Conservative pundits certainly seem to think they are. And sometimes, to read right-wingers like InstaPundit Glenn Reynolds and Matt Drudge is to come away with the impression that their devoted readers must be absolutely stupid to consider these hacks credible.
Consider two of the latest pieces of right-wing spin to come out of the Republican National Committee and be dutifully echoed by the conservative press.
First, the “revealing” comments by Democratic candidate Wesley Clark that supposedly proved that he a) supported the Iraq war and b) believed President Bush’s unsupported assertions about a Saddam/bin Laden connection.
Drudge broke this “world exclusive.” Here it is predictably echoed in a Washington Times analysis:
Now there’s a horsefly in Mr. Clark’s soup: the Drudge Report yesterday put up a copy of his op-ed in the London Times of only eight months ago, and the transcript of Clark testimony to the U.S. House Armed Services Committee, given 18 months ago. The transcripts render his claim that he has “always” been against the war in Iraq a spectacular lie. Ah, the cruelty of the remorseless record, cruelty magnified by the Internet.
But as the Columbia Journalism Review points out:
Thursday afternoon, the Drudge Report chimed in with a grossly incorrect headline, “Wes Clark Made Case For Iraq War Before Congress; Transcript Revealed” atop an article designed to distort the General’s position.
In excerpting Clark’s testimony before the House Armed Services Committee on September 26, 2002, Drudge entirely misrepresents the candidate’s remarks.
Drudge quotes Clark’s testimony: “‘There’s no question that Saddam Hussein is a threat… Yes, he has chemical and biological weapons. He’s had those for a long time. But the United States right now is on a very much different defensive posture than we were before September 11th of 2001… He is, as far as we know, actively pursuing nuclear capabilities, though he doesn’t have nuclear warheads yet. If he were to acquire nuclear weapons, I think our friends in the region would face greatly increased risks as would we.'” [ellipses Drudge’s]
Drudge is using the ellipse as a weapon, with malice aforethought. Clark’s statement that “Saddam Hussein is a threat” came from his opening remarks to the committee. An ellipse then carries the reader more than 11,500 words later into the transcript to a second quotation. Finally, Drudge uses the next ellipse to jump way back to the beginning of Clark’s testimony. The effect is to make Clark’s testimony sound more frantic than it really is and to incorrectly suggest that Clark had endorsed the war.
The deceptive reporting continues with two final excerpts. The first is drawn from a section in which Clark states that the use of force must remain on the table as a threat, but that all diplomatic measures must be taken before military action proceeds. Drudge’s selective excerpt ends with Clark suggesting that the situation with Iraq has “been a decade in the making. It needs to be dealt with and the clock is ticking on this.”
Drudge would like you to think that Clark’s thoughts on the subject end there. In fact, only moments later, Clark clearly stated, “but time is on our side in the near term and we should use it.”
Then Drudge leads into the final excerpt with the words, “Clark explained,” implying that Clark’s statements in the final excerpt modified his statements in the previous excerpt. Once again, however, Drudge is cavalierly skipping through Clark’s testimony: There are 3,798 words in-between these two statements — enough to fill four pages of Time magazine.
Give me 11,500 words by anybody and I could manipulate them to say whatever I wanted, if I can use drudgellipses*. But the right-wing press peddles this stuff to their readers as if it’s fact. Who are these stupid readers?
An eight-month-old op-ed piece from the London Times, in which Clark shockingly acknowledged that Saddam Hussein was an evil tyrant, was “unearthed” and presented in the right-wing blogosphere as further evidence to support the accusations against Clark.
And what is Glenn Reynolds’ response to all this? He’s confused, and he knows whose fault it is:
Hmm. For a plain-spoken ex-General, that Clark guy sure is hard to pin down.
Let’s see…Drudge virtually manufactures a “scandal” out of nothing, honest journalists struggle to point out Drudge’s shoddy work and try to get the accurate story out there (competing, of course, with the Drudge-Fox News-Washington Times right-wing media machine that is openly working in concert to transmit the false story to the public), and what does Glenn Reynolds see as the problem here?
“[T]hat Clark guy sure is hard to pin down.” Yep. Sounds like the right conclusion to me. Because I’m fucking stupid.
Why does their audience put up with this bullshit? Clearly Reynolds and Drudge are treating their readers as if they’re just plain retarded. Are they?
(UPDATE: Glenn Reynolds points out that he did acknowledge some criticism of the Drudge portion of this pseudo-scandal.)
It was a great week for stupidity. The Republican National Committee’s talking points also included this bit of science education for their loyal dopes: “Global warming” is a myth, because it’s cold today in New York. Yep, Al Gore gave a speech about global warming while it was bitter cold in the city in which he gave that speech–and that disproves global warming entirely.
Why? Because you’re fucking stupid.
Along with its insatiable thirst for tax cuts for the wealthy, the Republicans’ anti-environmentalism is one of the most painfully obvious ways that it dupes and betrays its rank and file. The average Republican didn’t truly benefit from the President’s tax cuts–left and right, we’re all suffering together from the harm Bush has done to the economy. And the average Republican certainly does not benefit from a cavalier attitude toward some very real dangers to our environment–again, left and right, we’ll all suffer together as the environment is degraded as a result of bad policy.
The only entities that benefit from the notion that environmentalists are loons are the polluters who make up such a large part of the Republican campaign-finance machine. The other 99% of Republicans are as victimized as everyone else by those who want to exploit the environment for short-term gain. But a widespread belief that the science supporting the assertions of environmentalists is a crock sure would help those polluters, who are so valuable to the RNC and President Bush.
Thus, global warming is a myth. Proof: it still gets cold outside in winter.
(To his credit, Reynolds did not participate in this pile-on. The InstaPundit: “Of course, a cold day in January is no more proof that global warming theories are bunk than a hot day in July is proof that they’re correct.”)
The incomparable Bob Somerby puts it well in his Daily Howler:
GLOBAL CLOWNING: Don’t worry — Dennis Miller will recite this one too. In this morning’s Washington Times, James Lakely engages in consummate clownistry as he “reports” Gore’s address on global warming:
LAKELY (pgh 1): Former Vice President Al Gore delivered a speech on the theory of global warming yesterday, the coldest day in New York City in decades, calling President Bush a “moral coward” for adhering to policies that put the planet in catastrophic peril of overheating.
(2) The speech, sponsored by the liberal advocacy group MoveOn.org, came when the mercury was expected to dip to minus 1 in New York City, shattering a record low temperature that has stood for 47 years, and notching just a few degrees higher than the coldest day ever recorded there.
Pitiful, isn’t it? Nothing about global warming theory says there will be no cold days in New York. But Lakely throws dim-witted feed to the herd. Can’t you hear what he’s actually saying? We think we can hear him: Hey, rubes!
Indeed, Lakely gives a perfect example of the conservative press corp’ rapidly evolving, propagandistic style of “reporting.” He quotes two experts on global warming — both of whom say what a Big Nut Gore is. After that, he quotes a major pol. And he’s been to Clown College too:
LAKELY: House Majority Whip Roy Blunt, Missouri Republican, said it was “fitting that Mr. Gore chose one of the coldest days of the year to spread false information about the Bush administration’s record on global warming.”
“Mother Nature didn’t agree with his message, and neither do I,” the congressman said. “Al, it’s cold outside.”
Don’t worry: In Hollywood, Miller is honing the message. After all, he even saw Brit recite it last night. Yep! A Pander Bear was going polar on last evening’s Special Report:
HUME: In a case of unfortunate timing, former Vice President Al Gore was in New York City today attacking the Bush administration’s policies on global warming. Gore called President Bush, quote, a “moral coward on the environment.” He said evidence of the warming problem is undeniable.
GORE (on tape): I really don’t think there is any longer a credible basis for doubting that the earth’s atmosphere is heating up because of global warming.
HUME: As Gore spoke, New Yorkers were freezing in 18-degree weather with a wind chill of one degree. And forecasters were saying that tonight could be the coldest January 15 in 47 years.
That was Hume’s entire report! Increasingly, your discourse is managed by clowns. Disaster is one sure result.
The right-wing media is clearly promoting these memes because they believe their audience is stupid enough to believe them. I fear they’ve made an accurate calculation.
*NOTE: “drudgellipses” is a term I saw on a blog somewhere, but I don’t remember where, and a Google search doesn’t turn it up as of this writing. My apologies to the coiner of this term.Powered by Sidelines