Cornell Law School professor and high-profile conservative blogger William Jacobson has launched a new website, ElizabethWarrenWiki.org, to definitively compile all of the information on the background of Democratic Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren.
“I decided after the election that I didn’t want this information to get lost. No single place brought it all together. So I created a resource for future people who research her,” Jacobson, the founder of the conservative blog Legal Insurrection, told me in a phone conversation last week.
The site, structured like a Wikipedia page, chronicles Warren’s affiliation with the Occupy movement, her deep-pocketed donors and legal clients, and, among other things, her claim to have been the first nursing mother to take the bar exam in the state of New Jersey. But most of Jacobson’s research centers on Warren’s ultimate scarlet-letter scandal: her fraudulent claim to Cherokee heritage, which scored her a fraudulent teaching job at Harvard.
“The Boston Herald got the ball rolling on the Cherokee issue. But then you saw the mainstream media completely cover for her for months throughout the campaign. She managed to ride out the Cherokee issue because she went silent on the media for months and the media didn’t care. The Boston Globe and national publications let her get away with it,” Jacobson said.
Jacobson’s wiki page is a veritable yearbook for the conservative online journalists who covered the Indian scandal, exhaustively, throughout the late spring and summer of 2012, before we realized that our loudmouthed, funny headline-writing presence in the Scott Brown media tent was starting to turn off female voters.
It was thrilling to watch Brown bareknuckle his way through his first Warren debate by citing conservative news scoops (she checked the minority box! She worked against asbestos victims! She makes $350,000 for teaching one class twice a week!). It was like watching well-coiffed Tim Matheson walk out of Dean Wormer’s disciplinary hearing in solidarity with the Deltas. Esquire’s insufferable Charles P. Pierce wrote that Brown lost because he ran his campaign “as though he were auditioning for a weekend slot on WRKO in Boston.” That was probably the quality I admired most about him.
But election results aside, the Warren scandal proved, beyond any remaining doubt, the existence of a functional British press model in the United States: fancy liberal outlets report stories, conservative tabloids report their own stories, and the tabloids sell more copies.
Millions of Americans heard at least some of the details of Warren’s Indian scandal. But those details weren’t reported by mainstream papers or amplified by mainstream networks, as Jacobson’s wiki page clearly demonstrates.
Conservative websites were deep-diving into an issue the liberal press was determined to play off as some kind of fatuous right-wing study-hall prank. Remarkably, the story still got out.
Study the web traffic on conservative outlets during that scandal -- compare it to respectable lefty news sites -- and you’ll see the makings of a truly independent, competitive news business on the right. Consider the investigative depth in those conservative articles -- compare it to the preachy editorial filler in mainstream news pieces -- and you’ll find a quality absent in the mainstream media. Look at some of those headlines (any of the ones that include the word “teepee”) and you’ll see a lack of sanctimony that people want from their journalists.
Coverage of Elizabeth Warren’s campaign was completely, utterly segregated along ideological lines. And the upstart conservative press still carried the Indian story to prominence. Yes, Elizabeth Warren still won and righty journalists still didn’t gain any credibility. But looking at Jacobson’s encyclopedic new site, it seems obvious what conservatives need to do: forget old conceptions of credibility and keep building up our own tribe.
“In four years if she runs for president, people can now go to (ElizabethWarrenWiki.org) and look deeply into her background,” Jacobson said.
For conservative media, four years could be a full education.