It’s certainly no mystery why the GOP and its fanboys at Fox and elsewhere are always on the attack.  Aside from the fact that only 20% of Americans will still reluctantly admit to being Republicans, the other 80% are always susceptible to inconvenient facts slipping into the conversation, which would clearly make an embarrassing mess of everything if that sort of thing got out of hand.  But denying facts, as Senator (!) John Kyl did recently when he simply said he didn’t believe a Harvard study that found that 45,000 Americans die each year due to lack of health care, and making shit up, as the Cheney family is fond of doing, sometimes isn’t enough.  As Karen Finley (she of manufactured GOP outrage over her NEA grant back in the day…) once wrote, “When you’re having an argument, and it isn’t going your way, it’s time to bring out the threats.”

The GOP is very good at threats, and even better at carrying them out, not just because they’re assholes, which they are, but because they have to.  The old lawyers’ adage, that when the facts are against you, argue the law, and when the law is against you, argue the facts, has now been adopted by the GOP, with its own special twist.  When both are against you, go after the witness, guns a’ blazing.

I’ve written before about this curious, to the outsider, war on truth-tellers, but in the aftermath of the Obama/Fox News flap, which to my considerable delight shows no sign of abating, this bizarre tactic has gone into overdrive; every clown to emerge from the GOP Volkswagen has a big mallet in its hand, hell bent on pummeling the hated seltzer-sprayer du jour.  Glenn Beck was perhaps the most deliciously typical of the bunch; he went after Anita Dunn using deceptively edited video to “prove” not that what she said was false, since it wasn’t, but that she was a dirty Mao-worshipping commie trying to “control” the media.  Though patently ridiculous, for certain people, conveniently including all of his audience, annoying truths can be swatted away by saying that the person who had the temerity to utter them is a poopyhead.  So there.  Cut to commercial.  (If there still are any, that is…)

To the reality-based community, this seems kind of silly, but it’s been surprisingly effective in the past, so why not?  After all, when Scott Ritter said that Saddam Hussein had no connection to 9/11 and no WMD, he was pronounced a child molester, and when Joe Wilson said the same thing, he was declared to be a disgruntled lightweight on a junket his wife cooked up.  Oh, yeah, and she’s a CIA agent, too.  Bill Maher, Ashleigh Banfield, and Phil Donahue were all summarily fired and roundly shut down for their unseemly brushes with the truth, too.  And there you have it: multiple lives ruined, but at least that pesky truth didn’t get out, or at least gain currency, until it was safely too late.  Mission Accomplished.  Michael Moore can make movies that clearly show the corruption of the Bush Administration, the death-dealing venality of the health insurance industry, and the wanton theft inherent in Wall Street, and, well, he’s rich, and also fat, so who’s going to believe him?  The Dixie Chicks could say, on stage, that they were embarrassed by George Bush, just like most Americans, and not only are they denounced as the usual Hollywood lightweights, but traitors giving aid and comfort to the enemy on foreign soil.  Shut up and sing, indeed.

This would all be funny if it weren’t so damaging;  first, it serves to silence voices with critically important things to say that Americans need to know, second, it discourages others from speaking out, and last, the media falls for it, hook, line and sinker, every time.  Glaciers melt while everyone talks about Al Gore’s house and travel, innocents are slaughtered while pundits dwell on Janeane Garofalo’s career being on the  skids, and the country goes bankrupt while  the media dismisses Ron Paul as a crackpot.

Telling lies, in the curious media landscape of 21st century America, has become a canny career move.  You could end up with a NYT column (Bill Kristol, David Brooks), head of the World Bank (Paul Wolfowitz), or with a plum spot on Fox (Karl Rove).  Tell the truth, though, and all hell breaks loose, and you’d better hope your affairs are in order (Paul O’Neill).  Like just about everything else these days, telling the truth, especially in public, is a luxury few of us can afford.

UPDATE: Fox just had a neat little segment where their fair n’ balanced panel all agreed, well 4-1, that the secret to ending unemployment was, surprise, eliminating the minimum wage.  To what?   A dollar a day like the Malaysians?  Once again, Fox stands up for the little guy against the elites.  Not.


  1. nailhead tom says: reports on the state of press freedom within the United States:

    The Obama campaign’s press strategy leading up to his election last November focused on “making” the media cover what the campaign wanted and on exercising absolute “control” over coverage, White House Communications Director Anita Dunn told an overseas crowd early this year.

    In a video of the event, Dunn is seen describing in detail the media strategy used by then-Sen. Barack Obama’s highly disciplined presidential campaign. The video is footage from a Jan. 12 forum hosted by the Global Foundation for Democracy and Development in the Dominican Republic.

    “Very rarely did we communicate through the press anything that we didn’t absolutely control,” Dunn said, admitting that the strategy “did not always make us popular in the press.” adds:

    A White House attempt to delegitimize Fox News–which in past times would have drawn howls of censorship from the press corps–has instead been greeted by a collective shrug.

    That’s true even though the motivations of the White House are clear: Fire up a liberal base disillusioned with Obama by attacking the hated Fox. Try to keep a critical news outlet off-balance. Raise doubts about future Fox stories.

    But most of all, get other journalists to think twice before following the network’s stories in their own coverage. . . .

    To some media observers, it’s almost the definition of a “chilling effect”– a governmental attempt to steer reporters away from negative coverage–but the White House press corps has barely uttered a word of complaint. . . .

    The direct attacks, if leveled at another news outlet or by another White House might have aroused a torrent of criticism, but the flow of outrage from the Washington journalistic set has been more like a trickle. . . .

    The Obama White House appears to have concluded that the media is now so splintered that an attack on one is no longer an attack on all.

    This column is not of the opinion that the White House’s verbal attacks on Fox News amount to an assault on free expression. Even Anita Dunn’s boasts about controlling press coverage aren’t enough to raise a real free-expression issue.

    But they say something terribly damning about the media as an institution. The Obama administration, much less the campaign, does not have the legal means to “control” journalists. If it has succeeded in doing so, it is only because journalists are willing to submit to such control. And what good is freedom of the press if you aren’t going to exercise it?

  2. cocktailhag says:

    Clearly you were fooled by the edited clip of Dunn. Listen to the whole thing, please, before you rely on your bonkers “sources.”

  3. Jim White says:

    And sometimes people are given the chance to build their own truth. David Gregory to Mark Sanford’s handlers:

    Look, you guys have a lot of pitches .. I get it and I know this is a tough situation … Let me just say this is the place to have a wider conversation with some context about not just the personal but also the future for him and the party … This situation only exacerbates the issue of how the GOP recovers when another national leader suffers a setback like this. So coming on Meet The Press allows you to frame the conversation how you really want to…and then move on. You can see (sic) you have done your interview and then move on. Consider it.

    Mr. Gregory desperately doesn’t want to be confused with those dirty truth-tellers.

    • cocktailhag says:

      Wow, That is un-fucking believable. All the more reason this debate about Fox is so important. Media ass-kissing of righties has literally gotten to the point where I can smell it.

  4. rmp says:

    There would be no attack by the White House if Fixed News was called Fox Opinions. Using the word news is the real problem. The American public foolishly thinks that news is journalism and that means an attempt at objective reporting, which I have maintained many times is not possible. MSNBC does not use the word news.

    The other problem is hiring dregs like Beck who have no interest in presenting opinions that can be backed up with facts and in fact are often outright lies or serious deception. So it really needs to be called Fox Perspective which is the word the WH is currently using. The accurate slogan would be, “Watch us, believe us and make us rich.” Then the Dem congress can pass a bill that requires this statement be made at the beginning of each program, WARNING! Watching this broadcast may be hazardous to your well being and the mental health of the nation.

  5. skeptic says:

    I think even perspective is being a bit generous. It implies that there is some thought given to a point of view.

  6. nailheadtom says:

    Why not a minimum wage of $15/hr? Where does the figure come from, anyway? And, in a free society, how is it the government’s business determining how much I will be paid to work?

  7. dirigo says:


  8. mikeinportc says:

    Chris Floyd, recently , on this subject (sort of) :

    “But in the end, I didn’t like my speech, so just before the ceremony began, I quickly wrote out something else, and said that instead. Just tonight, I ran across those tattered notes in the back of a desk drawer, and found that they still hold true as an explanation for what I’m trying to do with all this political writing. So I thought I’d set it down here. This is what I told them:

    ‘Years ago, during the run-up to the first Gulf War, I wrote a short piece about the sea of propaganda that was flooding the country, and the difficulty of cutting through to the blood-and-iron reality behind it all. This is the whole of that piece:’

    “I think we are living in a world of lies: lies that don’t even know they are lies, because they are the children and grandchildren of lies.”
    I see and hear so much that either disappears completely down the memory hole, or comes out the other end, greatly tranformed, often to the complete opposite of what it actually was. (& almost nobody else remembers!) Part of why I’ve been glad to have encountered y’all. Confirmation that I’m not the crazy one .

    Nailhead, your essential point (last sentence ) is correct, even if you’re a bit off on the details of this particular incident. Just wish you’d apply that attitude universally. It’s us against them (the politi-critters & their promoters & enablers) except on the rare occasions that they prove otherwise , or coincidentally happen to want the same thing(s).

    Btw, in case you haven’t seen it, Sibel Edmonds interview in American Conservative :
    Don’t know the reality of all that, but it should have started the ol’ Media Circus going,with a lot of questions,…. but it didn’t.(I remember another time when she spoke publicly, about transfer of nuclear info to Pakistan – headlines all aroubd the world, here? *Crickets*) ( I wonder if she heard part of a kooky CIA sting, such as what James Risen wrote about?)

    OT , CH , I just ran across this :
    Wish I had known of them at the time. I haven’t had a chance to read/listen to more than one song, but there might be some material worth resurrecting.