The folks at Media Matters, seemingly having run out of important things to do, have put Boston Globe columnist Hiawatha Bray in their sights. Bray's crime is apparently his libertarian/conservative leanings, and his occasional commission of free speech in blog comment sections. Also, Hiawatha's black; among the Media Matters crowd, black conservatives are special targets for lefty bile.
Amusingly, Media Matters links to Dan Kennedy's Media Log article on the matter. This hardly bolsters their case. Kennedy's terms the Media Matters article "hyperventilating". He debunks the Media Matters claim that Bray was "reporting on the 2004 presidential campaign" by pointing out that Bray was merely reporting on technological issues relating to the campaign. And Kennedy points out that Media Matters quotes the New York Times' ethics policy as if it applied to Bray; but the Globe has an ethics policy independent from the NYT. (But what does it say? Both Kennedy and Media Matters fail to dig that out.)
Unfortunately, Kennedy's column also reveals that Bray has been effectively muzzled from expressing political opinions in a public forum. Kennedy reports that a Globe flunky e-mailed him that Bray was "instructed to discontinue any such postings, and to our knowledge he complied." (The Globe has a lousy record of harassing its own columnists that don't follow the liberal script. See here for the Jeff Jacoby story.)
Also unfortunately, Kennedy whiffs on one of the side issues:
… Bray wrote posts to several weblogs during the past presidential campaign criticizing John Kerry, praising George W. Bush, and passing along the claims of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, which cast a number of aspersions on Kerry's record as a war hero. Virtually all of those aspersions were proven false, a fact that Bray seems not to have grasped.
But (as the Media Matters article points out) one of the SBVT claims Bray "passed along" was that Kerry's Christmas-in-Cambodia story was an utter fabrication. And it was. Neither Kennedy nor Media Matters seem to have noticed this. Neither do they mention that Kerry has yet to sign his SF 180 as he promised he would.
But that is a side issue; the main point remains: Hiawatha Bray should be able to express political opinions in public forums just like you or I can.
Hopefully this will blow over soon, with minimal damage to Bray's career. It's sad that the muzzling has apparently been effective, though. I wonder if the Minneapolis Star-Tribune can deal with its employee James Lileks expressing political opinions on his blog, why the Globe can't figure out how to do likewise.