Accuracy in Media

For many years Democratic Party operative Bob Beckel was a regular feature on television, especially on CNN. He last made headlines after the 2000 presidential election, when it was alleged that he tried to persuade some members of the electoral college to vote for Democrats. Then he dropped from sight.

Now, he’s back with a website devoted to “the unrelenting pursuit and exposure of the right.” One of his favorite targets?and the subject of press attention?is Rush Limbaugh. Beckel’s site also has a feature, “Wingnut of the month,” regularly attacking a conservative or Republican. One target is House Republican Majority Leader Tom DeLay, who is labeled a “little man who plays bully and thug and is no more than a punk with a big mouth.”

The old saying about people living in glass houses not throwing stones should apply here, except for the fact that Beckel’s glass house came down in pieces many months ago. His own bio includes this astounding information: “A year ago Beckel was extorted by a criminal group. He worked with the police to arrest the group and prosecute them. The Right seized the story spreading the false rumors that the crime was prostitution not extortion as was later rebuffed by the Court result, but not before the Right launched a major character assassination campaign against Beckel.”

Blaming the right for Beckel’s predicament is startling. Our recollection was that Beckel was exposed in the liberal media for hiring a prostitute and then getting blackmailed to keep it quiet. The journal Campaigns & Elections described the incident this way: “Bob Beckel, manager of Walter Mondale’s?1984 landslide presidential campaign loss, resigned from his consulting job?in the wake of a scandal involving a prostitute who allegedly tried to extort $50,000 from him. Beckel told Maryland’s Montgomery County Police Department he had paid the Fairfax County, Virginia, woman $1,900 for sexual liaisons at his Maryland home in late June, and that days later he found a note on his car and a message on his answering machine demanding money and threatening to release evidence of the woman’s visits to his family and the media?Three people from Alexandria, Fairfax County, and Washington, D.C. were arrested and charged with extortion and conspiracy to commit extortion.”

As the bio states, Beckel was never actually charged with soliciting a prostitute. But it was bad enough that his career appeared to be over after this embarrassment. One observer commented on the Free Republic website, “Personally, I find this story to be a howler. This is/was a professional left propagandist. He and his kind have done major damage to society, in the process smearing many honorable people?This is an appropriate time for a good horselaugh.”

Apparently, Beckel wants to have the last laugh. Leaving this episode behind him, he has returned to the airwaves and in news stories, identified merely as “a veteran Democratic strategist.” He even appeared on Hannity & Colmes, featuring conservative commentator and author Sean Hannity, who treated Beckel with respect. Hannity is a nice guy. Beckel is not.

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