Jay Tea at Wizbang has prompted me finally to do something I should have done a week-and-a-half ago — to thank Wavemaker (former state rep Peter Morin) for having EaBoClipper, Jay Tea and myself to talk to his blogging/politics class at Tufts. Lots of fun — terrific, probing, and unexpected questions from the class and Peter … and that's not even to mention the pizza, the NH doughnuts (courtesy of Jay Tea) and the super-nifty and thoughtful door prizes. (These are really awesome — thanks Peter.)
Jay accurately recounts an exchange we had towards the beginning of class. Jay was recounting the Most Glorious Scalp-History (Dan Rather, et al) of the right-wing blogosphere. He ran down the Jamil Hussein/Burned Alive saga, about which I frankly knew little. (To make a long story short: In late 2006, right-wing bloggers such as Michelle Malkin questioned the existence of AP's source in a story on atrocities in Baghdad, and the extent of the atrocities reported.)
But I find the emphasis on refuting one event in the context of a massive catastrophe to be akin to fiddling while people burn. So while Jay was speaking, I was rude, and snapped —
[Charley:] “are you saying that atrocities aren't happening over there?”
[Jay:] I answered so quickly that I didn't even realize what I'd said: “if there are so many, why do people have to make them up?”
That off-the-cuff response has been rattling around in the back of my mind, collecting debris and detritus, until it snowballed into a full-blown thesis:
When did “fake but accurate” become an accepted standard? Especially in politics?
Damn good question. And maybe it's because people don't see what's in front of their faces.
I don't remember precisely, but I don't recall Jay mentioning — then or in his present post — that contrary to Malkin et al, Jamil Hussein was indeed found to exist. Michelle Malkin apologized for her assertion that he didn't exist. Furthermore, it should have been obvious to anyone that Hussein was clearly was putting himself in danger by talking to the AP. [Update: Media Matters has an excruciatingly thorough rundown of the whole episode.]
Why would Jay not mention this — particularly in discussing the need for accuracy and accountability in media?
It's funny … Jay writes eloquently
Far too many people have far too much invested in their chosen fables.
Indeed. Would that the immense energy, smarts, and talent of the right-wing blogs had taken on any part of the thoroughgoing dishonesty of the Bush administration's run-up and prosecution of the war. Who knows, maybe we wouldn't be there. Maybe the war would have been run better. Maybe their guy wouldn't have 28% approval ratings.
I'm glad to have inspired such a heartfelt post in praise of such noble ideals. It's just damned ironic to hear a cheerleader for the “greatest strategic disaster in American history” deliver us a
lecture meditation about “chosen fables.”