Saturday, February 10, 2007


An Olive Branch for Joe

I know I've been very rough on Joe Klein here and here, but blogging seems to have opened his eyes a bit. Little by little, he has slowly begun to comprehend why those liberals are so darn angry. He still suffers from Beltway Astigmatism, his worldview wildly distorted by D.C.'s conventional unwisdom; after all, it's a place where pack journalism's dishonest narratives always trump facts and logic. But his vision problem doesn't seem quite as acute as it was only a few days ago.

Much of the credit goes to Joe himself, who has wisely allowed commenters on his new blog a generally free rein to criticize him, sometimes in very harsh terms. A lesser blogger would've screened out all but the most fawning commenters.

Perhaps we the readers of Swampland can even have something of a dialog with Joe, so in that vein, I commented on today's post, The Elements of Vile:

Joe, in some small ways, you're starting to understand what's been going on for the past two to three decades. The GOP has an extremely powerful and dishonest smear/propaganda/brainwashing machine that has poisoned our politics, weakened our democratic republic, and almost thoroughly corrupted our journalism.

Let me tell one little story that I think illustrates a tiny bit of the damage. I know a woman whose basic tendency is toward a liberal point of view, but she isn't a politics/journalism junkie like I am. Yesterday, after I first explained the actual facts behind the Nancy Pelosi military airplane manufactured "scandal," she told me that one thing Pelosi had done awhile back had given her a bad taste in the mouth: that Pelosi had appointed a criminal to some position.

My first reaction was "Huh?" Then, after asking her a few questions, I realized she was referring to the manufactured "scandal" over the appointment of the chair of the Intelligence Committee. I had to explain to her that: a) this started because it was well known that Pelosi was disinclined to appoint the ranking Democrat, Jane Harman, because Harman had not displayed sufficient spine in standing up to the Bush regime over the past several years; b) the next highest seniority Democratic member of the committee was Alcee Hastings, which would've been a bad choice (IMHO) because he'd been impeached and removed as a judge...and yes, he had also been tried but acquitted in a criminal case, though questions remained with regard to his behavior; c) Pelosi had never ever given even the slightest indication that she would appoint Hastings; d) yes, seniority would be a factor in the appointment but Pelosi could easily override that factor; and e) Pelosi ended up passing over Hastings as well and appointed someone else -- someone who didn't have Hastings' dirty laundry -- as chair.

The woman said, "Oh, I never knew about all that," then explained that her knowledge had been mostly from quick readings of newspaper headlines and ledes. Of course her misunderstanding had been caused by misleading, sensationalistic, dishonest journalism that strongly insinuated that a) this was a personal "catfight" between Pelosi and Harman; and b) if Pelosi didn't name Harman, then she was going to name Hastings. Of course this spin was total BS -- pardon my incivility, but no other phrase is really accurate.

This is the kind of thing I fight in my daily life all the time. Another woman I know thought the entirely fictional "We got Osama in our sights" smear of the Clinton administration -- from a TV movie!!! -- was actual fact. Even though I patiently explained that this story had been debunked -- I wish I had remembered at the time that the principal debunker was Richard Clarke -- she continued to believe the fictional story over the factual one.

It's enough to make you want to bang your head against a wall...or start a blog.

Thursday, February 08, 2007


Lying GOP Smear Machine Targets Pelosi

If you've been getting your coverage of the Nancy Pelosi airplane story from cable "news," you're being lied to. It's the usual method: The Washington Times, a newspaper owned by a religious cult, the Moonies, notorious for their brainwashing techniques, publishes accusations against Speaker Pelosi that are full of misrepresentations, distortions, and outright lies; then, the So-Called "Liberal Media" (SCLM) obsequiously repeats those misrepresentations, distortions and lies without looking into the actual facts.

Here we go again. We've seen similar dishonest media manipulation countless times over the past two decades: the phony Haircutgate "scandal"; the phony Whitewater "scandal"; the phony Travelgate "scandal"; the phony Filegate "scandal"; the phony campaign finance "scandal"; the phony Lincoln Bedroom "scandal"; the phony White House trashing "scandal"; the phony Air Force 1 trashing "scandal"; the phony Marc Rich pardon "scandal"; the misrepresentation, distortion and, in at least one case, outright lying about things Al Gore said, in order to smear him as a liar; the Kerry "mistress"; the Swift Boat liars; the Kerry botched joke "scandal"; Barack Obama's madrassa "scandal"; etc., etc., etc.

How many times will the GOP Smear Machine play the SCLM for fools before they wake up and expose the Republicans' dishonesty that knows no bounds? The GOP's propagandameisters have no shame; they don't have a shred of decency.

Journalists, your job is to expose these thugs, not enable them.

Now back to the phony Nancy Pelosi airplane "scandal." Let me summarize some of the actual facts, as opposed to the BS spewed on cable "news":

The request was from the House Sergeant at Arms, not Speaker Pelosi. Flying the Speaker back to a home district on military aircraft has been standard operating procedure since 9/11, due to the fact that the Speaker is second in the line of succession to the presidency, immediately after the Vice President. Since the plane that former Speaker Hastert -- who is from Illinois -- used cannot be flown cross-country without refueling, the Sergeant at Arms requested a plane that could fly nonstop to California, due to security concerns.

The SCLM again demonstrates that they are like a whipped dog, always trying to suck up to their abusive Republican masters by loyally regurgitating the latest disinformation from the GOP Smear Machine, only to get another kick in the snout as their owners yell, "BAD LIBERAL MEDIA!!! BAD LIBERAL MEDIA!!!"

If the SCLM had an ounce of courage and journalistic ethics, they'd frame this story as "Dishonest GOP Smear Machine at It Again: Targets Speaker Pelosi with Misrepresentations, Distortions and Lies."

Last night I was reading an article about Vlad Putin's Russia in a recent New Yorker, and it was fascinating to see how the Kremlin manipulates the local media into publishing and airing smears against critics of the Russki prez. I wonder if Vlad picked up that trick during his KGB days or if he's taking lessons from the Republicans.

Or perhaps both.

Monday, February 05, 2007


Today's Oxymoron: Right-Wing Humor

The Partei's unofficial propaganda organ, Fox News, plans to challenge Comedy Central's Daily Show and Colbert Report. Of course, Fox already airs fake news 24/7, but unlike Jon Stewart's and Steven Colbert's shows, theirs is only occasionally (and unintentionally) funny.

So, now Fox is planning an allegedly satiric fake news program. Will it be funny? Well, Think Progress reports. You decide.

I'm reminded of a quote from the late, great Molly Ivins: "Satire is traditionally the weapon of the powerless against the powerful."

Somehow I don't think Fox is a friend of the powerless.

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