A scorched earth strategy employed by opponents of my academic freedom efforts has been a concerted campaign to attack my credibility. One organization created by the professor unions has even put up a website about me with a section called “Horowitz Fact Checker” to suggest that I have a problem with evidence. Prior to my academic freedom campaign, I published nearly twenty books and hundreds of articles over a forty-year period and without questions being raised about the accuracy or integrity of my work. Yet within a year of launching my academic freedom campaign a rash of articles, written by leftists, appeared across the Internet calling me a liar and someone who played loose with the facts.
Without exception the bases for these claims are either differences of opinion presented as contradictions of fact, trivial errors common to any published text, and in one case a claim repeated from a source that proved to be incorrect. The campaign has been successful enough that whenever there is a liberal in the room now, the phony issue of my credibility is brought to the fore.
This month, when I was in Pennsylvania to speak at Penn State, I appeared from a Harrisburg studio on a segment of the Hannity & Colmes TV Show. I was supposed to talk about an incident that had occurred in a high school in Alabama, where a science teacher had shown his class a film attacking President Bush and other Republicans (the teacher was himself running for elective office as a Democrat). There was no question that the film had been shown; the teacher had been suspended. But before I could finish my comments on the case, the liberal host Alan Colmes interrupted to ask me about an article that had appeared on the website MediaMatters which said that I had “falsely claimed” on an earlier Hannity & Colmes segment that I had not criticized professorial views made outside the classroom in my book The Professors. Because the charge was entirely irrelevant to the subject at hand and I did not want to be deflected from the point I was making, I dismissed the accusation observing that MediaMatters (with which I had many previous encounters) was a “smear site” that should not be taken seriously. Colmes expressed alarm that I should make such an accusation, and after the show I sent him an email explaining my position:
“One reason I refer to MediaMatters as a ‘smear site’ is that they invariably take reasonable differences of opinion and refer to them as ‘lies’ by their adversaries (like me). This is one of those instances. My book, The Professors, makes a case that certain professorial behaviors are non-academic and unprofessional … I have never called for the firing or disciplining of a professor for having leftwing views inside or outside the classroom. The sliver of truth in the MediaMatters’ statement is that since my book is a series of profiles of 101 professors I do describe their general perspectives which may or may not be expressed outside the classroom, and sometimes (but pretty rarely) I do comment on the content of what they say. But there’s a difference between this and saying that because what they say is ludicrous outside the classroom they shouldn’t be in it.”
I posted the email to Colmes in this blog and as if to prove my point Media Matters responded a day later by repeating its deceptive claim and accusing me of lying, about the claim itself:
In the email exchange, Horowitz told Colmes that “reasonable people can disagree about sound-bites on a fast-paced show like Hannity & Colmes where you’re sitting in the dark and things are coming at you from all sides ... but calling people liars over these matters is not right.” In the blog post, he also used the words “lie,” “lied,” “liar,” and “lies” in quotation marks to portray how MediaMatters referred to him. However, in our April 10 item, MediaMatters never referred to Horowitz as a “liar” nor made any assertion that Horowitz “lied.” MediaMatters simply corrected Horowitz’s false claim that he has refrained from criticizing “professors’ political speech” outside of the classroom…
The reader is invited to parse the difference between making false claims and lying.
This was not the first time MediaMatters had attacked me for “falsely” criticizing their site in this manner. Just four months earlier, MediaMatters featured another article whose headline said it all: “Caught Giving False Information Horowitz Attacked MediaMatters With (Yet Another) Falsehood.” But of course that’s not “lying.” To say that it’s lying is….lying.
I have not brought these matters up in search of sympathy; I can take care of myself. I am aware that the creatures at MediaMatters will be energized by any news that their smears may be effective. They already know this or they would not be spending millions of dollars provided by Democratic Party funders to conduct these campaigns. I am publishing so that others may begin to understand the character of the opposition, who share a political DNA with the totalitarians who call themselves "progressives" and who have blighted our age.