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Monday, July 25, 2005

A fake dispatch, this time from Iraq

For those of you who doubted CCM's dictum that the fish rots from the head down, never more so than during the W administration, consider just how much the White House's propaganda approach to politics has seeped deep into the executive branch. The Pentagon's in-theater press operation is playing fast and loose with media ethics. Should this surprise from an administration that hires columnists to beat their chests on behalf of WH politics?

From CNN:
Following a car bombing in Baghdad on Sunday, the U.S. military issued a statement with a quotation attributed to an unidentified Iraqi that was virtually identical to a quote reacting to an attack on July 13. (7-24-05)

It kinda reminds me of something. Something similar. Something stinky. Lest anyone doubt that the ethics of the boss trickle down to the lower decks.

13 Comments:

Anonymous bu$h ate my baby said...

So your support for the dictum "the fish rots from the head down" is to give evidence of possible rot far away from the head, the Pentagon's Iraqi press operations? Nice syllogism. Let me try to summarize your logic:

-- I believe that the highest officials in the White House are unethical
-- low level executive branch press functionaries in Iraq may have acted inappropriately
-- the highest officials in the White House are unethical

There are probably what, 2-3 million federal executive branch employees, if you include the military? Since the very fact that the rot has seeped "deep" into the executive branch is support for your premise, I look forward to scintillating updates each time any one of those employees does something unethical as proof that W is a criminal.

7/25/2005 4:32 PM  
Blogger Jonah B. Gelbach said...

Hey CHB,

Congrats! You've gotten under my conservative friend Peter's skin....

Note that Peter doesn't actually discuss your underlying point: the politicization and propagandization of facts (or non-facts, as the case may be).

Scintillation all around!

7/25/2005 4:58 PM  
Anonymous bu$h ate my baby said...

Nah, not under the skin. Just trying to help you guys focus and be logical rather than trying to imitate TNR's & C.

Gee, I thought I did address the underlying point -- that Bush is unethical and that the rot is spreading. Would the original post have been made otherwise? As for what the low-level functionary apparently did, you're absolutely right, shouldn't have been done. Doesn't appear to have been something that is an honest mistake, so person responsible should be fired/reassigned/disciplined or some other appropriate corrective action.

Interesting, is this blog going to take the position that it never errs? I bet the two bloggers here were outraged when W wouldn't admit to a mistake, yet CCM's quasi-defense suggests here too we will see no refinement, no reconsideration -- dare I say no nuance?

7/25/2005 5:09 PM  
Blogger Jonah B. Gelbach said...

Doesn't appear to have been something that is an honest mistake, so person responsible should be fired/reassigned/disciplined or some other appropriate corrective action.

Peter, does this sanction view of yours apply to whoever signed up Armstrong Williams, and "Karen Ryan"?

How about people who leak classified information to journalists to try to discredit political opponents?

Just wondering.

Interesting, is this blog going to take the position that it never errs?

No, not at all. But you haven't pointed out an error -- factual or logical. You just don't like CHB's noting yet another example of the repeated use of official propaganda.

I bet the two bloggers here were outraged when W wouldn't admit to a mistake

Can't speak to CHB's feelings on this. I wasn't "outraged". I wasn't even surprised.

I think that for once he was telling the truth when he said he couldn't think of a single mistake in four years of his mistaken policies. But then, we know he brags about not reading the news, getting his "information" primarily from the cabal of yes-people around him. So why should he even know about his mistakes?

Bang the table, my friend....it's what you've got.

7/25/2005 5:23 PM  
Blogger cornhuskerblogger said...

amen jonah.

i don't think it's merely coincidental that the administration's manhandling of the media is evidenced both in official washington and sand-swept baghdad. and it's not about the geographic distance here between the metaphorical head and the tail. it's the incredibly short psychic distance between the WH's demand for positive Iraqi feedback on the ground, and the compliance of the local press shop in supplying it.

How many iraqis would give such a perfectly scripted answer that so undergirds the WH position even once, let alone twice?

this WH is adept at scrubbing the facts (Greenhouse gas report, iraqi wmds, etc etc) and it's not an ability that's turned on and off. IT's been with them from the start. And the talking points are adhered to far and wide.

Fool me once, shame on, um, we. Fool me twice, won't get fooled again?

7/25/2005 5:50 PM  
Blogger cornhuskerblogger said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

7/25/2005 5:50 PM  
Anonymous Bu$h Ate My Baby said...

"No, not at all. But you haven't pointed out an error -- factual or logical. You just don't like CHB's noting yet another example of the repeated use of official propaganda."

That's too bad you're willing to go down on a losing argument. A valid if narrower argument could have been made by this post. But CHB chose to overreach, and rather than concede that point, you'll go to the mat trying to defend it, or obfuscate by bringing up unrelated matters. Irony is, you resort to the same tactics that you decry when used by, say, a White House spokesman. So sad.

The question you should really ask yourself is why are you blogging. Is it an effort to get closer to the truth, to be meticulous in method and argument in order to construct unassailable arguments? If that is the case, then you can be forgiven for making the ocassional error or lapse in judgment -- it is a non-edited blog and you're trying to fill it with 24 hour content.

Or is it an effort by the faithful to speak to the faithful, slinging the red meat just cuz it's fun, where the well-written witty line trumps all, where the factually unsupported claims ("jobs rapidly evaporating in this country", to quote an earlier post) make the broader claim less credible to all except those who have already entered the fever swamps?

Admitting mistakes is not a sign of weakness. You can give on the 5%, and make an entertaining blog (and it is that) be a relevant one too.

7/25/2005 7:07 PM  
Blogger Jonah B. Gelbach said...

Peter, entertaining as I find it to respond point by point to your accusations, I don't actually find it all that entertaining.

So I'm going to keep cleaning my office instead.

But keep those weak indictments coming....

7/25/2005 7:35 PM  
Anonymous Bu$h Ate My Baby said...

With all that office-cleaning and teeth-flossing you do, you must be one clean person.

7/25/2005 7:44 PM  
Blogger Jonah B. Gelbach said...

Endogeneity problem, my friend: I have to do all the cleaning and flossing because i'm not clean enough!

7/25/2005 8:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's not rule out the obvious explanation for the redundant, possibly rigged, quotes. It may be that the reporters responsible for them were too afraid to leave the Green Zone to get a real quote and that the first one made one up and the second reporter unknowingly used it again. I've always thought that Occam's razor is useful. With W in the WH, I've gone over to using Occam's uzi.

7/26/2005 9:34 AM  
Blogger Jonah B. Gelbach said...

i like that...occam's uzi....nicely done!

7/26/2005 10:38 AM  
Blogger strategery4 said...

So your support for the dictum "the fish rots from the head down" is to give evidence of possible rot far away from the head, the Pentagon's Iraqi press operations? Nice syllogism.

At first I was inclined to agree with this comment, but then I realized that WHAT ELSE COULD BE SUPPORTING EVIDENCE? I mean, you have to have a case that the malfeasance started at the top (pretty obvious here, no?) and that now there is evidence that it's spreading. So no error of logic there.

On the other hand, this strikes me as a pretty weak part of the indictment. Recycling a quote? Let s/he in the MSM who is without sin cast the first stone. So there is a grain of truth in the complaint that there's almost nothing that functionaries can do disproves the hypothesis -- either they have been infected by the rotting, or it just hasn't happened yet. The only counteraxemple could be cases where the fish is wrotten but it DIDN'T start from the head but rather worked its way up.

Can't we all just get along?

where the well-written witty line trumps all

Hey, don't go there! That's my bread and butter.

7/27/2005 11:07 AM  

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