Mark Davis vs. Barrett Brown

Davis illustration by Steve Brodner

In our November issue, Barrett Brown wrote a story that we labeled “a wholly unfair and sneaky takedown of Mark Davis, Dallas’ most influential conservative commentator.” The article occasioned a good-humored letter from Davis, which we published in the December issue. But hang on. We’re not done yet. Barrett read the letter, and he wishes to clarify a few points. To wit:

Davis writes the following about the process by which I prompted him to unknowingly attack Ronald Reagan in the course of answering my questions:

But I want to make sure readers understand how he played his catch-the-conservative game. In the first part of the game, he concocted a question about something fairly arcane, and I gave him an answer. But in the second part of the game, he applied as my “answer” a paragraph from a column I’d written about something else. Maybe if one admits to sneakiness up front, that is Teflon for whatever follows.

Contrary to what Davis writes here, the portion of his prior column which I introduce in the course of demonstrating its flaws was not portrayed as any sort of “answer” to the questions I asked him via e-mail; it was clearly marked as having been taken from that column. In fact, that portion of the article is introduced with the following two paragraphs:

Now, the reader may perhaps object that it is unfair to set someone up in such a fashion, akin to baiting deer in an effort to shoot them. If that is the case — and it is not — then let us do something more akin to sitting around in the woods and waiting for a deer to walk into a tree over and over again until it dies; let us see if Davis can write a column in which he accidentally attacks Reagan without any prompting from me. Better yet, let us see if Davis can write a column in which he accidentally attacks Reagan not only while himself bringing him up by name, but also in the course of lauding him for having refrained from doing several things that he actually quite famously did.

A few months ago, Davis took Obama to task for signing a nuclear arms reduction treaty with the Russians. “The ignorant assertion that our nukes and their nukes are the same is not new,” Davis noted in a column for the Dallas Morning News. “Ronald Reagan ignored such droning 30 years ago, driving the Soviets to their knees by refusing to gut U.S. nuclear capability and by refusing to scrap missile defense technology.”

It would be impossible for any reasonable person or even an unreasonable person in the midst of a PCP binge to interpret this as a claim that what follows from Davis is in response to a question I had asked him. At any rate, I wanted to provide this clarification for the record, as anyone who read Davis’ letter without being familiar with my article might assume that I am in the habit of falsely presenting information as deriving from some particular context in some sort of devious effort to make a mainstream political pundit look incompetent, whereas such a trick would hardly be necessary in the current media environment, unfortunately. –Barrett Brown