Thursday, October 27, 2005

Enumerate and substantiate

David Fiderer does what I like: he enumerates and he substantiates.

In his recent Huffington Post column, "The Nobel Prize and Russert's Lies," Fiderer systematically reviews how the media -- in particular, Tim Russert -- promoted the Bush Administration's line that inspections for WMDs in Iraq would never work.
Two-and-a-half years before Mohamed ElBaradei and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) won the Nobel Peace Prize, friends of the Administration were trashing them in the media. Pushing for war with Iraq, these hawks insisted that inspections don’t work. In early March 2003, Tim Russert pushed their case further, by repeating lies to “prove” inspections don’t work. Those lies speak volumes about media coverage of the WMD story then and now.
Fiderer identifies five key reasons to believe that Russert lied, not misspoke, about the role of weapons inspections in Iraq -- and why Americans should not accept, as Russert suggests, that "[i]f it was a mistake, it was an honest mistake.”

Here is the critical primary falsehood.
Russert’s lie: (repeated three times) Inspectors never found any nuclear weapons program in Iraq until 1995, when Saddam’s son-in-law defected and revealed secret nuclear program unknown to the inspectors. It was sheer luck, not the inspections, that kept Saddam from building 21 nuclear bombs by 2003.
And here is the documented truth.
The truth: After the Persian Gulf War in 1991, the first intrusive inspections in Iraq led to discovery and destruction Saddam’s remaining nuclear weapons program. In 1995, Saddam’s son-in-law revealed a second crash nuclear program (using a fatally flawed design) that U.S. bombs smashed during the Persian Gulf War, prior to the inspectors’ arrival. Before 1991, Iraq relied on European technicians, equipment and manufacturing expertise for its nuclear weapons program, (which, after seven years, remained unsuccessful.) Lacking foreign assistance thereafter, Iraq remained incapable of building any nuclear device. [emph added]
Go read Fiderer's column for his full analysis of Russert's deception. Here's a skeletal summation.
Five different reasons to believe that Russert lied instead of misspoke

Reason 1: The falsehood was blatantly obvious.

Reason 2: To prove his false assertions, Russert misquoted both himself and his guest on Meet the Press.

Reason 3: The falsehood was repeated on two successive programs.

Reason 4: The primary falsehood is supported by other falsehoods.

Reason 5: To convey the false message, a single question was prefaced with a succession of falsehoods.
On live television, this puts the respondent at a disadvantage, reducing the odds that Russert would be corrected with facts.
Reason No. 5 is a gem: Never trust talkingheads who frontload their "questions" with bullshit.


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