Read a Pacific Northwest, liberal perspective on world, national, and local politics. From majestic Redmond, Washington - the Northwest Progressive Institute Official Blog.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Toothfish lie bites noise machine

I see that while I was away with my family ignoring the inanity and insanity of the political world, the conservative world was abuzz with the alleged news that Al Gore served endangered fish at his daughter's wedding rehearsal dinner. Which, long story short, isn't true at all, as last I heard the groom's family does the rehearsal dinner and it turns out the fish was certified as legal.

As usual, conservative baloney gets inserted into the traditional corporate press thanks to dedicated right-wing liars. A science blogger called Deltoid does some journalism about the Chilean sea bass lie/smear against Gore:
I did a Factiva search and found that this was the first time that the Daily Telegraph had ever printed an opinion piece from the Humane Society International, so I called Rebecca Keeble and asked her about the genesis of the piece. It seems that the first she heard about the matter was when she was contacted by the Daily Telegraph, told that Gore had served Chilean sea bass, and was invited to write an opinion piece.

She didn't want to tell me who it was who commissioned the piece, but it's not hard to figure out. You see, the opinion editor of the Daily Telegraph is Gore-hater Tim Blair. He first blogged about the story here.

Then he contacted Keeble and put her opinion piece in the Daily Telegraph. Next he put up a post linking to Keeble's piece. Then it was picked by Glenn Reynolds and Matt Drudge who can be relied upon to run with any anti-Gore story they come across.

Once Drudge had linked it, Tapper knew it was OK for him to run with the story. And that's how it's done.
As Winston Churchill said, a lie gets halfway around the world before the truth gets its pants on. Conservatives have adopted this as their default modus operandi from the top of the GOP to the bottom, and they think there is nothing wrong with it. Then when they get called on it, they whine a bit, talk about how tough things are, and start planning the next lie and the next smear.

I guess I don't know how to stop it. You can believe that in 2008 many GOP candidates and their supporters at all levels will continue to resort to all sorts of tricks, smears, innuendos, false complaints and anything else they think will help their sick cause, no matter how sleazy. The conundrum, as always, is how best to counter GOP sleaze. When you ponder how quickly and widely the Chilean sea bass lie was spread around the globe, it's fairly disheartening.

The thing is you never know what crazy allegation they will make and which one will stick, and which journalist will find merit in it. Bad things tend to happen in life and in government sometimes, and whether it's a murder or a corrupt state employee or a minor gaffe at a public function, the noise machine will be there to try to pin the blame on Democrats.

Which begs the question: what if someone threw a smear and nobody came? In other words, if there are entities out there that purport to operate in the public interest by delivering information, what exactly are those institutions doing about the tremendous problem of smear politics?

Whichever side one is one, very few people can argue with a straight face that smears are somehow in the public interest.

It must be considered, of course, that differentiating between a smear and a legitimate charge is not easy, especially in the heat of campaigns. We respect and admire journalists who do the hard slogging under deadline pressure to try to establish the facts, and if a Democrat deserves to be called out on something, then that's fine. But haircuts, menu selections and other minutiae rarely rise to the level of true importance, even if some bone-headed hack at ABC gets off on it.

Doing something about the problem of smears does not mean, in all cases, refusing to report things, although when it comes to Democratic hairstyling there better have been a fire in the salon or something. It might mean, though, refusing advertising or exposing the smears more thoroughly and more repeatedly.

What if the networks had devoted some one hour specials to exposing the Swift Boat Liars? Surely that would have been in the public interest. (Yes, I'm dreaming, but I've been away from the television and newspapers for literally days now.)

At any rate, there is a neat closure here in that the noise machine that made up so many falsehoods about Gore (internet, love story, etc.) now resorts to trying to ruin the wedding of his daughter.

I think that shows you what kind of perverse individuals inhabit the conservative blogosphere and the auxiliary sectors of the American press that enable it.

It didn't matter that it was a deliberate lie, and it didn't matter that it might affect a young woman's memory of her matrimony.

What mattered was putting a cheap hit on Al Gore, because a lot of Americans wouldn't mind seeing him set things right in January 2009. And that scares the cons, because Gore isn't playing their game any more.

<< Home