Fifty “senior intelligence” officials signed a letter recently saying that the Hunter Biden email story was probably Russian disinformation, Politico reported. They admitted that they had “no” new or enlightening “evidence” to introduce, which was noted high up in the piece. Former Director of National Intelligence Jim Clapper was the top signatory. He’s now a CNN contributor, but for some, he’ll always be a guy who lied to Congress. Also present pretty high up was noted anti-Trump Twitter personality John Brennan, an MSNBC analyst and former director of the CIA. Former President Barack Obama’s secretary of defense signed the letter too.
You see where this is going.
Moral inconsistencies and potential ulterior motives didn’t bother the rest of the media — responsible for accurately and comprehensively informing America — which picked up the letter and reported it credulously far and wide.
And so went the latest example in one of the media’s favorite past times: Promoting open letters that confirm biases, signed by people with fancy titles.
To be clear, there’s no evidence as of yet that Russians were involved in this latest of privacy exposure. There was also no evidence to suggest Amy Coney Barrett was inept or corrupt or hated puppies. (RELATED: ‘I Wanted To Get All That Clear’: Sen. John Kennedy Asks Amy Coney Barrett If She Hates ‘Little Warm Puppies’)
Still, American news-consuming audiences were blindsided when 88 “colleagues” at Notre Dame signed a letter saying Amy Coney Barrett should halt her Supreme Court nomination until after the election. Just one problem though — none of the signatories actually worked at the law school.
A similar situation occurred when President Donald Trump nominated Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Around 2,400 law professors signed a letter published by the New York Times opposing Kavanaugh’s nomination, and around 900 female faculty members at law schools signed a different letter arguing that Kavanaugh does not have the “judicial temperament” to sit on the Supreme Court.
Left out of many reports, however, is the fact that an overwhelming majority of law professors are liberals. A Harvard University study of 6,441 law professors found that only 15% of law professors are conservatives.
The same can be said for the female law professors who signed the other letter opposing Kavanaugh, but that letter has another fault – the law school “faculty” who signed the letter aren’t all law professors. While some law professors did sign the letter, it also included other faculty members like librarians and volunteers.
Between 1,500 to 2,000 writers from Canada and the United States signed a letter in early October “in support of trans and nonbinary people and their rights” after J.K. Rowling faced backlash for comments that critics claimed were transphobic. In June, over 1,000 health professionals signed a letter saying that nationwide Black Lives Matter protests, which drew crowds of thousands of people, should not be shut down due to concerns over the spread of coronavirus.
Left out of the breathless coverage: The same kinds of professionals were heralded for impeding protest traffic just weeks prior.
This week, a letter was circulated around North American publishing circles to support trans and non-binary folx. It is a companion to one released in the UK last week. You can read it here: https://t.co/JnzSGQKeGl
— Maureen Johnson (@maureenjohnson) October 7, 2020
More than 150 writers, journalists, and university professors signed a letter from Harper’s magazine over the summer supporting free speech and open debate, which the letter argued was restricted in modern discourse. Shortly after, a response letter emerged saying that the words in the Harper’s letter “reflect a stubbornness to let go of the elitism that still pervades the media industry.”
So it cuts both ways politically. A letter signed by 235 former military leaders who endorsed Trump emerged in September warning that “our historic way of life is at stake” because of Democrats being “welcoming to socialists and Marxists.”
The letter opposing Barrett’s nomination had a similar fault to Kavanaugh’s. None of Barrett’s 88 Notre Dame “colleagues” that signed the letter were actually from the law school. Included in the signatories were 4 gender studies professors, 5 “peace studies” professors, 9 faculty members specializing in English, 7 librarians and not a single lawyer.
In fact, leaders from Notre Dame had praised Barrett’s nomination. University of Notre Dame President Rev. John I. Jenkins called Barrett “a person of the utmost integrity” who “has epitomized the University’s commitment to teaching, scholarship, justice and service to society.” Dean and professor at Notre Dame Law School G. Marcus Cole said that Barrett “is one of the most thoughtful, open-minded, considerate and kind people I have ever met.”
“Judge Barrett has served our nation with true distinction from the bench, and would continue to do so if she were confirmed to serve on our nation’s highest court,” Cole added.