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WHAT HACKS WE MORTALS BE! Olbermann wondered, What is truth? So he asked his truthiest colleague: // link // print // previous // next //

HOW TO READ LITERACY, CONTINUED: In this morning’s Times, Diane Jean Schemo describes an intriguing new study—a study which compares the performance of public, private and charter schools. What lessons, if any, can we draw from this study? We’ll discuss that matter on Monday. For now, we’ll suggest you click here.

WHAT HACKS WE MORTALS BE: Gooniest moment of the week? We’d have to say it happened on Thursday’s Countdown, when Keith Olbermann invited Maureen Dowd to discuss the James Frey “what is truth” flap. “It was fantastic to see Oprah stand up for truth, as opposed to truthiness,” Dowd exclaimed. So why was this the week’s gooniest moment? Because if there’s a journalistic poster child for truthiness, we’d have to say it would be Maureen Dowd! Indeed, in Countdown’s second segment, Olbermann asked about warrantless spying. And just like that, Dowd turned truthy:

OLBERMANN (1/26/06): This definition—“international” versus “domestic” [phone calls]—is this not by itself a red herring? I mean, you could call it “intergalactic” spying, and the issue is the legality, not the name, right?

DOWD: Don`t give Cheney and Rummy ideas. They`re going to be doing intergalactic spying!

It`s all a red herring. What this is about, Dick Cheney wants to throw off all of these rules. He wants to go to war without permission, he wants to torture without permission, he wants to snoop without permission, because he and Rummy were Ford officials at a time when presidential power shrank. They felt emasculated. They did not like it. They stewed about it for 30 years. Now they are trying to do everything they can to expand presidential power. So they`re doing exactly what they want to.

What an idiot. “What this is about,” Dowd explained, is the fact that Rummy and Cheney “felt emasculated” back in the 1970s. That’s why Cheney wants to torture—and go to war—without permission today. Yep! Cheney wants to torture without permission because he felt emasculated back in the Jerry Ford says.

In this moment, Dowd cast herself in her favored role—psychiatrist-in-chief-to-the-nation. It’s the ultimate in “truthiness;” once you start “explaining” a pol’s behavior according to psychiatric speculations, anything you say could be right—and nothing you say can be shown to be wrong. It can’t get dumber—and it can’t get more “truthy.” But this is where the vacuous Dowd has been living all these dreary years.

This morning, in her New York Times column, Dowd’s clowning about Frey continues. Just imagine—it’s Maureen Dowd who is making the following statement:

DOWD (1/28/06): On Thursday, the unmasked memoirist's proud mother was replaced by a punitive national matriarch. Watching Oprah flay Frey was riveting. At The Times and at Doubleday, staffers were glued to their TV sets.

It was a huge relief, after our long national slide into untruth and no consequences, into Swift boating and swift bucks, into W.'s delusion and denial, to see the Empress of Empathy icily hold someone accountable for lying and conning—and embarrassing her.

After our long national slide into untruth and no consequences!” The quixotic quipster had done it again. But for ourselves, when we read the phrase “untruth and no consequences,” we instantly thought of—who else?—Maureen Dowd! Back in December 1997, she played shrink-to-the-world once again, inventing (along with her truthy colleague, Frank Rich) that idiot’s tale about Gore and Love Story. No, Dowd and Rich didn’t actually know what Gore said—but, by God, they knew why he’d said it! And in a trio of truthy op-eds, they invented a truthy tale for the age—a tale that was later flogged by their colleagues for twenty straight months, sending George Bush to the White House. Their truthy tale was still being flogged in the weeks before the Bush v. Gore vote.

Today, the truthy twosome hold court on TV, wringing their hands about vile, truthy Frey. And Olbermann—who spends his afternoons talking sports, rather than preparing for his key evening venture—puts the vacuous Dowd on the air to help us understand: What is truth?

Question: Have you ever seen a scribe ask Dowd to explain her own truthy tales from the past? Love Story (and its thousand sequels) sent Dick Cheney on to the White House. People like Olbermann pretend they don’t know—or perhaps, they waste so much time talking sports that they’re really as clueless as they sometimes seem. Meanwhile, liberals praise Keith’s show to the skies. What a brilliant show, we exclaim, as Dowd helps us see: What is truth?

THE TRUTHY LEADING THE BLIND: In her column, Dowd continues, with no hint of irony:

DOWD (1/28/06): Oprah interviewed and showed taped clips of her media critics (including me) and credited her turnaround to the essay by The Times's chief book critic, Michiko Kakutani, who wrote, ''It is a case about how much value contemporary culture places on the very idea of truth.''
Kakutani helped Oprah see what is truth! But uh-oh! To recall her own truthy triumph from Campaign 2K, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 11/29/99, 12/1/99, and 12/2/99. Her colleagues were pounding their latest truthy theme—and Kakutani just couldn’t stop pimping it.