Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Charlie Sykes: Torn Between Two Liars, Looking Like A Fool

Yesterday, I wrote a fairly comprehensive expose on the biggest lies told by Brian Sikma and his propagandist group, Media Trackers.

I pointed out that Sikma outdid himself when he came out with the false story of a Republican volunteer who claimed to be savagely beaten. Sikma even went so far as to repeat his libelous lies on the Charlie Sykes show. Despite it being an obvious hoax, Sikma swore up and down that he verified all the facts and stood by his report.

Brian Sikma
That is, he stood by his story until it became unraveled and he had to admit that it wasn't true. But even then, he lied again, trying to put all the blame on the fake victim and ignoring his own boasting of how he verified his supposed facts.

Because of his scurrilous attacks on an innocent man, he has put himself in line for a possible libel lawsuit that could cost him and Media Trackers a lot of money. Even James Wigderson had to admit that Sikma could be in a world of hurt because of his reckless behavior.

Charlie Sykes did not hesitate to throw Sikma under the bus in order to try to salvage his own reputation:
Then came Media Trackers which claimed it had hard evidence, in the form of a lengthy transcript of graphic and obscene threats against Woods, which they attributed to Pocan's gay partner. If true -- and if MT could verify the information -- the story was a potential game changer. But...

On yesterday's show, I expressed skepticism about the story and asked Brian Sikma how he knew this was not a hoax -- specifically noting the pattern we've seen elsewhere -- and how he had "verified" the now-discredited text messages. Sikma cited multiple sources who had "verified" the texts.

But despite his "sources," obviously the text messages had not been verified, because they were fake.

The group issued this statement last night:

Media Trackers regrets that we were repeatedly lied to and misled. We regret that our readers were subject to the dishonest claims of a dishonest individual. Despite the best efforts to verify the accuracy and integrity of certain claims, a cover-up sometimes works. Those who create and maintain such fabrications deserve to be ruthlessly exposed for they hold the power to destroy the credibility of innocent people.


Unfortunately, that's not really good enough.

The ultimate responsibility for the lies and deception rests with Kyle Wood; but it was unacceptably sloppy to run with the unsubstantiated story.
But if Sykes thinks that he's out of the woods by dogging out Sikma, he's sorely mistaken.

Let me explain.

My colleague, Jeff Simpson, already pointed out that Christian Schneider*, aka Atomic Pantload, had also done his own bit of trouble with this story.

Christian Schneider
When it came out that the story was a lie, Schneider first put a single line way at the bottom of the post updating people that the story had been recanted. No apologies, no explanations about his role in it, just that one line.

Then suddenly, the story went poof into cyberspace. In it's place, Schneider came out with a new post, utterly changing his story:
Earlier today, I wrote a lengthy post about this Daily Caller story that detailed an alleged attack of a gay GOP campaign staffer in Dane County.

From what I now understand, there are some questions about some details that appeared in the original story, which I quoted at length. As a result, I decided to hold off on running the post until I can verify some of the facts that have been reported.

Whoa! So Schneider is part of MJS management now?

Note how he indicates the story on the same day he wrote it? I wonder how he explains Jeff using that post this morning, days after Schneider wrote the original post.

Schneider then did a follow up post again repeating his alleged skepticism:
When I first heard the story, I wanted to write about it, but I questioned some of the details in the original Daily Caller story. So I took down my original blog post and began making attempts to talk to Wood himself to get more details.

On Saturday afternoon, Wood and I talked for around a half hour. He was very pleasant. He sounded calm and credible, adding details to already published reports of the incident. I was always aware that there was still a question as to whether the incident actually happened, which is why I titled the post in the form of a question. But to me, his story at least seemed plausible. I wanted to give him the chance to tell it it public.

As it turns out, my original skepticism was well-founded. It is still unclear as to how much of Wood's story took place, if any at all. He clung to his story until today at 3:52, when I received an e-mail from him verifying a detail in my blog post about him. At that point, he said he would no longer be speaking to the media. Presumably, he recanted his story to the police shortly thereafter.
Huh? Now he's saying that he spoke to Wood on Saturday, after he posted his original story? And now he's claiming to be a reporter? I don't know which is the bigger fallacy, the story or that claim.

Schneider obviously thinks he's safe to say what he wants since no one can know what he originally wrote, as that he had deleted it.

Oh,Schneider is such a silly man. Even before I could get online, a thoughtful friend and already sent me the link to his original post, via Google Cache. I ask you, gentle reader, does this really look like the post of a person filled with skepticism and doubt, or of a man who hadn't already interviewed the alleged victim?
Beaten for being a gay Republican? An interview with Kyle Wood

By Christian Schneider
Oct. 28, 2012

At 7:00 last Wednesday morning, Kyle Wood was just one of thousands of campaign staffers strewn throughout the country, making phone calls and knocking on doors for candidates on the ballot in November. But an hour later, Wood was lying on the floor of his apartment, covered in blood, having been the victim of a beating he believes was politically motivated.

Wood, 29, who is volunteering for Republican Chad Lee in a Madison-area congressional race, believes the attack was punishment for “betraying” his fellow gays. “My feeling, based on the statements that were made [during the attack], it probably had something to do with the fact that I support a Republican candidate running against an openly gay man,” Wood told me. “And as a gay man, I’m supposed to support that gay man. And I don’t. “ (Lee is running against openly gay Democratic State Assemblyman Mark Pocan.)"

And since Google Cache links don't last forever, another reader provided me with the pdf form of the article, which I have available for the gentle reader here.

The whole story seems to be rather self-assured and the work of a two-bit hack that was trying to score some cheap political points, even if it meant smearing and libeling an innocent man.

It makes me wonder if Schneider and MJS are also going to be liable to a libel lawsuit.

But this is where Sykes has got himself a problem.

Schneider is a "Senior Fellow" at the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute, yet another right wing propaganda group funded by the Bradley Foundation, as well as a member of ALEC.

Sykes is Schneider's editor there.

Charlie Sykes
If Sykes wants to be consistent, he's going to have to point out that Schneider told a lie as egregious, if not worse, than the one Sikma told. Then he's going to have to decide whether he can use Schneider's work anymore.

And if Sykes doesn't want to hold Schneider to the same level of accountability, he's going to have to explain why not. Would it be because Schneider is a higher caliber hack and liar?

I have no clue what Sykes will do.

In fact, I'm a little surprised that Sykes even called Sikma out on his garbage. Sykes doesn't have an issue with telling lies himself. Every time that PolitiFact has checked his statements, he has been caught with his pants on fire. And when he is confronted with his lies, Sykes readily admits it:
"My ‘evidence’? Absolutely none."

Sykes went on to label his remark "an off-hand wisecrack" -- "You know, humor, hyperbole, joke."
Which brings us to the same question I asked yesterday:
My question is, given how often so many of them have been proven to be dishonest - whether on their own volition or by feeding off of stories from people like Sikma - how can anyone believe what any one of the right wing propagandists, bloggers and squawkers?

*Not to be confused with the other Christian Schneider, though how the mistake could be made is pretty obvious.

Cross posted at Whallah!


  1. Outstanding that you got his original post thought it was gone for good!

    SO in Schneider's fake apology he is saying that he wrote a story titled "an interview with kyle wood" BEFORE he interviewed Kyle wood.

  2. Great work putting the dots together. And I have a feeling I know where the cache tip came from.

  3. So, let's just clarify: He's claiming in one post that he wrote the original story but didn't post it. Which is clearly not true - not only did he post it, but it was up for days, and then the JS originally just put a line at the bottom linking to the recantation, then they moved that line to the top, then they removed it completely and are pretending it was never up. But in another post he claims he did post the original story, but it was just up for a short time. I think the libel suit is going to have a lot of defendants. The JS, Sikma, Sykes, Schneider, the supposed victim... Media Trackers, WPRI.... Bradley Foundation... man.

  4. Man, this is involved. Complicated. Chronologies of events. It is sometimes truly a bitch to be a serious writer, and I applaud your efforts, Capper, in getting to the bottom of all this. A+ job, Capper!

  5. Screen shots baby. Screen shots and pdfs save the day. Nice work Capper!!!!!

  6. You are hereby cited for poor blog practices to wit: Egregious* Godwin's Law of Nazi Analogies violation.

    * "*Not to be confused with the other Christian Schneider, though how the mistake could be made is pretty obvious."

    I'm ok with "atomic pantload", but the above is beyond the bounds.

    1. Egregious? Apparently you don't understand the policies that the modern day Schneider is promoting.

  7. Excellent reporting, Capper.

    The FCC, which oversees broadcasting, stands behind talk show hosts right to lie to the public.

    Somehow, we need a strategy to publicly embarrass Sykes, big time. And yes, the FCC also.

  8. There is one error in this account. I closely watched the Kyle Wood train wreck unfold. The blog entry linked under "utterly changing his story" was NOT a response or replacement for the pulled interview. Note that the "note on the alleged gay... assault" post is dated Oct 25, and the pulled interview was posted on Oct 28.

    In fact, the Oct 25 post was put up minutes after a *different* post of Christian's was also pulled. At 3:56 pm on Oct 25, a lengthy blog entry entitled "Was the beating of a gay GOP campaign worker a 'hate crime'?" appeared on JSOnline, only to vanish less than a half hour later. The "note on the alleged gay assault" post was made as an explanation for pulling that Oct 25 entry.

    In that pulled entry -- of which I have a partial screenshot, and will email Capper if provided an address -- Schneider was mostly concerned with discussing the idea of hate crimes. (He's against them, and he quoted Russ Feingold for backup.) Naturally, Schneider did add, "These brutal assaults [including the Kedzie allegations] are a sign that politics may be entering a new golden era of intimidation and threats."

    So here's the score: TWO pulled entries, and TWO explanatory posts. What I find shocking about Schneider is that he expressed doubt after shitcanning one entry, but then went right ahead and posted a lengthy interview, clearly knowing all along that his source was a joke.

    It's obvious from the pulled interview that Schneider felt so strongly that his source was lying that he set the path for his inevitable backpedaling within that very article.

    It's pretty ridiculous when people that call themselves journalists expect to be able to air anybody's bullshit claim without skepticism -- and then fold their arms and say "See -- I knew it along!" when they get busted.

    I'm not sure what JSOnline is going to do about the ethical standards for their forum declining to the levels of Charlie Sykes and Brian Sikma. Are we in for another Christian Schneider article predicting blood in the streets in Madison after the election?"