Tuesday, December 13, 2005

NYT: Ga-Ga-Goo-Goo, Bully Boy speaks

How embarrassing must it be for grown adults who think they're reporters, who put that on their passports, on the tax forms, to be stuck writing ad copy for the Bully Boy? Don't kid yourself that this is anything but ad copy.

Ava and I do TV reviews for The Third Estate Sunday Review (including one on a Bully Boy speech). That means something more than: "Today, our fearless leader was on NBC Nightly News. Brave leader said . . ."

But that's really all you get in the Times today. Adults embarrassing themselves with their lack of critical skills, as they rush to jot down what 'Brave Leader' said.

Richard W. Stevenson turns in "Race Not Factor In Aid, Bush Says" which mistakes news value in Bully Boy's statement that he's not a racist. It does *not* explore the statement. It doesn't try to provide perspective as to why his programs and responses might lead anyone to conclude that he is or is not a racist. It just tells you "Brave Leader" went on NBC Nightly News and said he wasn't one.

Then you have David E. Sanger and Erich Schmitt, working the same green room, telling you that on NBC Nightly News, "Bush Says He's Confident That He and McCain Will Reach Agreement on Interrogation Policy." They probably assume what they've written counts as a "critique." It's the same superficial nonsense that appeared in Monday's paper, on the same topic, with the only bit of news buried within. If there's any news value in the article, it's that the "Doomsday Scenario" -- why does everythign coming out of this administration sound like a torn and tattered airport novel? -- is being pushed by the administration.

"Doomsday Scenario"? The ticking time bomb nonsense once again. The sort of crap Nicky K and our latter day online Dylan wet themselves over with their dirty bomb nonsense. (It's not surprising that science doesn't enter Nicky K's head, it is suprising that with all our latter day Dylan's focus on education, he's yet to look at the issue scientifically or note the science community caveats on this topic and how they rank in terms of threats. Apparently someone's seen too many TV and film portrayals of backpacked dirty bombs to grasp that there's "reality" in film and TV and then reality in life.) So combining bits from Dershowitz's nightmare with bits of panice from just about everywhere, Stephen J. Hadley (who truly should have been asked who he informed about the e-mail Rove sent him long ago) and others argue that torture must be an option if we know that in mere hours a nuke may go off.

This isn't worst case scenario, note that. This administration can't address a nation honestly, they must always go for the highest drama. They must always attempt to goad the public into responding based upon a fear response. Helps keep the "bully" in Bully Boy.

And bad writing, jotting down what Bully Boy says and treating it as news, helps keep the public uninformed.

Wait, we're not done. Bully Boy Speaks! is being pimped like he's Garbo in her first talkie. Elisabeth Bumiller is left with "Iraqi Election Will Not End Security Threats, Bush Says." Of the three, believe it or not, it's the best written. (Yes, believe it or not.) That may be due to the fact that she's not covering the softballs she saw tossed to Bully Boy on TV. Bully Boy gave a speech in Philadelphia. And he actually was asked questions! And he answered some!

That's how low we've falled as a nation. When a Bully Boy takes a few moments to respond to questions, it is actually news. Bully Boy, in response to a question, estimates that about 30,000 Iraqis have died since the beginning of the invasion/occupation. What does that mean? That means the mainstream media can now safely use a number because Bully Boy has spoken.

What else? At the end of the article (which quotes Murtha and Kennedy), Bully Boy's asked why he pimped a false link between 9/11 and Iraq. From the article:

Mr. Bush, who does not often take questions after his prepared speeches, was asked by one member of the audience why he invoked the attacks of Sept. 11 as a justification for the invasion of Iraq when "no respected journalist or other Middle Eastern experts confirm that such a link existed."
The president responded that "there was a serious international effort to say to Saddam Hussein, 'You're a threat,' and the Sept. 11 attacks extenuated that threat." Mr. Bush added that "knowing what I know today, I'd make the decision again."

Of course he's make the same decision today. Besides nothing in the Bully Boy's makeup indicating he's capable of deep reflection, the fact remains that he wasn't misled. He wanted this war from before he was in office and he and his administration actively worked to "trick out" the intel. That included ignoring caveats, that including silencing dissent within the government, that included so much that historians will pour over this period for years and years. It's just reporters pimping "Bully Boy Speaks!" that can't be bothered with the messy facts.

If you read one of the three, go with Bumiller. Yes, the Elite Fluff Patrol Squad Leader embarrasses herself far worse than the two men who severed so eagerly under her (Sanger & Stevenson). Possibly that's because she was covering from an area where questions were actually asked (not by her) or possibly all the time Sanger & Stevenson spent with their eyes glued to the TV to "report" Bully Boy Speaks! rotted their brains. I can't imagine why a grown up would read any. There's no real news in any of this. But if you go with Bumiller, when you start hearing the solemn voices on TV intone, "Over 30,000 Iraqis have died . . ." and wonder why, suddenly, they can finally give a number to the death toll, you'll know it's because Bully Boy already has.

We'll note Danny Schechter's "News Makes News: Info War Now Page One in the NY Times" (MediaChannel.org) again (because it's that important):

New York, December 12: The new bible on how to massage the media begins with a quotation from Cosmo: "There is a war out there, friend, a world war. And it's not about those who got the most bullets; it's about who controls the information: what we see and hear; how we work, what we think. It's all about the information."
The quote appears in a book called "Information Operations." Edited by Leigh Armstrong, the focus is
"warfare and the hard reality of soft power." Published in 2004, it is a textbook produced in conjunction with the Joint Forces Staff College and the National Security Agency.
Soft-power sounds like something out of William Burroughs "Soft Machine." And we are not talking about ice cream here, but rather a set of well-hidden techniques designed to put real news, as we once knew it, on ice.
Soft power as an idea is no longer even top secret. I found it via Google for sale on Amazon.com.The book has been out there for more than a year. It describes itself as a "book about power and how the face of power has changed over the last fifteen years." The authors have a thesis, namely that "information AS AN ELEMENT OF POWER is the most transferable and USEFUL force, at all political levels including the systemic structure of international relations in the post cold war era." (Emphasis mine.) This book updates arguments put forth in a seminal study by John Arquilla and David Ronfeldt called "The Emergence of Noopolitik: Toward an American Information Strategy." (Noopolitik? That's a noo one!) It took the New York Times several years to catch on, but on this Sunday December 11, 2005, the lead story on the front page was "Military's Information War Is Vast and Often Secretive."
Jeff Gerth reports: "The Bush administration has been conducting an information war that is extensive, costly and often hidden, according to documents and interviews with contractors, government officials and military personnel."
"The campaign was begun by the White House, which set up a secret panel soon after the Sept. 11 attacks to coordinate information operations by the Pentagon, other government agencies and private contractors."
This secret war was perhaps a secret to the New York Times but not to those of us who have been tracking the deployment of information warfare for several years. It's a sign of the times (and The TIMES) that our media is just getting hip to a multi-million dollar government strategy designed in part to spin news, reinforce message points, cover up crimes and plant information that ends up being punted by analysts on Fox News and other TV outlets. It is part of the methodology for turning lies into "credible" news.

Stanley Tookie Williams was executed. All I'm seeing in the Times this morning, in print or online*, is an AP report. I'm sure the topic, and more, will be addressed on Democracy Now! so be sure to listen, watch and/or read the transcripts today. And Lloyd points out that The Progressive notes Eugene McCarthy's passing by making available items from the archives (PDF format) so check those out.

The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.

[Note: Post corrected to add a "not" left out. New inclusion noted via "*" around the "not" that should have been present all along. Second note: Sarah Kershaw addresses Stanley Tookie in the print edition today. We noted Kershaw's article yesterday morning at the request of members. We usually wait for stories to appear in print. With Williams due to be executed, a member rightly argued that holding Kershaw's story until Tuesday morning when it was available online, was useless. If there are other reasons to note things before they appear physically in print, we'll take it on a case by case basis.]