More Big Picturing
An addendum to Karl’s post, courtesy Major General James E. Simmons, Deputy Commanding General for Support of Multi-National Forces, Iraq, [JS] who was yesterday interviewed by Hugh Hewitt [HH]. Here’s what he has to say about conditions in Basra, which we’ve been told by the mainstream press has been overtaken by radicals in the vacuum left behind by a British force withdrawal:
JS: [Those reports] are not accurate, and that is a fabrication at best. This was a planned turnover of the Palace and the PJCC to Iraqi control, to the Iraqi legitimate government forces. It was done to standard with, and to well-trained, well-equipped Iraqi Security Forces. There were some peaceful demonstrations that were celebratory in nature, but at no time was any Coalition forces threatened, and the local Iraqi officials under General Mohan, kept a good handle on the situation in Basra.
HH: So what is the situation then in Basra, because that Washington Post story made it sound like the Wild West without the saloons.
JS: It was a demonstration of OMS, or Shia people there that were celebrating, to the best of my knowledge, the return of an Iraqi landmark to the Iraqi government.
Let’s keep gathering these examples up, I say.
And when we’re done, we can put together our own history of the media’s role in pressuring foreign policy.
In yesterday’s post, Karl noted that he was loath to believe in any kind of media conspiracy, other than one born out of ideological sympathies, selection bias, market forces, and so on.
To a large extent, he’s right: I doubt we’d be able to turn up any clandestine meetings in dimly-lit parking garages between the editors of, say, the NYT and LAT, in which they discuss plans for a propaganda war in the kind of cryptographic signals generally reserved for bathroom cruisers and those on the radical fringe of the Deaf Movement.
Still, I think there are certain elements of an actual conspiracy here that shouldn’t be overlooked — most specifically, a kind of institutional willingness to repeat each other’s debunked stories in an effort to turn certain narratives, through repetition, into received truths.
On the one hand, such a thing is, of course, just another manifestation of professional laziness, seasoned with a healthy dose of the kind of ego gratification that comes with being self-annoited “information gatekeepers.” But when it is done knowingly — rather than merely out of some reflexive instinct deep within the progressive hive mind — it rises to the level of propaganda, and intentionally deployed propaganda at that.
The motive for such a thing may be similar to the one I ascribed to race-based affirmative action proponents who would continue to advocate for the program even were it to be exposed as having made things worse: their identities are so tied up in their beliefs, and they’ve done so much to demonize those who don’t share (or who have the audacity to question) those beliefs, that any change of course would mean, necessarily, that they’ve become that which they have long told us we should despise.
Whatever the reasons, however — be it legitimate skepticism or ideological wish fulfillment made manifest through sheer will — those who engage in intentional misrepresenting of facts in the service of an agenda are engaging in behavior that can best be described as collusive. And taken together, these individual actors — having been stamped out of the same ideological molds by schools of journalism — form a kind of de facto conspiracy, one that I’m sure they are dimly aware of, though they would prefer we called what they were engaged in advocacy.
Serving larger Truths.
Which, come to think of it, has the faith-based trappings and missionary zeal of certain religious denominations.