Mike the Mad Biologist

No Penalty For Lying

Over at Hullabaloo, Tristero describes this conversation with a respected journalist about the manufactured smear of CBS reporter Lara Logan’s coverage of the Haifa Street battle:

Well, recently, I was at dinner with a friend who is a major journalist at a major media outlet in New York City. (I will not identify the person further, including whether my friend is male or female, or what kind of media s/he works for – video, print, or online). In the course of the conversation, I brought up the Lara Logan video and s/he said, with certain authority, “I know about that. Y’know, there’s a lot of controversy because she used footage from al Qaeda in the reporting.”

“Wha?” sez I, “I never heard that.”

“Yes,” said, my friend. “I was searching around for it and saw there was a huge controversy about her sources. That could very well have been the reason they didn’t broadcast it. After all, it’s not like there’s much reluctance anymore to hold back on damaging reports on the Bush administration.”

I promised to look into it. And I did. It turns out that Michelle Malkin and friends have been up to their old tricks again. You can read all about it at this link to Media Channel, but the short version: it’s a bullshit insinuation meant to smear CBS and Logan, who has done some of the finest network reporting on the Bush/Iraq war.

And it worked, My friend, a highly-respected journalist (and rightly so), was gulled into questioning Logan’s integrity.

The first frustrating thing about this is that there is no accountability from the right wing slime machine. Whenever they get something wrong or just make stuff up, they don’t pay a price: mainstream reporters don’t say, “You’ve burned me multiple times, I’m not listening,” or at the very least, they don’t “trust, but verify” (to steal a phrase). I really don’t know how to stop that–we can keep hounding the right wing slimers (like I did here), but they pay no cost for outright lying or for being so ideologically blinded that they ‘willfully distort’ the evidence. I’m open to suggestions.

The other frustrating thing is Tristero’s friend and Tristero’s response. I realize that one of the insidious things about wars is that, when unpopular, they divide friends and families, and I understand Tristero’s desire not to push his friend on this issue. But at some point the media that eats this shit up also has to be held accountable–and by accountable, I mean called out (either privately or publicly). Personally, I have friends in Iraq, and the feelings of someone who gets to sleep every night in his or her own bed at home hold very little concern for me, compared to the awfulness of Iraq. Until there is a cost to those who unquestioningly repeat the Mighty Conservative Wurlitzer’s lies even though previous experience should convince them otherwise, we won’t stop the Wurlitzer.

And good men and women will continue to die in Iraq.

Related story: Here is an example where a falsehood first reported by the Moonie Times made its way onto CNN.

Another related story: Of course, shit in human form like David Broder is quite capable of slandering the patriotism of Democrats without any help.

Comments

  1. #1 tristero
    February 6, 2007

    Mike,

    A few points. My friend prizes expertise, as I’m sure you do. Outside that expertise, s/he is no better informed than the average American.

    That may surprise you to learn about a top journalist, but I’ve learned that many of them are like that. They will know a lot about their beat – say, stock markets in Asia – and very little else. I can attest that many musicians are equally blindered and even fine scientists have been known to be ill-informed about politics, art, music, and even other sciences. You may not like that attitude anymore than I do, but it’s a fact.

    That my friend could have fallen for this propaganda is indicative of how the propaganda works, even with someone who has some training in how to parse propaganda and spin. I agree: s/he should have known better and in the past, I’ve taken her/him to task, seriously straining our long, long friendship. In this case, all the information I found was passed on to my friend. I am not going to wreck a friendship over Michelle Malkin’s shenanigans.

    However, fyi, I have “revised” friendships over the war. There are people I simply won’t talk to anymore, people far more influential in the national discourse who were, in my opinion utterly, proactively, dishonest, more concerned about their career than the lives of innocents (and yes, they know exactly how I feel about them because I told them, sometimes to their faces). This particular friendship is different.The person’s beat is far removed from American policy in the Middle East and her/his opinions are not dishonestly held, even if they are dismaying.

    I don’t think s/he even views the “controversy” over Logan’s reporting as potentially a political issue but simply as a journalistic integrity issue. That indicates, to me, not only my friend’s naivete, but more importantly, how far removed the concerns many of us take for granted here in the blogosphere is -still- from the mainstream.

    In short, this is what we’re up against. Smart people whose time is limited have been increasingly bamboozled by professional liars and rightwing extremists.

  2. #2 Mike the Mad Biologist
    February 7, 2007

    Tristero,

    Fair enough. I misunderstood your friend’s objections to Logan’s reporting. It’s always hard to figure out (especially from a distance) what the ‘appropriate’ thing to do in this circumstance is. Personally, I have witnessed the same thing with many science policy issues, so I understand your frustration.