It has started: Nasty, irrelevant, media smear campaign against Stephen Moore

The opposition research creeps have been on the job.

Now that Herman Cain has exited from President Trump's consideration for a Federal Reserve board seat, the long knives are now out for free market economist Stephen Moore.

One media hit job after another is now rolling out against him in the press today, and none of it has to do with economics. The left has made a big deal about Moore's presence on the Fed board  a matter of 'politicizing' it, but this is what 'politicizing' really looks like.

The New York Times, home of nasty, embittered columnist Paul Krugman, is the worst of them, and most ironically, too, because not long ago, the paper defended its hiring of Sarah Jeong, despite her quite recent history of racist tweets. Now it's put out a nasty hit job with just that logic it criticized, under an august and measured-looking articled headlined: "As Herman Cain Bows Out of Fed Contention, Focus Shifts to Stephen Moore."

The Times' fill doesn't match the tone of that neutral-looking title. Their story is all Bessie Mae told Mabel Jean-style gossipy dreck, completely irrelevant to economics, starting at:

In his columns, published in the early 2000s by the conservative magazine National Review, some of which were first reported by CNN, he complained that women are “sooo malleable” because his wife at the time voted for a Democrat, based on a campaign commercial.

In other pieces, Mr. Moore said that female tennis players “want equal pay for inferior work” and called it a “travesty” that women wanted to play pickup basketball with men. He called for women to be banned from the N.C.A.A. men’s basketball tournament, unless they were as attractive as the CBS sports journalist Bonnie Bernstein, who, he wrote, “should wear a halter top.”

“Here’s the rule change I propose,” Mr. Moore wrote in 2002. “No more women refs, no women announcers, no women beer vendors, no women anything. There is, of course, an exception to this rule. Women are permitted to participate, if and only if, they look like Bonnie Bernstein. The fact that Bonnie knows nothing about basketball is entirely irrelevant.”

He lamented: “Is there no area in life where men can take vacation from women? What’s next? Women invited to bachelor parties?”

Each graf is designed to make you reply, 'Is that so!' or 'Well, I never!' to each dreaded decades-old transgression. 

Oh, and guess what: It's political as heck. This is what we call a political hit job, politics at its vilest, the very politics the Times denounced in its hiring of Sarah Jeong. It's the sort of dirt-digging until paydirt is found that Media Matters pioneered. The game they started was all about digging up some damning quote from some earlier era to generate public outrage, all to keep someone out of public life on an irrelevant matter, because their real issue is something else - in this case, free market economics. What on earth do Moore's women issues have to do with his capacity to make wise monetary decisions on the Fed board? The answer is absolutely nothing.

Plenty of Moore's remarks cited weren't up to the political correctness standards of today and some come off as wrong-headed or even stupid, but in this context-challenged age, it's clear they were meant in jest, little more than vaudeville-style flippancies, some ill advised. Boys clubhouse stuff, expressed badly, and most men can relate on some level, even with exaggerations. What's more, they're things he would never think today, but they want to pin them to him to keep him off the fed.

The Times' divorce record revelations were even sleazier. Lots of economists have messy personal lives, it's actually a curious reality about them. How's Paul Krugman's? If this is to be the standard, perhaps the question can be asked. More to the point, how much effort did it take to uncover those hoary details? And why wasn't the fact that Moore has reconciled with his ex-wife since then added to the story, it seems to be rather relevant? Who did it - was it a leftist opposition research firm, leaking for dollars? This kind of 'research' took some creep beavering away in the public records dumpsters and Bessie-Maeing with malevolent neighbors or relatives over very past issues that have long been resolved, and that ought to be the real story, because the picture painted is false and they know it. The newspaper of record that could defend its hiring of Sarah Jeong and have its conservative columnist sum it all up as 'Let he who is without a bad tweet cast the first stone' is out there all right, casting stones.

I have personal knowledge about this, because I worked with Moore. He was a colleague of mine when I was at Investor's Business Daily as recently as 2016, and I was the only woman on the IBD editorial board. I interacted with him every day, and often saw him in the office. I can say firsthand that Moore never made any sexist remarks, or treated anyone with anything less than respect when he was there. He was always pleasant and professional, with an iron-solid understanding of economics and how the economy works, traveling frequently through flyover states to study and learn their issues.

New York Times columnist Bret Stephenson defended the Times' decision to hire Sarah Jeong with the widely quoted subhed summing up his argument with: "Let he who is without a bad tweet cast the first stone." And for consistency, he came to his fellow #NeverTrump writer Kevin Williamson's defense, too, who was under fire for long-ago podcast remarks, writing:

But your critics show bad faith when they treat an angry tweet or a flippant turn of phrase as proof of moral incorrigibility. Let he who is without a bad tweet, a crap sentence or even a deplorable opinion cast the first stone.

Worse, they foreclose the possibility of learning something useful from someone smart. Learning does not require agreement. There’s a reason this section of the newspaper is labeled “Opinion,” not “Affirmation,” “Reinforcement,” or “Emotional Crutch.” Liberals used to know that. What happened?

Too bad the rest of the New York Times doesn't play by those rules. Bad tweets are fine for the Times, but aren't applicable when a conservative is involved. What a bunch of hypocrites.


Image credit: Gage Skidmore, via WikiMedia Commons // CC BY-SA 2.0

If you experience technical problems, please write to