Strutting and fretting in an insane world.
Saturday, September 18, 2004
Thursday, September 16, 2004
The forger confesses
Yikes! Cap'n Ed links to a rant on August 25 by Bill Burkett in an open letter to George Bush stating:
I know from your files that we have now reassembled, the fact that you did not fulfill your oath, taken when you were commissioned to "obey the orders of the officers appointed over you".Now that begs a lot of questions! Who are "we"? How were these files "reassembled."
Eric Dezenhall, a media damage control consultant appearing on Brit Hume's program says that Dan Rather's problem is that this story "says to all the conspiracy theorists, Dan Rather really is Dr. Evil, you know, sitting in his basement thinking of ways to hurt Republicans. I think that is a bit far fetched."
His explanation is that CBS isn't as competent as people think and they're still not sure, so what appears to be stonewalling is really just their not being sure. He calls for a blue-ribbon commission lead by someone like . . . wait for it! . . . Walter Cronkite, that paragon of evenhanded and fair commentary on Bush's policies. Yeah, that'll work!
If I were Dezenhall, I'd be worrying about my own business after that appearance. He's telling CBS to tell its audience that it is just not bright enough to get this right.
The complaint is that Rather used obviously forged documents as proof of a negative story on President Bush, not that he is some mad evil genius. Bloggers who have been driving this story are not "conspiracy theorists." The problem is that Rather has lost all pretense of objectivity, not to mention any idea of what is relevant to this election. Hint: It has something to do with what Bush has done during the past 4 years, not what he did over thiry years ago. And it isn't incompetence, it's dishonesty and partisanship.
Maybe Juan Williams could be on that blue-ribbon panel with Walter.
Message to the media
Do your job, or the American people will find alternatives to put you out of business.
That's from this letter to the editor of the Deseret News, a Utah daily which has to rely on the wire services for its national coverage. Hence it has had no coverage of the forged memos story. I like the line and I'm going to use it.
More unintended consequences
Power Line is reporting that "[E]very time Bush is shown in his National Guard Uniform, is a plus for him because he looks so cute in it. His image is very appealing to women." He didn't look too bad in the flight suit on the USS Lincoln.
A number of readers also observed that before the current controversy, many people had no idea that President Bush once flew fighter jets--a very impressive accomplishment. And listening to the Dems would lead a casual voter to think that Bush skipped out on his National Guard service altogether, a notion that is refuted by the photos of him in a fighter plane.I doubt that is what Newsweek, et al. had in mind.
Another positive thing about Bush is that he doesn't say "I had the courage . . ." as Kerry did on his interview with Don Imus yesterday. The "Bush is a coward and Kerry is a hero" meme has run its course. Kerry seems kind of thick, but then he wasn't a jet pilot. I'd be willing to put up the control panel of a fighter jet up against that of a Swift Boat and have you tell me which requires more intelligence.
Jim Treacher is on a roll. Go to Sept 16 and scroll down for a while. Samples:
Seems to me the only time a headline should describe something as "fake but accurate" is if the story's about squirtguns
You can't spell "Dan Rather" without R-E-T-A-R-D
Rather: "Prove I'm Not Queen of the Space Unicorns"
Pick the slogan:
The Information Market
Michael Van Winkle writes: "If Nobel Prize winning economist F.A. Hayek had been watching last week as bloggers spontaneously responded to fraudulent documents aired by the program '60 Minutes', he would've grinned in humble satisfaction."
We've all heard critics of the Internet claim that, because no one "controls" it, no one can control it from disseminating the most outrageous rumors and conspiracies. A similar critique was leveled at Hayek's arguments about markets: Sure, markets (spontaneous systems) can deliver food at reasonable prices, but advertising and marketing often mislead people about which foods they should buy.The media has been wrapping themselves in the First Amendment while telling us that we have to trust them because they know better than we what news is. A lot of people have noticed their bias, but their complaints are dismissed, because those people are not "journalists."
This traditional criticism of the internet has now been aimed at the blogosphere and is embodied by big journalists like Jonathan Klein who, while defending the CBS story to The Weekly Standard remarked, "You couldn't have a starker contrast between the multiple layers of check and balances [at '60 Minutes'] and a guy sitting in his living room in his pajamas writing." Klein misses the point that it's not whether you can trust some guy in his pajamas, but whether you can trust a spontaneous system of thousands of guys in their pajamas trading information and imparting small, sometimes deceivingly insignificant, bits of information.
Then Roger Ailes came along. The man behind Rush Limbaugh and Fox News Channel realized that the news industry is not any different from any other. They are all market driven and those who ignore market developments are going to lose. There was and is a huge market for conservative views on current events, and Roger Ailes was the first to tap it in a big way. Paul Harvey has know this all along, which is why he is still so popular, but he never had the insight that taking it into a larger format and talking to the audience would blow huge holes in the liberal juggernaut that the media have become. Ailes did.
And the internet invented blogging, creating an almost perfect market for news and opinion, because it wasn't controlled by anybody. The reaction by Big Media has been predictable: harumphing, "standing by" the story, and more spin.
We've seen this scenario before, with Mussolini in Italy, Louis XVI in France and, ironically, with Richard Nixon in the U.S.A.
Kerry is turning into the Rodney Dangerfield of Politics
The Note says Kerry "continues to struggle for ways to command the national stage � not to mention the news cycle � with just 48 days left." Thanks a lot, Dan.
Wednesday, September 15, 2004
And the most savvy media are . . .
1. National Review's Kerry Spot which is reporting tonight that Kerry is cratering in the polls.
2. Brit Hume for interviewing Power Line Blog's "Big Trunk," Scott Johnson.
3. Hugh Hewitt. He'd be higher if he had more stations.
Speaking of Power Line, Hindrocket gives credit for its success, but remember, the readers wouldn't be there if these guys weren't on top of everything. Modesty is becoming, but then they are Minnesotans. They're also good for the image of lawyers.
(Via The Kerry Spot):
Statement by the President of CBS News, Andrew Heyward:Note that he calls them "accurate" not "authentic." Corroborating is not the same as authenticating. Corroborating goes to content. They are saying that these phoney documents state something Killian would agree with, and hoping that their audience will jump to the conclusion that they were actually written by Killian.
"We established to our satisfaction that the memos were accurate or we would not have put them on television. There was a great deal of coroborating [sic] evidence from people in a position to know. [emphasis added]
This cynical wordplay is just as shameful as using the forgeries in the first place.
It's not a bug; it's a feature.
Why is it that whenever the left gets caught in a lie, they suddenly want to "move on." Didn't it ever occur to the people behind MoveOn.org that using that name for attacking Bush for lying is ironic and hypocritical?
As one commenter on Kevin Drum's blog writes:
"Fake but accurate." Good G[**]. A Republican coming up with a pantload like that to justify forged documents that favored Bush would be flayed alive and dragged across the Utah salt flats behind wild horses.And Kevin Drum wouldn't be calling for us all to "move on."
Personally, I would prefer to move on, but I can't really say that it would be fair to do so when we know that, were this a Fox News Channel scandal, CBS would have clips of Tom Daschle and Ted Kennedy calling for congressional hearings on its FCC license.
The left is now reduced to arguing that Killian really thought what the fake memos say, so they aren't really forgeries, but "replicas" which means 're-enactments," like those scenes on history shows which depict someone else's opinion of what Colonel Killian might have said. So how do we know how much of the "news" on CBS is real and how much is "re-enacted?"
Tuesday, September 14, 2004
The "guy in pajamas" meme
Jonathan Klein has illustrated another principle about dealing with bloggers: Don't try to hurl contempt at people who don't take themselves as seriously as you take yourself.
They will eat your lunch.
And Zell Miller is demonstrating that heaping abuse on a savvy politician who has stung you once is probably not a smart thing to do, either.
CBS and Seinfeld
They wouldn't have gotten into this mess if they hadn't tried to imitate Matt Drudge without his experience and attention to detail. Maybe 60 Minutes should run stories past the blogosphere in the future.
Reading this post by Virginia Postrel, I thought that this whole sorry episode is due to the press relying on its prestige and the trust of its audience for a cheesy attempt to get in one more dig at George Bush. The whole argument about service records is a sideshow, and it reeks of demagoguery. All you have to do is recall the examples of Abraham Lincoln, FDR, Ronald Reagan and, yes, George W. Bush to know that people without combat experience have made great presidents.
The arguments against him are childish and flimsy. By trying to add substance to a lackluster career, John Kerry and his media supporters have wandered into the weeds, lost focus and set off hornet's nest among his fellow vets, leaving the Republicans a clear and compelling message to focus on. While they pick away at Bush's National Guard service to try to persuade us that his policy toward terrorism is wrong, the rest of us look at what he has done and realize that he's been a real leader.
Suppose Bush had fought in Vietnam, would that make the Democrats support the war in Iraq? If not, then the issue is irrelevant, no? We might as well argue about what Superman would do as president.
Sunday, September 12, 2004
Game, Set, Match.
Well, I guess Dan Rather, CBS News and John Kerry are toast. Will the media learn anything? Probably not. It's not in the nature of arrogance to learn from its mistakes. This could all have been so easily avoided, if the Kerry Campaign had realized that attacking Bush in this way wasn't going to persuade any nonpartisan voters.