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I was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator and am now a journalist. I am the author of three New York Times bestselling books -- "How Would a Patriot Act" (a critique of Bush executive power theories), "Tragic Legacy" (documenting the Bush legacy), and With Liberty and Justice for Some (critiquing America's two-tiered justice system and the collapse of the rule of law for its political and financial elites). My fifth book - No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA and the US Surveillance State - will be released on April 29, 2014 by Holt/Metropolitan.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Instapundit's brave and principled stand for truth and accuracy.

By Blue Texan (Updated below) (Updated again)

By Blue Texan -- Glenn Reynolds aka "Mobius Dick" continued his tedious campaign against the free press today. Reflexive hostility to the press is a favorite staple of right wingers, so it's no surprise that this is an ongoing obsession of his. Since the war began, not satisfied with calling the media merely biased, Mobius Dick has accused the press of being objectively pro-terrorist on more than one occasion.

A rational person looks at our media and sees Fortune 500 corporations -- GE, Viacom, Disney, News Corp. Corporations that, by their very nature, are conservative. Corporations which actually financially benefit from war. Corporations which are cozy with political authority. Corporations which are driven by conservatives' beloved free market --- ratings and revenue --- over any political agenda.

A crazy person looks at our media and sees willing accomplices of jihadists and suicide bombers, eager to defeat the Great Satan, eager to humiliate the Great Leader and bring about the downfall of the West.

Mobius Dick, though he has insisted for over three years that the pro-terrorist media has been exaggerating the calamity that is the Great Leader's Iraq policy, has finally gotten around to facing reality and admits today that maybe we're not winning after all. But he's still angry.

Just because things are bad in Iraq doesn't justify false reports using phony sources, something that the AP's defenders seem to be suggesting. "Fake but accurate" isn't a standard to be raising, is it? The fact is that we've seen a massive institutional failure on the part of the media.

How can anyone who compiles a pathetic public record like this on Iraq claim to have the credibility or moral standing to lecture anyone else on failure? What about his many failures? I'm sorry, but anyone who promoted a bizarrely imaginary link between Timothy McVeigh and Saddam Hussein pretty much forfeits their standing to criticize anyone else's accuracy forever.

And his smug self-righteousness is that much more nauseating now that he's been proven wrong. While Mobius Dick glibly pecked his "Hehs" and "Indeeds" on his keyboard from the safety of East Tennessee while Iraq burned, real reporters were dying in Iraq, and in record numbers. Reporters that were telling the story he dismissed as anti-Bush and defeatist. The story that happened to be true.

Also, note his incessant, reductive use of the word, "the press" and "the media", as though that's a single entity. What media, Mobius Dick? Fox News? Rush Limbaugh? The New York Post? The Chicago Sun-Times? The National Review? The Wall Street Journal? NBC? Your blog?

What set Mobius Dick off today was fellow Bush follower and National Review editor Rich Lowery's admission that the mainstream media was right about Iraq and the Bush followers like Mobius Dick who were screaming media bias were wrong.

(This is a long quote, but it's so fun to read, again and again).

Most of the pessimistic warnings from the mainstream media have turned out to be right -- that the initial invasion would be the easy part, that seeming turning points (the capture of Saddam, the elections, the killing of Zarqawi) were illusory, that the country was dissolving into a civil war...

The "good news" that conservatives have accused the media of not reporting has generally been pretty weak. The Iraqi elections were indeed major accomplishments. But the opening of schools and hospitals is not particularly newsworthy, at least not compared with American casualties and with sectarian attacks meant to bring Iraq down around everyone's heads in a full-scale civil war. An old conservative chestnut has it that only four of Iraq's 18 provinces are beset by violence. True, but those provinces include 40 percent of the population, as well as the capital city, where the battle over the country's future is being waged.

In their distrust of the mainstream media, their defensiveness over President Bush and the war, and their understandable urge to buck up the nation's will, many conservatives lost touch with reality on Iraq. They thought that they were contributing to our success, but they were only helping to forestall a cold look at conditions there and the change in strategy and tactics that would be dictated by it.


And that explains this. That at least partially explains why Bush followers like Mobius Dick have done a tremendous disservice to their country -- and ironically, their own political party -- in propping up a failed policy, a failed war, a failed President. But really, what it comes down to is simple, base partisanship. Iraq was more a Republican war than any other, and it was to be the Great Leader's legacy.

And yet Mobius Dick is defiant still. In 20 years, when we speak of Iraq like Americans once spoke of Vietnam, people like Mobius Dick will still be blaming the media, just as the right today blames Walter Cronkite for losing Vietnam.

The only word that comes to mind is crazy.

UPDATE:

If you need any confirmation how delusional the far right is, check out the hostile reaction to Lowery's column in Town Hall. Amid the cries of "leftist" and "defeatism", right on cue, Walter Cronkite is yet again blamed for losing the Vietnam War:

If the MSM wants to report the bad news and also the good news, that would be okay. But when a popular talking head like Walter Cronkite gets on national tv and tells everybody that we have lost the war, when in fact that is totally false, that is determental to our national security. I also consider the blood of 3 million Vietnamese to be on his hands, along with his media cohorts! Cronkite wasn't reporting the news, he was making non-factual statements about the war based upon his ideology, which caused many people to die.

Ah, yes. You see, it wasn't that the communists had popular support in the south, or that the government we were propping up in Saigon was totally corrupt, or that the Vietnamese people viewed the US presence there as imperialism. No, it was all Walter Cronkite's fault. He is responsible for the deaths of 3 million Vietnamese. If it weren't for him, Vietnam would now be a Jeffersonian democracy, instead of one of the few remaining communist countries in the world.

Yep -- crazy.

2nd UPDATE:

For a related discussion, see this excellent analysis at Media Matters by Eric Boehlert. He concludes,

It's odd that warbloggers have expended an enormous amount of time and energy trying to pick apart a single source from a single, relatively brief AP dispatch, arguing that the misleading information in that article somehow calls into question all of the Iraq reporting, yet warbloggers have been relatively silent about the recent string of book-length critiques of the war. I'm thinking in particular about Thomas Ricks' excellent book Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq (Penguin Press, July 2006), which, in its first 100 pages, tells readers all they need to know about the botched war. Warbloggers either don't read books, or are so completely overwhelmed by the definitive evidence produced in a book like Fiasco, which relies heavily on sources from within the U.S. military to paint its convincing picture of Bush administration incompetence, that warbloggers simply have no choice but to turn away and focus their attention on evil AP stringers.

Indeed.

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