Howling Dog Graphic
Point. Click. Search.

Contents: Archives:

Search this weblog
Search WWW
Howler Graphic
by Bob Somerby
E-mail This Page
Socrates Reads Graphic
A companion site.

Site maintained by Allegro Web Communications, comments to Marc.

Howler Banner Graphic
Caveat lector

POSTPONEMENT! We postpone our series to bring you non-news about the attack on Iraq:


THE NEWS FROM PAGE EIGHTEEN: It’s the kind of news that makes page A18. In this morning’s Washington Post, Dana Priest pens an article headlined “Harsh Iraqi Reaction Expected.” At the Post, this is not front-page news:

PRIEST (pgh 1): Faced with a U.S. invasion of Iraq, President Saddam Hussein would likely launch missile and terrorist attacks against Israel and U.S. facilities abroad, preemptive strikes against the Kurds in the north, and a “scorched-earth strategy” in Iraq “significant enough to stop a military advance,” the Defense Department’s top intelligence official said yesterday.

(pgh 2) Vice Adm. Lowell E. Jacoby, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, told the Senate intelligence committee that he expects Hussein would destroy Iraq’s food and water supplies, and its transportation, energy and other infrastructure, creating a humanitarian disaster that would occupy the attention of U.S. troops trying to reach Baghdad and Iraqi military units.

Have the American people had the chance to judge the downside to invasion? There has been little effort to discuss or debate the possible consequences of this action. Indeed, when the Post gave two paragraphs to Jacoby’s statement, it outdid all competitors nationwide. Using Nexis, we can find no other paper that gave any coverage to Jacoby’s prediction.

But then, this topic has received little coverage in the past year. All the way back on January 22, 2002, Richard Perle and Leon Fuerth debated Iraq at the Council on Foreign Relations. Perle—the Bush Admin’s “Prince of Darkness”—and Fuerth—foreign policy honcho to Gore—seemed to agree that military action should be taken against Iraq. (Fuerth argued later rather than sooner; Perle accused Fuerth of pussy-footin’ fakery.) But, though Perle and Fuerth agreed on the need for action, the men agreed on something else too; they drew an astonishing picture of the war which would result throughout the region. Their debate received almost no coverage in the press, and we couldn’t find a transcript of it when we searched last week. No transcript seems to be available at the CFR’s maddening website. They may know how to run the world, but they’re not good at running search engines.

Is the public being kept barefoot and happy? Today’s reports on Osama’s new tape present an interesting portrait of news management. At the war-doubting New York Times, Neil MacFarquhar goes into detail about Osama’s dissing of Saddam. At the war-ready Washington Post, the news report about the tape provides no hint of Osama’s bad attitude. When Osama calls Saddam a “socialist apostate” running a “pagan government,” the Post’s readers don’t need to know.

Are you surprised that they’ll spin you about Kerry’s character when they’re even willing to spin you on this? What will happen when invasion occurs? Here at THE HOWLER, we simply don’t know. What, us worry? We’re barefoot and happy. We’ll find out when the conduct occurs.

BRIT MILLIONAIRE: Then there’s this morning’s good news. “The Fox News Channel has struck a deal to renew the contract of Brit Hume,” the Times says. “One person close to the negotiations for the agreement said Mr. Hume would be paid nearly $8 million during the course of his contract,” which runs through 2005. Hume said his job at Fox News was “the best job I’ve ever had.”

Monday night, we got a chance to see what Hume gets paid for. Here he was on Special Report, fair and balanced as always:

HUME: A top strategist for Al Gore’s 2000 president campaign says the Gore camp deliberately caused a traffic jam on a major artery in southern New Hampshire on primary day that year to keep Bill Bradley voters away from the polls. The disclosure came from Gore strategist Michael Whouley, who said the Gore team had seen exit polls indicating a large number of independents, many who live in the up scale suburbs, were turning out to vote for Bradley.

So, they organized a caravan to clog traffic on Interstate 23 late in the day to keep potential Bradley voters away from voting places. The disclosure was made at a Harvard symposium and picked up first by the “Boston Phoenix.”

To anyone living on the planet, this story must have seemed a bit odd. But it provided a pleasing tale of Gore’s flawed character for thigh-rubbing FNC viewers.

Hume even got one part semi-right. On February 5, the Phoenix did report that “the Gore team organized a caravan to clog highway I-93 with traffic so as to discourage potential Bradley voters from getting to the polls.” And the paper’s Seth Gitell did attribute the story to Whouley. “Michael Whouley, a chief Gore strategist, recounted the Gore team’s Election Day field efforts at a Harvard Kennedy School Institute of Politics symposium…He knocked down the rumor that they considered overturning an 18-wheeler to clog up traffic.”

Of course, if you think the Gore campaign “considered overturning an 18-wheeler to clog up traffic,” you don’t belong anywhere near a newspaper—and you shouldn’t be bling-blinging eight million bucks from a major TV news operation. And in fact, long before Hume took the tale on the air, Whouley denied the kooky story. Here’s part of John DiStaso’s report from Saturday’s Manchester Union-Leader:

DISTASO: “This is craziness,” Whouley told The Union Leader yesterday. He said Gore’s motorcade may have tied up traffic for “10 or 15 minutes,” but there was no organized effort.

Whouley supplied The Union Leader with a passage from the symposium, which, he said, was held about a year ago, from the book “Campaign for President 2000.”

According to the transcript, he told the symposium, “There was actually a rumor that we would try to turn over an 18-wheel truck on I-93 so the liberal-minded, independent voters in New Hampshire who worked the (Route) 128 corridor wouldn't be able to get back to vote.”

The transcript notes “Laughter.”

Whouley continued, “If we could guarantee that no one would have been hurt, that would have happened.” The transcript again notes “Laughter.”

Whouley said yesterday, “It was a joke! We certainly did not do that.”

Whouley’s denial was reported on Monday morning in The Hotline, the Bible of Washington news producers. But Hume made no mention of Whouley’s denial when he took the cracked tale on the air.

The good news? Brit Hume gets his $8 million. And Fox News viewers, stroking their thighs, once again are allowed to decide.

The Daily update

A FABULIST TABULIST: On Monday, Slate tabulist Mickey Kaus declared that John Kerry displayed his “gross characterological deficiencies” when he “zig-zagged opportunistically on the dividend taxation issue.” Here was the Kaus formulation:

KAUS: Kerry called for “ending the double taxation of dividends” in his major December economic speech and then denounced President Bush’s plan, which ends the double taxation of dividends, for creating ‘unaffordable new tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans.”
The excitable blogger seemed to think he had found a disturbing contradiction. And the blogger was especially troubled, because Big John’s “flip-flop” completed the Rule of Three. “Now the press has three recent examples of Kerry flip-flops,” the excited man said. “And every reporter knows if you have three examples you have a trend.”

Of course, as we pointed out, there is no contradiction between 1) wanting to end “double taxation” on dividends and 2) complaining about the Bush tax cuts. Yesterday, Alan Greenspan did so; Greenspan said he supported the Bush dividends plan, but he also said it would have to be done in a way that was revenue-neutral (in a way that was “affordable”). Kerry would add that it had to be done in a way that was rich-versus-poor-neutral. But Greenspan didn’t contradict himself. Neither, of course, did Vile Kerry.

Of course, Kaus still can play the Jewish card, and soon he may worry that the vile man fooled us about his health (more tomorrow). And then there’s always that overturned truck. After all, Michael Whouley now works for John Kerry.