January 5, 2007
Media Matters In the Meme Streets of Baghdad - 1
The Iraq war -- indeed, the larger GWOJ (global war against jihadism) -- is as much a propaganda war, a war of ideas and "memes," as it is a shooting war. Paul Josef Goebbels understood the power of propaganda; so too did Tojo, Walter Cronkite, and so does al-Qaeda, of course. Alas, it appears that both the Bush administration and the GOP are completely clueless in this respect.
The Democrats and the elite media, to the extent they are not the same entity, understand perfectly, however.
When CNN broadcast the al-Qaeda propaganda video showing an American soldier being killed by a terrorist sniper, terrorists gloated that our sensationalist media was always willing to help them out by showing their recruiting videos on the nightly news. The media, for reasons of their own which appear more compelling to them than national security, long ago decided to work with America's enemies; the most charitable conclusion is that they're so deathly afraid of American military might becoming American imperialism, that they would rather see an America defeated, humbled, and on its knees than triumphant, dominant, and ascendent.
To think that the internationalists in the elite media are cheerleaders for success in Iraq, let alone the larger GWOJ, is naïve; to imagine that the tilt is so subtle that ordinary readers don't realize it -- is downright insulting.
Yet that is exactly what columnist Eric Boehlert, from Media Matters for America, does in "Michelle Malkin fiddles while Baghdad burns." Boehlert, and many others like him in the drive-by media, criticize sites such as Michelle Malkin, Flopping Aces, and Confederate Yankee (from the best of intentions!) They call us -- he didn't mention Big Lizards, but I feel some solidarity with the ones he did -- they call us "warbloggers," who are “chronically incorrect” and uninterested in the truth... unlike the perennially truth-seeking mainstream media. (Hat tip, who else? Michelle Malkin.)
In fact, while I wouldn't say Boehlert has it exactly backwards -- there are many bloggers (even "warbloggers") who are just as biased (or corrupt) as Mary Mapes and Eason Jordan -- the mere fact that there is so much more big political money in the professional media than in the blogosphere itself argues in favor of more honesty within the latter.
For Boehlert is an honourable man; so are they all, all honourable men
In fact, Boehlert himself gives us a perfect example of the deep, underlying, and contemptuous atitude of the elites in the professional media towards the upstarts "who have virtually no serious journalism experience among them." In his lengthy harangue on his Media Matters blog, he attempts to discredit Michelle Malkin -- the bête noire he seems to fear more than the rest of the blogosphere combined -- with an off-topic and puzzling slap:
It should be noted that Malkin's breathless excitement over the AP story nearly matches the enthusiasm she used to spread online smears about the press in the spring of 2005 during the Terri Schiavo right-to-die controversy. That's when Malkin backed the novel conspiracy theory that press reports about how congressional Republicans had drafted a talking-points memo in order to properly spin the Schiavo story were all wrong. In fact, according to Malkin's fact-free analysis, an unknown Democratic operative had concocted the phony GOP talking-points memo and duped the media in order to make Republicans look bad.
This was a big story, in which the honest and honorable media reported not only that a Republican wrote it -- true, Brian Darling, legal counsel to Sen. Mel Martinez (R-FL, 100%) -- but also that the Republicans distributed it to the party faithful on Capitol Hill -- which turned out to be completely false: Martinez gave it to Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA, 100%), and it was then leaked to the media. By charging Malkin with having "backed the novel conspiracy theory" that Democrats wrote the memo, he paints her as a delusional loon who can simply be dismissed.
But wait... did she really push that "conspiracy theory?"
As proof she did, Boehlert links to another post on Media Matters -- attributed to "J.W.," though there is nobody listed on the masthead of Media Matters with those initials; not only does J.W. not back up Boehlert's accusation, he says precisely nothing about Malkin's position:
[Josh] Claybourn [of In the Agora] posted a March 26 blog entry claiming that four anonymous GOP Senate staffers had accused a Reid aide of distributing "distributing forged 'talking points' to members of the media and claiming Republican authorship. Though this information has since been excised from the post [J.W. must mean excised from the Claybourn post], conservative syndicated columnist Michelle Malkin, who has been actively following this subplot on her blog, stated in an April 7 post that In the Agora originally identified them as staff members of Martinez and Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA).
So all that J.W. is saying is that Malkin correctly reported that a Josh Claybourn post identified staffers for Sen. Mel Martinez (R-FL) and then-Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) as the culprits behind the false charge that the Schiavo memo was written by a Democrat. J.W. says nothing remotely like Boehlert's claim that Malkin said "an unknown Democratic operative had concocted the phony GOP talking-points memo." Eric Boehlert simply made that charge up.
But of course, Eric Boehlert is an honorable man.
In fact, it's even worse: Michelle Malkin was skeptical of Claybourn's informants' information from the beginning. On March 26th -- nearly two weeks before the J.W. post above -- Malkin published a post titled Eyewitnesses?, question mark included. In it, she quoted from the Claybourn post, then added this:
I don't buy it. Here's why:
[We skip her five reasons for rejecting the In the Agora accusation.]
Unless someone is prepared to stand up and publicly point the finger at a specific individual and explain the decision to delay disclosing the true source of the memo, I can only conclude that ITA's sources are probably lying.
Note not only Boehlert's peculiar relationship with the truth of the matter -- saying that Malkin had championed the idea that the Shiavo memo was written by Democrats, when in fact she immediately rejected it -- but also the fact that he is so dismissive of those of us who didn't go to J-school, that he thinks we won't even bestir ourselves to follow his link and see what Malkin actually said. He believes he is safe, because "warbloggers" are either too stupid or too lazy to do the least bit of research.
Eric Boehlert believes his own arrogant fantasy of pajama-clad losers warblogging from their mothers' basements. But Boehlert is an honorable man; so are they all, all honorable men.
The blogosphere -- threat or menace?
Boehlert's main subject, however, is the recently discredited and partially retracted Associated Press story about four mosques being "burned" and six Iraqi Sunnis being doused with kerosine and burnt alive; he latches hold of this story and tries to demonstrate how paranoid are the "warbloggers" he despises.
(Before reading further, please first read Patterico's excellent summary of what we know (as of today) AP got wrong about that story.)
In his post, Boehlert shows utter contempt towards any blogger who dares question elite media reporting (rather than simply receiving it like tablets from Mount Sinai). He mocks the very notion that the MSM could be willing accomplices (or useful idiots), out to make us lose the war in Iraq... just as Walter Cronkite helped us lose Vietnam by falsely (and deliberately) reporting the Tet Offensive -- a Viet Cong attack that failed catastrophically, resulting in the destruction of the Viet Cong as a serious military force -- as a tremendous enemy victory that meant America had already lost the war.
Boehlert equates "warbloggers" like Michelle Malkin and Confederate Yankee with lunatic conspiracy theorists, disdaining as "illogical obsession" our suspicions about the accuracy, and even the veracity, of Iraqi and Afghan stringers and informers. He crows that we only question the MSM because we cannot face the reality that we lost the war (which certainly would be news to the American military personnel fighting in Iraq; and to the Iraqis; and for that matter, to al-Qaeda or Muqtada Sadr or whomever we're supposed to have lost the war to).
Boehlert's central j'accuse is that we "warbloggers" ignore the carnage of sectarian violence, clinging instead to irrelevant minor discrepancies (such as non-existent mosque burnings and burnt Sunnis who cannot be found) like “a ray of hope.”
And he also tries to slip another one across. Unable to seriously damage the credibility of "warbloggers" by actually finding errors or maladroit reasoning in their war-related posts, Boehlert embarks upon a campaign of drive-by discrediting: he finds some post somewhere, typically unrelated or only tangentially related to the war, where the warblogger in his crosshairs wrote something to which Boehlert objects. He then trots this out as more evidence of the "warblogger" being "unhinged," "obsessed," "demented," or harboring "unbridled hatred of Arabs and Muslims" and wanting to see journalists "get killed":
Warning: Confederate Yankee is the same warblogger who recently posted a Reuters photo of an elderly Iraqi woman wrapped in a headscarf and crying beside a coffin. Confederate Yankee sensed foul play and claimed the picture had been mischievously doctored by the wire service because the Iraqi woman's face was actually George Bush's mug superimposed onto the picture. I kid you not.
Actually, "kid you" he does... because following the link to Confederate Yankee makes it perfectly clear that Bob Owens was simply joking, for heaven's sake. (Strangely, Boehlert never links directly to a blog; instead, he always links to a Media Matters redirect to the link target. I don't know why he does this; perhaps it's a pompous Media Matters house rule. But it's annoying, since I actually must click through to every source to get the URL, rather than right-clicking and selecting "Copy link location".)
Here is what Confederate Yankee writes:
Apparently, even nominal quantities of over-the-counter cold medications can cause you to see the most interesting things.
I know this, because this Reuters picture has all the earmarks of a crudely-edited PhotoShop, from the rather odd smudges and apparent artifacts around the heads of the two women on the left when the photo is enlarged, to the rather uncanny resemblance that one person in the picture has to someone I feel I should know.
After Adnan Hajj, Reuters wouldn't fall for this sort of stuff again, would they?
It’s a good thing I can chalk this up to cough syrup. If not, I might have to start questioning the media’s accuracy.
If Boehlert cannot figure out that this is a joke, then he shares his sense of humor with John Kerry. The alternative is that Boehlert knew it was a joke, but he decided to pretend it was serious, in order to discredit Owens. But I cannot imagine he would do such a thing, for Boehlert is an honorable man.
Warning: Having now seen two examples of Eric Boehlert confabulating false charges against the "warbloggers," who seem to haunt his dreams at night, I will follow the links on each and every such accusation that he makes from now on. Fool me once, shame on you; fool me 217 times in the same post, and I'll resign from the blogosphere in disgrace.
Baghdad mosques are burning down, burning down, burning down
Here is Boehlert in full cry, expounding his thesis like Marc Antony bestriding Caesar's dagger-riven body (so Boehlert's head does not explode, I confess that all emphasis is added for clarity):
By inflating the disputed incident into a monumentally important press story, warbloggers, who have excitedly pounded the story for weeks, convinced themselves that blame for the United States' emerging defeat in Iraq lay squarely at the feet of the press. Specifically, warbloggers claim that American journalists, too cowardly to go get the news themselves, are relying on local Iraqi news stringers who have obvious sympathies for terrorists and who purposefully push propaganda into the news stream -- the way Hussein did with the Burned Alive story -- to create the illusion of turmoil. Warbloggers, who have virtually no serious journalism experience among them, announced that what's coming out of Iraq today is not news at all, but simply terrorist press releases -- "a pack of lies" -- regurgitated by reporters (or "traitors") who want to see the insurgents succeed....
But warbloggers aren't interested in an honest, factual debate about a single instance of journalistic accountability. And they're not really interested in the specifics of the Burned Alive story. They're interested in wide-ranging conspiracy theories and silencing skeptical voices.
Shakespeare weeps with envy.
But Boehlert is no fool; he knows that the MSM, like everyone else (including Boehlert himself), has an agenda. Boehlert is unhinged because the media elite, which he is part of, no longer dominates the news cycle, as they used to do before first talk radio, then the blogosphere threatened their monopoly. "Warbloggers" (many of whom are former soldiers) ask too many inconvenient questions; and it is Boehlert, not Malkin or Owens or the fellows at Power Line, who is rather desperate to "silence skeptical voices."
But Boehlert is an honorable man; so are they all, all honorable men.
Continued next post...
(Dafydd ab Hugh contributed to this post)
Hatched by Sachi on this day, January 5, 2007, at the time of 9:07 PM
TrackBack URL for this hissing: http://biglizards.net/mt3.36/earendiltrack.cgi/1583
Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Media Matters In the Meme Streets of Baghdad - 1:
» Media Matters In the Meme Streets of Baghdad - B from Big Lizards
Continued from previous post... You put your left foot in... If the mainstream media has no agenda, and their misreporting can solely be blamed upon the fog of war, we should see the mistakes benefiting the both sides equally; half... [Read More]
Tracked on January 6, 2007 2:59 AM
» Corrections from Michelle Malkin
On December 26 and December 27, I linked to a photo publicized by radio talker Scott Hennen and Power Line of Sen. John Kerry in Iraq. Milblogger Ben of Mesopotamia, an Army Captain in Iraq, had posted the photo and... [Read More]
Tracked on January 6, 2007 6:42 PM
Tracked on January 8, 2007 6:46 AM
» Monday Morning Jamil Roundup from Confederate Yankee
While I've been busy over the weekend doing family stuff, other bloggers have kept up the pressure on the continuing on-going scandal called Jamilgate, where the Associated Press claimed that 24 people were burned to death and four mosques were... [Read More]
Tracked on January 8, 2007 7:52 AM
The following hissed in response by: CSK
I thoroughly enjoy your posts, and I love your style. I also agree with you completely regarding this post. I've moved you up in my favorites list, just above Gateway Pundit.
The following hissed in response by: hunter
1) this is an important piece of analysis
2) it is too long- maybe a multipart post?
3) I would say that the MSM is pushing back really hard, and fairly effectively. They have people like the Captain rolling over pretty much at their call.
4) While the Jamil, the Kerry isolation, and other stuff is not what the MSM would like to claim, the blogosphere had best watch out. This is in effect "The Empire Strikes Back". And the MSM could get their tools in Congress to write laws to define who benefits from freedom of the press.
They clearly think there is too much loose talkin' goin' on heah.
The following hissed in response by: Fritz
But of course they are honorable men---by their standards. Sadly those standards are more than somewhat suspect by honest people. Many on the left seem unwilling to accurately quote people and instead try to make it appear that they said things which they never did just as Mr. Boehlert does with regards to Michelle and Curt. Boehlert and his ilk still believe that Bush said that Saddam was responsible for 9/11, and continue to repeat that and other lies no matter how many times the truth is pointed out to them. The sad fact is that they can never be convinced of their errors simply because they know they are right and facts don't matter to them.
I do have to ask how long you have been looking for a good place to use the word "concatenation," a lovely word which isn't used nearly as often as it should be.
The following hissed in response by: Bill Faith
Dafydd has an absolutely awesome series up: Media Matters In the Meme Streets of Baghdad - 1, Media Matters In the Meme Streets of Baghdad - B,Media Matters In the Meme Streets of Baghdad - iii. Gotta be honest and admit I simply don't have the attention span to write something like that and if I did I'd do something pedestrian like calling them Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. Guess that's why he gets all the traffic.
The above hissed in response by: Bill Faith at January 6, 2007 8:26 AM
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