Thursday, June 28, 2007

Stupid is as Stupid Does

Newsweek wonders why the US public is poorly informed. These same-week covers might provide a clue.

According to the latest Newsweek poll "…as many as four in ten Americans (41 percent) still believe Saddam Hussein’s regime was directly involved in financing, planning or carrying out the terrorist attacks on 9/11, even though no evidence has surfaced to support a connection.”

Newsweek finds this result rather surprising. Why the considerable and continuing ignorance?

Well, consider Newsweek’s bemused and passive reportorial tone---“…even though no evidence has surfaced to support a connection”---as if the “evidence” simply failed to show up due to unforeseen circumstances.

The fact is that Cheney above-all knowingly and repeatedly pushed this false connection in television interviews and even after some responsible newspaper journalists had thoroughly debunked the claims, Cheney (and his surrogates) were allowed to re-iterate the lies with absolute authority and without clear refutation (that means you, Timmeh!).

Repetition by the Administration and its op-ed proxies of this false assertion and the failure of much of the media to corroborate the claim allowed the myth to become 'conventional wisdom'. And even when questioned on the claim the liars were allowed to repackage the story whilst maintaining the content and again much of the media let the new lies pass with little or no comment.

If simple repetition gives strength to lies, then the repetition of truth should give strength to actual truth. But the MSM has been all too willing to engage in the former, and not the latter.

Here’s what Newsweek could (and should) have written instead:

"…as many as four in ten Americans (41 percent) still believe Dick Cheney’s false public assertions that Saddam Hussein’s regime was directly involved in financing, planning or carrying out the terrorist attacks on 9/11, even though Cheney had absolutely no evidence to support his definitive claims as he made his case to justify the now 4-year old Iraq war.”

Newsweek’s bemused surprise at the respondents’ ignorance is as much an indictment of the majority of the media as it is the fault of a lazy public—after all it is the media that provides the bulk of our current-affairs information.

If Newsweek knows that the Hussein/9-11 “connection” is bullshit why don’t they actually call it bullshit? Maybe it’s because they’d be calling bullshit on themselves.


Parklife said...

God we're dumb.

I'm reading a book right now about war photographers in South Africa. They speak of how sensitive Americans are. I guess their rather shocking photos would be censored from the AP wire. Anyway, it seems we're all to willing to self-censor. We dig our heads in the sand about the rest of the world.

Back to the topic, there is plenty of truth to your last paragraph. But, I also think conservatives continue to mislead. This includes the President repeating and repeating his mantra of Saddam / 9-11 connection. The MSM simply reports on his speeches, which in turn repeat the lie. They seem interested little in reporting more than what is in front of them. I know, even the thought of homework….

5th Estate said...


That the conservatives in power are ultimately responsible for the public's ignorance and misinformation regsrding the overriding issue of Iraq is correct of course. But in the Newsweek poll there are other topics covered that also show remartkable ingorance in seemingly more mundane subkects, such as Geography.
Once again the reporting is largely rote--perhaps on the assumption that Newsweek readers are so well-informed that the facts and the truth are already known to them and does not need to be spelled-out.
But as the cover example above (one of many) illustrates, Newsweek's notion of what is most important, and to whom, is significant.
If they can tell the rest of the world one thing on the cover,and the US another, why the surprise at the American's ignorance of significant issues?

Carl said...

You see, Brit, this sets up the perfect resonance cycle: Newsweek sells magazines by repeating the administration lies, then sells more magazines by making fun of us yobs who swallow the lies whole because they were repeated in print and on TV, without much fact checking.

5th Estate said...


Here's the funny thing though...eveyone likes a scandal right? And supposedly bad news sells, right? So why can't Newsweek et al sell the bad news and the scandals of administration lies--instead of burying them?

Carl said...

Kinda hard to publish your magazine from a secret CIA prison, Brit

5th Estate said...