Because the consensus bolsters the case for policy changes that conservatives don’t like, the movement expends vast resources attempting, with general success, to persuade its adherents that the whole thing is a lie cooked up by liberals. Pethokoukis is executing the dance steps perfectly. First he calls inequality a myth, then — when his primary source contradicts him — he retreats to calling it “overblown,” then returns to calling it a “myth” again. All along he pleads that he merely wants open dialogue, that it’s the liberals who are trying to stigmatize dissent and suppress open debate. The only purpose of the exercise is to muddy the debate enough to allow conservatives to avoid coming to grips with ideologically inconvenient facts.

Chait’s last sentence here is what I tried to get at in the top of this post fisking Pethokoukis.

— Bloomberg’s Ben Elgin, Vernon Silver and Alan Katz have a terrific report showing how Iran has stepped up its technological surveillance in the last two years with the aid of European companies, including major ones like Sweden’s Ericsson and U.S.-financed ones like Ireland’s AdaptiveMobile Security.

It’s great to see other news organizations investigating what The Wall Street Journal calls Censorship Inc., its important series on how Western businesses enable and profit from state repression.

Here’s a snippet where Bloomberg finds an Iranian Ericsson employee who may have been a victim of its technology:

Fahimi, who fled to Turkey after receiving a two-year prison sentence for his role in the protests, can’t be sure that Ericsson technology aided his interrogators, but he is familiar with the capabilities of these types of systems.

“I worked on the technology and I was a victim of the technology, as well,” Fahimi says.

He has no problem with legitimate monitoring that has court authorization. That isn’t the case in Iran, he says.

“They can monitor whoever they want, for their purposes, not for the benefit of society and people.”

Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at