#OWS: The Shocking Truth about Naomi Wolf's Journalistic Hackery [updated]

Rumormongering at its most despicable.

Two weeks ago, a rumor circulated that the Department of Homeland Security was “behind” the crackdown at Zuccotti Park. The rumor originated with Michael Moore who got it from a thinly-sourced article in Examiner.com. I wrote about it here and here.

The author of the Examiner.com article, Rick Ellis, published multiple updates to his thinly-sourced post, and promised that he would provide more information once he had it. That was on November 15. No further information has been provided.

I figured it had been settled.  As Joshua Holland, writing for Alternet noted, “There’s a lot of speculation, but very little substance to the tale of the “nationwide” crackdown on the Occupy movement.

So I figured this rumor would be put to bed.  I was wrong.

Today — ten days after the rumor had been debunked — Naomi Wolf saw fit to write an article so fraught with hyperbole — “what happened this week is the first battle in a civil war” — and so utterly fact-free that its publication should hang like an albatross around Naomi Wolf’s neck for the rest of her career.  It is Judith Miller-style hackery, and it is shameless.

Karoli has the story in a post aptly titled “How Bullshit Magically Turns into Fact“:

Naomi Wolf wrote a nonsensical piece today that’s being spammed all over Twitter. It asserts that there is a deliberate plot afoot via collusion by the United States Congress, the Department of Homeland Security and our oligarchical overlords to undermine the very populist, leaderless Occupy Wall Street movement. One of her key pieces of evidence is an unsupported and unverified report that 18 mayors coordinated their crackdowns with the Department of Homeland Security. There’s only one problem with that: It’s nothing more than innuendo. Here, let me show you.

Here are the two links she provides as evidence: One to Wonkette; the other to Washingtonsblog.com. Both articles point back to this absurd article on the Examiner.com site (a very, very right-wing Phil Anschutz, write-out-of-your-butt-with-no-evidence kind of site). Washingtonsblog goes one step further, updating with this:

(And for those who are understandably doubtful about Examiner.com as a news source, here’s an AP story from a couple hours ago that verifies everything except the specific mention of DHS coordination.)

Got that? The headlines on both of these stories (Wonkette and WashingtonsBlog) were splayed across the sites in very large heading fonts: “Homeland Security Coordinated….” and yet the AP confirms everything BUT DHS coordination. Still, that didn’t stop Wolf from ignoring the AP story entirely and writing a piece for the Guardian that included links to bolster her argument that clearly don’t.

Why? I reiterate. No one has a source, no one has any evidence, and the originating story which Michael Moore and now Naomi Wolf breathlessly spread quotes an anonymous source with the promise of still more to come in the future. Well, it’s the future. It’s two weeks later and crickets from Mr. Ellis. Mission accomplished, though. Ask people who are paying attention to the OWS movement and they’ll swear up and down that yes, it was coordinated by DHS because MICHAEL MOORE and now NAOMI WOLF say so.

Truth: We don’t know. It isn’t completely out of the realm of possibility for mayors to consult with DHS. After all, that’s what they’re there for. To help local and state governments deal with threats. At best, one can conclude that maybe they did, and maybe they didn’t coordinate.

But again, it doesn’t matter if you can spread it on the Internet and get Keith Olbermann to pick it up and give Michael Moore a mic to spread that nonsense further (see video).

Milt Shook did a fantastic job showing us that the originating Examiner.com writer is not a credible source, too. Read it.
Undeterred, Wolf actually says this like it’s something readers have reason to believe:

In other words, for the DHS to be on a call with mayors, the logic of its chain of command and accountability implies that congressional overseers, with the blessing of the White House, told the DHS to authorise mayors to order their police forces – pumped up with millions of dollars of hardware and training from the DHS – to make war on peaceful citizens.

There you have it. Bullshit, spread worldwide, with the full cooperation of so-called journalists. It’ll work, too, because she has enough name recognition that people won’t question her claims.

Naomi Wolf should supplement her article with information necessary for readers to make a judgment as to whether her claims are merely opinion fueled by conspiracy theories and designed to exploit the emotions and tensions running high in the wake of the various Occupy crackdown, or whether her claims have the sort of basis in reality that publication in an international newspaper of the Guardian‘s stature should require.  It’s what a “real” journalist would do.  Then again, perhaps Drudge journalism is winning the day and we simply cannot trust what we read at all anymore — from any source.  With rare exceptions, I’ve already given up on American newspapers. Am I going to be forced to give up on papers in the UK as well?  If publication of this sort of tripe is any indication, then yes — yes I will.

This is an egregious failure on Wolf’s part, and she should correct it.

Karoli has an update:

Update re: alleged DHS coordination In Portland, Feds were involved because occupiers were on federal land. But pay attention:

There is another line of thinking out there that runs directly counter to the federal-coordination theory: Ruiz wouldn’t comment on this, but one well-placed city source said, in fact, that the feds were mostly inclined to leave Schrunk Plaza open. It was city officials who cajoled them into getting on board—lest they watch most of Occupy’s camp merely move several hundred feet south onto federal land. Which would have been awkward for the city. But also interesting.

Should you accept as fact the idea that the feds were reluctant and the city pushed them along? NO. Why? Because it’s attributed to an anonymous source with nothing to back it up, which makes this theory as worthy as the DHS coordination theory, or just speculation with no facts behind it.

[via Odd Time Signatures]

[cross-posted at Balloon Juice]



65 Responses to #OWS: The Shocking Truth about Naomi Wolf's Journalistic Hackery [updated]

  1. There is no proof.
    There will not – ever – be any proof

  2. That’s just Krapoli’s opinion. I mean, Karoli

    yep, you’re outta here. it was a short-lived tenure for you, dear. don’t you have anything better to do than keep getting banned from my blog with your myriad IP addresses? Go outside. Do something with your life. -ABLxx

  3. This appeared on the Guardian’s online site, which – obviously – has different standards than its print edition. I would recommend The Independent, but they have had a similar problem lately with Johan Hari practicing Jayson Blair journalism.

    Best thing re Guardian: stick to the news and avoid Comment Is Free. Michael Tomasky left and they replaced him with Wonkette girl Ana Marie Cox. Arrrrgggh!

  4. Naomi is a shill for the far, far left. Maybe she and Keith should have a show together. Tell their lies to their devoted true believers. They think people like me are bad, well it is time for them to look in the mirror and see that they are completely incapable of being fair in what they write and say. thx.

  5. I love how easily some resort to name calling. Nevermind that the story reveals the craptastic state of journalism today. Sad

  6. Trolling for sympathy like these fucks are wont help their cause, it will make people like us, and there are more of us than them, seeing about 73% of us say Barack Obama deserves reelection, while the far crazies are below 20%, if that.

    These OWS people protested in front of one federal building in one of these cities, and it may have prompted a DHS arrest

    Naomi Wolf? Wasnt this the same broad that demanded Barack Obama say something about the ass whooppings dropped on OWS, but wants nothing to do with teh titular head of the the establishment, but you want his help as well……

    Consistency helps

  7. This is the same Naomi Wolf who, with a straight face, made the argument that Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachman, are the new faces of feminism, by dint of the fact that they own female body parts. She’s been wrong for the strangest reasons for quite a while.

  8. What the f**k? Seriously? How can one unsubstantiated rumor continue to live on by way of supposedly smart people falling all over it? Are they that blinded by their own Obama-hate?

    • I think ODS is half the story, but there’s another half: the elevation of “checking your gut” over a reality-based approach.

      There are a lot of people on the left who are terribly concerned about the growth of the federal government’s counter-terrorism powers after 9/11. They have been predicting for a long time that these powers would creep into domestic law enforcement, and even be used against political opponents. These are very valid, legitimate concerns! There have certainly been episodes in which exactly that has happened.

      The problem is, people saw this claim about DHS coordination, and judged its accuracy not by evaluating the evidence, but by checking its conformance with their pre-existing ideological beliefs about the federal counter-terrorism state.

      The lesson here is that one can fail to be reality-based, and can make mistake of treating one’s ideology as the proper measure of a claim’s truthfulness, even when that ideological orientation is legitimate and valid. This is not just a trap that people with the wrong ideology can fall into. We can do it, too!

  9. And, just to show that I’m not here to be a jerkass or anything after my last comment (on the article about Police Brutality), I’ll step up to the plate here and agree wholeheartedly!

    This is vapid, demeaning, imbecilic “journalism” at it’s best, and I put quotes on journalism only because I have heard others accuse Wolf, the Examiner, and Wonkette of hosting “journalists”.

    If this is what journalism has become, then it makes me feel very shameful for having ever secretly wished to become one.

  10. And I’m supposed to take your word (or the APs) over hers because?


    I make my judgements not on your words or hers, or the APs, or Obamas, or Michael Moore’s. You assign way to much power to each of these ‘players’.

    I make my judgements (not to mention my choices) based on what I observe taking place in the world around me.

    I see my fellow Americans suffering.

    Adopting an us vs. them mentality helps no one.

    Not every attempt to fix the situation will help. Some will likely be completely misguided. But better to stand up and make your own actual effort than to verbally critique what others are doing.

    • Good…now do you want a scooby snack?

    • “I see my fellow Americans suffering” is supposed to be a reason to believe that the crackdowns were coordinated by DHS?

    • Well, for one thing, Karoli and ABL have offered things like “facts” and “evidence,” while Wolf has gone with “fact-free assertions based on a link to a content mill.” So there’s that.

      More than that, I’m a bit scared at how many on the left are going with the “well, it seems true” defense. That’s how Fox News operates. Are we just trying to become a mirror of the right? If so, include me out.

  11. Too bad this wasn’t posted to Crooks and Liars

  12. What a load of bunk, your “schocking truth”. Screaming louder doesn’t make your claims any more valid.

    Of course Homeland Security is involved in this oppression, the militarization of urban police forces: whether they were actively on-the-line at that particular conference call is of secondary importance. But here:


    …at the Democracy Now website they interviewed the guy who organized the conference call and this is what he had to say:

    CHUCK WEXLER:”We haven’t had—they [Homeland Security] haven’t been involved—maybe they’re involved at the local level, but nationally, at least on our conference calls, I don’t think—they didn’t have a role.”

    Even his “I don’t think they were involved”, is a lot more honest than your mud-slinging… and far more revealing.

    • It’s cute how self-righteous you are about “mud-slinging” when the quote you provide fails to substantiate your own claims. Keep scouring the internets, I’m sure the “truth” is out there somewhere.

      • What claim of mine are you referring to, ALLAN?

        The issue at hand are accusations that the blog made, regarding the involvement of DHS with breaking up the OCCUPY camps. I provided a link to the person who organized the conference call, plus former police chief of Seattle, PRIME SOURCEs and not some hearsay/opinion of bloggists/journalists/posters. Obviously, there was organization going on on a national police level to “deal” with OCCUPY.

        Furthermore if you read the entire transcript (provided your attention span is that capable) you see ample evidence from the police themselves of how -and WHY – this oppression is systematically organized, I quote:

        “Can you talk about—as we were just speaking with the former police chief, Norm Stamper, of Seattle, and he oversaw the Battle of Seattle, how the police dealt with that—the militarization that we are seeing of police forces around our country?

        STEPHEN GRAHAM: Yes, well, it’s a longstanding process that has its roots in policies against drug use. It has its roots in the development of SWAT teams, Special Weapons and Tactics teams, and it has its use in some of the responses to the 1960s disturbances across the West, as well. And really, the effects of this, as we see in New York and elsewhere, is an increasing use of full-on riot squads, increasing use of non-lethal weapons, including things like acoustic systems that make it impossible for people to remain in spaces, including the pepper spray, including the tasers. And we have to remember, this is a really big growth industry that military and security corporations are investing heavily in terms of new research and development.

        I mean, globally speaking, the so-called homeland security market is a real—is in real boom town—boom time… a lot of the big companies are moving into civilian applications. They’re moving into these non-lethal weapons, moving into all of the technologies of crowd control and civilian disturbance control.”

    • So you evidence that DHS was involved was a quote saying they weren’t involved.

      Well, you told us.

      • these people will believe anything because it fits their preconceived world view. no matter the facts, no matter the sourcing. if it feels true, then there must be something to it.

        it’s got that truthiness that makes it appropriate to publish to an international blog.

        wolf should be ashamed of herself, but i doubt she is.

    • The sole basis of their claims is the involvement of the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), which is an international TRADE organization, NOT a group who is involved with Homeland Security.

  13. Thank you Hal Sparks for speaking on this and making these fucks failure even more evident

    I hope he brings this up next Wednesday on Stephanie Miller

    His podcast on Chicago Progressive Talk on 12 PM EST rocks

    He’s a pragmatic progressive like us in some ways

  14. It makes me wonder why people are working so hard to suppress this story if it has no substance.

    • Hmm, you may be on to something. Why would people make so much noise about the birthers if their claims that Obama was foreign-born have no substance? Clearly Obama is Kenyan.

    • “It makes me wonder why people are working so hard to suppress this story if it has no substance.”

      If you, kelley, have any proof, produce it.

        • First point, the blog in question is from March, 2011

          Second point, he was trained by DHS, which does not mean DHS trained him to drop ass whoppings on college kids protesting.

          If he’s a cop in a major metro, would it not make sense to get some anti-terror training from, I dont know, The Department of Homeland Security?

          And also, there is no mention of going after the OWS, so this is no just reaching, this is trying to outstretch Mr Fantastic

          Why try and defend something that has been debunked?

          President Obama dont have his fingerprints on this, why keep trying to tag him with it?

          edit: why did you change your post?

  15. Come hither, professional trolls, come hither unto me

  16. Heh. It makes me wonder why PL’ers are working so hard to discredit bloggers searching for the truth behind this rumor if this rumor were “SO TRUE!”

  17. Thank you for this information and I have passed it on. That said… man, I’m torn here. I see quite clearly the “angry” in your blog title… I have a blog with a title bearing a similar sentiment, and I tell people to expect me to be crabby. But part of me wants to go, “That’s awfully harsh about Naomi Wolf because most of the story is good.” Then again… that was an awfully large error. So yeah. RAWR.

    That said, I think a more useful stance to take in this matter is “there is no proof either that DHS was involved or that they weren’t, but we should be watchful in case they *get* involved,” even if you have to think of a pissy way to say it. I have not liked the idea of DHS since Bush created the department. I *like* my law enforcement to have a certain amount of inefficiency built in. Because, see, they couldn’t be happy with enforcing the law at the point that it is broken. Oh no, they had to try to “prevent” stuff. When will people figure out that “preventing” stuff like this only results in punishing people who haven’t done anything wrong? Why would anyone want to live in a world like that? How are you “safe” if the people beating up on you are cops instead of terrorists? At least the law is not on the side of the terrorists and you would have legal recourse. This world we have built SUCKS and we need to tear it down and start over.

    Not saying you would disagree, just thought I’d throw that out there.

    • “This world we have built SUCKS and we need to tear it down and start over.”

      Um, no.

      • Allan: (re: ‘This world we have built SUCKS and we need to tear it down and start over.’

        You wrote: “- Um, no.”)

        Um, yes – and you’re outnumbered by millions.
        But you’ll see that when democracy is regained.
        (Warren/Pelosi 2016)

        Until then, try watching the Danish series “Borgen” (on LinkTV)
        to be reminded of what democracy is like.

        No doubt you were born after it had disappeared in America,some 50 years ago.

        • When Warren becomes president you’re learn to hate her just like everyone else. Why don’t you run asshole so I can throw a tomato at you.

        • And if and when she gains office, thats if she even if she wants to be President, what makes you think she wont face the same problems?

          She can magically t be cock-blocked by Republicans, not get support from some Democrats. Have you not see the uphill battle she had just to get create her department created?

          SO, what happens when she gets into office and cant deliver?

          Will you defend her, or will you have the long knives out for her, like these progressives who complain about the current Democrat in office always do when they dont get their way

        • Please provide me with a complete syllabus of reading and viewing that I must endure to earn the right to have an opinion, Professor.

          If you’re aiming for the pompous fatuous arrogance and unearned superiority complex of Newt Gingrich, you’re doing a great job.

  18. Naomi Klein and her fellow travelers amongst the Left Wing Punditry All Stars are at their core hustlers, and a successful Obama eats into their profits. So why not undermine him and the handful of Democrats working for change by convincing their sheep like, latte sipping college aged followers on Twitter that Janet Napolanto and Eric Cantor are telling city cops to bash in protestors heads? Better than letting people know that truth and change are complex, longer suffering things and not as simplistic non-solutions that you see in a Michael Moore movie.

  19. if there was no DHS involvement in Occupy crackdowns, why did the Oaland Police department bring out an L-RAD on Oct. 25? that was confirmed by chief Jordan btw. Legally, that weapon–a sort of sonic boom cannon which can cause permanent hearing loss–is not supposed to be used against US citizens. Yet there it was. It was also wheeled out by OPD in 2010 during the Johannes Mehserle protests, when DHS vehicles were spotted by eyewitnesses. What we don’t have here is specific proof that DHS coordinated crackdown efforts with mayors in those 18 cities. But that doesn’t debunk speculation that DHS is involved with coordination of “urban training exercises” with police departments. i say further digging and FOIA requests up the wazoo are what’s needed here.

    • We’re now moving the goal posts from “DHS coordinated the crackdowns” to “involved with,” where the word “involved” is defined in such a way that selling equipment months or years before OWS was even conceived of?

      I don’t recall anyone disputing that local police departments have been buying equipment from the feds. That’s been going on since Janet Reno. This observation really doesn’t have anything to do with the conspiracy theory being peddled by Wolf and Moore.

    • Here are two eaily found bits of corroboration – of the speculation, at least.

      1.) there are PICS of at least one NYPD LRAD from the overnight Zuccotti eviction

      2.) Local police do not have the authority to create a no fly zone (ban news ‘copters)

      It will also be very indicative of SOMETHING suspicious if news media don’t sue over having been kept away, beaten, sprayed and arrested.

      Of course there are also numerous civil rights cases to play out, as well as a congressional investigation after the 2012 Democratic landslide elections. Hopefully it won’t have to “go Bastille” – but could.

      - *rock*……….*knit*………

      • Are you fucking crazy? Where do these fooking kooks come from anyway?

      • Go Bastille?


        With those folks out there?

        So, you’re gonna go all French Revolution on everyone?

        I’d like to see that

        The true far left is barely 20%, and how many of those have the stomach for revolution?

        Actual violent, bloody revolution?

        How many articles must we site to let you know Naomi Wolf is on some Faux News partisan bullshit to keep the OWS and the Obama Administration apart

        How does it help you?

        Are you that arrogant to think this?

        • “The true far left is barely 20%, and how many of those have the stomach for revolution?”

          You better believe this is true!

    • Maybe they buy equipment recommended by the Dept of Homeland Security, its not like they’re taking out on loan like its from the public library or Rent-A-Canter.

  20. I’ll just leave this here:

    Naomi Wolf’s ‘Shocking Truth’ About the ‘Occupy Crackdowns’ Is Anything But True from Joshua Holland.

    He notes that AlterNet has asked Wolf to retract an untrue claim she makes about reporting at AlterNet. He’s underwhelmed with her reporting, to say the least.

  21. Uniting with people against other people, is not uniting at all.

  22. The formatting of this post makes it difficult to determine what paragraphs are the authors and which are blockquotes from other sources. Otherwise, way to call “bullshit” on this tissue of conspiracy theories.

    – MrJM

  23. Dear Mad Negro Hag, what do you gain from this ?

    You are so silly as your ad hominem fallacy

    There are so many sources that are adequate proof of Naomi Wolf’s article

    Get your facts straight

  24. Heard on multiple radio stations that Homeland Security agents were present at multiple OWS protests. I heard in one show that there were rumors about Homeland Security providing money to stop the protests, and lots of concerns that terrorists would do bad stuff from the protest sites.
    Didn’t hear more than that — but I did hear a few random comments, like Oakland protest had $500k worth of cops to break up protests (1000 cops at 3am thru the night) which seems strange since the city says it’s bankrupt. Also the tanks being there was strange, & most OWS people I spoke to didn’t see the tanks.
    I do believe Homeland Security already has deals with Blackwater (now Xe Corp) to utilize their agents & provide them with full immunity inside USA — that was their contract under Bush Jr.

    Hard to validate using lethal force against non-violent protestors, however — and thus the agent proveaucators have their rational for being deployed.


    PS: I disagree about your attacking Naomi Wolf’s reporting. You’re saying her reporting is ‘too vague’, but she is making factual claims. Better than CNN who says, “We can’t figure out what the Occupy Wall Street movement is about” Really?!?!?! C’mon!

    • Can you elaborate further on what these radio stations said? And you are relying on “rumors?” And now you’re bringing Blackwater into the mix?

  25. Anyone who believes the feds had nothing to do with these latest assaults on free speech, will probably believe Nixon and Agnew had nothing to do with the murder of four college students at Kent State. How much more evidence do you need? Amerika does hot tolerate dissent, not in 1969 and certainly not today. Shut up and get a haircut!

  26. the police force training has been militarized. the military and homeland security do have a relationship. a lot of the gear that the police are armed with are military issue. i don’t see how or why these inferences could be so far from the truth. the mayors do confer from state-to-state. they have every reason to. JP Morgan and other corporations have given MILLIONS of dollars to NYPD to assist with managing occupy wall street. knowing all this we’re going to take Naomi and MM to task. as if.. http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2011/11/how-the-war-on-terror-has-militarized-the-police/248047/#.TsB-AjBRepg.facebook
    How the War on Terror Has Militarized the Police
    Over the past 10 years, law enforcement officials have begun to look and act more and more like soldiers. Here’s why we should be alarmed.

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