The corporate media today have become, collectively, less a vehicle of information than of mind control.
—Peter Dale Scott, The Road to 9/11: Wealth, Empire, and the Future of America, p. 249 (2007)
Today the US media serves as propaganda ministry for the government’s wars and police state.
—Paul Craig Roberts, “Conservatism Isn’t What It Used To Be” (Sept. 7, 2007)
We have rendered the nation deaf and dumb. We no longer have the capacity for empathy.
—Chris Hedges, “Iran, the Next Quagmire” (Sept. 4, 2007)
Remedy: In order to turn this trend around, the people of the US must begin to acquire the anti-authoritarian traits of empathy and engagement.
—Phil Rockstroh, “Q and A for the People of a Forsaken Republic” (October 2, 2007)
Oh, New York Times, oh, New York Times, are you infantile, criminal, or delusional?
—Eric Larsen, “Letter of Lamentation to America,” Part 3 (July 29, 2007)
After I began writing pieces attacking what Barrie Zwicker calls the “left gatekeepers,” I began seeing a pattern that I couldn’t attribute to anything other than some kind of self-destructive and yet also self-imposed blindness to certain very important aspects of plain reality—the plain reality, specifically, of 9/11 and the events surrounding it.
How and why would a person purposely become a part of an enormous conspiracy to deny, hide, and suppress the truth of what actually happened that day, along with the truth of why it happened? Why would anyone, especially a left-leaning person, actually choose to join a conspiracy that would and could function only in the service of the neoconservative criminals and traitors, both those visible and those living in deep shadow, who over the past six years have been going about the business of destroying the republic and the Constitution and of establishing by force a hegemonic control over not only the Middle East but the world?
Why would a liberal person do such a thing? Why would such a person choose to take sides with the neocons? And how could they?
Who are some of those covering up for the traitor-guys? Zwicker lists a good sampling—of both people and institutions—in his powerful and indispensably important 2006 book, Towers of Deception: The Media Cover-up of 9/11.
“A surprisingly large number of Left media outlets,” he says (pp. 218-219), “—most of them, in fact—have adopted the same stance on 9/11 as Chomsky’s: refuse to investigate 9/11, and discourage or ridicule those who do.” Zwicker adds that most of the gatekeepers “wind up using the familiar ‘wacky conspiracy theorists’ putdown to describe others on the Left who want to discuss the evidence of an inside job on 9/11.”And he gives a list of such “putdown” people, groups, and outlets:
Individuals and media outlets that have exhibited this stay-away-from-9/11 stance, entirely or in large part, for more than four years now include David Corn and The Nation; Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!; Chip Berlet, senior analyst at Political Research Associates in Somerville, Massachusetts; David Barsamian of Alternative Radio; Michael Albert of Z Magazine; Alexander Cockburn; Norman Solomon; The Progressive; Mother Jones; Alternet.org; Global Exchange; PBS; South End Press; Public Research Associates; FAIR/ Extra!; Counterspin; Columbia Journalism Review; Deep Dish TV; Working Assets; Molly Ivins; Ms Magazine; Inter Press Service; MoveOn.org; Greg-Palast: David Zupan; Northwest Media Project. . .On the subject of that list, Zwicker writes that “The almost total uniformity within Left media in sync with the White House and Right media [on the subject of 9/11] is more than puzzling”—and the reason it’s “puzzling” is that the left media, on other issues, “pursue questions of malfeasance on the part of the power elites” and continue doing the job that’s traditionally—and indispensably—the job of a free liberal press.
And so why the closed ranks and the great unity of silence on the lone and single subject of 9/11 truth? People can reasonably differ in opinion and view, Zwicker grants, then adds:
“But it is a startling anomaly for so many organs and leaders of the conscious Left to be seemingly unconscious regarding 9/11.”The passage is worth quoting further:
More than a few on the Left share the opinion of progressive film maker Roy Harvey that “the greatest single obstacle to the spread of 9/11 Truth is the Left media.” To my mind, the relationship of Chomsky and the Left Gatekeepers on 9/11 is analogous to the relationship of the White House and the 9/11 Commission. Both relationships are so tight as to invite close scrutiny. Elementary pattern recognition reveals a common agenda among these otherwise well-informed, intelligent, investigative critics of corporate greed, the power elite and US hegemony. The agenda, completely atypical of their approach generally, is to vigorously reject investigation into 9/11. This is prima facie. One example, that of perhaps Chomsky’s best known protégé and amplifier, David Barsamian, is typical of 9/11 blindness on the Left.What does or can a person conclude? What does it mean, this 9/11 gate-keeper-blindness “on the Left,” this refusal to open up the one thing that’s now of the greatest importance imaginable?
Known and very popular cialis coupon which gives all the chance to receive a discount for a preparation which has to be available and exactly cialis coupons has been found in the distant room of this big house about which wood-grouses in the houses tell.
I ask again, Whose fault will it be? Whose fault is it so far that the junta hasn’t been braked? And why is it their fault? Why has the “left” media behaved in a way so patently against the nation’s best interest?
I began feeling the intensity of this self-imposed blindness on the part of left-leaners only when I began writing about Amy Goodman. Nothing of the sort happened when I wrote about the trunks-full of deceptions in the New York Times of April 2, 2007, (“Poisoned Nation, Poisoned Truth” [April 2007]), and nothing like it happened when I wrote “Ariana Huffington Tells the Truth (and Doesn’t Even Know It” [December 2006]) or when I wrote about Matthew Rothschild deserving an “F” and there being no grade low enough for Alexander Cockburn of Counter Punch (“U.S.A—Land of Liars” [January 2007]).
It started happening only with “Amy Goodman: A Mind Prostituted” (April 2007), and it went on with “Does the CIA Own Amy Goodman?” (April 2007), a title taken from the piercing 2006 essay on Goodman by Carolyn Baker, “The Empress Has No Clothes: Amy Goodman’s Reality Blackout.” And it continued with “What Would It Be Like To Be Amy Goodman?” (September 2007).
So Rothschild sparked nothing, Cockburn sparked nothing, as neither did Ariana Huffington or the despicable Nicholas Lemann in The New Yorker or Jacob Weisberg when in September 2006 he wrote his genuinely absurd “Five Years Free: Why Haven’t We Been Attacked Again?” in Slate, a dim-witted non-think piece trounced by me as hard as I could trounce in “Our Enemies, the Left Gatekeepers.” “What Can This Man Be Thinking? That was my response after reading this bit of utter inanity in the Slate piece:
As the fifth anniversary of the attacks approaches, perhaps the most surprising result is that American life has not changed very much at all. We worry more about terrorism and have to allow more time to negotiate airport security. But amazingly, al-Qaida hasn’t claimed a single additional victim inside the United States. This fact is all the more remarkable when you consider the special challenges America faces in preventing terrorism: thousands of miles of porous border; an open, mobile society; and easy access to firearms.Since I was perfectly aghast at such nonsense, I wrote, back then in December 2006:
After all, what surprise can there conceivably be in another 9/11 not having taken place in five years? Since the Bushiscti themselves were the perpetrators of 9/11, isn’t it self-explanatory? The Bushiscti pulled off their inside job, got away with it, and got what they wanted from it—namely carte-blanche war-making powers from “congress,” a wide opening of the purse-strings for said war-making, an instantly-created imaginary enemy to make war against, and, hardly least, the best opportunity conceivable to begin their program of the crushing, or, if you wish, the stripping away, of Constitutional liberties, starting with the so-called Patriot Act and now—those famous five years later—having legalized torture, gotten rid of habeas corpus, gutted the Insurrection Act, and gotten “legislators” to ante up $38 million for spiffing up concentration camps inside the U.S.—an event reported on this way by the Honolulu Advertiser: “Notorious internment camps where Japanese-Americans were kept behind barbed wire during World War II will be preserved as stark reminders of how the United States turned on some of its citizens in a time of fear.”I could hardly believe my eyes or ears then and I can hardly believe them now, revisiting the scene. I asked:
Why is Jacob Weisberg so set upon being a self-blinded non-seer? Why Frank Rich? Why Amy Goodman? Why David Corn? Why Nicholas Lemann? What do they hope to gain? Do they think the Bushiscti will be nice, or good, to them in return for their craven fidelity when the rest of the nation goes to its ruin, falls into penury and need and want, or goes to the camps that are being prepared or are prepared already for those who were faithless? Do the gatekeepers actually trust in the Bushiscti and in the Cheneyiscti; do they actually believe that, in payment for their complicity now they’ll be paid back later in the coin of favor? Could the gatekeepers conceivably be that depraved; could the gatekeepers conceivably be that deceived?What else could explain it? How can anything explain it?
I wrote and nobody responded, silence ruled supreme, I heard nothing, knew nothing, could tell nothing. Of course, this could all have been due simply to my having had no readers. But the minute I took on Amy Goodman as a gatekeeper, letters from highly incensed readers arrived, bearing demands to be dropped from my list.
A typical angry one, from last May, went like this:
While I am [a signer] . . . of the 9/11 truth statement and I routinely publish articles exploring 9/11 truth, your attack of Amy Goodman and the statements you make here in this email about liberals and progressives in general are toxic and destructive, and clearly desperate. I still believe that the 9/11 commission was a coverup and [I?] even commissioned polling that showed that the majority of Democrats and over 40% of the public believe that the investigation was inadequate. But you are misguided. Please remove me from your mailing list. NOW!! And don’t respond to this email either. I will label as spam any further email I receive from you.The piece immediately in question was “The Traitors In Our House,” which I’d turned over to two guest writers—though the piece before that one (“Does the CIA Own Amy Goodman”) may have offended the writer equally.
But what’s most interesting to me is what exactly it really was that has made the writer so angry. She or he referred not just to the articles about Amy Goodman but also to the May 2007 email that I’d sent out to my list along with “The Traitors In Our House.” Here’s that email:
Dear Readers of A Nation Gone Blind, Other Recipients, Writers, Thinkers, Patriots, and Friends:Now, I wonder how many readers would agree that what I say here about Amy Goodman and “liberals and progressives in general” is really toxic and destructive,” let alone “desperate.” Granting that it was evidently toxic indeed to the angry letter-writer, why was it so toxic? Before getting at the answer to that question, though, let me give another example.
I can do no more than trust and hope that everyone really does understand the reason for this series of pieces about Amy Goodman, or pieces largely about her. The reason isn’t to be unfair to Amy Goodman. The reason is to analyze her work and then, if necessary and appropriate, to condemn certain aspects of her performance as a journalist. I’ve chosen to focus on Goodman (although in truth she’s hardly alone on the little stage of this web site) partly because she’s so clearly associated with the left-leaning and “progressive,” partly because she’s so well known, partly because she’s so well trusted, partly because she's so well loved (by many), partly because she’s recently turned to writing instead of just radio—and partly because she is so quintessentially typical of numerous other erstwhile progressive or left-leaning American journalists and commentators who—known or unbeknownst to themselves—have metamorphosed since 9/11 into the greatest and most dangerous liars in the entire land outside of politicians themselves or figures in the true mass media, like, say, executives for Fox Films or corporate purveyors of pop music.
Harsh to say, perhaps, but it’s the result of close examination, and I believe it’s true. Frank Rich, Nicholas Lemann, Matthew Rothschild, Ariana Huffington, Jacob Weisberg, et al—the list is long, demoralizing, and suggestive of a grave and extreme danger—a danger given sinister but truthful implication by Paul Craig Roberts in his recent words, “Normally, this is called dictatorship.” (See “The State or the People,” April 2007)
In fact, Amy Goodman, Frank Rich, and all the others like them are aiders and abettors in the bringing about of dictatorship to the United States. This is so because they are all liars by omission—that is, by refusing to acknowledge, credit, stand behind, or publish the truth about 9/11, they effectually both aid and permit the continuation of the guilty and as yet unaccountable Bush administration’s attack not only on the Iraqi and Afghan people but also on the American people, in the last case through gutting of the Constitution and clear and evident preparing for the imposition of martial law and a police state.
[material about my guest authors deleted]
As for the actual situation: You may not agree, but it looks to me absolutely clear that the criminals are on the loose; are in fact holding the reins of government; are as yet beyond the reach of law or accountability; and can be reined in and made accountable only through the just and proper prosecution of those—that is, themselves—who are responsible for the extraordinary crimes of 9/11.
This is something more recent, just a week or two ago. I’d seen an essay attacking the Bush junta for its illegal war policies and calling for impeachment of Bush and Cheney. Since I admired it well enough and shared its views, I wrote the author:
10/1/2007To my own small horror, here is what I got back:
Hello, X. X.,
I saw your [unnamed] piece and think it’s inestimably strong and good and thorough and powerful. Thank you for it. I only, only wish that more would come your way and bring about the necessary impeachment you urge. Why is there such mad resistance?
I’m working in similar veins, though usually from a more “literary” approach, but trying to expose hypocrisy in the press and media, doing it in my own small ways. Also have a book out, “A Nation Gone Blind: America in an Age of Simplification and Deceit.” I’m afraid the co-opted media have been instructed or have learned to ignore books of its kind, since notice has been nil.
But may I put you on my list of people to alert when new pieces go up on my site? Here’s the most recent—today—letter I’ve sent out. Just let me know if you want off. And may your work prosper and harvest peace and good. The times are bad.
10/07/07Am I alone in the world in thinking that the arguments in this letter and in the one preceding it are the sheerest—well, let me warble out “malarkey” in order to prevent myself from soiling the reader’s screen with a truly vile or at the very least scatological term—? What are these letters and others like them saying? I might ask the second writer—I in fact did ask, in a follow-up letter, one that resulted in stony silence only—how he can conceivably see left-progressives like Goodman or Weisberg—or like “Frank Rich, Nicholas Lemann, Matthew Rothschild, Ariana Huffington, Jacob Weisberg, et al”—as being “effective antagonists to the Bush regime”? In what way is any of them being “effective”? In what way is any of them being “effective” in altering, ending, or ameliorating the course of the inhuman and wasteful wars in Iraq or Afghanistan? in helping diminish the threat of even wider wars through attack, perhaps nuclear, on Iran? in—above all—opposing a cowardly, complicit, and petrified congress in order actually to help bring about the impeachment of the Bush-Cheney junta, a Constitutional action without which we’re doomed, at the very best, to a repetition of Bush-Cheney “policy,” including increasing domestic lockdown, for at least another eight years no matter which “party” may sit in the White House or hold majority control of congress?
Please forgive me for being so tardy in answering your kind email of Oct. 1—and now here is another.
I appreciate and applaud your stance on these interlocking issues, and urge you to continue daylighting the one about which you are far better informed than I am: the facts of 9/11.
Let me implore you, however, to cease the attacks on those who fail to match your passion: the Amy Goodmans of the world and, as you know, there are a lot of doubters on the left. (Cf. Alexander Cockburn.) Internecine invective serves no one but the True Believers, those who, tragically, have fallen under the spell of the Bush intrigue.
We are all fighting the same war: the hideous presidency we endure. There are many battlefields, and none is demonstrably the only true and correct one. Yes, arguments can be made to rebut that statement, but those who make them seem to me more interested in being RIGHT than in a successful ending of the nightmare.
Please do not send me any more criticisms of people I see as effective antagonists to the Bush regime.
The “left-progressive” media is talking about such things, I’ll immediately agree, but so help me god I can find no way under the stars or the sun or the heavens that they could rightly be declared as “effective” in opposition to the junta or its ruinous, rapacious, and murderous policies. Well, maybe they are “effective antagonists,” as the writer said. But “antagonists,” I would add, in the sense of flies on a cow’s hide in summer—an irritation to be brushed away with a sweep of the tail.
First, what is it that really makes left-leaners or putative left-leaners get so mad and so incensed and so righteous when I attack figures like Goodman? I’ll tell you. It’s that figures like Amy Goodman or even, say, Keith Olbermann, do some good things. Maybe they even do a lot of good things. And therefore, in this our Age of Simplification wherein feeling has so largely replaced thinking, it’s forbidden to attack them on the grounds that they do—or may be doing—one bad thing. Anyone who attacks them for that one bad thing is a monster and thereby despicable, treacherous, and unfaithful to the tribe of the left-leaning.
By this logic, it seems to me, a man could do good things for forty years—no, he could do good things for fifty years—and then murder his perfectly innocent and nice mother-in-law by garroting her with piano wire. Since he’d done so many good things for fifty years, many more good things than the one bad thing he did, he ought to be exonerated entirely, pardoned for the murder, and go unpunished. After all, he’s a good guy.
2)Pardon me for a moment, but I think I hear distant roars and shouts of righteous outrage and incensed disapproval coming from wherever it is that the tribe of putative left-leaning reporters, commentators, broadcasters, columnists, analysts, and writers are gathered. In fact, I believe that they’re outraged. They’re shrieking and yelling at me to the effect that I can’t say what I just said, and the reason I can’t is that it’s up to each person what they choose or don’t choose to cover or investigate or write about or analyze. It’s their right to write about what they want to write about. It’s only a matter of opinion if I think they should cover one subject or another, and one person’s opinion is equal to another person’s opinion, and that’s that.
And, second, what is the one bad thing that Amy Goodman and her left-leaning media colleagues are doing? Answer: They’re ignoring, denying, suppressing, minimizing, or covering up the truth of 9/11.
Okay, say I. Listen up. It’s all right to be a news reporter, writer, investigator, or correspondent in 1941, based, perhaps, in London. It’s all right to investigate and report on what kinds of art Hitler did or didn’t allow or approve. It’s all right to investigate, to follow up on rumors about, and to report on Hitler’s quite kinky sexual habits and tastes. It’s all right to look as closely as possible at his uses of and attitudes toward summary execution by rifle fire for whatever he may see as cowardice in the field of battle. It’s all right to report on his obvious military error in wildly over-extending Germany’s military forces by sending them into Russia with the idea of seizing the oil fields east of Stalingrad and beyond the Volga.
And it’s okay, too, if you don’t feel like it, or if in your opinion it isn’t important—it’s okay, too, not to follow up on the increasing numbers of rumors and bits of not-yet-validated information that come your way about the existence of death camps in the eastern regions of Germany, in Poland, and in Austria, camps where it’s rumored that millions upon millions of people are being held in slavery, worked almost to death, and then gassed and incinerated. And it’s okay, too, because it’s your opinion whether a lead is worth pursuing or not, and you have a right to your opinion, it’s all right if you decide not to take a reportorial or investigative lick at the awful rumors—let’s say it’s now the summer of 1944—that hundred and hundreds of thousands of people are being taken from their homes, put on trains, and taken straight to mass-execution sites where they are shot en masse, then dumped into and incinerated by the thousands at a time in gargantuan and newly-designed furnaces.
It’s okay if you just don’t feel like investigating or reporting on that story. It’s okay, in fact, if you sit on it, deny it, suppress it.
Ditto 9/11. It’s okay if you skip that one. It’s your opinion, after all, when you’re a professional left-leaning journalist, that matters most, not enormous amounts of evidence, say, of something like society-changing, war-causing, international policy-altering atrocity.
And so we come at last to probably the greatest and most visible 9/11-denying monster of depravity in the whole tribe of putatively progressive and left-leaning media figures—Frank Rich, of the New York Times.
I’m becoming nearly consumed by the feeling of regret that I ever wrote A Nation Gone Blind. If I’d known how monstrously true the arguments in it were, I wonder if I would still have proceed with it, or dared to. And if I’d known that what the book said—that Americans can’t any longer see reality for themselves—was going to be true also in regard to 9/11 truth and thus true also in regard to the ongoing, treasonous, murderous, and rapacious successes one after another of the Bush-Cheney junta: Could I then have gone on writing the damn thing?
I don’t know. But I do know that Frank Rich—who may indeed be fully able to see reality for himself—seems to me the greatest and most successful liar and con-artist out of all of the tainted 9/11 suppressors in all of the tribes of all the putatively progressive and left-leaning journalists in all of the land.
What do people think when they think about Frank Rich? How do people read when they read Frank Rich? How can they read Frank Rich without, much too often, being just disgusted?
Well, I suppose one reason they can do it is that they have poor memories, or at least memories that aren’t incessantly on high alert to 9/11 subjects, references—or smears. You see, one of my problems with Frank Rich is that I can’t forget the genuinely awful piece he wrote a year or so ago, a piece I referred to in Part One of this essay and said I’d return to again here. The date was September 17, 2006, and the piece was “The Longer the War the Larger the Lies,” a title that prestidigitator Rich proves and exemplifies, before the very eyes of his easily-tricked readers, to be true not only of his own putative targets but every bit as true also of himself.
For any who don’t remember, or any who may not have read Part One of this essay, let me show again the paragraph and then the single following sentence from “Larger the Lies” that I quoted there.
You’d think that after having been caught concocting the scenario that took the nation to war in Iraq, the White House would mind the facts now. But this administration understands our culture all too well. This is a country where a cable news network (MSNBC) offers in-depth journalism about one of its anchors (Tucker Carlson) losing a prime-time dance contest and where conspiracy nuts have created a cottage industry of books and DVD’s by arguing that hijacked jets did not cause 9/11 and that the 9/11 commission was a cover-up. (The fictionalied “Path to 9/11,” supposedly based on the commission’s report, only advanced the nuts’ case.) If you’re a White House stuck in a quagmire in an election year, what’s the percentage in starting to tell the truth now? It’s better to game the system.And the first sentence of the next paragraph:
“The untruths,” says Rich, “are flying so fast that untangling them can be a full-time job.”The gratuitous condescension toward and infantile smears of the 9/11 truth movement here—and the ignoringof the often towering scholarship that drives it—obviously and clearly mark Rich as a leading member of the great tribe of deceivers. The arrogance is akin to the arrogance of the Bill O’Reilly-esque right-wingers in that it’s as though Rich is daring us to take his slummy, cheap, worn and putrid bait—“conspiracy nuts,” “cottage industry,” “the nuts’ case.”
The truth is that Rich, like Amy Goodman, could simply have gone on forever just covering up 9/11 truth by not talking about. But that wouldn’t be good enough for Rich. There wouldn’t be any sport in that. Instead, Rich does a “look-Ma-no-hands” job of powerfully signaling his disdain and contempt for it with a dog-that’s-just-peed tail-wag of condescension.
And thus we were alerted to the position of Rich and of the Times. Every reader of “Larger the Lies” who was also a follower of the extensive writing and scholarship on 9/11 truth knew now that Frank Rich, having so publicly and so smugly declared himself such, was an enemy—an enemy of the truth, an enemy of the republic, and an enemy of the people of the republic.
And something else he did—“The untruths are flying so fast that untangling them can be a full-time job”—whether intentionally or not I don’t know, was simultaneously to wave a flag, visible to many, invisible to more, revealing himself to be not a frequent flier but a frequent liar.
Very frequent, may I add. Anyone who follows Rich’s ever-snide and ever-entertaining work in the Times knows that even when he’s just telling the truth about one thing or another, he’s superbly cocky and condescending throughout—in a way that seems to say to readers, “here’s my arm around your shoulder; come on in as a privileged friend and join me in the salon, this wonderful dinner-party of superiority-and-scorn.”
No one I know does it better than Frank Rich does it. And that’s when he’s telling the truth. But when he sits down at the keyboard to play “The Hypocrisy Rag,” then he becomes positively a weasel: Deplorable, hateful, conscienceless, destructive.
And, there’s no question but that I must add, successful. The best in the business.
For an example of Rich as truth-teller, a look at his scorn-filled piece on Clarence Thomas of October 7, “Nobody Knows the Lynchings He’s Seen,” will suffice perfectly—as will his most recent piece, of this October 21, on the shameful and endemic corruption in the Iraq war (including the absolutely wrenching 2005 death of Col. Ted Westhusing), “Suicide Is Not Painless.”
In the much differently-toned Clarence Thomas piece, however, a person could almost think, “Poor Clarence Thomas, exposed to such barbs and slings, such silver-tongued scorn”—but the fact here again is that Thomas is getting the truth, whatever the dish it’s delivered in, and deservedly so, as I suspect most readers would agree.
But for the other Frank Rich, the one I can’t help but call the weasel Frank Rich, let’s hop back, say, to an example from May 6, 2007, called “Is Condi Hiding the Smoking Gun?” The subject is the question of who bears responsibility for the Iraq War. Herewith, our first example of the weasel at work:
The only White House figure to take any responsibility for the fiasco is the former Bush-Cheney pollster Matthew Dowd, who in March expressed remorse for furthering a war he now deems a mistake. For his belated act of conscience, he was promptly patronized as an incipient basket case by an administration flack, who attributed Mr. Dowd’s defection to “personal turmoil.” If that is what this vicious gang would do to a pollster, imagine what would befall Colin Powell if he spoke out. Nonetheless, Mr. Powell should summon the guts to do so. Until there is accountability for the major architects and perpetrators of the Iraq war, the quagmire will deepen. A tragedy of this scale demands a full accounting, not to mention a catharsis.
Rich once again proves his bona fides as a faithful member of the Amy Goodman-esque “left-leaning progressive” tribe. He does this through phrases like “this vicious gang” for the Bush administration and “the fiasco” for the Iraq war. Meanwhile, “administration flack” offers an allusion to the conventional red herring in the mainstream media that “incompetence” is really what’s the trouble with “this vicious gang.” If you’re troubled by the question of how “incompetence” can be the catalyst that creates a “vicious” gang, it’s better not to worry about it. When Rich is in weasel-mode, it doesn’t pay to concern yourself with this kind of contradiction, since its real purpose is to keep you distracted from the fact that what you’re getting, in weasel-mode, isn’t the real truth. Are these guys Abbot and Costello bunglers, or are they vicious criminals? You’re not going to find the answer in Rich’s weasel-mode, though you could easily find it in, say, this unusual interview with the peerless Francis A. Boyle, or in this powerful essay by a simple, actual, everyday American who, unlike Rich, speaks plain English instead of “CorpoMedia,” the language that’s spoken by those in all the mainstream media—that is, in the the corpo-tribes—a language that leaks its way into Frank Rich’s columns when he’s in the writing mode—i.e.weasel—that serves him so well by seeming to tell the truth while not telling the truth..
Until there is accountability for the major architects and perpetrators of the Iraq war, the quagmire will deepen. A tragedy of this scale demands a full accounting, not to mention a catharsis.This is grand language, but more is left out of it than put in. If a person asks just how “accountability” for a “tragedy of this scale” will be brought about, he or she comes up empty. Who are “the major architects and perpetrators” of the war whose accountability alone can keep the “quagmire” from “deepening”? The grandeur continues with “tragedy,” “demands,” “full accounting,” and “catharsis,” a word (Rich is the best in the business) neatly echoing “tragedy.”
But back to getting answers. When Rich is in weasel-mode, the question isn’t only what the columnist is thinking, but it’s also where he is thinking. For example, looking “for the major architects and perpetrators of the Iraq war,” he turns to—well, to Condi Rice, whose appearance “on three Sunday shows. . . raised more questions than they answered.” Poor Condi. As she takes the heat—sort of—I’m interested in asking the question of where Frank Rich isn’t looking for the “major architects and perpetrators.” If he’s serious, after all, he has to look where he’s not looking and where he will not look—and that’s at 9/11.
Or even before 9/11. It’s interesting to take a look at this video, where Ron Suskind and Secretary of the Treasury Paul O’Neill show clearly that the Iraq project was under way at least eight months before 9/11. So why won’t Frank Rich look there? Why won’t he look back in 2000, or even before 2000?
Who might he turn up as the “major architects and perpetrators” if Rich were to look back there? Or if he were to look at 9/11, and not just look at it but look at the truth of it? That, however will not happen. One is reminded—yes—of Amy Goodman, who, in Carolyn Baker’s words, “will not, absolutely will not, deal with 9/11.” It looks to me as those a parallel statement can convincingly be made about Frank Rich.
And so the question becomes this: Is Rich really looking for the “major architects and perpetrators”? Does he really think that “A tragedy of this scale demands a full accounting”? Does he really want, and is he really pushing to bring about, a “catharsis”?
Or—making good use of weasel-mode—is he just saying so?Is he just making it look that way for certain reasons of his own?
Big questions, I agree, and maybe even seemingly nasty ones, and yet, to my own way of thinking, extraordinarily important ones. In any case, let’s hypothesize that what we’re seeing here is not true and authentic writing, but weasel-writing. That is, let’s hypothesize that we’re reading a passage where a liar by omission and a master of cover-up and suppression uses a stern and righteous voice to castigate another liar and suppressor of the very same kind.
Let’s do that and see what happens.
Thus Ms. Rice was dispatched to three Sunday shows last weekend to bat away Mr. Tenet’s book before “60 Minutes” broadcast its interview with him that night. But in each appearance her statements raised more questions than they answered. She was persistently at odds with the record, not just the record as spun by Mr. Tenet but also the public record. She must be held to a higher standard—a k a the truth—before she too jumps ship.
The rolling timbre and cadence are astonishing—“higher standard,” “the truth”—as the hypocrisy of one liar castigating another for the identical sin rises and rises to a high melodrama, righteous liar number one raising ever higher his voice of the good, the right, and the true as he comes nearer the moment when his spear-tip will pierce the very heart of Condi, liar number two:
Ms. Rice’s latest canard wasn’t an improvisation; it was a scripted set-up for the president’s outrageous statement three days later. “The decision we face in Iraq,” Mr. Bush said Wednesday, “is not whether we ought to take sides in a civil war, it’s whether we stay in the fight against the same international terrorist network that attacked us on 9/11.” Such statements about the present in Iraq are no less deceptive—and no less damaging to our national interest—than the lies about uranium and Qaeda-9/11 connections told in 2002-3. This country needs facts, not fiction, to make its decisions about the endgame of the war, just as it needed (but didn’t get) facts when we went to war in the first place. To settle for less is to make the same tragic error twice.
So 9/11, mentioned in passing, remains shrouded and buried under great drifts of corpo-media lies, distortions, smears, omissions—while Adjutant to the Liar in Chief, in the very act of making up his own fictions, dares to say that “This country needs facts, not fiction,” and that “To settle for less is to make the same tragic error twice.”
The hypocrisy shines as bright as the gleaming armor of Satan preening in Heaven.
And on it goes. To secure himself a place in the hearts of his audience, Rich gives every impression of outrage at the “vicious” Bush-Cheney administration and its dread policies—and at the same time he hides and denies and suppresses and smears the one true and certain thing that could in actuality be brought forth—into impeachment and into court—in order to dismantle, disassemble, and replace the junta he claims so much to despise. The gorge rises again and again for the careful reader of Frank Rich. Take “Don’t Laugh at Michael Chertoff” from July 15, 2007, and ask yourself exactly what other person besides Bush these words are most perfectly applicable to:
This president is never one to let facts get in the way of a political agenda.
Or let’s look at a combination of Richian methods, places where the master puts the great lie of omission together with its equally putrid twin, the lie of commission. A quick trip back to August 12, 2007, and “Shuffling Off to Crawford, 2007 Edition” will give us a look.
The subject? This time it’s the junta’s way of shamelessly spinning false or pitiable or shocking things—the Jessica Lynch fraud-circus, the Pat Tillman murder, the Daniel Pearl beheading—in order to exploit them for publicity or propaganda benefiting the junta itself.
A good subject. In fact, a great subject—a subject with a very, very great deal of power and leverage in it with potential for doing real damage to a treasonous and criminal administration that has already killed more than a million people outright in this Iraq war, stands to kill many millions more if only through the use of depleted uranium in ammunition, and, domestically, has lost one entire American city, has cut down whole swaths of previously guaranteed Constitutional rights, from the right to habeas corpus to the right to be free from torture and the right “of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.”
And more. And potentially worse.
So what exactly will the master do with the subject? First, as usual, he’ll condemn the junta as shameless and vile, thereby snuggling up good and tight with his presumably left-leaning and progressive readership:
But nothing is out of bounds for a government that puts the darkest arts of politics and public relations above even the exigencies of war.
And then? Well, and then he’ll behave in precisely the same way as the “vicious gang” he claims to be attacking. That is, he’ll lie by commission and he’ll do so for the same purpose that 9/11 itself was created—for the purpose of frightening people:
Now that the administration is winding down and the Qaeda threat is at its scariest since 2001, one might hope that such [publicity and propaganda] stunts would cease. Indeed, two of the White House’s most accomplished artificial-reality Imagineers both left their jobs last month. . .
The lie of commission is the part about “the Qaeda threat,” whereby Rich casually drops a piece of the very propaganda he claims so strenuously to oppose. The lies of omission are the leaving out of the actual and simple truth that “the Qaeda,” to use Rich’s two-language coinage, itself a creation of the United States, is not “at its scariest since 2001,” nor was al Qaeda, as the weasel yet again implies, either the propellant or the executor of 9/11.
What does it matter? Propounding these lies, both kinds, is the purpose of the column, just as the purpose of it is, as shown before, to imitate the enemy’s practices while simultaneously condemning the enemy’s practices. And so, here again, after approving of the departure of one of the junta’s propaganda agents, the weasel writes:
But while Mr. Feaver and his doomed effort to substitute propaganda for action may now be gone, the White House’s public relations strategies for the war, far from waning, are again gathering steam, to America’s peril.
Chalk up another point for the Bushiscti, who also want us scared and want us to stay scared. Now, exactly why the Weasel should want us to remain in this same condition, terrorized and in “peril,” is a question that will lead us to the very darkest recesses of Weaseldom and to a consideration of what the fuel is that actually makes Weaseldom continue on its road of double agency, faultless hypocrisy, and impeccably skilled lying—so that, in the end, the weasel-writer writes for and serves not we the people but them the Bushiscti, however deluded and misled on this point Weasel’s poor audience of left-leaving progressives who can’t read very well may be.
The Bushisctis’ war policies do put us in peril, though less certain is that we’re equally endangered by the Bushisctis’ “public relations strategies for the war.” Either way, if anyone can come up with a convincing—repeat, convincing—argument that the Weasel is any less interested in scaring his audience than the Bushiscti are in scaring theirs, I hope that person will let me know about it. To wit, the closing lines of “Shuffling Off to Crawford,” replete with frightening lie upon frightening lie, as in “remains determined to strike in America” or “The enemy that did attack us six years ago” or “is likely to persist in its nasty habit,” all sweetened with one perfect spoonful of hypocrisy-honey in the slam at “White House fictions,” as if we ourselves, here, weren’t reading virtually a festival of fictions:
And so the president, firm in his resolve against “Al Qaeda in Iraq,” heads toward another August break in Crawford while Al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan remains determined to strike in America. No one can doubt Mr. Bush’s triumph in the P.R. war: There are more American troops than ever mired in Iraq, sent there by a fresh round of White House fictions. And the real war? The enemy that did attack us six years ago, sad to say, is likely to persist in its nasty habit of operating in the reality-based world that our president disdains.
A steady diet of scare-mongering and deceit, then, all under the perfected disguise of a pious anti-Bushiscti stance presumed to be in keeping with what his left-leaning “base” expects and wants. Presumed to be. Hypocrisy on this level and hypocrisy sustained at this level, however genius-driven, can be the work only of the truly prostituted and/or, in this case, the truly criminal. If the New York Times suddenly weren’t interested above all other things on earth in keeping the truth of 9/11 a buried secret so as to permit the Bushiscti to continue its projects, would the Weasel then, too, suddenly be similarly uninterested? Would his professionalism as a prostitute allow him—quick as a click of the fingers—to turn so readily away from servicing the Bushistci-Times and the Times-Bushiscti and toward serving, say, the Constitution of the United States?
We may never know. For now, certainly, The Weasel-and-Disguise-Artist par excellence is just what the Times-doctor ordered, as, week after week, the shameless pandering to the White House and the shameless lying to the “base” goes on while the not-very-good-at-reading base lap it all up as kittens would milk. Take September 16, 2007, for example, and Rich’s riffs on the General Petraeus dust-up (“Will the Democrats Betray Us?”).
How does it go? Well, again, first come the lies in service of terror—in the service, that is, of our terror, produced by our terrorists: “On the sixth anniversary of the day that did not change everything, General Petraeus couldn’t say we are safer because he knows we are not.”
The day that “did not change everything”? Let it go. More important is the bit about General Petraeus not saying we’re safer “because he knows we are not.” Does he know we’re not? Says who? The truth is that the general, as the Weasel himself knows full well because he just quoted it, said something quite different. What Petraeus actually said was, as quoted by Rich and as cited in the Washington Post, “Sir, I don’t know, actually”, hardly the same thing as “no.” But then again, The Weasel’s purpose, like the Times’s, is to scare us and to keep us scared, to make us ignorant and to keep us ignorant.
And then, after the scare tactic hors d’oeuvre come the varied courses of lies and hypocrisies. Of the varying proposals regarding time-plans for and levels of troop withdrawal, the Weasel pulls a swifty by saying that
Every one of these plans is academic anyway as long as Mr. Bush has a veto pen.
And how might that veto pen be taken away from the Fascistic Boy? Well, a bit of truth-telling about 9/11 and the administration’s deep complicity in it would go quite a distance toward effecting that pen-snatch. But truth-telling isn’t on the Weasel’s agenda any more than it’s on his john’s agenda. And his john’s agenda is the Weasel’s agenda, delivered in sanctimonious hypocrisy syruped over more dishes of lies. The next masterpiece of weaselly sentences:
The security of America is more important—dare one say it?—than trying to outpander one another in Iowa and New Hampshire.
And if the security of America really is important—at all important—what do you say we do something about it? But no, no, no—that’s not our purpose. Our purpose is to keep the neocon fascist movement going, in obedience to the Times’s corpo-owners, while at the same time keeping that particular and absolutely shameful—treasonable—truth hidden from the paper’s “base.” Let those with delicate stomachs not read this, our last, citation of the sheerest hypocrisy from the Weasel’s Petraeus piece:
Our national security can’t be held hostage indefinitely to a president’s narcissistic need to compound his errors rather than admit them.
The worst is still to come, I’m afraid, and it’s deserving of lengthier treatment than it’s going to get here. I tire and weaken under the assault of so much deceit, hypocrisy, duplicity, complicity, criminality, and sheer traitorousness. Rich goes for the jackpot with the recent (October 14, 2007) column that’s titled “The ‘Good Germans’ Among Us.”
It’s about torture, about the war in Iraq, about the lies that made the war in Iraq possible, and about “our” guilt in not having done enough—like the good Germans who failed similarly—to oppose the Bush-Cheney administration in its war-mongering.
The opening sentence:
“Bush lies” doesn’t cut it anymore. It’s time to confront the darker reality that we are lying to ourselves.You might hope that that’s really a confession and that it’s therefore going to lead to some real, actual truth. But you’ll hope in vain. Once again, Rich hides behind every trick in his satanic playbook of deceits and dodges.
The fear, terror, anxiety are again dished out in big revolting heaps as Rich notes that
Andrew Sullivan, once a Bush cheerleader, observed last weekend in The Sunday Times of London, America’s “enhanced interrogation” techniques have a grotesque provenance: “Verschärfte Vernehmung, enhanced or intensified interrogation, was the exact term innovated by the Gestapo to describe what became known as the ‘third degree.’ It left no marks. It included hypothermia, stress positions and long-time sleep deprivation.”
There’s terror for you. We’ve become the Fourth Reich, and old schoolroom words have nothing in them but vile pain and a searingly grotesque sense of loss—“My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.”
Yes, but what I want to know—and I do know in good part—is how our country degenerated into such a disgusting, repellant, criminal state. And how it can be raised up again out of that state.
Am I going to find out such things from Frank Rich? No. What’s going to happen is this: 1) he’s going to scare me; 2) he’s going to blame me; 3) he’s going to ignore the one truth that could uninstall the neocons—or that could have uninstalled them; 4) he’s going to red herring us by dwelling on a secondary subject—the war—in order to hide the primary and potentially war-ending subject of 9/11, the root and origin (in logistical terms) of all the cancers that have followed; 5) he’s going to pile one piety onto another, one hypocrisy upon another, until the reader—the reader who can read—is sickened unto death; and 6) then, that damage all done, the status quo once again assured, and the utterly fraudulent mask of Rich as an anti-Bush left-leaner and “progressive” once more glued firmly in place, he will 7) take his repulsive and sanctimonious and hypocritical leave.
Do you want to watch some of this little drama of pure ugliness? Here’s a bit of purest comedy:
Call me cynical, but when Laura Bush spoke up last week about the human rights atrocities in Burma, it seemed less an act of selfless humanitarianism than another administration maneuver to change the subject from its own abuses.Hilarious!! Who on earth would ever even think of calling Frank Rich cynical? Ha!! The very thought!! If this really were theater—well, it obviously is theater, every bit of it, but it if were performed in a theater—the audience at this point would be out of their seats and rolling in the you-know-what.
That’s where I am, I know.And as I laugh and roll, I’m also sobbing bitter tears, not to mention gasping in despair, shame, and revulsion.
The shame, the shame, the shame, the shame. Shame at Bush, at Cheney, at Abu Ghraib, shame at being an American, shame at being a nation of torturers, mass murderers, liars, criminals—and hypocrites.
Shame at being unable to use the truth against the enemies and traitors now ruling us. And anger at the lying media that, so far, have made using that truth to restore both freedom and republic an impossibility. So massive is their lying, so unified and so base and so groveling is their submission to the corpo-fascist ownership and “leader” ship that truth has all but drained out of the nation like blood out of Caesar’s body, so that only lies remain, lies like the maggots inside the corpse, lies that will hatch out into the swarms of more and greater lies, bringing more death, more loss, more despair, more putrescence, more evil.
“We asked few questions” in the run-up to the war intones the Weasel, and I say to the Weasel, “Speak for yourself, Weasel, and don’t speak for me.”
“It was always the White House’s plan to coax us into a blissful ignorance about the war,” intones the Weasel, and I ask of the Weasel, “And exactly who ‘always had a plan to coax us into a blissful ignorance’ about 9/11—eh, Weasel, eh?”
“Our humanity has been compromised by those who use Gestapo tactics in our war,” intones the Weasel, and I ask of the Weasel, “Oh, so our humanity has been compromised, has it, by our becoming a torture-state, a Gestapo-state? Well my, my, that’s certainly tragic and appalling. But isn’t there something we could do about this dehumanization of our state, Weasel? Isn’t there some means toward a remedy, Weasel? Weasel? Couldn’t we all agree to tell not just the truth but also the whole truth? What do you say to that, Weasel? Weasel?”
Into the silence the Weasel, himself the best German of all, intones, “It’s up to us to wake up our somnambulant Congress to challenge administration policy every day. Let the war’s last supporters filibuster all night if they want to. There is nothing left to lose except whatever remains of our country’s good name.” And I say to the Weasel, oh, it’s up to us, you say? And who, exactly, is this us, Weasel? Are you part of this we, part of this us? And so what exactly are you going to do, Weasel? Do you think you’re going to tell the truth?
“Are you going to ‘wake up our somnambulant Congress to challenge administration policy every day,’ Weasel? I haven’t seen you doing that. I haven’t heard you doing that. I haven’t read you doing that. What are you going to do, Weasel? Are you going to continue lying?
“And let’s go a bit further. Is the truth really that the Congress is ‘somnambulant,’ Weasel? Is that the right word? Why has no one in Congress opposed the junta, why have they passed one piece of legislation after another giving away to the junta powers of tyranny and of oppression and of the most brutal crimes against humanity? Why have they done nothing to prevent this? Is it really because they’re sleep-walking, Weasel?
“No, it’s not because they’re ‘somnambulant,’ is it. I know that you know that that’s not it, don’t you? It’s because they’ve been craven for so long, they’ve been bought for so long—like you, Weasel—that at first they were powerless to oppose their corpo-owners, and then, after the great and stupendous fraud of 9/11, they quickly became afraid to speak the truth, say the truth, or to vote for the truth for fear they would seem ‘unpatriotic’ and soft on the fraudulent, fictional, pretend, false ‘enemy’ that the junta had now brought into ‘existence.’ They were afraid of losing their constituencies by looking soft on the pure fiction of “terrorism,” and so they voted for Patriot Act I and Patriot Act II, foolish, blind, insane votes all in the grip of a fear that had been created by a fictional attack that was blamed on a fictional enemy against which non-whom a very real albeit grotesquely criminal war was then begun. And then—don’t you think this is the way it went, Weasel?—the ‘somnambulant’ Congress found that it had been caught, trapped, and enclosed, imprisoned by the very pieces of legislation that they themselves, in stupidity, fear, and blindness, had passed—and so now they’re not sleep-walking, Weasel, but they’re exactly where they’ve been put by the likes of you, who have refused again and again to speak, say, or write the truth about who is accountable for what and who is guilty of what, so that now the same laws that brought about the torture and fake trial and conviction to life imprisonment of an absolutely and incontrovertibly innocent American citizen can be used to bring about the torture and fake trial and conviction to life imprisonment, or worse, of anyone in the entire nation that the junta chooses to so punish, including members of Congress if they—just perhaps—happen to vote against the junta or stand in the way of the junta, or expose the ugly, withering, absolute truth about the junta so that they keep their mouths shut, hoping against hope that time will pass and something different will come about and will absolve them of their blood-guilt, a blood-guilt just like yours, Weasel, the blood-guilt and betrayal of the republic and of the people, along meanwhile with being complicit in the destruction of the good that might once have been in all those who now have joined the corpo-masters and, like you, have agreed to lie, to live in lying, and to live by lying.
“These crimes are grave crimes, Weasel, these crimes are enormous crimes, and many others are guilty of them just as you are guilty of them, your colleagues in conspiracy and cover-up and crime like Jacob Weisberg and Amy Goodman and David Corn and Nicholas Lemann and Christopher Hayes and Alexander Cockburn and Norman Solomon and Matthew Rothschild and Greg Palast and more.
“Do you think all those people have become weasels like you and have remained weasels like you—well, because they’re also somnambulant? No, even you would never accuse your own colleagues of being sleep-walkers. If you did call them sleep-walkers, the logic would turn straight back on you and prove you the same thing, a 9/11 sleep-walker. No, there’s something else, isn’t there. Way back in the beginning, you were told to lie about 9/11, told either directly or “told” by obvious hints, told by the corpo-masters. And then after some of the rotten fruits of an unexposed 9/11 began sliming down to the ground, other reasons for keeping mum began appearing. Read this, by Sheila Samples, especially here:
Perhaps this act is one reason Democrats remain so subservient. Right up front, in Section 948a(2), Bush has the empirical right to decide who is a “lawful enemy combatant.” If you are a “member of the regular forces of a State party engaged in hostilities against the United States,” or even a “member of a volunteer corps or organized resistance movement and you wear a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance,” Bush has the power to decide you are not only hostile but an enemy combatant.And Bush grows bolder with each victory. He’s determined to have no restraints placed upon him in any area. Immediately upon ramming through the USA Patriot Act just six weeks after 9-11, the administration went on a spree of sweeping up and detaining thousands of citizens without charges and no access to counsel. This act was, and continues to be, the greatest threat to American liberties in our history. It is buoyed by Bush’s Military Commissions Act of 2006, or “no consequences torture bill,” giving himself the empirical right to torture anyone he views as a “terror suspect.”
Or how about when she says this, showing that when she wants to, she can get a perfect ten in the Frank Rich style contest:
Is it any wonder that legislators on both sides of the aisle recoil and beat a fast retreat when they look up and see Bush, caught up in the wild influences of his own idiotic imagination, running at them with a lighted firecracker in each hand? Is anyone surprised that Bush so easily got them to agree to his Protect America Act of 2007, which allows the continued secret collection of Americans’ phone calls and e-mails with no oversight. . . no checks. . . no balances?And so there’s what it’s come to. Pelosi is afraid. That’s why she took impeachment off the table, do you suppose? That was the quid pro quo—do or die, very simple. Scholars will find out someday, but what does even the suggestion say about how things have developed because you and your colleagues kept on lying about 9/11, keeping the people’s one power punch under covers, protecting the fascisti, making sure the road was kept clear for them so they could mess up the Constitution and pass the vile bills they’ve passed—tell me, how many of your colleagues in crime and secrecy and deceit are afraid? I know that I’m afraid, thanks to the traitorous work you and the many, many likes of you have done. You and the others in the conspiracy of silence and secrecy and cover-up and distortion and disinformation, you’re the ones who have enabled and propelled the junta so that by now it may be altogether too late to stop them from the still further and ever more mad and heinous crimes they plan.
“Too late because of people like you, Weasel. Are you afraid? Are you also afraid, Weasel? Weasel? Are you?”
There’s more. There’s worse. About the Weasel, about all the corpo-weasels, and worst of all about the republic—the blood it’s losing, has already lost, and with its blood its strength, bringing it already near the point of death, all thanks to the traitors in our house.
There’s more. There’s worse. But the night is long, the hour late, and we must rest.
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