By Brad Friedman on 10/26/2012, 11:31am PT  

A new conspiracy theory being floated by apparatchik bloggers funded by Democratic Party bosses claims that a private equity firm that has invested in ship building companies, and is tied to a Mitt Romney adviser, is the sole reason why the GOP candidate has been pushing for a larger Navy in recent weeks. The theory, circulated by Think Progress, suggests that Romney is calling for a larger Navy expressly in hopes of padding the pockets of adviser John Lehman, a former Secretary of the Navy under Ronald Reagan who is now an investment banker with stakes in several ship building companies. Based on that connection, the theorists at Think Progress are alleging Romney will fulfill a direct quid pro quo promised to Lehman in exchange for his serving as one of Romney's top military advisers in the campaign.

Of course, much of what I've just written in the paragraph above is complete bullshit...

It's both factually inaccurate and an insult to Think Progress and their writer Annie-Rose Strasser, who did not charge that Romney's call for a larger Navy is known to be a quid pro quo to Lehman or meant to pad his pockets in any way. It could be, but that's not what Strasser reported in her conspiratorially headlined article "Follow The Money: Why Romney Wants a Bigger Navy" --- nor is there any evidence presented to support such a claim. I blatantly lied about that part. She did, however, accurately point out Lehman's documented background as an investor in ship building companies and his ties as a military adviser to Mitt Romney's campaign. Make of those ties what you will, but there is no evidence of wrongdoing whatsoever presented in the "conspiracy theory" being "floated" by Think Progress. I've just taken part of what they reported, and then pretended that they reported something else about it that they did not.

Unlike Think Progress, however, I'm happy to admit that I misreported on their story which was brought to my attention by a former Think Progress journalist yesterday, one of a whole bunch of very good journalists who left Think Progress in a wave over the last several months due, in no small part, from what I've been told, to the increasingly partisan nature of the once-reliable, if always Democratic-leaning, journalistic arm of the Democratic-supporting Center for American Progress think-tank.

I've been gratified that several TP journalists, both current and former (as well as many others from elsewhere) have shared their agreement with me over the past week that Editor-in-Chief Judd Legum was way out of bounds, and simply wrong to have refused to issue a correction to a factually inaccurate article posted on Monday at TP by writer Aviva Shen, in which she characterized The BRAD BLOG's rather conservative coverage of the very real concerns about the 2011 acquisition of Hart Intercivic, the nation's third largest voting machine company, by a number of Mitt Romney's high-dollar bundlers and former Bain colleagues, as "conspiracy theory".

I detailed the flaws in Think Progress' defamatory article here on Tuesday, and included the complete emails sent back and forth between Legum and myself so that readers could determine for themselves who had the facts right, and who had performed their duties with all of the journalistic integrity of Fox "News", Tucker Carlson's The Daily Caller, or --- the very Rightwing "media" outlets which TP has, for years, taken pains to meticulously and accurately debunk.

Now, at the end of the week, Legum has, beyond any reasonable explanation, still refused to correct the blatantly false article, even as such noted "conspiracy theorists" as OH's former Sec. of State Jennifer Brunner, MSNBC's Ed Schultz, Huffington Post's Dan Froomkin (formerly of the Washington Post), the Washington Post themselves, 60 Minutes' legal analyst and CBS Radio legal editor Andrew Cohen, award-winning journalist, best-selling author and Vanity Fair contributing editor Craig Unger and many others, have all since rung in to report the exact same factually documented points and concerns "conspiracy theories" that we are still smeared by Think Progress for having "floated" several weeks ago when the story first emerged, and again over the weekend in response to NBC's Chief Political Correspondent Chuck Todd. Todd had also, ignorantly, marginalized very real and scientifically supported concerns about the full, proprietary corporate privatization of our once-public electoral system, as "conspiracies" akin to "Trump birther garbage."

(I'd recommend Unger's story at Salon in particular, for a very quick overview of just how vulnerable Hart's machines, and the others used in all 50 states along with it, actually are, as documented by a team of world class computer scientists and security experts in a 2007 study commissioned by Brunner for the state of Ohio when she served as Secretary of State. Also note that Hart admits in the same article that they haven't made any changes to correct the severe and documented vulnerabilities in their electronic voting and tabulation systems in the 5 years since Brunner's landmark study.)

Though I try to have fun while doing it --- I couldn't emotionally survive these days if I didn't --- I do take my work as a journalist here at The BRAD BLOG, and at a number of other media outlets where I am lucky enough to ply the trade, very seriously. I take my advocacy for, and years of meticulously documented reporting on our troubled democracy very seriously. I take my Constitutionally-protected responsibility for helping to better educate the American electorate very seriously.

I also take irresponsible attacks on a nearly-decade long record of what I consider to be imperfect excellence very seriously. Particularly when they come from an outfit as important, and as crucial to what's left of our democracy as Think Progress, and especially when such inappropriate, uncorrected slights to my credibility will otherwise live forever on the Internet.

Legum still needs to issue a prominent correction and a serious apology to me, to Truthout, to and to the David Pakman Show, all of whom were inappropriately smeared, and continue to be, by Think Progress under his irresponsible and inexcusable stewardship. Otherwise, it will be both Think Progress, and those of us who they smeared, who will be forced to overcome the idiotic and pointless hits to our credibility as journalists.

With their enormous foundational budget, they will likely survive this stupidity no matter what. The rest of us, on the other hand, have to work each day to make a living, without either corporate or foundational sponsorship. If you'd like to help The BRAD BLOG do that, please consider hitting the donate link below. It'd be greatly appreciated, especially right now.

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