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Hullabaloo


Saturday, January 06, 2007

 
Eason On Down

by digby

Many great bloggers have already written definitive posts about the rightosphere's Jamail Hussein witch hunt so I won't go into the particulars. It's an ugly story all around and I'm hoping that it shows, once and for all, the difference between the "angry left" who boisterously criticize the media and the truly pernicious lynch mob mentality of the right. They go for journalistic scalps, and in this case, they may have literally gotten one.

One of the more sickening aspects of this awful little story is the Eason Jordan sideshow in which the former president of CNN, who was scalped earlier by a rightwing mob for saying that the military may have been targeting journalists, has been using this story to gain credit and linkage from the same wingnuts who took him down. I had wondered in the beginnning if perhaps he wasn't playing some sort of advanced jiujitsu to get revenge, but that's obviously not the case. He's clearly trying to curry favor with the wingnuts. Even today, he continues his pathetic quest to become Michele Malkin's man in Bagdad. ("The controversy likely will linger in this area, with third party reporting being done to determine the accuracy of Captain Hussein's statements to the AP.") The man has become a living example of the battered media wife.

There are many fascinating takes on this all over the blogosphere that are worth reading. But I think one by Jonathan Schwarz at A Tiny Revolution may offer the most intriguing way of looking at this:


Most people looked at Iran's Holocaust Denial conference and thought: wow, that place is really screwed up. And rightfully so. How crazy does a country have to be to host that kind of poisonous nonsense?

But...here in America we don't have much grounds to criticize. Because we take lots of people with the exact same moral and intellectual standards as Holocaust deniers, and then—rather than consigning them to complete obscurity, as sane cultures do—WE PUT THEM ON NATIONAL TELEVISION.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Michelle Malkin and the Saga of Jamil Hussein.


Click over to find out how closely Malkin and her crew hew to the same methods and logic as the holocaust deniers. It's amazing to see it in real time, though. With modern technology and instant communication, one would think people would be especially cautious of such things and terribly vulnerable to exposure and embarrassment. But as we've seen so frequently these past few years, the right has developed a capability of creating an alternate reality as it happens which means that today, the first draft of history is being written in two dimensions. They don't have to airbrush history, they are editing in the camera.

Sadly, the mainstream media seems mostly incapable of battling this back properly --- if they even want to. (I suspect that where there isn't social or political bias, in a busy world it's cheaper and simpler to regurgitate the pre-digested rightwing narrative.) The AP fought back hard and prevailed, but it remains to be seen if the lesson they take is to be overly cautious with its war reporting or beat the hell out of the wingnutosphere when they come after them.

This particular incident is just one of many and it's what allowed so much of what's happened over the last few years to happen. The right's professional noise machine is creating a disorienting inability on the part of many journalists and citizens to be able to distinguish reality from fantasy --- and it's making it possible for someone like the president to be completely unresponsive to the people.

We keep expecting that reality is going to change things. For instance, we logically thought that the president would have to begin to withdraw in Iraq once his popularity tanked to unprecedented lows and his party lost the election. Instead, he just carries on, no matter what happens out here in the real world, because in the world the right wing has created, this last election shows that he has a mandate to escalate the war.

Likewise, I would have thought that Michele Malkin would be compelled to issue a mea culpa for her jihad against the AP once it was proved that they didn't make up their source. Nothing. In fact, Eason Jordan chastizes the AP for its attitude rather than the relentless "critics" many of whom commonly accuse them of being in league with terrorists.

The AP erred in part by responding in a hot-headed, antagonistic way to questions about the existence of Jamil Hussein and the credibility of AP reports featuring comments from Captain Hussein. The AP's harsh statements fueled the suspicions of critics and those who otherwise would give the AP the benefit of the doubt.


The AP is a professional news organization which is subject to criticism like every other news organization, but there are very few people who think that the violence in Iraq is being fabricated for political reasons and they are the only "critics" who fail to give the AP the benefit of the doubt in its war reporting. These "civil war deniers" are centered in the most feverish quarters of the right wing blogosphere and talk radio.

This incident is just one of many (as Greenwald lays out here) in which the rightwing blogosphere has been caught making these kinds of errors. But if Eason Jordan is any example, they have not only failed to lose credibility, the more obvious the error, the more credibility they actually gain. This is new and I don't think we fully understand the ramifications of it yet.

The only thing you can compare it to would be if holocaust denial were to be considered perfectly acceptable. Just as the right continues to emulate its great enemy the Soviet Commies, it's morphing before our eyes into its own version of its new enemy, Iran. The irony is that the violence they are so intent upon denying is violence perpetrated by the Mahdi Army --- Iran's kissin' cousins. What a tangled web we weave when we try to operate in complicated situations with nothing but a lizard brain.


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