From Media Matters For America -- October 8, 2010:
Shine on you, Crazy D'Souza
There's no real reason anyone should be talking about Dinesh D'Souza's latest book, The Roots of Obama's Rage. All things being equal, the book shouldn't even exist; one would like to think that no publisher worth their salt would consider for a moment publishing such a virulently nativist collection of lies.
But, of course, all things aren't equal. In fact, things have become pretty absurd, and as a consequence D'Souza's book is a hot topic of conversation. The reason that this ridiculous person was able to publish such a ridiculous book is that there's an entire ridiculous publishing house committed to cranking out right-wing garbage of this stripe. The reason that ridiculous book sells is because there's an entire ridiculous right-wing infrastructure of book clubs and magazines that buy copies in bulk and resell them at drastically reduced rates. The ridiculous author of this ridiculous book is able to communicate with broad swaths of America because there's an entire ridiculous cable network that will put him on TV without so much as a hint of criticism.
It's tempting to look at this and brush it off. After all, it's just another example of the right-wing subculture telling each other what they want to hear and reveling in epistemic closure's comforting, suffocating embrace.
But then D'Souza popped up in The Washington Post.
The Post cleared space on their op-ed page for a guy who argues, in all seriousness, that the first black president of the United States is on a quest to drain the country's economic and military power in order to fulfill the ambitions of the "anti-colonial" father he met only once as a young child. This was after Forbes had to publish corrections to the article D'Souza wrote for them and dispatch a post-publication fact-checker.
So why did they run it? Here's editorial page editor Fred Hiatt defending the move: "D'Souza's theory has sparked a great deal of commentary, from potential presidential candidates as well as from commentators on our own pages." The "potential presidential candidate" is Newt Gingrich, who loved D'Souza's theory; and the Post commentators are Eugene Robinson, Richard Cohen, and Jonathan Capehart, all of whom called Gingrich a lunatic for promoting D'Souza. Hiatt's argument is essentially: "People are talking about it -- who cares if it's right?"
It's this sort of passive attitude towards factual accuracy that allows fringe hacks like D'Souza to break into the mainstream. The Post has an obligation to keep their readers informed, not to reprint the intellectually fraudulent trash Newt Gingrich finds interesting.