Monday, January 12, 2009

Two Examples of Manipulating the Media Narrative aka Myth-Jacking

WPost Again Flacks for Bush's Crimes
By Robert Parry
Originally published January 10, 2009 on

With only 10 days left before George W. Bush leaves office, the Washington Establishment – and its chief mouthpiece the Washington Post – are trying to stymie any meaningful accountability for the outgoing administration and thus cover up for their own complicity in Bush’s crimes and incompetence.

The latest example is the Post’s front-page article on Jan. 10 which offers a one-sided defense of torture in the guise of discussing how President-elect Barack Obama is under pressure over his expressed goal of prohibiting abusive interrogation of detainees in the “war on terror.”

The Post article presents those interrogation policies as an undisputed success, even quoting Vice President Dick Cheney as something of an unbiased expert in declaring that the harsh tactics “have been absolutely essential to maintaining our capacity to interfere with and defeat all further attacks against the United States.”

Throughout the article, Obama’s opposition to torture is portrayed as simply campaign rhetoric meant to appease the left-wing Democratic base and some human rights activists. Meanwhile the pro-torture position is described as realistic, hard-headed and patriotic. . . .


What Would Cheney Do?
By Scott Horton
Originally published January 12, 2009 in No Comment on

To Americans, he struggles to keep his approval rating out of single digits. For historians, he’s hands-down the worst vice president since Spiro Agnew and Aaron Burr. But to the vacuous class of Beltway chatterboxes who dominate the op-ed columns and television talk shows, Dick Cheney is a subject of endless fascination and admiration. Witness Bill Kristol’s column in today’s New York Times which, in a typical exposition of Kristoline wit, opens with two hundred words on the virtues of certain canine breeds before suddenly turning to drop its load: Obama, says Kristol, should take Dick Cheney’s advice and not finalize any counterterrorism policies until he’s been fully briefed on what the Bush team has been doing. That’s perfectly reasonable—although it supposes that the transition team is not being candidly briefed, which is both alarming and quite credible. But then comes the Neocon spin: Obama should embrace the Bush policies on the war on terror that he opposed during his campaign.

An even more astonishing display of Cheney adulation comes in the current issue of Newsweek. Some of Newsweek’s writers, notably Mike Isikoff, Mark Hosenball and Mike Hirsh, have done fine work in exposing the Bush Administration’s “path to torture.” In the early days of the controversy they did an excellent job putting together the connections from the policies baked up in secretive meetings in Washington to the abuses that occurred in the field in Bagram, Abu Ghraib, and Guantánamo. But this week, Newsweek’s cover story goes to torture apologists Stuart Taylor and Evan Thomas, who launch a full-frontal assault on Newsweek’s own exposés. Aside from being a bizarre act of self-immolation, it may be the single worst Newsweek cover story of all time, filled with demonstrably false characterizations of the record. Charles Kaiser at Columbia Journalism Review has the definitive critique:

Proceeding briskly from unconscionable ignorance to outrageous conclusion, Newsweek’s Taylor and Thomas praise Bush for vetoing the law that would have required the CIA to use “no investigative methods other than those permitted in the Army Filed Manual” because “these are extremely restrictive.” Indeed, they are restrictive: they are the rules that every previous administration has adhered to since World War II, because they prevent Americans from committing exactly the same kind of war crimes we prosecuted at Nuremberg.

For the record, this is the truth about the torture authorized at the very top of the Bush Administration. There is no evidence that it ever produced any useful information, except for the uncorroborated boasts of Cheney and his henchmen. There are more than forty retired Admirals and Generals who have lobbied Congressmen and Senators continuously because they know that these methods are not only immoral and illegal but also completely counter-productive. And every experienced Army interrogator agrees that non-coercive methods produce more reliable information than the ones Cheney plucked from the “dark side” in a criminally misguided effort to protect America.
This is a week to skip picking up Newsweek at your local newsstand. CJR, however, remains indispensible. Read the whole piece.

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