WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 12, 2003
THE NEWS FROM PAGE EIGHTEEN: Its the kind of news that makes page A18. In this mornings Washington Post, Dana Priest pens an article headlined Harsh Iraqi Reaction Expected. At the Post, this is not front-page news:
PRIEST (pgh 1): Faced with a U.S. invasion of Iraq, President Saddam Hussein would likely launch missile and terrorist attacks against Israel and U.S. facilities abroad, preemptive strikes against the Kurds in the north, and a scorched-earth strategy in Iraq significant enough to stop a military advance, the Defense Departments top intelligence official said yesterday.Have the American people had the chance to judge the downside to invasion? There has been little effort to discuss or debate the possible consequences of this action. Indeed, when the Post gave two paragraphs to Jacobys statement, it outdid all competitors nationwide. Using Nexis, we can find no other paper that gave any coverage to Jacobys prediction.
But then, this topic has received little coverage in the past year. All the way back on January 22, 2002, Richard Perle and Leon Fuerth debated Iraq at the Council on Foreign Relations. Perlethe Bush Admins Prince of Darknessand Fuerthforeign policy honcho to Goreseemed to agree that military action should be taken against Iraq. (Fuerth argued later rather than sooner; Perle accused Fuerth of pussy-footin fakery.) But, though Perle and Fuerth agreed on the need for action, the men agreed on something else too; they drew an astonishing picture of the war which would result throughout the region. Their debate received almost no coverage in the press, and we couldnt find a transcript of it when we searched last week. No transcript seems to be available at the CFRs maddening website. They may know how to run the world, but theyre not good at running search engines.
Is the public being kept barefoot and happy? Todays reports on Osamas new tape present an interesting portrait of news management. At the war-doubting New York Times, Neil MacFarquhar goes into detail about Osamas dissing of Saddam. At the war-ready Washington Post, the news report about the tape provides no hint of Osamas bad attitude. When Osama calls Saddam a socialist apostate running a pagan government, the Posts readers dont need to know.
Are you surprised that theyll spin you about Kerrys character when theyre even willing to spin you on this? What will happen when invasion occurs? Here at THE HOWLER, we simply dont know. What, us worry? Were barefoot and happy. Well find out when the conduct occurs.
BRIT MILLIONAIRE: Then theres this mornings good news. The Fox News Channel has struck a deal to renew the contract of Brit Hume, the Times says. One person close to the negotiations for the agreement said Mr. Hume would be paid nearly $8 million during the course of his contract, which runs through 2005. Hume said his job at Fox News was the best job Ive ever had.
Monday night, we got a chance to see what Hume gets paid for. Here he was on Special Report, fair and balanced as always:
HUME: A top strategist for Al Gores 2000 president campaign says the Gore camp deliberately caused a traffic jam on a major artery in southern New Hampshire on primary day that year to keep Bill Bradley voters away from the polls. The disclosure came from Gore strategist Michael Whouley, who said the Gore team had seen exit polls indicating a large number of independents, many who live in the up scale suburbs, were turning out to vote for Bradley.To anyone living on the planet, this story must have seemed a bit odd. But it provided a pleasing tale of Gores flawed character for thigh-rubbing FNC viewers.
Hume even got one part semi-right. On February 5, the Phoenix did report that the Gore team organized a caravan to clog highway I-93 with traffic so as to discourage potential Bradley voters from getting to the polls. And the papers Seth Gitell did attribute the story to Whouley. Michael Whouley, a chief Gore strategist, recounted the Gore teams Election Day field efforts at a Harvard Kennedy School Institute of Politics symposium He knocked down the rumor that they considered overturning an 18-wheeler to clog up traffic.
Of course, if you think the Gore campaign considered overturning an 18-wheeler to clog up traffic, you dont belong anywhere near a newspaperand you shouldnt be bling-blinging eight million bucks from a major TV news operation. And in fact, long before Hume took the tale on the air, Whouley denied the kooky story. Heres part of John DiStasos report from Saturdays Manchester Union-Leader:
DISTASO: This is craziness, Whouley told The Union Leader yesterday. He said Gores motorcade may have tied up traffic for 10 or 15 minutes, but there was no organized effort.Whouleys denial was reported on Monday morning in The Hotline, the Bible of Washington news producers. But Hume made no mention of Whouleys denial when he took the cracked tale on the air.
The good news? Brit Hume gets his $8 million. And Fox News viewers, stroking their thighs, once again are allowed to decide.
KAUS: Kerry called for ending the double taxation of dividends in his major December economic speech and then denounced President Bushs plan, which ends the double taxation of dividends, for creating unaffordable new tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans.The excitable blogger seemed to think he had found a disturbing contradiction. And the blogger was especially troubled, because Big Johns flip-flop completed the Rule of Three. Now the press has three recent examples of Kerry flip-flops, the excited man said. And every reporter knows if you have three examples you have a trend.
Of course, as we pointed out, there is no contradiction between 1) wanting to end double taxation on dividends and 2) complaining about the Bush tax cuts. Yesterday, Alan Greenspan did so; Greenspan said he supported the Bush dividends plan, but he also said it would have to be done in a way that was revenue-neutral (in a way that was affordable). Kerry would add that it had to be done in a way that was rich-versus-poor-neutral. But Greenspan didnt contradict himself. Neither, of course, did Vile Kerry.
Of course, Kaus still can play the Jewish card, and soon he may worry that the vile man fooled us about his health (more tomorrow). And then theres always that overturned truck. After all, Michael Whouley now works for John Kerry.