Friday, June 04, 2004

Rightwing Penetration Of Mainstream Media - How It Works 

Okay, we all know how it works. I'm just excited because I actually got to see a bit of it in action, mere minutes ago, which would be around 11:20 AM out here on the left coast.

So, I'm sitting at my computer, watching out of the corner of one eye the "Take Back America" conference on C-Span. It's a session from yesterday, Thursday; Hillary Clinton introducing George Soros. Hillary is great, maybe the best I've ever seen her, working without notes, loose and easy, she sets up the framing theme of taking back our country, our America, in specific progressive, but also mainstream terms.

Soros takes the podium, an attractive, unslick, sophisticated European; he speaks with quiet, conversational passion about the disaster of the Bush foreign policy. He draws a connection between 9/11 and the pictures of prisoner abuse in Abu Ghraib, but that connection is causal, how did we get from being the victim, to being seen by the world as being a perpetrator, of torture, yet. He doesn't blame America, he blames the administration that had responsibility for guiding this country from 9/11 to a war in Iraq. When he states that the Bush policies have killed more innocents than the number who died on 9/11, I think to myself that though that statement is undoubtedly true, it sets up an easy Republican bullseye, although Soros' point is the loss of American prestige around the world, Republicans will not fail to take their shots.

While this is going on, in my opposite ear, I pick up on my neighbor's TV, clearly tuned to one of cable news networks, the name George Soros. Within 30 seconds I'm tuned to MSNBC where a discussion is going on between the young female anchor and Byron York regarding a George Soros statement, the one from yesterday, drawing a moral equivalence between Abu Graib and 9/11. How had this item been put on the agenda of MSNBC? Why, the RNC Chairman had attacked the statement, on the basis, according to Byron York, of the article he'd written about Soros for National Review. Why that made York the appropriate interlocutor for Gillespie's Republican spin, you'll have to ask MSNBC. Give the young anchoress credit; she did ask why the statement was a news item? Although a tape of Soros' statement had been played, York met no opposition when he rearranged the meaning of Soros' words to suit the RNC spin, indeed one might call it the Nationl Review spin. Give Soros people credit; in the middle of the discussion, the anchor received a communication from them that Soros had made no statement drawing a moral equivalence between 9/11 and the prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib, which was true. But York insisted that the audience had just seen him do it.

Here's York's National Review "article," if that's what you can call it.

Soros: Abu Ghraib = September 11
The billionaire shares his theories with liberal activists.

Billionaire financier George Soros, the financial power behind a number of anti-Bush movements on the left, today directly compared the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal in Iraq with the terrorist attacks of September 11.

"I think that those pictures hit us the same way as the terrorist attack itself," Soros continued, "not quite with the same force, because in the terrorist attack, we were the victims. In the pictures, we were the perpetrators and others were the victims."

"But there is, I'm afraid, a direct connection between those two events, because the way President Bush conducted the war on terror converted us from victims into perpetrators."

There are a few grafs more, but York featured what he considered to be the damning quote. Nowhere is a moral equivalence drawn, nowhere is America blamed for 9/11. But no matter. Close enough for Byron York.

Enter Ed Gillispie.

WASHINGTON, June 3 /U.S. Newswire/ -- RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie issued the following statement in response to comments made today by John Kerry supporter George Soros comparing prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib prison to the terror attacks on 9-11. "Abu Ghraib was bad and the soldiers involved are rightly being punished, but for Democrats to say that the abuse of Iraqi fighters is the moral equivalent of the slaughter of 3,000 innocent Americans is outrageous. Their hatred of the President is fueling a blame America first mentality that is troubling." ------
Paid for by the Republican National Committee. Not authorized by any candidate or candidate committee.

"Troubling." Have you noticed that is the new watchword for this campaign?

Notice how Gillespie doesn't risk actually producing a quote. Notice how he builds on York's distortion, which at least contented itself with misinterpreting the notion of a connection between Abu Ghraib and 9/11, to the outright lie that Soros had said that they were moral equivalents. Nor did Soros 'blame' America for either 9/11 or Abu Ghraib; he blamed the Bush administrations for its response to 9/11, and the way that response prepared the way for what we saw in the photographs of prisoner abuse.

Now let's take a look at the real heart of the current Republican party.

Two stories get posted to Lucianne.com, and the threads that follow tell you all you need to know about what it is that both the RNC and Byron York hope to stimulate in the American electorate. Warning: As one of the commenters admits, it aint' pretty.

The first thread is a response to a posting of the original York article.

The second thread is a response to the posting of a NYPost article about the RNC's plans to harpoon Soros and hang him around Kerry's neck. Think of it as "necklacing."

Read them, and then ask yourself if these sentiments could ever make it onto MSNBC.

The answer? Yes, by the proxys that more and more are being accepted as respectable mainstream journalists. Before you know it, WorldNet will be showing up as sources on CNN.

We've heard a lot about Bush-hating. We'll hear a lot more. Just to help you keep it all in perspective, let me remind you of the kind of civilized discourse to which President Clinton was treated on almost every day of his eight years in office.

This is an editorial from the Orlando Sentinel; I'll give you the URL, but since I'm not sure if it is still available, I'm going to reproduce the whole of it.

An Evil Man, An Evil Decision
by Charley Reese
of The Sentinel Staff
Published in The Orlando Sentinel, Dec 20 1998

In a bizarre way, this past week reminded me of a line from an old Kevin Costner movie in which the wicked Sheriff of Nottingham, in a rage, shouts at one of his aides, "And cancel Christmas!"

Bill Clinton has done his best to do that. In a season in which Christians celebrate the son of God's message of peace and love, Clinton has forced the American military to kill innocent people in Iraq to distract the American public from Clinton's own law-breaking.

Clinton is an evil man. His administration is corrupt from one end to the other and is riddled with liars.

The decision to bomb Iraq was clearly designed to postpone the impeachment vote. It was a put-up job from start to finish.

Note these facts: Iraq did not throw the arms inspectors out. Richard Butler, the little weasel and stooge for Clinton, deliberately set up a confrontation by trying to crash his way into the Ba'ath political party headquarters, knowing that he would be refused.

What, after all, did he expect to find?

A missile in a file cabinet?

Then Butler ordered his minions out of the country on his own, without consulting the United Nations Security Council or the secretary-general, and filed a one-sided report. Clinton then ordered the attack before the Security Council could even finish discussing the report.

In a demonic way, Clinton is sewing the seeds of war, hatred and death. The bombing of Iraq is an act of American terrorism, pure and simple. Unfortunately, innocent Americans will reap the bloody harvest.

Clinton has no policy.

After he decides it is politically expedient to stop the bombing, what then?

More Iraqis will be dead and wounded, more of their country destroyed, but Saddam Hussein will still be in power, the inspections will be history, and more people in the Middle East will sympathize with Iraq and despise the United States.

This low-life, lying draft-dodger who has already gutted and demoralized the American military has the chutzpah to count on the patriotism of the American people to support him because he has committed their sons and daughters to an unconstitutional war for illegitimate reasons.

Iraq has been the victim of a big-lie campaign dating all the way back to the Persian Gulf War.

It's ironic that, time and again, Iraq has been shown to have told the truth while the United States has been shown to have lied.

Butler, for example, came out and denounced the Iraqis for unreasonable behavior at a conference. Then, Iraq released a videotape of the complete conference that proved that Butler had deliberately misrepresented the conversation.

And when is Madeleine Albright, the secretary of state, lying?

Did she lie when she said that the United States would never consent to lifting the sanctions or did she lie when she said we wouldn't have bombed if only Hussein had cooperated?

And this nonsense about "degrading" Iraq's capability to produce weapons of mass destruction is also a lie. You cannot degrade what does not exist. The U.N. nuclear inspectors have publicly stated Iraq has no capability to produce nuclear weapons, but the United States refuses to accept the report. As for biological weapons, those can be made in a kitchen. What's the plan? To bomb every kitchen and hospital lab in Iraq?

More and more America seems surreal. People no longer know right from wrong. Television treats war like just another show ("We'll be right back to tell you more about the killing after these messages.") Ignorance and malice have replaced education and civility. A recent survey showed a huge majority of American high-school students are liars, cheats and thieves.

Absent a religious revival, I wouldn't give you 2 cents for the future of this country.

Merry Christmas.

[Posted 12/19/1998 7:04 PM EST]

(c) 1998 Orlando Sentinel Online

Do any of you find any of the assertions in this op ed "troubling?" Just asking.

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