In 2002, the swelling of support for Bush’s Iraq invasion created a market for “the war bloggers” – 300% certain that Saddam and Osama plotted 9/11, and that only “regime change” would end a clear and present threat to the nation. Since then they have both been enablers for the Executive and its talking points, and producers of a fog of attack spin. Major publications, online and off, have primped and pimped the warbloggers as a legitimate wing of interpretation. Michelle Malkin was catapaulted to near ubiquitous status without any accomplishments whatever to justifiy it. Eric Boehlert delivers a blog post classic, and spatters their overratted reputation as a source of news and commentary.
I’ve written extensively about this controversy because I think it perfectly captures the right-wing warbloggers and their never-ending goal to undermine the press. Not with thoughtful, factual analysis — which is always welcome — but by feverishly trying to undercut news reports that might pose a problem for President Bush’s war in Iraq…
The tactic of the right wing bloggers was to create a paranoid sub-pop illusion that out there, beyond the traditional outlets, was a whole world of right wing good news that was being suppressed by a conspiratorial left wing agenda. The attempt to bury the AP – an organization that has consistently leaned to the right, not the left, in its war coverage – lays bare how flailing the warbloggers have become.
That’s when the warbloggers became unhinged. Piling on, they claimed the disputed story raised doubts about all the mainstream media’s reporting in Iraq. Warbloggers also accused American journalists of being too cowardly to go get the news Iraq themselves and relying on local Iraqi news stringers with obvious terrorist sympathies and who purposefully push insurgent propaganda into the news stream — the way Hussein did with the Burned Alive story — to create the illusion of turmoil.
Boehlert here jabs at one of the most important right wing tropes – that data is the plural of anecdote – and at their tactics for creating anecdotes even where they do not exist.
I must concede the discipline warbloggers have shown in maintaining their denial in the wake of the crumbling Hussein story is impressive. For instance, last month Power Line, busy hyping the “fake” Hussein story, wrote , “Of course, if Jamil Hussein turns up and [journalists] interview him in his office in a Baghdad police station, the AP will be vindicated.” Well, Hussein not only turned up in Baghdad but his position was confirmed by the Ministry of Interior — the same source warbloggers had used to deny Hussein’s existence. So the AP was “vindicated,” right? Not by Power Line, which for 96 hours stoically ignored the inconvenient development.
Message discipline and denial are, indeed, two of the most important weapons of the right wing. It is almost like a the Monty Python skit on the Spanish Inquisition – there always seems to be another tactic to avoid dealing with the facts.
Eric demonstrates that the frenzy and the dishonesty go all the way to the top of the right wing:
The bottom line? Or at least the bottom line warbloggers excitedly stitched together? It was that the scandal over the AP’s “fake,” “bogus,” and “non-existent” police source proved that journalists could not be trusted to tell the truth about Iraq. Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit excitedly posted this item in late November:
MORE REPORTS OF BOGUS IRAQ STORIES FROM A.P.: Kind of makes you wonder about the reporting from Iraq. Okay, it’s more like “confirms your suspicions” than “makes you wonder,” really.
The market for confirmation is, indeed, larger than the market for information. But what exactly is the right wing confirming? Go down to the roots and one finds that the Iraq adventure is of a piece with Darwin Denial, Great Depression Denial and now Katrina Denial.
He then writes what could be an epitaph for the right wing blogosphere:
In the end, the Jamil Hussein fiasco simply highlights the dramatic fall from grace warbloggers have suffered over the last 24 months. Following Memogate in late 2004, when warbloggers helped drive CBS’s Dan Rather off the air for botching a report on Bush and his days with the Texas Air National Guard, warbloggers, basking in the glow of mainstream media acclaim, had a real chance to grow the right-wing blogosphere into something influential and politically important. Instead, today it’s an outpost of misplaced arrogance.
The right wing blogosphere never really grew out of being the Free Republic on steroids with a better haircut. It was always a top down venture, one which over used fallacies of equivocation, appeals to force, lying by prediction, false moral equivalence, non sequitor and ranting insults in place of facts, reason and logic. It was, and is, the church of an insane god.
Perhaps a few more stumbles of this size will start to cut it back down to the size which is commensurate with its news value.