08/05/2010 02:27 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Busting NewsBusters

I learned about the existence of NewsBusters when its staffer, Alex Fitzsimmons, wrote a column entitled: MSNBC Promotes Findings of Roosevelt Institute Liberals Pushing 'New Family Strategy.' NewsBusters took the position that interviewers must issue a warning label when they present the views of a "liberal" or an "openly gay" scholar:

Carbone and Cahn are not disinterested academics, as Jansing led viewers to believe. Rather, they are liberal activists nostalgic for the sexual revolution of the 1960's and the radical ideology it promulgated.

Jansing also managed to overlook the resume of Jonathan Rauch, an openly gay liberal columnist at the National Journal. After reciting a glowing passage from Rauch's review of the book, Jansing asked: "Is that pretty much a good summary of it, June?"

I responded in an essay explaining that Carbone (my spouse) and Cahn's thesis in their book "Red Families v. Blue Families" was the opposite of what NewsBusters claimed.

The broader question I raised in the essay was why NewsBusters was so eager to attack scholars working to bridge the divides, cool the culture wars, and strengthen all American families? Why would it invent a thesis for Carbone and Cahn's book (which its staff never read) that was the opposite of what they actually wrote? Why do the "dividers" hate the bridge builders, and why do they think it is good for the nation to foment a faux culture war?

NewsBusters only criticizes liberals and conservatives that go off-message and criticize conservatives. It purports to point out inaccuracies and biases in "liberal" media coverage. Its response to my essay is entitled: Huffington Post Attacks 'Dividers' at NewsBusters. Even the title is an error. I criticized NewsBusters. I do not work for the Huffington Post.

NewsBusters responded to my essay by repeating its false statements about Carbone and Cahn's thesis:

Testifying to his wife's credentials as a "bridge builder," Black described how her book pits the so-called "Blue Family Paradigm" against the "Red State dream."

"Red Families v Blue Families" does not pit two paradigms against each other. Carbone and Cahn explain why the Blue Family Paradigm embraces traditional values and embodies the Red State dream. They also explain that Red State families frequently follow the Blue Family Paradigm. Carbone and Cahn's message is how much we have in common. My essay explained why the "Blue Family Paradigm" embraced rather than rejected Red State values:

The central paradox of what Carbone and Cahn found is that the dominant Blue Paradigm embraces -- and helps produce -- lasting marriages, love, fidelity, and having and nurturing children. Moreover, it asks the partners to exhibit personal autonomy and responsibility. The Blue Family Paradigm is the Red State dream.

NewsBusters is so committed to dividing Americans into antagonistic Red and Blue camps that it falsely pictured the bridge builders, Carbone and Cahn. They are depicted as radical scholars eager to increase the divisions between Red and Blue states, when they seek to do the opposite. When my essay explained its error, NewsBusters characterized what I wrote as the opposite of what I actually wrote.

It simply makes stuff up to suit its ideological attacks. Here is what it says it knew about Carbone and Cahn's thesis when it ran its initial column attacking them:

Today, as we discuss in our book, Red Families v. Blue Families, the part of the country identified with what we call "the Blue Family Paradigm" has embraced a new family strategy geared to the needs of the post-industrial economy. This paradigm emphasizes the importance of women's as well as men's workforce participation, egalitarian gender roles, and the delay of family formation until both parents are emotionally and financially ready.

This is the thesis that NewsBusters invented, and ascribed to Carbone and Cahn, on the basis of reading those two sentences (from an essay they wrote):

Carbone and Cahn are not disinterested academics, as Jansing led viewers to believe. Rather, they are liberal activists nostalgic for the sexual revolution of the 1960's and the radical ideology it promulgated.

Nothing in what Carbone and Cahn wrote in those two sentences in their essay could provide any basis for the thesis that NewBusters invented and ascribed to them. It made this up and got it all wrong. How would NewsBusters respond if a liberal wrote a media column as bad as its column? It doesn't hold itself to any standards of accuracy or diligence. When it is caught making things up it offers this lame excuse:

Excuse me for failing to realize a book couched in the terms of liberal families versus conservative families actually contains a unifying message.

Yes, you read that correctly. NewsBusters' excuse for inventing a false thesis is that their staff only read the title of Carbone and Cahn's book. It assumed that their title meant that their book applauded the culture wars, even though the book's central thesis is a unifying message that opposes efforts to set families in red and blue states in conflict.

NewsBusters offers no excuse, no apology, and no retraction for its lowest moment, its demand that interviewers identify scholars that they quote as "gay," even when being gay has no bearing on the subject being discussed. NewsBusters, of course, does not believe that heterosexuals require a warning label when they are quoted.

NewsBusters needs to bust itself. Does it really want to go down this road? Does it believe that homophobia is a "conservative value" that it wishes to preserve? Is it comfortable with lazy "analysts" inventing what they think the authors of a book wrote, without bothering to do even the most basic research? Is it comfortable with refusing to admit error? Why does it operate as a hyper-partisan group that only attacks liberals, turns a blind eye to the bias and lies of the "right", and seeks to demonize those who are trying to build bridges? Why not do something truly radical (and conservative) and join Carbone and Cahn in building bridges and working to strengthen all American families? If working with the Roosevelt Institute to strengthen families is a bridge too far for you, why not join Carbone and Cahn in their work with the (conservative) Family Scholars group?