Myth Busting

On the weekends, I often listen to NPR. And I make an effort to hear “On The Media.”

I’m starting to wonder why I bother. I’m coming to realize that it’s the radio equivalent of “Media Matters For America — devoted to exposing any hint of conservative “bias” in the media, usually by shamelessly promoting whatever are the current liberal talking points. Those, of course, get taken as gospel, while anything that might contradict them are taken with about 7.6 metric tons of salt.

Last weekend, they interviewed former White House Spokesman Scott McLellan. And they didn’t come to the interview with the traditional skepticism journalism claims as its hallmark. Instead, the host — Bob Garfield — whipped out his anti-administration checklist and ticked off all the things in McLellan’s book that backed them up.

The really fun part was when he cited last week’s Senate Intelligence Committee report on the circumstances leading up to the war. Garfield didn’t mention a few pertinent details, such as:

  • The report was written by two Majority staffers.
  • Minority members were not allowed to even offer any amendments.
  • The summary that everyone ran with was utterly undercut by the actual text of the report.

Anyway, that’s just one detail. I’m curious why Garfield didn’t ask McLellan a few more interesting questions, such as one that’s been bugging me for about a week:

Why was the book that was published virtually unrecognizable from the book proposal he originally shopped around? What happened to that book, and where did this one come from?

I have my own theory, of course: it’s the golden rule. Him with the gold makes the rules.

Alternately, “when you take the king’s gold, you play the king’s tune.”

Here’s my uttelry unsubstantiated (yet fairly congruent with known facts) theory:

McLellan started shopping his book around, the one where he was the poor, benighted press secretary who got mauled by the tremendously hostile press. He also included a few details on some minor to moderate inside dirt on the White House, but that wasn’t enough to get a really, rally good offer from a publisher.

Until he went to PublicAffairs. There, they didn’t even read his proposal, to see what he wanted to write, but instead he saw the book they might be able to get him to write.

PublicAffairs being one of George Soros’ many loftily-named front groups, of course.

So McLellan and his editor from Perseus Books put out a book that did its darndest to confirm all the nastier allegations against the Bush adminsistration, with McLellan offering credibility to back them up.

I think the single most damning bit — both from the book and Garfield’s interview — is the accounts of the Valerie Plame affair. McLellan says that Karl Rove and Scooter Libby conspired to out her and evade responsibility for that heinous deed. This was done in meetings where McLellan didn’t intend, but he knew what went on behind those closed doors, darn it, and don’t nobody question him on it! I mean, come on, if you dscount EVERYTHING that McLellan reveals that went on in meetings he wasn’t in attendance, you’d have to toss out about half his book!

They kind of glance over it in the interview:

BOB GARFIELD: Let’s talk about the war. You’ve admitted that you were passing along, at least, lies from Scooter Libby and Karl Rove about the Valerie Plame affair.

SCOTT McCLELLAN: Unknowingly, yes.

BOB GARFIELD: But what about other White House lies, that Saddam Hussein and 9/11 were somehow connected, that waterboarding is somehow not torture?

Here’s where the truth gets a bit inconvenient for these two gentlemen. We know that Plame was outed by Richard Armitage. We know this because that was the conclusion reached by the special prosecutor, aided by Armitage’s own admission that he was the one who did it. Libby was convicted not of anything to do with the Plame outing (which was not a crime, obviously, because Armitage was never charged), but lying about it — based on the fact that his accounts of the whole matter differed in details given by others interviewed during the course of the investigation. Rove was never even charged with anything (TruthOut’s breathless (and never retracted) reports of a “secret Rove indictment” notwithstanding).

And here’s where The Big Lie comes into play.

“But what about other White House lies, that Saddam Hussein and 9/11 were somehow connected?”

This one drives me nuts, and has been for some time.

I have repeatedly challenged ANYONE to show me when Bush — or any other administration official — directly linked Saddam Hussein to 9/11.

Saddam had ties to terrorism. That is not disputable.

Saddam had contacts with Al Qaeda. That, too, is also not disputable.

Saddam and Al Qaeda did talk about collaborating on operations. That is not disputable.

But was Saddam actually involved in 9/11? There is not a shred of evidence to support it. And I have never seen any single statement by the administration that puts forth that case.

Logically speaking, it is absurd. One thing Al Qaeda was very damned good at was operational security. They kept their most important plans very quiet, not letting anyone know about them who did not have an absolute need to know them. And Saddam had no need to know.

Indeed, he had a pretty good need to not know about it. If he did, he might have been tempted to sell it out in exchange for concessions on the sanctions that were keeping him down. Further, it it came out that he did know about it ahead of time and did nothing, he’d run the risk of getting treated much like the Taliban — but even faster and more brutally than he did.

Maybe my brain works differently than most people (especially those whose intellects are best expressed with the slogan “Bush lied, people died!”), but on 9/11, I came to a very unpleasant conclusion: we were not at war with Osama Bin Laden. We were not at war with Al Qaeda. We were at war with terrorists, with the most militant and psychotic and barbaric adherents to Islamism, and Bin Laden and Al Qaeda were merely the biggest names on that list. It didn’t start with them, and it wouldn’t end with them. The war had started long before 9/11 (personally, I set the beginning of the open war to be the Iranian Hostage Crisis; it just took us 22 years to recognize that we were at war, but others choose other milestones), and it will not end with the capture or death or discovery of the death of Osama Bin Laden.

So, what’s up with Garfield casually asserting that the administration linked Saddam with 9/11, and McLellan choosing to gloss over that instead of contradicting it?

Because, I suspect, McLellan is an honest man.

In the context of the “honest politician,” of course — one who once he’s bought, stays bought.

Scott McLellan has chosen to take the king’s gold. He’s going to keep playing the king’s tune.

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