As if! It's nowhere near this titillatingHow frightening is Elizabeth Warren to wingnuts? Scary enough that Breitbart remnant Big Government is running a Very Important four-part series by Micheal Patrick Leahy about Warren’s scholarship. Four parts! Wow! That must really be some dynamite exposé they have, huh? Absolutely, if you consider repeating the same charges from a negative book review over four articles “dynamite.”

Unlike many Breitbart stories that are made up out of pure delusional fantasy, this one actually does at least start with a basis in observable fact: there actually was a minor academic squabble involving the research methodology in a 1989 book about personal bankruptcy co-authored by Warren (along with Teresa A. Sullivan and Jay Westbrook), As We Forgive Our Debtors: Bankruptcy and Consumer Credit in America. Essentially, it boils down to this: in a 1990 review of Warren’s book, Rutgers Law Professor Philip Shuchman took issue with the book’s methodology, and accused the authors of “repeated instances of scientific misconduct” in their survey of individual and family bankruptcies. There’s more, but that’s pretty much the core of the accusation. Shuchman’s review is available on the web, for those hardy enough to plow through it; like many academic book reviews, it argues with both the research design and conclusions of the Warren book, questioning whether the study uses data from a sufficiently representative sample to justify its conclusions, and taking issue with how the authors define their terms. Like many a writer of a negative review, Schuchman really did not like this book.

Ah, but what about that damning phrase, “repeated instances of scientific misconduct”? Is there anything to it? Maybe, if you agree with Schuchman’s critique of the book. Schuchman himself died in 2004, and Leahy quotes extensively from obituaries praising him as a scholar. Surely Schuchman knew what he was talking about, since people said he was a great guy after he died! But the phrase itself is magical, especially if you divorce it, as Leahy gleefully has, from the context of Schuchman’s review article. In the article, it’s perfectly clear that the phrase refers to the methodology and conclusions of a single book. But hey, what happens if we move that phrase into a headline?

Good heavens! She must have been some kind of hideous monster who misconducted science again and again, heedless of the consequences! “Repeated instances” here implies that her whole academic career had to be full of charges of misconduct — and if you glance only at the headline, you might even assume that the problem wasn’t just one bad book review, but a whole charge sheet of academic crimes, made by multiple accusers.

In the best tradition of “Glenn Beck has never denied murdering a girl in the 1990s” logic, Leahy deftly pivots from the fact that Schuchman accused Warren of misconduct to the assumption that any positive mention of her scholarship simply flies in the face of that damning accusation. Thus, each time he mentions a Harvard official extolling Warren’s “excellent scholarship,” Leahy can sneer, Oh yeah? How could she be “excellent” with all those repeated instances of misconduct? At one point, Leahy even takes issue with the opinion of one scholar that Warren’s work was “thoroughly respectable.” Since Harvard was looking for “excellent,” why did they settle for merely “thoroughly respectable,” huh, huh? “Clearly,” he intones, “factors beyond teaching and quality of academic research played a role in her hiring.” Probably something really bad, we bet.

In any case, the specific accusations against Warren’s 1989 book almost don’t matter, except to fans of academic arcana. It’s pretty clear that, despite Leahy’s best efforts to spin it into a massive scandal spanning several institutions, there really isn’t much here beyond what appears to be a long-ago settled scholarly dustup about methodology and conclusions. And in fact, there doesn’t have to be any substance, as long as there’s a long, four-part series that says there’s a scandal — the rightwing blogosphere is already trying to build this into a Thing, and the details are almost immaterial. Several pages just spitting out the phrase “repeated instances of scientific misconduct” is what they’re after, and really, it’s about all they’ve got. And who knows, it worked for “Climategate!”

We do at least appreciate the irony of trying to damage a political opponent with a story about whether her work demonstrates the highest standards of academic rigor. That takes some Chootzpah.

[Big Government]

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  • nounverb911

    How thoroughly retroactive of them.

  • hagajim

    start with a basis in observable fact…and rapidly moves into the fantasy land of the rest of the wingnut universe.

  • nounverb911

    Since Breitbart cannot defend himself, I deny that Breitbart ever existed.

    • WIDTAP

      Who never existed?

      • nounverb911


      • tessiee

        This conversation never happened.

    • Mittens Howell, III

      I thought I saw a picture of him once, but it was fake.

      • ChuckieJesus

        Yeah, his head was way too big for that armor!

      • James Michael Curley

        I have his picture. It was in it when I bought a new wallet.

    • Generation[redacted]

      What's more, Breitbart was accused of repeated instances of misconduct, with a walrus.

  • Leahy merely operates on the assumption that if you can't fool all of the people all of the time, you only need to fool fools most of the time, because they're too stoopit to remember that you fooled them once.

    • viennawoods13

      Fool them twice… can't get fooled again.

  • I'd like to hear Andrew Breitbart deny that his fatal heart attack was caused by deep penetration into the anus of a now-dead male hooker.

    If he can't, it must be true.

    • Terry

      …and a whole lot of meth.

    • Generation[redacted]

      The lasting lesson of his life and death will be this: Don't fuck a walrus if you have a heart condition.

      • I don't think John Bolton is gay, but OK

    • zippy_w_pinhead

      Hooker libel!
      the fact is, that male hooker was already dead when Andy penetrated him

  • academic squabble involving the research methodology in a 1989 book

    So I'm *not* still dreaming. We have time-traveled back to 1989. Ryan White has missed us — and I apparently missed where Warren was even relevant twenty-odd years ago.

  • EatsBabyDingos

    The New War on Peas.

    • tessiee

      Give peas a chance.

      • Envision whirled peas.

        Someone had to say it…

  • CrunchyKnee

    I thought that wingnuttards were not into science things that much anyways?

    • Geminisunmars

      Yeah. I thought they'd be pro-scientific misconduct.

  • EatsBabyDingos

    If Breitbart were alive today, he'd be clawing like hell at his casket. And I'd be laughing like hell, and probably going to hell, but what the hell.

    Hello, Nurse!

    • Willardbot9000_V2.5

      hahaha…yeah, he'd be making muffled whiney sounds and you could then say (or I could, with a big ear-ear smile) "I'd offer to help but this is 'Merika, you claw your way out by your bootstraps!" and maybe add, "if we helped him we'd just encourage his culture of dependency on hands out…which would destroy his freedom to suffocate" then hum "America the Beautiful" until the sounds fade…but I'm not bitter and I don't hate wingnuts…I just want them to live consistently, after all…the sociopathic motherfuckers…

  • Goonemeritus

    “Repeated instances of scientific misconduct”?

    A phrase that means you have depicted a dinosaur without Jesus riding it to most Republicans.

  • Harry Reid is a novice.

  • sullivanst

    I much prefer the Patrick Leahy without a leading Michael.

    • Geminisunmars

      Or a misleading Michael.

  • BaldarTFlagass

    “repeated instances of scientific misconduct”

    And what about repeated instances of journalistic misconduct, hmmm?

    • sullivanst

      GoB calls that "SOP".

    • Willardbot9000_V2.5

      I was checking reviews on Rotten Tomatoes of the new Batman movie and stumbled onto one of the reviews being from Big Hollywood…fucking hilarious. I watched the film with two of my nephews last week and thought how overtly political the film was in favor of Occupy, the 99%, etc. This review was SO FAR afield from the film I saw it was fucking ridiculous. I mean there was this movie I saw, every one in the theater saw and then this movie this asshole saw. I was going to comment by asking this guy what the color the sky is in his world but it reminded me too much of the dumbshits who claimed the Dark Knight was a paen to Bush when it raked the US over the coals…either way Breitfarters are just stupid and demented…

  • LastGasp

    … if you consider repeating the same charges from a negative book review over four articles…

    Hmm, didn't Joseph Goebbels say something like this? “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it."

    • eggsacklywright

      Might have been Karl Rove. I'm always getting them mixed up.

      • rickmaci

        No, I think it was Lee Atwater (as long as we are running with a blog string about dead crypto Nazi propagandists.)

    • James Michael Curley

      “Falsehood flies, and the truth comes limping after it.”
      — Johnathan Swift, early 18th Cent.

    • tessiee

      Reagan used to do that, too, except that he was too dumb to remember what he'd lied about the first time, so his lies got progressively worse as they repeated them. The first time around, he'd say a four-month fetus was viable, the second time around, it would be a three-month fetus, the third time, it would be a three-week fetus. He smiled a lot, so nobody ever questioned it.

    • sewollef

      Hmm, didn't Joseph Goebbels say something like this? “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it."

      That maybe true, but it doesn't mean Leahy's going to invade Poland, surely.

      Or does it?

  • Wilcoxyz

    In other wingnut book news: Waldo comes out, errr, found!

  • Texan_Bulldog

    Hey, you found a picture of Ann & Mitt when they were dating!

    • nounverb911

      Is Mitt about to cut her hair?

    • edgydrifter

      Sticking an ashtray in your lady's armpit and grinding your elbow into her pelvis never struck me as effective foreplay, but maybe that was the style in the early '60s.

      • Geminisunmars

        You mean it's not now?

    • Generation[redacted]

      Looks like he just cashed another one of Daddy's treasury notes.

  • edgydrifter

    Elizabeth Warren's entire life is a fraud because she once made an economic argument based on a sample size and methodology that some other professor didn't think was sufficiently representative, but Rick Santorum, Hank Williams Jr., Rush Limbaugh and about eleventy-million Republican agitators calling Obama "HITLER!" passes muster because, duh, that's self-evident.

    • One_who_wanders

      As a former academic social scientist I heartily approve of this comment. To say they love to split hairs on methodology is dramatically understate the case.

      • emmelemm

        Truer words never spoken.

        Also, I've missed your little fox avatar.

  • ElPinche

    Four parts??? Is this radical wingnut version of The Hobbit?

    • There And Back Again, And Back Once More, Then Home Again, Then Once More With Feeling, And A Final Return To Hobbiton

      • Good God, don't let Jackson get hold of The Silmarillion!

      • Harvey Weinstein nearly has the deal put together with Tolkien's estate: "RRvRR: Middle Earth vs. Westeroth." The War Of The Geeks begins with conceptual sketches and test animations at ComiCon 2013!!

        • viennawoods13

          That will be challenging for Sean Bean, as he has to die early in both.

          • tessiee

            Serves him right for having an orthographically inconsistent name.

          • Yes, if he was named Bean Bean he'd have his own theme song to boot.

          • BoatOfVelociraptors

            That's one way to toot your horn.

    • Texan_Bulldog

      I can't help thinking the Breitbart readership is more suited to 'four very short paragraphs' than four parts.

      • sullivanst

        Well, if they're four very small parts, it probably has a comfortable familiarity to regular visitors.

      • ElPinche

        And in ALL CAPS of course.

        • viennawoods13

          Comic sans MS, too.

      • IonaTrailer

        My thoughts exactly. with no words over three syllables…

    • Typodong3

      You NEED a trilogy to do justice to The Hobbit. Because, $.

      • And coming in 2020, Peter Jackson's expanded Double-Trilogy Director's Re-Cut of "The Lord Of The Rings" in Digital 3D!!

        • Typodong3

          Thats funny cause the other day I was thinking that the equivalent of a Hobbit trilogy would be a 9-part LOTR epic. Plus extras.

        • viennawoods13

          Which, sadly, I would happily purchase.

  • May I have your attention please? Andrew Breitbart is still dead.

    And I never get tired of mentioning that.

  • poorgradstudent

    Now, now, which is more likely: that this entire website is run by ideologically fanatical morons, or that people form different opinions about academic things?

    • BaldarTFlagass

      Can't… cut… Gordian… Knot….

      • Biel_ze_Bubba

        "Here … use my razor."

    • AOT, K

      And you misspelled "moran"

    • lulzmonger


  • BaldarTFlagass

    I hear she cheated on a spelling test in the second grade, too, by writing the words on her hand before the test.

    • ChuckieJesus


  • So a Breitbart site is now saying there's something wrong with scientific misconduct? And how would they even know? That would be like me criticizing Breitbart's conduct at the bus station gloryhole.

    • Jus_Wonderin

      It's safe to say he used too much teeth action.

      • tessiee

        And, quite frankly, his hygiene wasn't the best.

  • Ducksworthy

    Conservatives are always appalled at the free flow of ideas that academics take for granted: vis the "global warming gate" emails where scientists were actually critical of their critics.

    • In fairness, they goosestep on the dance floor, too.

  • RadioBowels

    Mein Kampf wasn't very well reviewed either.

    • BaldarTFlagass

      Too bad those reviews weren't sufficient to keep him out of electoral politics.

  • BlueStateLibel

    Wait, I thought the wingnuts didn't believe in science? So who cares if it's misconducted? I'm confused.

    • ChuckieJesus

      "You Librulz and all yer High Order Thinkin' Skills! No wonder yer so easily confused by the facts!"

    • An_Outhouse

      who knew they could read?

  • MissTaken

    I heard if you compare Elizabeth Warren's supposed writings to those of Bill Ayers and Saul Alinsky there is a disproportionate use of the words 'the' and 'and' proving that Warren did not write them.

    • tessiee

      Also, if you read them backwards, it proves that Paul McCartney is dead a hack.

      • MissTaken

        Warren is the Walrus.

  • Typodong3

    I hear Obama is "a monster, and the worst dad ever, who never lets me do anything fun."

    – Malia Ann, 2003 (Age 5)

  • SmutBoffin



    • Billmatic

      I'm gettin real tired of your shit Leahy.

  • Callyson

    Meanwhile, the ads in the link above for the Shuchman review:

    $3000 – 125,000 debt aid?

    Affordable bankruptcy!

    Wipe out credit card debt!

  • Elizabeth Warren's third grade report card indicates "numerous occurrences of mischief during recess." How is it possible that an institution like Harvard would offer an academic position to a woman who has demonstrated "numerous occurrences of mischief"? Sadly, her third grade teacher, Mrs. Hortense Mayweather, suffers from advanced Alzheimer's, and cannot comment. So we may never know the exact nature of these "numerous" acts of "mischief," nor what favors, bribery or misconduct influenced her hiring by the liberal institution despite her dark past.

    • HistoriCat

      I understand that some of her teachers died under unknown circumstances – what terrible secrets is she willing to kill for?

      • Following the trail through an authoritative thesaurus reveals these disturbing associations with "mischief": "devilry", "unscrupulousness", "delinquency", "lawlessness" and "anarchy". When will Ms. Warren explain her dealings with such synonyms?!

    • tessiee

      "Elizabeth Warren's third grade report card indicates "numerous occurrences of mischief during recess."

      There was also that…
      during musical chairs.
      It's since been hushed up.

  • Callyson

    Page two of the review clearly states that the writer wrote in favor of giving a National Science Foundation grant to Warren and her co – authors. Whatever he thought of the result of her research, clearly the guy did not think she was a charlatan.

    I'd say I hope Shuchman is kicking Breitbart's ass as I write this, but I suspect the two are in different locations for the afterlife…

    • I believe the dudes with wings can get a day pass to visit friends and acquaintances in the hot place, so long as they promise to Lord it over them

  • MacRaith

    So one of the worst practitioners of journalistic misconduct is accusing Warren of scientific misconduct?

  • Blueb4sinrise

    I think this is the same Philip Shuchman who wrote:

    While serving on the Bankruptcy Commission staff I suggested such barbarisms
    as a bankruptcy law that would expire in ten or twenty years. Also it
    seemed evident that a substantial number of personal bankruptcies could be
    prevented by comprehensive medical insurance.

    • Of course, you realize that context is evil when it distracts people from the petty sensationalism at hand, don't you?

      • Blueb4sinrise

        Yeah, just trying to play the game. First couple pages of teh Googlez were references from winger blogs on his review of Warren et al. Finally got to something else and it wasn't hard to find a quote that would damage his cred. amongst the wingeratti. Plus, dude was a Law Prof. fer chrissakes.

    • tessiee

      Wait, this guy Schuchman was at Rutgers AND Duke?
      This conclusively proves that everyone at Duke is from New Jersey.

  • MissTaken

    In Junior High I completely botched the dissections of both a frog and a cow's eyeball. Because of my “repeated instances of scientific misconduct” I never became a US Senator.

  • BaldarTFlagass

    If only bad book reviews had kept Newt Gingrich from running…

    • Tundra Grifter

      I did my best on Amazon, ripping one of his "history" books a new one.

      It didn't work.

  • Oblios_Cap

    Research is hard. Leahy's just proving it.

  • ChuckieJesus

    Hell of a time for them to start believin' all that Ivory Tower shit.

  • The real question is, does this four part series have any lesbian/lesbian action photos or is it just about a bunch of research crap?

    • IonaTrailer

      Hot girl on girl research

  • Since when did they let women do science?

    • sullivanst

      Roughly since they found out it can cause cancer, or something.

  • Tundra Grifter

    My favorite soft-core college book is the classic "Campus Tramp." It was set in my hometown of Yellow Springs, Ohio. Those are the Antioch College towers on the cover. And it may have been written by a famous author.

    The story in town (spread by those who couldn't get their hands on a copy, as it is rather rare) was the characters were named for dorms but that really isn't true.

    Still my fav. For old times' sake.

  • Billmatic

    Liz Warren is dreamy ~ <3

  • no_gravity

    Is that a pack of L&M's in that picture?

  • jakegittes

    From what I hear from reliable sources, she may also artificially color her hair.

  • chicken_thief

    Was Schuchman into the Kochs back then? Or possibly the other way around?

    • IonaTrailer

      Or into the cocks?

  • James Michael Curley

    If Elizabeth Warren is such a big deal how come she never posed naked in Cosmo?

    • tessiee

      Because Cosmo publishes pictures of nekkid men.
      Nekkid wimmenz pose for Playboy.

      • James Michael Curley

        Cosmo must have toned down their covers now that Helen is out as editor. I always got a kick out of NYC corner newsstands where Playboy had ‘logo boards’ in front of the mag but Cosmos was right out front on the clips often with more skin showing than Playboy.

        • BoatOfVelociraptors

          They were covering up the articles.

  • el_donaldo

    I'm surprised that Leahy was able to find enough sources written in crayon by third-graders for him to complete a four-part series on Warren's scholarship.

    Probably a cottage industry of Breitbart Industries: Academic Scholarship for Dummies, As Told to and Transcribed by Small Children.

  • fartknocker

    Brietfart: The Nancy Grace of the Tea Party. I'm sure he was buried wearing a woman's pant suit. Prove me wrong bitches.

    • sullivanst

      I don't know… it's probably a close race as to whether Leahy prefers Mountain Dew and Cheetos or booze and hotpants.

    • Angry_Marmot

      It was a Dale Evans swimsuit.

  • SorosBot

    Wait, why would a site that denies the very existence of science when it comes to climate change have a problem with scientific misconduct?

  • An_Outhouse

    Repeated instances of misconduct is how I ended up with three children. Are they accusing Elizabeth Warren of being a whore?

  • tessiee

    Don't you guys just love those paperback cover art pictures?
    "Gripping — Powerful — Not for the squeamish"
    Check out this one:

    • Ha! That's going to be somebody's avatar before the day is out.

    • Blueb4sinrise

      OMG! There's hundreds on that etsy!

      Including Harlan Ellison….
      Stag Preston ! Idol of millions

    • I actually have that as a kitchen magnet, as well as a few other of those pulp covers. Never get tired of them.

    • sullivanst

      Huh, and now I know how The Velvet Underground got their name. Wonket = Edukashun!

  • Generation[redacted]

    Headline: Breitbart accused of repeated instances of being dead.

  • The real problem Zombie Brietbart has with Warren and her book is that she wrote a book that someone would take seriously enough to attempt to refute.

    They like books with short sentences and pictures.

  • Schmegeg

    Shuchman really hated the Harry Potter books too.

  • barto

    Wait till they unearth that 6th grade book report. Pure scientific misconduct gold, baby!

  • DahBoner

    Breitard's brain is crawling with maggots right now.

    Not to mention what's going on in his casket!


  • OneYieldRegular

    Someone with such short appendages should not attempt to box with God.

  • tessiee

    "Thus, each time he mentions a Harvard official extolling Warren’s “excellent scholarship,” Leahy can sneer, Oh yeah? How could she be “excellent” with all those repeated instances of misconduct?"

    Yeah, because who's gonna believe Harvard over [snortle!] Rutgers and Duke?

  • emmelemm

    So, Dok Zoom, I'm assuming that the cover art up there came from your extensive personal collection (amongst the Jello cookbooks and the Bloom County cartoons)…

  • tessiee

    "repeating the same charges from a negative book review over four articles"

    If only they'd ended all four articles with "PS: Matt, Matt, Matt, Matt, Matt!"

  • Nostrildamus

    They should just stick to burning Cheerios.

  • BZ1

    Geez, a reviewer is now dead, Breirz is now dead, definitely a conspiracy!!!

  • Ms_Anthrope

    The shittening has begun!

  • larrykat

    The silver lining to this is that very few (if any) of the right-wing morons who might buy into this kind of masturbation will not have the reading comprehension skills to understand very much of it.

  • ttommyunger

    One of my Facebook "Friends" here in Rightard Country posted a hit piece on Warren and I replied asking him what he did not like about her policies. After some back and forth he promised to point her faulty policy positions after doing some checking. A satisfying silence has ensued for some months now. I often post that chain emails are fine, so long as the reader understands they are intended to inflame, not inform.

  • lulzmonger

    Quelle surprise!

    Surely it is a profound mystery why anyone *COUGHbankofamericaCOUGHgoldmansachsCOUGHjpmorganchaseCOUGH* would ever dig up ancient history on Ms. Warren, let alone misrepresent it.

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