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Hullabaloo


Saturday, October 17, 2015

 
Scalps

by digby

Andrew O'Hehir has a nice piece today at Salon about Rathergate and the new movie about it. His thesis is that it introduced a new era in wingnut conspiracy mongering and I think he might be right:
Whether Rathergate actually won that election for Bush is debatable; in the great Democratic middle-road milquetoast tradition of Al Gore and Michael Dukakis, the dithery, soporific Kerry campaign did everything it could to ensure defeat. But that whole episode clearly boosted Republican morale and made Rove and his minions feel that they were in control of the narrative and had the power to transform any possible negative into a positive. Rathergate was certainly not the first counterfactual counterattack strategy in American political history, and was not quite the birth of the right-wing blogosphere (which had surfaced, in embryonic form, during the Clinton years), but it marked a crucial evolution on both fronts. From 2004 flowed many blessings, at least for those who sought to control political discourse and popular perception and in so doing alter the nature of reality.

Suddenly all things were possible, and America became an endless episode of “The X-Files,” brought to you by faceless men in nice suits who are eager to warn you about the ravages of government and the duplicity of the “liberal media.” Every delirious resistance hypothesis previously promulgated by retired pharmacists who hand out mimeographed screeds in the mall now became a conduit for sowing widespread bewilderment and disempowerment. Climate-change denialism and birth-certificate trutherism. Death panels. Benghazi and Planned Parenthood. Every single aspect of what was once Tea Party ideology and has now become Republican orthodoxy, especially the upside-down economics in which high taxes (which are at historic lows) and social spending (which has been slashed) are reducing Americans to poverty and misery, rather than, let’s just say, a pointless $4 trillion war or the intensifying concentration of wealth at the very top of the pyramid.
I cannot help but contrast that with this story:
There was very little about Dylan Davies’ eyewitness account of the 2012 Benghazi attacks that seemed plausible. Sure, he had the proper credentials – he was a security contractor responsible for training the guard force at the diplomatic compound, and was in Benghazi the night of the attacks – but his story was outlandish and conspicuously difficult to corroborate.

According to Davies, after the attacks began he and a Libyan associate drove into Benghazi and sneaked into the Benghazi Medical Center, where he was the first person to identify the body of Ambassador Chris Stevens. Consumed by rage and a determination to save anyone who might still be alive, Davies set off on foot through the city, scaled the walls of the compound, and sneaked past dozens of militiamen until he was standing just feet from the burning villa where Stevens had lost his life. There, confronted by an armed guard, he bashed the terrorist’s face in with his rifle butt.

After sneaking back out of the compound, Davies decamped for his home in Wales where a detachment of FBI agents and State Department officials came to interview him and, according to Davies, were moved to tears by his heroism.

Every word of Davies’ account was a fabrication, contradicted by the official record and by Davies’ own after-action report. It was so far beyond the realm of plausibility that anyone but the most credulous sap would have regarded it with extreme skepticism. CBS News’ Lara Logan made it the centerpiece of her now-discredited bombshell “60 Minutes” Benghazi investigation last October.

In a just and equitable world, a journalist’s complicity in such gross and opportunistic fraud would be met with consequences. CBS News apparently has other ideas. Lara Logan, after a six-month leave of absence, is coming back to “60 Minutes.”

No harm no foul. Why is that?

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