corruption Chronicles" - Fitton is also the head of Judicial Watch. Most recently, Fitton came to my attention as the leader of the Groundswell "shadow government" arm, but he's probably most prominent for being that guy who files tons of FOIA requests in order to twist up the ordinary into a conspiracy.

    In 2011, Fitton desperately tried to marginalize the Osama bin Laden raid by claiming the administration would not release photos of bin Laden's dead body because the White House was somehow embarrassed by the victory.

    Also in 2011, Fitton got in a twist over First Lady Michelle Obama's trip to Africa, making wild claims over the cost of the trip and what the purpose was for it. As Media Matters said at the time, "Hatchet-jobs like these are less about good government than they are taking pot-shots at the administration."

    Another Tom Fitton classic is his alleged exposé of Obama and Holder's "extreme racism" behind the George Zimmerman trial.

    Lest we forget, Judicial Watch was begun by crazy Larry Klayman, who most recently called for President Obama to "surrender" and vacate the White House voluntarily.

  3. James O'Keefe, "Breakthrough" - I don't think we have to list all the ways James O'Keefe is dishonest, but if you're inclined, here's our (very large) C&L collection. O'Keefe also has outright lies which were never fact-checked by Threshold editors in his book, which is why they're one of the defendants named in Brett Kimberlin's recently-filed RICO lawsuit.

    In Breakthrough, O'Keefe wrote that Kimberlin "pioneered the art of 'swatting' -- that is convincing the police of a domestic incident severe enough to trigger a SWAT response at the home of a political opponent." He made that claim with absolutely no facts to back it up. The entire claim is a paranoid invention of conservatives who didn't especially care for the fact that Kimberlin's non-profit was fighting for voting rights and honesty in the United States Supreme Court.

    O'Keefe also brags about his "citizen journalism" leading to the demise of ACORN, the foray into Planned Parenthood offices, and more. All good stuff for investigative reporters who don't really care much about facts.

  4. John Dodson, "The Unarmed Truth" - CBS didn't actually learn their lesson after they featured John Dodson as the "Fast and Furious whistleblower", only to have the entire report blown apart by some actual real investigative reporting by Fortune Magazine.

    What you need to know about "Fast and Furious" is that there was only one gunwalker, and his name was John Dodson. The Nation reports:

    The one exception is agent John Dodson, who used $2,500 in taxpayer money to buy six guns from a local dealer, passed them to a trafficker, and then took a long vacation. This is the only proven instance of gun-walking under Fast and Furious—and Dodson, incredibly, was the “brave whistleblower” who exposed the entire operation.

    CBS took the bait and ran with it on CBS Evening News:

    CBS News never fully checked out his story, and never talked to Voth—and still hasn’t retracted the piece. Yet neither Dodson nor anyone else has ever proven there were orders to perform gun-walking, nor proven any other episode other that Dodson’s own. (Voth was deeply shocked by Dodson’s actions—a “blow he couldn’t fathom,” according to Eban, who added that he began losing weight and sleep. “There would be no way,” Voth is quoted as saying, “to foreshadow this.”)

    The CBS reporter who "broke" the story was Sharyl Attkisson, who received an award for "Excellence in Journalism" from Accuracy in Media, the "watchdog" organization originally funded with large donations from Richard Mellon Scaife and Shelby Cullom Davis. The award was presented at CPAC 2012, where they honored Breitbart's Dana Loesch alongside Attkisson.

  5. Jerome Corsi, "The Obama Nation" - Corsi's second book, published by World Net Daily was due to be released just weeks before the White House released the long form copy of Obama's actual real birth certificate, but Threshold Publishing laid the foundation for the birther theme to continue long past when it should have died.

    Swiftboater Corsi's first book about Obama, The Obama Nation, legitimized the birther theme, allegations of Obama's chronic drug use, claims that Obama is a "closet Muslim", and more back in 2008. After Corsi's spectacular success with the Swiftboat effort against John Kerry in 2004, he was looking for that second home run.

    Mary Matalin, in her role as chief editor at Threshold, called it "a piece of scholarship, and a good one at that." called it "what a hack journalist might call a 'paste-up job,' gluing together snippets from here and there without much regard for their truthfulness or accuracy."

This is the publishing house CBS owns, the one that published a book full of lies that was the very center of the CBS Benghazi "investigative report." I haven't even mentioned that they also publish Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, because those two aren't shy about their partisan hacksmanship.

In at least two cases, CBS has relied upon Threshold authors as the basis for an "investigative report" that proves itself to be factually challenged after the fact. I think we can move them to the partisan file alongside their Fox News competition now.

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