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AN AGE OF PROPAGANDA (PART 3)! Why is your discourse driven by spin? Harry Smith helps to explain it:


THE SHAPE OF YOUR DISCOURSE: Their dumbness—and indifference—can’t be overstated. How stupid is your public discourse—and how inept are the “good guy” journalists who are supposed to steward that discourse? Incredibly, here was the multimillionaire “journalist” Harry Smith on yesterday’s CBS Morning News. He posed a question to Art Torres, chairman of California’s state Democratic Party:

SMITH: All right. Art, let me ask you this: Assume for a moment that the recall is, in fact, voted down. You still have an enormously unpopular governor, a $38 billion budget deficit. Is that a victory?
Amazing, isn’t it? Why in the world—why on earth—do we, the people, put up with the Smiths? Torres offered the obvious answer to his host’s jaw-dropping question. “We don’t have a $38 billion deficit,” he said (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 8/22/03). “You’re buying the Republican lies again. We only have an $8 billion deficit moving into the next fiscal year.” But what difference does it make—what possible difference—when you’re dealing with “stewards” like Harry Smith? Smith—paid millions of dollars a year—is a screaming, hopeless incompetent. And his astonishing question gives you a look at the state of your corrupt public discourse.

We’ll offer more amazing examples of the “$38 billion” spin-point tomorrow. Is it really a “Republican lie?” At the HOWLER, we avoid the L-word as much as we can. But last night, GOP spokesmen were citing the bogus figure even after the election’s results were clear! And sure enough: Smith had bought the bogus point, and he ran to recite it for millions to hear. Sadly, Smith’s screaming incompetence—at millions per year—shows you the shape of your discourse.

What is the shape of America’s discourse? Increasingly, it looks like this: Loudmouth spinners of the pseudo-right send out ludicrous, laughable spin-points. And store-bought incompetents—men like Smith—ignore the lunacy floating around them, or repeat the bogus spin-points themselves. Lazy, indifferent, inept and corrupted, they simply refuse to serve as your stewards. As a result, the pseudo-con spinners who count on their dumbness have become increasingly bold. There is nothing so stupid, so venal, so false that they won’t serve it to half-witted readers. They do so, knowing that “good guy” pundits will never say a word in complaint.

How stupid are they willing to be—those who now program “conservative” voters? Consider Donald Lambro’s laughable propaganda piece in Monday’s Washington Times. Like other store-bought spinners of the pseudo-right, Lambro is trying to deflect attention away from the leaking of Valerie Plame’s name. So he offered readers some silly distractions. Lambro got busy in his column, at service to the interests who own him:
LAMBRO: Then there are the deeply political motives behind the Democrats’ attacks, especially those of Mr. Bush’s chief accuser: former Middle East diplomat Joseph C. Wilson IV, who supported Al Gore and now backs Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts for president.
Every dumb-ass spinner knows it: When the facts don’t support you, you run straight to motive. No one has ever really disputed the general merit of Joe Wilson’s analysis. (Wilson said that, due to extensive oversight, it was unlikely that Iraq could buy uranium from Niger.) And it’s clear that someone leaked his wife’s name; obviously, no one has disputed that. So Lambro tries to distract his readers, offering them slippery assessments of motive. Quickly, he goes on to say “how blatantly political” Wilson is: “As for Mr. Wilson himself, his hatred for Mr. Bush’s policies borders on the pathological.” By the way, how deep is Wilson’s “hatred for Bush?” During the 2000 White House campaign, Wilson and his now-outed wife donated $2000 to Bush! But Lambro is a store-bought fellow, and he knows that he must serve his masters. So he tells you that Wilson “supported Al Gore”—but he knows not to mention the fact that Wilson supported George W. Bush too. Instead, he offers scripted stupidity which Times readers dumbly choke down:
LAMBRO: More profound questions are raised about Wilson’s CIA-approved mission to Niger to investigate whether Iraq attempted to buy yellowcake uranium. By his own admission, he had no investigative background and said his trip consisted of “eight days drinking sweet mint tea and meeting with dozens of people.”

His perfunctory report home said “it was highly doubtful that any [uranium sale] had ever taken place.” The mystery behind this dubious investigation is why this Bush-hater was chosen for so sensitive a mission. Reportedly, his wife, Valerie Plame Wilson, an undercover CIA agent, suggested to her superiors that he be given this assignment.

That clowning reference to drinking tea is, of course, a current RNC spin-point. All the store-bought sophists cite it. And enjoy a good laugh at that prize word “reportedly”—a word which scripted bootblacks use when they want to cite a report which everyone knows is unfounded. But then, there’s nothing these thigh-rubbing, store-bought men won’t say in the attempt to deceive their dim readers. Readers, give yourselves a quick little test. Ask yourselves: Could this be true:
LAMBRO: [Wilson’s] long, single-minded crusade against Mr. Bush has one purpose: to undermine the president’s credibility. But Mr. Wilson should consider his own credibility. He told C-SPAN last week he did not think Saddam Hussein ever had weapons of mass destruction. But before the Iraq war began, he told ABC News that Saddam might “use a biological weapon in a battle that we might have.”
Do you really think that could be true? Since everyone knows that Saddam once used WMDs, do you think that Wilson went on C-SPAN last week and said “he did not think Saddam Hussein ever had” them? Here, we note Lambro’s lack of an actual quotation from Wilson—and of course, we note Lambro’s lack of character. But who could be stupid enough to believe this? Apparently, readers of the Washington Times believe it, and much more, as we’ll note tomorrow.

And ranged against Lambro’s store-bought spinning we find the Harry Smiths—and we find the E. J. Dionnes, who said not a word, when Donald Lambro deceived the world about Candidate Gore (see below). These men simply don’t care about your discourse—don’t care enough about your discourse to speak up when it’s so deeply corrupted. Store-bought Lambro against worthless Smith: Increasingly, that is the shape of your discourse. That match-up explains why you live in a world of such consummate clowning propaganda.

WE LIKE E. J. TOO: Some of you don’t want to give up on “good guy” pundits like Dionne. We sympathize, but we need to see the shape of our actual discourse. Early on in Campaign 2000, Donald Lambro got very busy—he was one of many pundits who peddled the notion that Gore had lied about those troubling farm chores (links below). In a nicely-scripted 3/20/99 column, the store-bought Lambro said that Gore’s remarks on the chores were an example of his “deeply dishonest side,” his “dark side,” his “powers of demagoguery”—and although every Washington pundit knew perfectly well that what Gore said was patently true, this scripted trashing of Candidate Gore went on for three solid months. During that time, the Lambros kept reciting their lies—and the Dionnes keep hiding under their desks, exactly where they could be found right through November 2000. At that time, Lambro was pushing the “Gore liar” script; now he is pushing the “Bush hatred” line. (Wilson’s “hatred” is cited three times in his column.) And what is the actual shape of your discourse? Hapless fellows like Jonathan Chait don’t seem to know that that’s just fake spin too. To Chait, pseudo-con spinners are surely sincere when they flog this disturbing Bush-hatred. Simply put, your interests don’t stand a chance when Chait and Smith steward your discourse.

How sincere is Donald Lambro? Sadly, Lambro is a store-bought man. Wilson gave $2000 to the man he “hates,” and Lambro knows not to tell you about it! And why does Lambro, a store-bought man, feel free to clown in such big shoes so openly? Because he’s taken the measure of Harry Smith, and of all the hapless incompetents who steward your discourse. Reread Smith’s astounding question. This is the shape of your discourse.

TOMORROW: Readers of the Washington Times? They must be the world’s dumbest people.

VISIT OUR INCOMPARABLE ARCHIVES: Scribes knew that Gore’s statement was true—and kept silent. See THE DAILY HOWLER, 8/30/99, with links to earlier reporting.

MORE FINE WINERIP: Has any scribe ever examined legislation the way Michael Winerip is probing No Child Left Behind? And don’t worry—this will produce exactly zero discussion. Washington’s pundits are alike in one way: They simply, uiniformly don’t care.