Bloomberg News has a nasty habit of quoting "professors" to validate their reporters' and columnists' points of view without identifying the political affiliation of the professors. We caught the news service doing it earlier here. The latest example comes in Albert Hunt's column likening Glenn Beck to Charles Coughlin. Writes Mr. Hunt:
Beck and Coughlin share a great deal: as mesmerizing broadcasters able to articulate the anger and frustration of a flock frightened by economic hard times.
"There are a lot of parallels between Coughlin and Beck," says Michael Kazin, a professor at Georgetown University in Washington who wrote a book about American populism of the left and right, including a section on the Catholic priest. "They both speak the language of rebellion against the establishment and to bring America back to God, citing a golden era of the past."
Beck, 46, dismisses these comparisons, citing their differences. Yet substitute Coughlin's animus for Jews, communists and Franklin Roosevelt for Beck's toward Muslims, socialists and Barack Obama and the similarities seem greater.
Professor Kazin is presented as a kind of neutral, impartial, academic expert observer. But a quick check of the Federal Election Commission database tells a different story, disclosing three donations by the professor totaling $700 in 2009 and 2010 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, $1250 in campaign contributions to Senator Kerry's 2004 Democratic presidential campaign, and $3,300 in contributions to Barack Obama's presidential campaign. The guy is a partisan Democrat. Mr. Hunt could have done his readers a favor by sparing them the pretense and just calling the Democratic National Committee directly for an anti-Beck quote rather than laundering it through a partisan university professor not identified as such.
Mr. Hunt's other criticism of Mr. Beck is just as lame. He criticizes Mr. Beck for including in his Washington rally Martin Luther King's niece Alveda, "who recently charged that gay marriage is 'genocide.'" Yet he doesn't mention that Mr. Beck himself has downplayed the gay marriage issue, quoting Thomas Jefferson, "If it neither breaks my leg nor picks my pocket, what difference is it to me?"
As evidence of Mr. Beck's supposed animus toward Muslims, all Mr. Hunt can muster is that Mr. Beck "once asked Democratic Congressman Keith Ellison of Minnesota, who is Muslim, 'Sir, prove to me that you are not working with our enemies.'" Yet Mr. Ellison has a history not only as a Muslim but as an activist affiliated with Louis Farrakhan's anti-Semitic Nation of Islam, a group closer to Father Coughlin than Mr. Beck is. The Weekly Standard got into the issue of Mr. Ellison's background, as did National Review. Mr. Hunt seems to be faulting Mr. Beck for allowing Mr. Ellison an opportunity to answer the criticism of his record.